In rural Oregon, we know how the Right hopes to control our communities through the politics of fear and rejection. For 25 years, ROP has supported rural communities combating the dehumanization and marginalization of our neighbors, including when the Right’s crosshairs have been focused on LGBTQ folks, Jews, immigrants, Muslims, and other all-too-convenient scapegoats. We have learned through experience how essential it is to build community focused on protecting and taking care of each other so we can keep each other safe as we build a better world.
At this year’s Rural Caucus & Strategy Session, we held a standing room-only “Creating a Culture of Safety and Security” training led by a team of skilled and experienced trainers who have provided security for progressive events for years in rural Oregon. A key request from participants was to bring the trainers and trainings around Oregon so groups can develop strategies together! We are excited to offer rural groups the opportunity to host a private security training and strategy session focusing on de-escalation skills at public events and strategies for keeping each other and our neighbors safe while organizing for change! Read on for more details and the application to bring a training to your community.
Over the last two years, ROP has resourced communities desperate to respond to the renewed escalation of scapegoating of our immigrant and refugee neighbors for rural Oregon’s dire economic woes. The devastating effects of this escalation can be measured not only in the rise of hate and bias crimes that terrorize our communities, but also in the normalization of the far Right. This includes the Multnomah County GOP embracing the Oath Keepers and Three Percenters as private and unaccountable “security”, and Oregon legislators like Mike Nearman openly collaborating with and even hiring card-carrying militia members onto their staff.
Rural communities and small towns have courageously responded to vigilante violence, the rise of far Right paramilitaries calling themselves “patriots”, and state violence in the form of Immigration and Customs Enforcement (ICE) raids, detentions, and deportations of our neighbors that threaten the social fabric of our rural communities. Oregon is ground-zero for the far Right, which was made obvious when a white supremacist stabbed three people, killing two, who attempted to interrupt the harassment of two Black Muslim women on a MAX train in Portland.
The solution isn’t to jump into the fray and react at the same level. How we resist, show up for each other, and organize our communities has ripple effects across the country. Creating inclusive, beloved community is the only way to truly keep our friends and neighbors safe. We want communities with true democracy, where everyone can live their lives fully and speak their truth without fear of retribution.
This is an opportunity to determine for ourselves what we want our communities to look like. This is the time to strengthen each other’s abilities to resist injustice, especially when it targets the most vulnerable in our communities. As rural infrastructure erodes, from 911 dispatch and fire departments to schools and libraries, climate disasters and economic crises grow more frequent, and health care becomes increasingly insufficient, it is more important than ever to plan and prepare to fill these needs. We need to work together to create what we all need at a basic level because together we are stronger. As a movement for justice and human dignity, we need to expand our skills to organize with our neighbors without putting targets on our backs. We need to offer our communities safe events to disagree without being disagreeable, and to allow cooler heads to prevail in the midst of rising temperatures, both figuratively and literally.
“Creating a Culture of Safety and Security” trainings and strategy sessions will cover:
Strengthening your group’s security skills, strategies, and tactics for planning public meetings, private gatherings, rallies, and marches, including de-escalating tense situations and minimizing distractions,
Creating your group’s plan for implementing, assessing the effectiveness of, and improving your security strategies over time, and
Building your group’s internal culture of safety and security, including building deep relationships together so you can show up for each other when it matters most!
Is your group interested in hosting a private training and strategy session on creating a culture of safety and security? Fill out this application to indicate your interest and ROP will be in touch with you in the next two weeks. ROP will prioritize groups based on access to resources (prioritizing the most rural of communities), energy to immediately implement safety and security plans, and communities with identified security and safety needs.
Do you have questions? Please reach out to Jess at firstname.lastname@example.org or your friendly local ROP organizer! We’re happy to help you think through the biggest priorities for your group and your community!
We invite you to apply today for the opportunity to dive deep into how we can keep our people safe as we organize and build beloved community!