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I’m going to Crissy Field on Saturday — here’s what you need to know if you want to come with

As I wrote in my previous post, there are many options for protesting the alt-right / KKK rally happening this Saturday (8/26) in Crissy Field, San Francisco.

I’m choosing to go to Crissy Field because I know people will be there, and we will be safer if there’s more of us. I want to have the backs of folks who are being extremely courageous, potentially putting their physical safety on the line to confront hatred face-to-face. History tells us multiple resistance tactics must co-exist to defeat hate. If you want to read more about other perspectives, or why I’m choosing to go to Crissy Field rather than ignore them, please read my previous post.

I have privileges that allow me to take risks — for instance, I don’t fear being arrested and deported because of my documentation status, nor do I fear being profiled by cops because of my race. Understanding my privileges allows me to understand my strategic place in this fight for social justice, and I’m going to stand by / in between / in front of folks who may be more at risk.

I’d love for you to join me. Because honestly, I’m scared shitless and I want to feel safer knowing there will be more of us (like Boston!).

I’m scared, but here are some things that are making me feel better:

  • Safety in numbers: There will be a lot of us there — more and more contingents are popping up organizing to march to Crissy Field. People are saying SF will mirror what we saw in Boston (yay!)
  • No weapons allowed: The National Park Service announced they will not allow any items that are weapons or can be used as weapons at Crissy Field. Prohibited items include: ammunition, backpacks, drones, explosives, firearms (including licensed concealed carry firearms), glass, mace/pepper spray, sticks, bats, toy or replica guns, and more (scroll down for the full list)
  • Organized leadership: Multiple activist groups and leaders are working tirelessly to provide great leadership to folks who participate in the counter protest. They’re sharing information real time and providing tips for everyone to stay safe
  • Security check points / search stations: The city has made its stance clear that they are doing everything they can to keep the counter protesters safe — though I do not trust the police (please be cautious and avoid arrest), I take comfort in knowing that they’ve been trained and instructed to search thoroughly for any prohibited items
  • Lawyers: Lawyers from National Lawyers Guild will be present to help — they will be wearing fluorescent green hats

I’m not a trained militia, I don’t have experience fighting Nazis, I’ve never been a part of a violent protest / altercation. I’m just as anxious as you are. But I’m deciding to show up for folks who have more to be afraid of, yet are being so courageous in their decision to show up.

So if you decide to join me, here are some things to keep in mind.

Important things to know / do:

  1. Meeting Point: Meet at at Marina Green first and walk over together: **Marina Blvd. between Scott Street and Fillmore Street at 10 a.m. — look for the Longshore Workers’ Union (ILWU) banner when you arrive**

  2. Text Alert: Subscribe to Bay Resist’s text alert system and check on their website / Facebook event update often for latest news: text RESIST to 41411
  3. Buddy-System: Come with a buddy, stay with your buddy. Have a plan for when you get separated. Try to stick with large groups, but still have a buddy — email me if you want to come with me from the Mission!
  4. Be cautious before, during, and after the rally: There have been cases where the deflated and pissed off Nazis retaliate after the rally. Stick with your buddy / group until you are in a safe area
  5. Communication: Cellphone service may be unreliable — coordinate communication plan in advance and let your friends and family know of your status so they don’t worry! (Don’t worry mom!) Have important numbers written down somewhere (e.g., paper, body, etc.)
  6. Engaging with Police: Don’t assume the police will protect you, especially if you’re more likely to be profiled (e.g., Black, Brown, Muslim, trans folks). Know your legal rights in case of arrest and ask for a lawyer. Do not resist arrest, even if it’s not fair. Have someone in your group who can be a liaison, who is most likely to be seen as non-threatening to cops
  7. Pepper spray: It is unlikely there will be pepper spray or tear gas, but if you get sprayed, running 50/50 unflavored antacid (e.g., Maalox) and water solution (LAW: Liquid Antacid Water) over your eyebrows, letting it flow over your eyes in an outward direction will help. Do not wear contacts — wear glasses
  8. Valuables: Don’t bring anything you don’t want to lose or get confiscated
  9. Photography: Don’t photograph others without their consent, and try to not be photographed to avoid being identified by the alt-right doxers
  10. Clothes: Wear comfortable layered clothes (in case you need to take it off after being pepper sprayed) and shoes — don’t wear all black to avoid being mistaken as black bloc (more likely to be targeted by alt-right and police)
  11. Water and food: Eat before you come, bring water and snacks 
  12. Interacting with racists: Do not engage with the alt-right / KKK / fascists if they try to provoke you
  13. Violence: DO NOT INITIATE VIOLENCE
  14. Lawyer: Have the National Lawyer’s Guild number handy in case of arrest: 415–285–1011
  15. Getting home: Leave the rally in a group — experienced folks say this is the most dangerous part!
  16. Mental health: Coordinate a post-rally emotional / mental support activity in advance. You may need to talk to someone. Take care of yourself!

