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 new 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. Holla-back! 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 businesses 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! For more information, visit peoplesjusticeleague.com.