Standing for Peace - Steps for decreasing the likelihood of aggression:

(1) Maintain eye contact by looking directly at the person/people, but not in a way that appears to be glaring;

(2) One to one conversations are best. Talk calmly and quietly. Ask questions. Listen to them as much as possible. Try to make a personal connection. Finding out from them what's making them angry and why they are in front of you may be the most useful thing you can do. If you feel too uncomfortable about doing that yourself, ask someone else or several others from the group to talk with the person or people;

(3) Be prepared to explain what you are doing and why to people in a way that anyone can easily understand (even if they don't agree with you) and, hopefully, respect;

(4) Don't make movements and gestures that are abrupt. Move slowly. Don't say things that may appear to them to be threatening or hostile;

(5) If someone is shouting or threatening, tell them that, for example, "you're shouting at me" or "talk softly, you're talking too loudly;" say something to them that distracts them from their anger, such as "do you know what time it is?"

(6) Be prepared to have a discussion with the person/people about what is happening in the community and why you are doing what you are doing. Personal connections with the person (such as a mutual acquaintence) or personal stories are helpful;

(7) If appropriate and later in the communication process, tell the person/people your first name and then ask them for theirs. Don't share any other information, and don't assume that giving them your name will help;

(8) Having a discussion sitting down is better than having it standing up. having one slightly away from or at the edge of the vigil is better than in the middle of it;

(9) Find ways to lower the level of tension in the contact. Responding to the person/people in a way different from how they are responding to you can distract them from their single-minded focus on threatening or verbally attacking. Fumbling in a pocket for a pen, taking out a stick of gum and offering one to them, putting on or taking off your jacket are examples of other kinds of natural, non-threatening, non-verbal things also going on that can distract and change the atmosphere of the contact;

(10) Look for signs of decency and humanness in the other person/people. Find things that you both agree on or have in common;

*Have one or more designated spokespeople who are prepared to talk with anyone who approaches the group in a threatening way. If all group members are prepared to do this, that's ideal.

*If a person is physically threatening or continues to be verbally abusive, indicate an intent to resist the abuse or violence but in a nonviolent, non-threatening way and in a way that doesn't escalate the abuse or anger. Try not to show fear; it's what they expect.

*If there is a continued threat of violence, decide as a group, preferably ahead of time, what to do. Options include further talking, moving the group or leaving the area, and sitting down. (Calling police would not be a nonviolent response but might seem to be the only alternative in some situations.) There are also techniques such as having the group surround the threatening individual and push in on the person so they can't move which may work in situations where there is physical violence. Clearly, the more the group can do to nonviolently resolve conflicts and transform threatening situations, the better.

 

Back