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Palouse UPstanders to teach community how to respond to hate

Jan. 16, 2017 Updated Mon., Jan. 16, 2017 at 12:58 p.m.

By Taylor Nadauld Moscow-Pullman Daily News

A new group in Moscow and Pullman, inspired by an uptick in harassment around the country, will host a bystander intervention training this week, where participants will learn how to stand up and speak out when they witness harassment, bullying or intimidation, organizers say.

Peggy Jenkins, founder of Palouse UPstanders, aid the idea to take action seemed to happen overnight.

She threw her general idea into the public sphere via a Facebook post on her personal account to see what people would say.

And 10 days later, she was meeting in downtown Moscow at Safari Pearl Comics with a diverse group of people who shared in her desire to combat bullying and harassment in the area.

Jenkins’ motivation was not only to inform, but to make a statement that the community comes together against harassment and bullying.

“We don’t like harassment, as a whole community, and it’s not partisan,” Jenkins said. “Bullying and harassment don’t have a place here, and here’s a group of people who want you all to know that.”

The UPstanders mission statement is to “provide monthly education and engagement of Pullman/Moscow communities to prevent violence and harassment in our communities, while promoting understanding of different cultures and people in our world.”

Jenkins said sometimes, it can be hard to know how to react. Often, a person’s initial reaction when they see harassment is to not respond at all.

“You’re just taken aback and your initial thing is not to respond,” Jenkins said. “And I don’t think it says anything about that you think it’s OK. It’s just – I really think it’s human nature to make that a real difficult thing to do.”

Giving people tools to respond, she added, could be helpful.

Hannah Krauss, a founding member of the UPstanders, said the group has gotten attention from local officials and organizations including Alternatives to Violence of the Palouse, Moscow Mayor Bill Lambert, the Moscow Police Department and the Moscow Volunteer Fire Department, all of whom have said they will be in attendance at the bystander intervention training 7-8 p.m. Thursday at the 1912 Center, 412 E. Third St., Moscow.

Jenkins said of the response from the community, “I feel like, that my initial instinct was right, which is, nobody does want this. This is not what anybody in the community wants.”

Jenkins said the training happens to coincide with an event at Washington State University, by WSU College Republicans, who will host Milo Yiannopoulos – the Breitbart News Service columnist who was banned from Twitter for targeting actress Leslie Jones with allegedly racist tweets – for his college campus tour, titled, “The Dangerous Faggot Tour.”

The event has drawn criticism from WSU students and college students across the country.

Jenkins said the coinciding events are a coincidence, but said the bystander training “could be a place for people to come who want to do something, but don’t really want to be a part of that big negative energy that I expect to swirl around there.”

Krauss said the organization will host another bystander training in February in Pullman. There will be a meeting the third Thursday of every month, switching between Moscow and Pullman, for the community to discuss different topics related to being an “upstander” in harassment situations.

The group will also have an information table at the Martin Luther King Jr. Community Human Rights Breakfast, hosted by the Latah County Human Rights Task Force on Saturday.

Krauss said child care will be provided at bystander intervention training for those in need. They should contact the organization ahead of time for accommodations.

For more information, participants can visit the Palouse UPstanders Facebook page, or contact the organization by email at communityupstanders@gmail.com.

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