When we go out into the community to attend an event or set up an information table, we ask the organizers of the event to provide their safety plan in advance.
This helps us support staff, members, and volunteers of our coalition who might participate to understand what to expect and have the tools necessary to keep themselves and each other safe.
If someone from our team shared this with you, this is the kind of information we’re looking for:
- Is there a formal safety plan that you could share with us?
- Will the event have fixed entrance and exit points? If so, will they be supervised?
- For outdoor events, will there be a fence around the event area?
- For indoor events:
- Can you provide a copy of the building’s fire and evacuation plan?
- What accommodations are made for people who want to reduce their exposure to airborne infectious disease?
- What safeguards against harassment, if any, are in place for event participants traveling between the event exits and public transit stops, safe pick-up locations, or parking areas?
- Are uniformed police offers, hired security staff, and/or trained community volunteers part of your safety plan?
- If so, how many of each? In what roles? Given what training?
- How do event participants bring problems to the attention of organizers or security staff?
- Are you monitoring social media in advance of the event for signs of organized harassment being planned?
- What is your policy on anti-pride protesters using large offensive signs, amplified sound, and physical obstruction to interrupt this event and participants’ enjoyment of it?
- Are your plans to address anti-pride protesters endorsed by the security team? (e.g., if third parties are providing security, have you confirmed they will take the organizers’ direction?)
- Do the organizers have the power (if desired) to have abusive protesters moved or removed from the property? (e.g., is this a city-owned property? If privately owned, is consent of the property owner needed and available?)
- Has the local police service been advised of the event and the probability that it will attract organized harassment?
Having answers to all these questions is not a prerequisite to our participation! That said, we’d have reservations attending or promoting public events where the organizers can’t share with us some level of their formal safety planning.
Why is this necessary?
- Protests at Pride events ‘contemptible,’ official says (Barrie Today, Jun 15, 2018)
- ‘Love is louder’ than hate, Hamilton Pride supporters tell ‘street evangelists’ (CBC, Jun 18, 2018)
- Two months after violence at Hamilton Pride, questions about police response linger (The Hamilton Spectator, Aug 21, 2019)
- Chief and police board apologize for failure at Pride, accept ‘blueprint for renewal’ (CBC, Jun 12, 2020)
- ‘You will be protected’: Pride London officials and police ensure safety after weekend altercation (CTV News London, Jul 18, 2022)
- Protesters take aim at Hamilton library over drag queen storytime event (CHCH, Nov 24, 2022)
If you’re wondering about the purpose of any specific question listed in the section above we’d be happy to explain why it was included.
Planning for the Best
We know there’s no perfect safety plan or way to prevent potentially harmful situations from occurring. Still, it’s helpful to get an understanding of what an event organizer is planning and how much they’re thinking about what’s necessary to protect event participants from harassment and violence.