At the request of Occupy4Prisoners Day of Solidarity for Prisoners at San Quentin, the Nonviolent Caucus held a training for participants to support the organizers intentions of creating a day safe for all.
Occupy4Prisoners called for participants in the San Quentin rally to express their solidarity with those who were currently or previously incarcerated. The action request was that the event be peaceful and safe, understanding the risk that arrest posed to these individuals. The Occupy4Prisoners planning group requested involvement of the Nonviolent Caucus and the Connection Action Project, to help create a training for participants to keep the day safe for all. The Nonviolent Caucus enlisted the support of the Interfaith group, Seminary of the Streets, and Safer Spaces.
In developing the training, the trainers and O4P agreed that the message from the organizers had reached the participants who would be attending the event and we were confident that participants would be respectful of the needs of those they came to support. However, there was some concern about the potential actions of the police who may have not been in solidarity with the intention of the organizers.
So the training involved NVDA techniques in order to form a protective barrier to any police advancement, should it occur. It included reviewing of rights, in case arrests did occur, and the dissemination of the phone number for the NLG, for anyone who hadn’t already memorized it! The training also including discussing strategies on defusing tensions with the police, were they to arise.
The training was very successful, and the participants worked together during the event to create a supportive team. It was fun and empowering to work as a group to support the beautiful day envisioned by the organizers. In addition to the support team, the Connection Action Project created a sacred circle near the barricades by the prison gate, to offer empathy and support to anyone who needed it during the event.
The day was moving and inspiring. The program was so well thought out, the participants engaged, and food provided. As hoped for, it was safe for all, with nothing to justify any intervention by the police, who all seemed to be in good sprits and quite friendly. Many people remarked on how different things can be with the police when one ventures beyond Oakland. However, it did leave them looking a bit silly after mounting a huge presence including armed prison guards at the gate, snipers on the hills, the Marin County Sheriff’s Department, legions of riot police waiting at bay, and even the CHP closed freeway ramps for good measure.
Without a doubt, a historic day.