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“New Campaign Tells DC’s Marginalized Communities They Deserve to Feel Safe on Public Transit”

by Prince Of Petworth November 22, 2016 at 12:45 pm 14 Comments


From Collective Action for Safe Spaces:

“This month, a new series of anti-harassment PSAs launched on the Metro and Metrobus system. The project is a collaboration between Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS), Stop Street Harassment, and the Washington Metropolitan Area Transit Authority (WMATA).

Please see the statement below from Jessica Raven, executive director of CASS, on the campaign and its significance in light of the recent spike in incidents of harassment against DC’s Muslim and transgender communities:

“Now, more than ever, our work to build safe public spaces is critical. Within the past few weeks, we’ve seen a spike in reports of harassment across our city — especially targeting people of color, LGBTQ and gender nonconforming people, and people who are part of multiple marginalized groups. Harassers take advantage of trains and buses as environments where their targets can’t easily escape, making public transit an important space to address the problem.

The new awareness campaign has three goals:

  • Support people who experience harassment with messages letting riders know they deserve to be treated with respect.
  • Promote a culture of bystander intervention, where everyone is responsible for speaking out against harassment and making public transit safer.
  • Elevate our city’s most marginalized identities by featuring the faces of people who are part of marginalized groups, such as trans women of color and Muslim women, who face harassment most severely and most frequently.

In addition to training for WMATA’s frontline staff and supervisors, this anti-harassment campaign helps to create a culture of safety and community accountability.

We have a long way to go to ensuring public spaces are safe for *everyone,* but we remain committed to empowering the DC community to speak out against harassment and create public spaces where everyone feels respected and safe.”

  • AMDCer

    Glad to see this, though I wish the poster said “report harassment” period.

    • +1. My thoughts exactly.

    • Anon

      +1000 Perhaps we can all carry some duct tape and blank out the “sexual” bit when we come across the signs?

    • neoh

      What? Please don’t deface these important posters just because you don’t understand the messaging behind them. The messaging is clearly meant to encourage people, especially from marginalized communities, to report harassment in general. Sexual harassment is far less likely to be reported, so that’s probably why they chose that wording.

    • Thanks so much for this comment! As one of the organizers of this campaign, I will say that I agree with this feedback. The anti-harassment campaign has historically focused specifically on sexual harassment, but with increased incidents of harassment on the basis of real or perceived racial, ethnic, and/or religious identity, we are now working to broaden the campaign. So far, WMATA’s staff is trained only to respond to reports of sexual harassment, and I’d like to see additional training to ensure that WMATA and Metro Transit Police are taking steps to keep communities of color safe.

      Thank you @Neoh for sticking up for the campaign! We still have so much work to do!

      Jessica Raven, Collective Action for Safe Spaces (CASS) Executive Director

      • AMDCer

        Thanks for weighing in. I certainly wouldn’t encourage/condone altering these posters in any way by the public – it might dilute the message. It would be good to see some posters with men and transgender individuals as well, with the “report harassment” message. Keep up the good work!

  • wdc

    Billboards are nice. I hope they are training metro staff to actually deal with harassment when it’s reported. But I have my doubts.

    • Do we really trust any collaboration with WMATA?

      Talk is cheap, not sure this will help (but I hope it does)

      References: WMATA (1967 – present)

    • WMATA is indeed also training Metro staff and Metro Transit Police to respond to reports of harassment!

  • smh

    what if it’s the metro employees doing the harassing?

    • This is such an important point and one we’re working to address with WMATA in our meeting in December. We’ve received a number of reports, mainly on social media, of riders being harassed by WMATA employees and Metro Transit Police. We’ve made recommendations to make the system safer, including having supervisors trained (currently, only frontline staff are trained; supervisors must also be trained as they are responsible for creating a culture of safety and holding frontline staff accountable). We also need to develop an alternative system of accountability, for incidents like the recent one involving Metro Transit Police Officer Vinh who assaulted a number of women at Metro stops while on duty.

      I’ll share an update after the meeting in December. Thanks for asking this question!

  • V

    “marginalized communities”

  • don

    sexual harassment is a very important topic, but given wmata’s record or keeping the escalators operational, addressing the daily fare jumpers, cleaning the garbage in the metro station, I do not believe they would have an ounce of success at “ensuring public spaces are safe”


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