Learn what to do if you see religious harassment in Pittsburgh

This is the first partnership for the Pittsburgh chapters of Bend the Arc and the Council on American-Islamic Relations.

A yard sign welcoming immigrants in Highland Park.

A yard sign welcoming immigrants in Highland Park.

Jasmine Goldband / The Incline
MJ Slaby

It can be hard to know what to do when someone else is being harassed.

Maybe you want to intervene — but are afraid of getting hurt or making the situation worse.

To help Pittsburghers navigate those situations, two organizations are presenting bystander intervention in Highland Park on Thursday to provide “a set of tools and strategies that have been proven to deescalate rather than exacerbate,” Rachel Kranson said.

She’s a member of the steering committee for Bend the Arc Pittsburgh, a Jewish social action group. The Council on American-Islamic Relations represents and advocates for American Muslims. Both organizations have chapters in Pittsburgh and share many goals.

“One of the [priorities] we have in common is we really want to see a city where no one feels unsafe about their religious identity,” Kranson said.

So the two organizations paired to host the Thursday training.

Bystander intervention training with Bend the Arc and CAIR

Come to this interfaith training to learn how to safely intervene when someone is being harassed for their religious identity or other reasons. An RSVP is preferred, but attendees can show up at the door.

Where: Union Project at 801 N. Negley Ave. (Highland Park)

When: July 20, 2017 from 7:00 p.m. to 9:00 p.m.

How much: $10 suggested donation

“I like that this offered people tangible skills,” Kranson said of the training. She added that although the scenarios will be based on interventions for religious harassment, the skills are transferable to any harassment situation. The interfaith event is open to anyone who wants to build these skills and help make Pittsburgh safer, she said.

The training will be led by Mona McDonald, a certified self-defense instructor from Lioness Martial Arts in Wilkinsburg.

Hopefully, this isn’t the last event that Bend the Arc and CAIR pair to do, Kranson said.

“It’s a priority for us to build the kind of welcoming city that we all want,” she said, adding that events like this is a “step in that direction.”

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