Ideas for Leaders Facing Protest

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Vancouver Community Library

Difficult conversations aren’t easy – but they are important.  They can help a community heal.  HLG is here to help guide you through those difficult discussions.  In the meantime, here are a few ideas and tips for communities that are determined to step forward, to understand why people are angry and to create a new, safe, diverse sense of belonging.

    1. RaShall Brackney, Chief of Police, Charlottesville, Virginia
    2. Thomas Battles, Lead Mediator, DCP’s Bridge Initiative @ Moritz; former Regional Director, Community Relations Service
    3. Ron Wakabayashi, Mediator, DCP’s Bridge Initiative @ Moritz; former Regional Director, Community Relations Service

An overview of the video

RaShall Brackney, the Chief of Police in Charlottesville, Virginia, offers a quick rundown of actions you can take as a community leader. She recommends a preparedness course of action, beginning with public-facing messaging that sets expectations for yourself and members of the community.

Next, organize and plan your response before it’s needed. What will it look like when those in the community are confronting others with differing values, views, or political identities? And what does your response look like? Will local symbols of historic or political significance become targets?

Brackney closes her segment by stressing how important your responses are during these times. The expectations you set beforehand and how you respond to moments of conflict are how you will be remembered.

In the next segment, Ron Wakabayashi described a new period of conflicts and protests during an administration change. What will the new environment look like? How do we assess the transition period? Wakabayashi discusses changes in militias, moving from large groups to smaller cells to create disruption and more “traditional terrorism.”

Wakabayashi feels we need to refresh our relationships, including those relationships with law enforcement. By focusing on these new relationships, we’ll be better prepared to move forward.

This leads to Thomas Battles and his thoughts on how to protect yourself during times of unrest. Before, during, and after the inauguration in January of 2021, it’s important to assess the situation, stay alert in your community, and making sure your family is secure. This includes investigating suspicious packages that you may not be expecting. Packages, Battles says, “become very very easy for hate groups to scare.”

He also talks about opening the lines of communication with first responders and law enforcement. Battles feels It’s vitally important to know law enforcement leadership and that you communicate your presence and activities. Even though many activities are now virtual because of Covid, there may be times you need to be visible and in the public eye.

During these times of uncertainty, Battles believe houses of worship become vulnerable to attacks. Make sure to be in communication with your house of worship and that they are secure. “Be engaged, be cautious, be alert, and reassess what’s happening in your community.”

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