Nov. 16 – Safety discussion notes

Notes from Safety discussion taken by Susan **

Problems/issues:

  • Understaffed safety and support group
  • Often aggressive approach to safety that makes some occupiers feel unsafe
  • Violence (physical and social/emotional) 
  • Drug use
  • Less and less people spending the night, but no honest/in depth conversation about why they have left or what it would take for them to come back
  • Too much focus, energy spent on the physical occupation (vs the political occupation, movement building)
  • Concentrated leadership and responsibility

Potential solutions:

  • Work to create a safer space, but acknowledge that this is a public park and that we cannot/will not control every aspect of life or force anyone to make decisions they don’t want to make
  • Encourage occupiers to rearrange and concentrate their tents into “neighborhoods” so that we can look out for each other and build stronger communities
  • Hang signs and banners on the fences around the park and at the park entrances (“Occupy Providence” and our messages), but do not cordon off any section of the park or divide the park into “occupy” and “non-occupy” spaces
  • Re-envision “safety and support team”- focus on community building and non-agression. Hold a meeting to create a group vision for safety and security team. Provide trainings on de-escalation and mediation for safety and support team.
  • Expand safety team, do broad outreach on listserv, other places for overnight shifts
  • Create a “safety tent” for when there is no one to do safety/security shift- those sleeping the tent could be awoken at any time to help deal with a conflict
  • Create processes for conflict resolution within the group- for example, restorative justice circles, where those involved in a conflict have a facilitated conversation
  • Try to bring in outside resources  and support for folks struggling with addiction, mental health issues- acknowledge that we are not equipped to provide this support, and seek assistance from those who can
  • Continue long term conversations about winter, new tactics, new (indoor) spaces to Occupy
  • Have a large group conversation (with facilitation from caucuses?) about why folks have left the park/have stopped sleeping at the park, discuss what it would take to make the space safe enough for these people/communities
  • Make it possible for people to participate at all levels and at different capacities, make an effort to distribute leadership through trainings, rotating coordination roles, etc.