I've been avoiding chiming in on the Maga-hat-wearing larval Catholics. But since one of them is now claiming he was trying to de-escalate the situation, and since I teach de-escalation, and since some of you may be heading off to marches today: /1
On protest safety generally: At any protest or rally or crowd gathered in public, the identities, agendas and actions of the various factions there MATTER. If you don't know much about them, find a way to orient youself fast, or stay the fuck away. /2
If you are part of a group attending together, or, God forbid, an adult LEADING a bunch of young people, your obligation to be on top of those currents is magnified. Do. Your. Homework. If you don't, you will very likely make any safety risks worse. /3
This holds whether you are just attending an event, or planning to act as a marshal or de-escalator. Because crowd peacekeeping depends on everyone, and it's entirely possible that you may find yourself taking on the role of de-escalator without planning to. /4
So: The Black Hebrew Israelites are yellers. They try to provoke with words. It's pretty familiar activity for most people to have witnessed; ex: street preachers. You can usually defuse bystander energy around yellers and preachers by modeling quiet, shared diasgreement. /5
Bystanders with a modicum of common sense, or a basic awareness of the Catechism of the Catholic Church, would understand the value of not answering wrath with wrath in this situation. Yet at 1:10 in the video (), a CovCath kid takes off his shirt. /6
And then he and his pals jump up and down with clenched fists and yell some dumb cheer. Kids are now saying the teachers authorized it. This is classic primate threat behavior. It is the opposite of de-escalatory. It is, I feel confident in stating, not very Christ-like. /7
(To which one of the Black Hebrew Isrealites responds "Put a bra on!" which, I feel confident in stating, is funny AF. Humor can be a valuable tool in de-escalating tension. But it is tricky to deploy.) /8
Then the CovCath guppies sing/yell another dumb football song, jumping up and down, acting like idiotic adolescents, while no responsible adult does a damn thing to keep them from 1) heightening the risk of mob violence or 2) embarrassing themselves on camera, forever. /9
At 1:12, Nathan Phllips and some others from his group come in between the two groups of yeling males. He does something very effective, and difficult. He keeps himself grounded and persists in a single, attention-drawing action (drumming and chanting). This breaks the rhythm./10
In fact you can hear the BHI talking about how Phllips has "calmed all these spirits down." Then we get some back and forth with individual students, who look bemused and footless. At 1:21:14 there is an adult, presumably the priest leading the group? /11
If he is offering counsel to his charges, it's not immediately obvious. Maybe he's trying to engage them in the "quiet, shared disagreement" I recommended above, but if so, he's a day late and a collection plate full of dollars short. /12
Then the BHI call the priest (I assume) a "faggot child molester," which is 1. Mean, and 2. about a 7 on a scale of 1-10 of the things I've been called at rallies since 2016. Insult and provocation are part of the nonviolent protest game, folks. If you can't play, stay home. /13
Then more yelling between the BHI and the CovCath group. I freely admit to skipping around in this video; I've been working protests in Austin since November 2016 and I've endured endless hours of Alex Jones zombies and Mike Fucking Cernovich and whatnot. It's all the same. /14
Bottom line: BHI appear to be known provocateurs; CovCath dipshits thought they'd have some Big MAGA Monkey Man fun on their field trip to the Women-As-Fertility-Slaves march, the adults with them failed utterly as chaperones and as Catholics. /15
Now, listen to Nathan Phllips dissect the situation. You can tell he has done this a lot. He susses out the BHI's goals and accurately reads the energy the CovCath kids generated: washingtonpost.com/nation/2019/01… /16
That WaPo video also summarizes a statement from the CovCath student who blocked Phillip's path. He says he thought by standing still in front fo Phllips he was "defusing the situation." This is bullshit. Unbroken eye contact is aggressive. Smirking is aggressive. /17
It's possible, only just barely, that this innocent altar boy was terrified and trying to help, got flustered and did exactly all the wrong things (it can happen; de-escalation is a skill that takes a lot of pactice), but even if so, /18
Every bit of the context surrounding him was escalatory. Like most white boys in America, this kid east, sleeps, and breathes racism and misgoyny. And the adults around him--his teachers, parents, priests, and now, evidently, his PR advisor--are his swaddlers. /19
Summing up: One goal of nonviolent protest is to make structural violence visible. This incident is a prime example of the value and efficacy of peacekeeping skills like those of Nathan Phllips--and of the need for structural change to truly end violence. /20
Want to do more homework? You can download the working draft of the manual I use to teach protest safety and peacekeeping skills here: susanschorn.com/?page_id=1738 /21
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