The Power of Nonviolent Self-Defense

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Antje Mattheus, a member of Waging Nonviolence, describes how she experienced assault on the street and how she reacted to this situation.

For many people it’s difficult to stay calm, if they are harassed by stranger, especially black people. The recent killing of Trayvon Martin by George Zimmerman reminds us: the mythical figure of “dangerous black male stranger” still lives in most white people’s conscious and unconscious minds, which results in blacks often being blamed for crimes they did not commit. But there are other ways than be violent. Try to think first.

Antje was walking down the street to visit her friend, when three black teenage boys started to throw stones at her and offensively shouted at her. She was scared and didn’t know what to do. Then she walked towards them and simply asked: “Hi! How are you?”

“Walking toward them and introducing myself gave me more power and at the same time showed respect. Often violence and danger can’t be avoided, and there’s no simple formula.”

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