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CAIR San Diego Offering Bystander Intervention Training

Mejgan Afshan, public affairs and policy coordinator at CAIR San Diego, leading a bystander and intervention training course at St. Marks United Methodist Church on September 9, 2017.
Steve Rivera/Interfaith Worker Justice San Diego County
Mejgan Afshan, public affairs and policy coordinator at CAIR San Diego, leading a bystander and intervention training course at St. Marks United Methodist Church on September 9, 2017.
CAIR San Diego Offering Bystander Intervention Training
CAIR San Diego Offering Bystander Intervention Training GUESTS: Mejgan Afshan, public affairs and policy coordinator, CAIR San Diego Claire Bergstresser, course participant

EARLIER THIS YEAR THE COUNCIL ON AMERICAN ISLAMIC RELATIONS RELEASED A REPORT SHOWING THAT HATE INCIDENTS BETWEEN MUSLIMS IN CALIFORNIA ARE ON THE RISE. IF YOU WERE EVER TO WITNESS SOMEONE BEING CALLED NAMES, BULLIED OR EVEN ASSAULTED HOW WOULD YOU RESPOND? WOULD YOU STEP IN TO HELP? CALL POLICE TRUCK OR JUST MIND YOUR OWN BUSINESS? WE LIKE TO THINK WE WOULD HELP SOMEONE IN TROUBLE, BUT WHAT EXACTLY ARE YOU SUPPOSED TO DO? SAN DIEGO CHAPTER OF CARE RECENTLY OFFERED TRAINING IN BYSTANDER INTERVENTION FOR PEOPLE WHO WANT TO LEARN WHAT THEY CAN DO. JOINING ME IS MISCHA ATKINS POLICY CARE COORDINATOR FOR SAN DIEGO CARE. WELCOME TO THE PROGRAM. THANK YOU FOR HAVING ME. IT IS A PLEASURE.Reporter: ALSO JOINING US VIA SKYPE IS CLEAR BERG WHO ATTENDED THE COURSE. WELCOME.THANK YOU.Reporter: AS I MENTIONED, CARE'S RECENT REPORT SHOWED A RISE IN HATE INCIDENTS AGAINST MUSLIMS IN 2016. IS THAT WHAT PROMPTED CARE TO ORGANIZE THIS TRAINING?YES . WE WANTED TO BE ABLE TO HAVE SOME TOOLS AND TIPS AND TECHNIQUES TO GIVE TO OUR COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND THE GREATER SAN DIEGO COMMUNITY. WE HAVE HAD SO MANY OF OUR ALLIES WANT TO BE ABLE TO DO MORE, STEP UP MORE, HAVE MORE OF AN ENGAGED RELATIONSHIP WITH OUR COMMUNITY MEMBERS AND THEY WANT TO BE ABLE TO NOT NECESSARILY BE HEROES, BUT THEY WANT TO BE ABLE TO STAND IN SOLIDARITY WITH US IN A MORE PROFOUND WAY AND I THINK THE BYSTANDER AND ALLIED INTERVENTION IS THE PERFECT PATHWAY TO DO THAT.Reporter: DO WE KNOW IF INTERVENTION IN THIS WAY REALLY DOES HELP STOP VIOLENCE?I CAN'T SAY EXACTLY THAT IT WILL STOP VIOLENCE, BUT IN TERMS OF HARASSMENT AND ABUSE, IT IS A POWERFUL TOOL TO BE ABLE TO ENGAGE WITH THE TARGETED PERSON WITHOUT LOSING ANYTHING. I WANT TO BRING YOU INTO THE CONVERSATION, CLAIRE, WHAT MOTIVATED YOU TO TAKE THIS COURSE? CEMENT I HAVE BEEN INVOLVED IN ACTIVISM WORK FOR THE LAST COUPLE YEARS AND IN MY EXPERIENCE I HAVE REALLY SEEN PEOPLE ON BOTH SIDES WHO HAVE EITHER EXPERIENCED CHALLENGES OR POSSIBLE HATE CRIMES OR I HAVE HEARD STORIES OR I HAVE SEEN