Do whatever you need to take care of yourself and prepare mentally, physically, and emotionally. Find and organize with people you trust (if you don’t have anyone to go with, you can come with me, seriously).

That’s all from me, for now. I’m looking forward to seeing thousands of other passionate folks flooding the streets to stand up against oppression. 

I know we can do this, San Francisco. Let’s get it. 

More Resources

Facebook events I’m following (they all have the same meeting place):

Facebook Status I’m following

Legal Resources:

Health and Safety Resources:

Further Reading:

Full list of prohibited items as governed by the National Park Service:

A. Aerosols / pressurized canisters
B. Ammunition
C. Animals other than working service animals
D. Any other items determined to be potential safety hazards
E. Backpacks and bags exceeding the size restriction of 18” by 14” by 7”
F. Balloons
G. BBQ grills (propane tanks with any open flame)
H. Bicycles
I. Coolers
J. Drones and other unmanned aircraft systems
K. Explosives
L. Firearms (including licensed concealed carry firearms)
M. Gas Masks
N. Glass, thermal or metal containers
O. Helmets
P. Laser pointers
Q. Liquids (other than water in factory-sealed, clear plastic bottles)
R. Mace / pepper spray
S. Packages
T. Pop up tents or canopies
U. Selfie sticks
V. Shields
W. Signs exceeding the size restriction of 24” by 36” (Signs will only be allowed if made of foam core, cardboard or paper)
X. Structures
Y. Supports for signs and placards including sticks of any material
Z. Sticks or bats of any nature composed of any material
AA. Toy or replica guns
BB. Wagons or carts that can be pulled
CC. Weapons of any kind

Helpful Photos (credit: Gwen Park):

 

Also, here are some powerful words from Alicia Garza, co-founder of Black Lives Matter, on what she believes San Francisco should do: 

Honestly, I think the strategy should be “let a thousand flowers bloom.” A coordinated strategy in this case is better than a one-size-fits-all strategy. If the responses are uncoordinated that will be the story. If progressives are not aligned in keeping the focus on the white supremacists who are in office and on 45’s administration, it’s all bullshit anyway. The larger goal is showing them that we are more coordinated, more impactful, and that we actually represent America. The theoretical debate about non violence vs violence is a black hole that few emerge from. This debate only matters in the context of a larger strategy for power. If we see this as a moment that can open up new opportunities for organizing, why wouldn’t we want to have a coordinated approach that shows us what’s possible?
Coordination gives people cover, allows for multiple points of pressure, and creates many different entryways for people to participate. There are people who are willing to take risks, and there are people who are not. And they should coordinate to make sure that it adds up to one beautiful whole.
This is not a time for SF to be uncoordinated. The most important thing is that these forces understand that when they come to SF spreading their bullshit that there are people willing to stand up to them in a multitude of ways. For me, it’s not a theoretical debate. This is a time to demonstrate that the progressive movement is united across difference in it’s rejection of hate. And then, of course, do the real work which is uprooting white supremacy in our own movements. Really easy to focus on the most obvious trash while not looking at how we clean up our own shit.

 


About Michelle Kim

Michelle is an entrepreneur, activist, speaker, and a coach passionate about empowering individuals and organizations to create positive change. She is the co-founder of Awaken and owner of Michelle Kim Consulting.

Subscribe | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Medium | Awaken

 

To engage or not to engage: how to resist alt-right white supremacist rallies
Antifa and alt-right clash in Charlottesville. Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

Antifa and alt-right clash in Charlottesville. Photo Credit: Chip Somodevilla/Getty Images

As the alt-right, white supremacist, neo-Nazis continue their roadshow throughout the country, there have been many discussions around how to best respond. While we all strive to dismantle white supremacy, there seems to be ongoing debate around tactics and strategies. 

