Tips And Info-Sharing Practices! A Thread!
Various folks have been asking us for a while if we would make a publicly viewable version of some of the basic suggestions we've offered community members and allies about what constitutes a useful tip, how we decide to share info, etc.
Part 1! What makes a useful tip or "spotted" post? Concrete physical and descriptive details of *both* the individuals in question *and* their behavior, the time, and the place. No suspected affiliation (i.e. "they look like Proud Boys,") is ever more useful than actual details.
Physical details include: clothing, height, approximate age, hair and skin color, tattoos, etc. Behavior details (and/or group details) are things like, "Were they with a group?," "Were they threatening ppl?," and any other actions that brought them to your attention initially.
Remembering things is hard! And unless you're really experienced at it, grabbing details from a brief snippet of stressful memory is extra hard. When trying to recall, it helps to find a friend and have them lead you through a series of "X or Y" type questions. Write it all down.
Start from the top if it helps: "Hat or no hat?" "Long hair or short?" "Glasses or no glasses?" and make your way through physical appearance. Let yourself be less than perfect--just focus on getting a real good handle on the couple details that really drew your attention.
With cars, if you are not a car person, do not let a car person try and talk you through what kind of car it might have been. You will end up very annoyed. Just do the same as above for recalling details about people: "Truck, SUV, sedan...?"; "Older or newer?"
If you are a car person, IDK, live your life I guess.
License plate numbers are great for distinguishing one car from other very similar looking other cars. We are not cops, your average antifascist cannot instantly find out who owns or was driving a car based on the plate number.
One thing *anyone* can do is look up a plate number (and the state) on one of many free online databases and find out if there is a car currently registered with that number in that state, and what make and model that car is. Useful for confirming you got a plate number right.
When thinking about how to describe or recall someone's demeanor or behavior, examine what your initial reaction was to seeing them and how it made you feel. Then assess what it might have reminded you of to provoke that reaction. Did the person seem out of place? Why?
Sometimes it is because the person's behavior seemed out of control and they are someone you felt potentially in danger from. This definitely is relevant to your (and their) safety in that moment, but does not make them a fascist. We aren't just cops for people who hate cops.
Also, other than maybe the literal name/history of a specific, recognized fascist, the most pressing information is almost always what the person was doing, when, where, (especially if it was actively threatening or invasive) and whether or not they are still doing it.
Which leads nicely into Part 2! Public information sharing practices! There is no guidebook for how to be a community information resource, and lots of different groups do it their own way. All we really want to do is talk about what guides our own decision-making processes.
We view "tip"-style or threat-related information put out for our community as something intentionally shared to provide people with actionable details they can use to keep themselves and others safe. Being able to inform yourself and others helps us all have a sense of agency.
If you are already "here" but don't know who to look for, and you've been given more detail? Unhelpful. If you, say, work or live "here" and do not have a choice about leaving, not only is no description a problem, having everyone who might help just peace out is a problem too.
So not only do we try to provide people with actionable information, but we try to make sure that actionable options that we present people with center the needs of the most vulnerable in that situation. We find those needs out by fucking asking, if at all possible.
Also be aware that people might want a chance to inform their own close community, their co-workers, their family, of an imminent threat to them specifically before you tell the entire world "on their behalf."
Not trying to get on too many high horses here, but honestly don't fucking clout chase on the backs of other peoples', or other communities', targeted death threats and traumatic experiences without their consent or needs taken into account.
Everyone makes mistakes, and learning takes time. Being open to feedback and requests from people directly affected by a situation, or those who you can establish are in contact/speaking for those directly affected is like a big deal. That's being accountable to community.
If you're an individual who's just seen something scary and you feel like other people need to know, then you're in a great position to potentially help others come together and protect your community from a threat!
Take a second to ensure that you're in a safe enough place to stop and communicate what you've seen. Then, unless it's just absolutely a clear and imminent threat you can already convey in direct terms, we would strongly suggest taking like, 5-10 minutes before you go "public."
During that 5-10 minutes, there's a few quick things you can do that will really help everyone reading your potential tip or PSA make the most of whatever information you present.
1. Find or contact a friend/loved one and tell them about what just happened to you, what you saw, how it made you feel. Then, after you've briefly told them, assess with them whether or not you feel like you still need to tell "the public" and what info you can share.
It can be hard to at times distinguish between the feeling of needing to tell *someone* and the feeling of needing to tell *everyone.* Finding even a sympathetic stranger or fellow protester, and getting their support and take on a situation can help you assess this for yourself.
2. Do the little tasks/exercises we related above to see the most you can remember or take note of about what you've seen, and compile those into a brief, informative note you might be willing to share. If you have a second, have someone else look it over for you before sharing.
3. If the information, or the thing/people you saw was ambiguous and you aren't sure whether it was what you thought it was, or if it even happened at all, look around for corroborating accounts. Does that famous fash still have that haircut? Did anyone else see that car?
If you feel that what you have to say is really important, even though it's still unclear what it means or what it was, you should absolutely still share it. Just let people know the limitations of your knowledge. Being a resource doesn't mean being some "all-knowing" authority!
Mostly, just...we try--though we don't always succeed--to share information with people that also allows the community to share the sense of purpose and agency that we derive from learning and making informed decisions to fight fascism in our community. Hope that helps!
...Sorry. Earlier typo, https://anticapitalist.party/@RoseCityAntifa/104452424451054300 should read:
> If you are already "here" but don't know who to look for, and you *haven't* been given more detail? Unhelpful."
The social network of the future: No ads, no corporate surveillance, ethical design, and decentralization! Own your data with Mastodon!