The former organizers of Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! are pleased to announce that they are officially cutting ties with Hollaback! and are now continuing their work to end street harassment in Southeast Ohio under the name People’s Justice League. “The decision to form a new organization was made in order to better meet the needs of our community and to separate ourselves from the problems we experienced while working with Hollaback!” says Devin Aeh Canary, the group’s Self Defense Instructor. “The problems included Hollaback’s narrow focus on sexual harassment perpetrated by men toward women while ignoring other forms of harassment, lack of outreach and resources for people without internet access, and a problematic hierarchical organizational structure that left no room for Site Leader critique and input into the trajectory of the movement.”
“We had been working under the name Hollaback Appalachian Ohio! since April of 2013. Hollaback! is an International movement to address street harassment, and the Hollaback! definition of street harassment is sexual harassment that happens in public space,” says Sarah Fick, the group’s Programming Coordinator. “People’s Justice League seeks to expand the definition of street harassment to include any reason a person might be harassed in public, including but not limited to perceived sexual orientation, gender, race, religion, nationality, disability, or body size.”
Working under the Hollaback! banner, the group met challenges but also had some successes. They found that community members who exist in a place of privilege and do not experience harassment, were genuinely moved by reading the stories that people shared. They developed relationships with area schools and began presenting as guest speakers in middle and high school classrooms. They developed a Safer Spaces Campaign and trained three Athens business in understanding rape culture, supporting survivors, and bystander intervention.
“In stepping away from Hollaback, we wanted to find ways to leave behind the problems we experienced in association with their brand but continue on with the things that were working for us,” says Aeh. People’s Justice League has created a new website where folks can continue to share stories anonymously or not about their experiences of street harassment and/or bystander intervention. They will continue on with all of the workshops they developed as well as the Safer Spaces Campaign, renaming it Positive Spaces Project in collaboration with Hollaback Columbus!
From their website: “People’s Justice League is a grassroots community organization that seeks an end to all forms of power based personal violence as well as institutionalized oppression such as police brutality. We believe that public spaces should be safe and accessible for everyone. We will continue to collaborate with local schools, community groups, and organizations for the purpose of widespread community education toward an end to many forms of violence. We also intend to create networks of support and activism that will empower our spirits to continue to survive and thrive despite white supremacist capitalist patriarchy. We know that for many people, navigating public space is fraught with harassment, fear, anxiety, and violence simply because of who they are. Women, LGBTQ folks, people of color, and differently abled people disproportionately experience harassment when they are in public settings. We are working to support safe streets, campuses, establishments, and gathering places in the Southeast Ohio area.
We pledge to be as intersectional as possible in our approach but acknowledge that we don’t know everything. We welcome construction criticism and call outs and pledge to take these messages in as opportunities to learn and grow and become better humans. Now and as always, we’ve got your back.”
For more information, visit peoplesjusticeleague.com.