I had the privilege of attending a planning meeting hosted by Mayor Ed Lee at City Hall yesterday afternoon, joined by other city government officials including the Chief of Police Bill Scott and San Francisco Human Rights Commission Director Sheryl Davis. The conference room was filled with community organizers and leaders: there were leaders from the faith community, nonprofit organizations, education institutions, protest / rally organizers, bringing a wide range of perspectives and voices to the table. 

In this post, I intend to provide you with a comparative summary of those perspectives, as well as my own commentary and recommendations. 

First, some basic background information to catch you up: 

  • The rally is being hosted by an alt-right group called Patriot Prayer
  • Patriot Prayer is known for inciting violence at their previous events, which many recognize as an effective PR and recruitment tactic for the alt-right, neo-Nazi movement 
  • Patriot Prayer seeks to obtain a federal permit on federal land, which supersedes the state or city jurisdiction 
  • On federal land, you are legally allowed to carry concealed weapons, which poses a greater threat of violence 

Now onto the perspectives. 

Perspective #1: Do not engage, protest peacefully elsewhere (SF City’s official stance). 

Mayor Lee, Police Chief Scott, and HRC Director Davis made their collective stance clear in their opening statements: do not engage with the alt-right, do not dignify them with your presence. Instead, attend peaceful counter rallies the day before (Fri, 8/25) and the day of (Sat, 8/26). The city’s #1 priority is public safety, and they are increasing security measures all over town. 

This approach makes sense if you think about the goal of the city government: minimize risk, ensure public safety, reduce costs. 

This seems to be the most popular perspective among liberal intellectuals and progressive elites, who believe counter-protesting at the alt-right rally is giving the neo-Nazis exactly what they want: confrontation. The alt-right is seeking attention through sensationalized media coverage while framing the left as “anti-free-speech snowflakes.” So why give them what they want? Let’s just ignore them and make them feel insignificant. 

My take: I like this option because it reduces the chance of possible casualties on our side (yes, we’re taking sides, people) — it would be naive to say there will be no violence given what we’ve seen in Charlottesville and Berkeley, and I’d just hate to see folks get hurt. I also like the idea of a bunch of neo-Nazis showing up all pumped with their tucked away weapons, only to find our beloved Karl the Fog and a bunch of dog shit at the park. My concern about this approach is this: this works only if enough people choose to not show up at Crissy Field. If there’s critical mass of folks that do decide to show up, the threat of violence still exists. 

Perspective #2: Engage. Confront hate face-to-face. F*ck the Nazis. 

This perspective was held by Rev. Townsend (VP of San Francisco NAACP) among other leaders, who noted that throughout history, what forced change to happen was the courage shown by brave front-line fighters who stood up to oppressors face-to-face. He cited MLK Jr. and Birmingham, and noted there are young people who are ready to fight, who will be at the direct counter-protest, whether others join or not. He also reminded us that as much as this is a recruitment strategy for the alt-right, it can serve the same purpose for the left — we can inspire other passionate folks to join the movement against white supremacy. HRC Director Sheryl Davis chimed in, stating while she agrees with Rev. Townsend’s overall sentiment, she also wants to acknowledge the risk of police arrests for our young people of color participating in violent protests. “We have to be real,” said Davis, calling attention to the fact that we may be exposing our young people of color, knowing they are likely to be profiled and arrested at a higher rate.

Others community leaders validated they know people who will be at the counter-protest. Which begs the question, are we leaving our bravest folks high and dry? 

My take: I am conflicted. Do I think this is the only way we can win? No. However, history tells us we got to where we are today because we had both MLK and Malcom X. Rosa Parks and Black Panthers. People who are going to Crissy Field, apparently a lot of young people, are literally risking their lives to confront white supremacists. Even if we disagree with this tactic, is it time for us to have their back? Like, is this one of those “ugh, FINE, I’ll go with you and have your back, but we’re going to talk about this after” moment? And no, I don’t think people who are going to Crissy Field are less strategic minded — I think these folks are fierce AF. I think they believe this is what solidarity looks like, and this is how history gets written. I don’t think they’re “dumb for giving them what they want.” I think they believe in their heart that alt-right extremists cannot be defeated with intellectual debates, political correctness, or campaign strategies. And I’m starting to think, in weird ass times like today, where you see decades old, toxic, oppressive violence being normalized as “extreme, but still a legitimate point of view,” perhaps just the right prescription to wake people up is a big ol’ slap in the face. Sometimes, you’ve got to fight hate with the equivalent amount of passion, uproar, and fearlessness. 