BYSTANDERS WHO I DO NOT REALLY KNOW WHAT TO DO IN THAT SITUATION. ME INCLUDED. I AM IN A WHEELCHAIR. I HAVE A CONDITION AND FROM MY PERSONAL EXPERIENCE I KNOW WHAT IT IS LIKE TO RECEIVE HELP, BUT ACTUALLY IT IS NOT HELPFUL.Reporter: MISCO, WHAT ARE THE TIPS AND TECHNIQUES THAT YOU WENT THROUGH IN THIS BYSTANDER INTERVENTION COURSE?A LOT OF TIMES WE DON'T KNOW WHAT TO DO BECAUSE THE FIRST REACTION IS EITHER FIGHT OR FLIGHT. RESTRAINT IS VERY KEY IN THESE MOMENTS. HAVING THAT SELF-CONTROL AND QUESTIONING AND BEING AWARE OF ONE'S SURROUNDINGS WHETHER THEY BE ON PUBLIC TRANSPORTATION, AT ONE SCHOOL, OR WORK, OR JUST ON THE STREET. ALL OF THE SITUATIONS ARE DIFFERENT AND THEY ARE SCENARIO BASED. IT DEPENDS ON THE CIRCUMSTANCES.Reporter: WHAT IF YOU WERE TO FIND YOURSELF ON A BUS OR A TROLLEY AND YOU SEE THAT SOMEONE IS BEING BULLIED? HOW WOULD YOU INTERVENE IN THIS SITUATION?THE FIRST THING THAT IS IMPORTANT TO UNDERSTAND IS NOT TO ENGAGE THE PERSON WHO IS DOING THE ABUSING OR HARASSMENT. MAKING A CONNECTION WITH THE ACTUAL PERSON BEING TARGETED IS MORE IMPORTANT. STEPPING IN AND POSSIBLY SAYING SOMETHING ALONG THE LINES OF HOW WAS YOUR DAY GOING? HOW IS THE WEATHER? WHERE ARE YOU HEADED? MAY I JOIN YOU? IF THEY ARE WELCOMING AND THEY ARE OPEN TO YOU INTERFERING IN THE SITUATION, AND THAT IS THE BEST WAY TO ENGAGE. IF THEY ARE UNCOMFORTABLE, YOU COULD BE ABLE TO JUST STAND AND WATCH AND BE AN OBSERVER AS THE SITUATION IS TRANSPIRING.Reporter: IS SEEN AS AN AGGRESSIVE MOVE TO GET OUT YOUR PHONE AND START TAKING A VIDEO OF WHAT IS GOING ON?THERE ARE A LOT OF THINGS HAPPENING IN THE COMMUNITY SUCH AS OUR UNDOCUMENTED BROTHERS AND SISTERS AND SO IF THEY ARE HAVING AN INTERACTION WITH LET'S SAY A POLICE OFFICER OR SOME SORT OF AUTHORITY AND YOU ARE NOT EXACTLY SURE WHAT IS GOING ON, PERHAPS INTERFERING WOULD NOT BE THE BEST WAY TO GO ABOUT IT, THAT YOU CAN ALWAYS TAKE YOUR PHONE OUT AND USE THE CAMERA OR BE ABLE TO USE THE VIDEO OPTION ON YOUR PHONE AND BE THE OBSERVER WHILE DOCUMENTING IT IN THE PROCESS.Reporter: CLAIRE, CAN YOU SHARE ONE OF THE LESSONS YOU LEARN FROM THIS COURSE THAT STAYED WITH YOU?ABSOLUTELY. IT IS A DE-ESCALATION BUT ALSO HOW YOU CHOOSE YOUR WORDS. WE DID A ROLE-PLAY THAT WAS ALL ABOUT BUS SITUATIONS. THE GOAL WAS WITH ONE PERSON BEING TARGETED, ONE PERSON ATTACKING, AND THE ROOM WITH BUS BYSTANDERS DETERMINING WHO WOULD COME AND STEP IN. I NOTICED THAT ONE OF THE PEOPLE AT MY TABLE ACTUALLY CAME OVER AND THEY SAID ARE YOU OKAY? ARE YOU GOOD? AND DURING THE MOMENT OF THIS PERSON SAYING WORDS TO ME, I WAS LIKE YES I AM GOOD WITHOUT EVEN THINKING. GETTING INTO THE ROLE-PLAY. AND THE OTHER PERSON WHO ACTUALLY TURNED THAT WORK FOR THE ACLU CAME BY AND SAT NEXT TO ME AND SHE SAID HOW ARE YOU DOING TODAY TRUCK I SAID -- SHE SAID IS IT OKAY IF I SIT NEXT TO YOU? THE QUESTIONS