A free class teaches people how to respond when they see someone being intimidated because of their race, religion, or identity.
It’s called Bystander Intervention Training and is part of a nationwide effort organized by the Council on American Islamic Relations (CAIR).
“I think people really do want to help, but if you don't have the tools, you hesitate,” said Chelsea Jacobs, one of the participants in a recent class.
Confronting the attacker might seem like an obvious way to respond, but CAIR promotes a different tactic.
“What we're trying to teach here is you can intervene by completely focusing on the targeted person,” said Jasmin Sami, CAIR civil rights director.
They instruct students to ask a targeted person if they would like help. If the person says yes, then the bystander can escort the person away from the attacker. They are taught to not engage with the attacker and resist the urge to shout back.
“When one person intervenes, another will come, a third will come, and then you see that there are more people who will try and help the targeted person, and that will intimidate the attacker,” Sami said.
CAIR says it is organizing the classes in response to increased reports of harassment.
“We did one and we thought we were going to get a few requests. We are overloaded by requests, we have so many, and we decided we're going to do it at least once a month,” Sami said.
More info about the training here.