As much as I’d love to see thousands of people gathered in Civic Center holding a peaceful protest, I’d love it even MORE if we could turn up 40,000 people at Crissy Field to drown out the alt-right’s noise, and immobilize them by our sheer volume. Now that would be epic. 

Perspective #3: Pretend everything is fine and talk about music and dancing.

Uh, yes, this was a real comment. Two hippie white women got up and said we should not talk about politics and just laugh. They’re organizing a peace event where there will be bands and speakers, who have been instructed explicitly to not be political. Just focus on good music, food, and dancing. 

My take: Somebody please hand them a Pepsi. Pepsi, please come collect your people. No, you cannot have a rally against white supremacists and not get political. This is simply insulting and offensive to the actual pain and material harm caused by the alt-right, that is being felt by communities of color and the Jewish community. Folks, please remember that you can center your protest around peace and joy and be politically conscious. 

Perspective #4: All tactics are necessary. Make room for everyone. 

Feng Kung, the lead organizer of Jobs with Justice SF and the co-founder of Bay Resistance, made a moving remark, explaining why they are choosing to go to Crissy Field. Kung is going to Crissy field not because they want to be violent (“No, I have a little boy that I want to come home to”), but because they believe in standing up to confront the oppressors face-to-face. And Kung asked that folks get engaged, in whatever form they choose, but to “please leave room for us.” 

My take: This resonated with me a lot. No matter where we stand on the political spectrum of the left, or what our preferred tactic is, we have to remember, we’re all fighting against the same enemy right now. We have to make room for everyone, and have each other’s back. Yes, yes, and yes. 

There were many more comments I didn’t get to capture here — most other comments were plugs for other events, and didn’t add much more to the perspective discussion, IMHO.

The most important takeaway is this: you have options. It’s up to you to reflect on what your engagement will look like and to ACT.

Dr. Amos Brown giving his remark about the danger of indifference

Dr. Amos Brown giving his remark about the danger of indifference

Dr. Amos Brown, a civil rights activist who worked alongside MLK Jr and the President of SF NAACP, reminded us in the beginning of the meeting that the greatest threat we have to battle during times like this is indifference. Hearing directly from someone who lived and fought through the oppression that resembles the hatred we see today was truly humbling and sobering. 

My final thoughts and calls for action: 

  1. Support all people who are participating in anti-white supremacy events
  2. Stop creating new events — there are a lot of options already. Build coalition, join forces, support one another, consolidate so we can achieve more with fewer resources
  3. Show appreciation for folks going to Crissy Field and risking their physical safety to fight for justice, instead of criticizing their tactic 
  4. If you’re going to Crissy Field, please be prepared. Attend riot preparation workshops, read protest safety guides, watch online training videos, purchase appropriate gears and first aid kits. This is not a joke, and this is not a drill
  5. Wherever you are, be cautious and thoughtful about how you engage with the law enforcement. If you’re white or East Asian, be the buffer for black and brown folks, who are more likely to be profiled or targeted by the police — do not let our people, especially our brave young people, getting arrested!
  6. The fight doesn’t start or end this weekend. We need more education, teach-ins, strategizing to happen before and after, and ongoing, to build capacity to organize en mass, in unity; thank you Director Davis for this reminder from our youth
  7. We have to envision an alternative future and ground our movement in that vision — rather than centering our movement solely on opposing their vision

Last week, I posted a list of counter-protest events I found. I’ve since updated the list multiple times to reflect new events that have popped up. Check it out

So what am I going to do? 

I’m either going to be at Crissy Field or I’ll be supporting my fellow organizer friends at Harvey Milk Plaza, then marching over together to Civic Center to join the rally. Either way, I’ll be rocking my hottest protest outfit and my red lips (call me “fearless and fabulous”),

Want to join me? Subscribe to my mailing list here — I’ll be sending out an update prior to Saturday. 

