Unarmed, Skilled De-Escalation Teams Prepared for Worst of Times
Thursday, August 17, 2023
When Rep. Cori Bush, D-Mo., needed assistance after threats during her 2020 election campaign, she turned to unarmed civilian protection in Saint Louis.
Unarmed civilian protection members are specially trained to de-escalate even the worst scenarios.
Eli McCarthy, director of programs for the group D.C. Peace Team, said a highly skilled unarmed civilian protection unit uses many nonviolent resources such as centering and different forms of dialogue, listening and acknowledging feelings and needs.
"Things like distraction and delegation, dignity phrases, interconnectedness phrases," McCarthy outlined. "For example, like, 'We are in this together, let's find a way through this.' And then other tactics like interposition so different ways, they can use their bodies to get in between to block."
McCarthy said unarmed civilian protection is practiced in war zones such as South Sudan, Colombia, Iraq and the Philippines.
As we gear up for the next election in November 2024, some national organizations are already planning for and asking for de-escalation training from the D.C Peace Team.
McCarthy said training and deployment of an unarmed civilian protection unit for election polling places, faith-based groups and those involved in the election process who are feeling directly threatened or at risk can be beneficial.
"One option is to hire an unarmed civilian protection team or unit to provide regular accompaniment and really try to put that person more at ease so they can focus on the work. You know, Cori said, 'I don't have to look over my shoulder and be on constant alert.'"
DCPT is part of a broader network known as the Shanti Sena Network. It is composed of members from peace teams from around the U.S. and Canada and is open to members worldwide.
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