WERE MORE OPEN ENDED. AND HE GAVE ME MORE FREEDOM TO COMMUNICATE WITH THIS PERSON, GET MY MIND AWAY FROM THE ATTACKER. I WAS REALLY SURPRISED HOW THE DIFFERENCE OF FREEZING A WORD OR A SENTENCE CAN OPEN ME UP TO COMMUNICATING WITH SOMEONE WHO IS TRYING TO BE HELPFUL.Reporter: MISCO, EARLIER THIS YEAR TO MAKE MEN IN OREGON WERE STABBED TO DEATH AFTER THEY TRIED TO STOP ANOTHER PASSENGER FROM YELLING RACIAL SLURS AT TWO YOUNG WOMEN ONE OF WHOM WAS WEARING A HIT JOB. DO YOU THINK THAT INCIDENT HAD MADE SOME PEOPLE SAY I JUST DIDN'T WANT TO GET INVOLVED?I DON'T KNOW IF THAT INCIDENT EXACTLY HAD CONTRIBUTED TO IT, BUT THERE ARE SO MANY PEOPLE IN INCIDENT THAT I CAN THINK OF THAT HAS REALLY MADE PEOPLE AFRAID WITH LIKE THE SHOOTING THAT JUST HAPPENED A FEW DAYS AGO, AND HOW SCARY IT IS TO HEAR YOU ARE SO VULNERABLE IN PUBLIC. THIS IS SOMETHING THAT IS ON THE MINDS OF ANYBODY THAT IS A PARTICIPANT IN SOCIETY AND I THINK THAT TO CREATE MORE WAYS AND PATHWAYS OF ENGAGING AND CREATING SOLIDARITY IS VERY IMPORTANT BECAUSE IF WE DO NOT DO THAT PEOPLE BECOME AFRAID AND ISOLATED AND THAT IS A VERY THAT PLACE TO BE IN.Reporter: ARE YOU GOING TO HAVE MORE SUCH TRAININGS?ABSOLUTELY. COMPANIES IN SCHOOLS AND NONPROFIT, CHURCHES, TEMPLES, AND OTHER ISLAMIC CENTERS HAVE EXPRESSED INTEREST IN THIS AND WE ARE LOOKING HOWARD TO PLANNING AND -- LOOKING FORWARD TO PLANNING THESE IN THE COMING MONTHS.THANK YOU BOTH VERY MUCH.THANK YOU SO MUCH MAUREEN.

Earlier this year, the Council on American-Islamic Relations released a report showing that hate incidents against Muslims in California are on the rise.

If you ever witnessed someone being bullied, harassed or even assaulted, how would you respond? Would you step in to help, call police or turn a blind eye?

The San Diego chapter of the Council on American-Islamic Relations is offering training in bystander and ally intervention for community members who want to learn what they can do to help a victim of harassment and deescalate incidents of hate.

RELATED: Report: 10 Percent Increase In Hate Incidents Against California Muslims

“We wanted to be able to have some tools, tips and techniques to give to our community members and the greater San Diego community. We’ve had so many of our allies want to be able to do more, step up more, have more of an engaged relationship with our community members. They want to be able to, not necessarily be heroes but stand in solidarity with us in a more profound way. And I think the bystander and ally and intervention training is the perfect pathway to do that,” said Mejgan Afshan, public affairs and policy coordinator at CAIR San Diego.

Afshan, who led the organization’s first bystander and ally intervention class last month and Claire Bergstresser, who attended the class discuss the program’s goals and techniques.