Let’s show up, San Francisco.

It’s our turn to strike. 

Why asking people to be "respectful" when addressing harm is problematic

This is going to be a controversial one. 

If you haven’t watched Brené Brown’s Facebook Live discussion on #Charlottesville, please do.

I loved a lot of what she said in the video. Naming privilege, white supremacy, power, and accountability — I think it’s what most of America, most of white America, needed to hear, and I appreciated her firmness. 

There was a few minutes of heartburn for me, though. 

She talked about shaming as an inefficient way to impact people, and that we should approach people who cause harm with more respect and civility so we can actually engage them. I think the discussion needs to be a lot more nuanced than that. 

I agree shaming is not always (and may never be) the most “efficient” way to create change. I know, because I’ve been on both sides of the coin. I’ve dragged and shamed people. I’ve been dragged and shamed. For innocent, unintentional mistakes. Mistakes nonetheless, harm nonetheless. 

At Awaken, we, too, advocate for having both compassion and criticality when trying to call folks in. To meet people where they are. To subscribe to the belief of incremental awakening rather than a rude one. 

AND. 

We educate folks to take accountability for causing harm. This includes understanding the needs of the person harmed, even when the harm is communicated in a way that is tough to swallow. 

Brené Brown gave an example of when she was called out by one of her fans for unintentionally using the word “gypped” without knowing the anti-semitic nature of the word. She noted how ashamed she felt, and how the fan should have talked to her with more civility and love. She suggested a phrase like “I loved your work, you changed my life, and I’m sure you didn’t mean it but the word you used made me feel…”

Here’s where I disagree. 

When someone reacts to what you say or do with an intense emotion, before asking them to please be respectful, try to understand where that emotion is coming from. Because the moment you ask for civility from someone you just harmed (albeit unintentionally), you’re putting the burden of emotional labor on the person you just harmed. You are asking them to put their raw emotional reaction aside to communicate in a way that makes you, the person who caused harm, want to listen. You are asking to have your dignity intact, when you just stripped the other person’s. You are asking them to disregard their history of being treated without respect so you can listen better. Do you see the problem? 

Whose needs are you prioritizing -- the person causing harm and their need to be humanized or the person harmed and their need to be heard?

We can debate the “effectiveness” of such approach all we want, but we can’t deny the reality that we, as a nation, have been putting a lot of burden on marginalized people to do the emotional labor of helping people understand and listen. 

It’s like a paramedic telling a person in extreme pain “Please do not scream. You’re making me not want to treat you. Talk to me nicely and I will diagnose you.” NO. You ask them, “How bad is the pain? Where does it hurt?” 

I wish Brown, instead of asking people who are harmed to be more civil to create change, advised her audience (the same audience she urged to name privilege and white supremacy) to learn to work with shame. In our journey to social justice and equity, we will never stop making mistakes. And therefore, shame is unavoidable. Instead of shutting down when we feel ashamed, we should try to understand where the anger, frustration, agitation, exhaustion, and impatience of marginalized folks come from before writing them off. Actually, I was surprised by her not arriving at this conclusion after her spot-on narrative on privilege. 

I wish she urged folks to understand and sit with the anguish and pain marginalized people feel, and to practice listening before reacting. 

We need all sides to try (let me be *crystal clear* — I’m talking about uniting the left; I’m not talking about reaching the alt-right fascist / KKK / Nazis. Don’t confuse this with the whole “both sides” bullshit spewed by Trump).

Dragging and shaming as the sole tactic will never bridge the gap. I get that. 

Demanding “respectful and civil” engagement from exhausted marginalized people so it’s easier for privileged folks to partake in the movement — that’s also not going to work. 

We need all sides to try. 

So when you ask people to call you in respectfully, you also have to ask the folks causing harm to understand the anger. When it comes to bridging the distance between people harmed and people causing harm, both sides have to give a little — but I’m asking people who caused harm to do a little bit more emotional labor. 

Ok tell me…was I non-shaming enough in this post? 

About Michelle Kim

Michelle is an entrepreneur, activist, speaker, and a coach passionate about empowering individuals and organizations to create positive change. She is the co-founder of Awaken and owner of Michelle Kim Consulting.

Subscribe | Website | LinkedIn | Twitter | Facebook | Medium | Awaken