Guest Columnist #85 - Philly's Pissed

Philly’s Pissed and Philly Stands Up Report Back for 2005 Pointless Fest

Philly’s Pissed and Philly Stands Up provided support at this year’s Pointless Fest, a three-day concert held annually.  We worked to make this event more of a safe space for all people, specifically by making ourselves available to folks who needed support around issues of assault or safety. 
Several situations were brought to our attention; one was so outrageous we felt it needed to be shared with everyone. We were approached by several people asking for our assistance in a situation where person who had come to Philly to attend the fest disappeared without telling their travel partner or anyone else where they were. This person, who we will refer to as the survivor to protect her desire to remain anonymous, later turned up in a hospital, where she was unconscious for several hours and was kept on a feeding tube.
The survivor has agreed with our concern that something like this may
happen to other people and it is with this in mind and as a warning to our community that we are sharing this situation.  There are few clearly known facts in this situation, but we do know this for sure: Dopey is a shady-ass motherfucker.
Fact: The survivor has no recollection of what happened leading up to
their disappearance other than drinking with Dopey and Dopey’s traveling partner, Kim.
Fact: The survivor was found soaking wet and unconscious next to the river. She had been severely beaten. She was not sexually assaulted.
Fact: The survivor had a number of items stolen from her bag during this time, including her wallet, id and other personal belongings including a vest.
Fact:  Dopey was seen at an after show that weekend wearing the survivor’s vest.
Fact: Dopey was evasive and defensive when questioned about the survivor and her possessions.  His traveling partner, Kim, stated she knew nothing about what had happened and refused to give any information to find him or identify him.
Fact:  Dopey admitted to knowledge of the survivor’s assault.
Although we lack concrete proof of Dopey’s involvement in the assault, we believe that he and his traveling partner, at the very least, did not act in a way that we would expect members of our community to when confronted with one of our own being attacked and robbed.  It is this type of behavior that contributes to and allows assault to continue.

This assault clearly demonstrates the need for work such as our within the community, however extreme this incident may have been.  There are many other problems that are brought to us as well.  During the fest we mediated on behalf of people seeking aid in situations involving verbal assault, issues of safety, being in the same space as a perpetrator, and, addressing boundaries. With out members of the community dedicated to taking this sort of action, the needs of these people cold have been overlooked.
Unfortunately, we are confronted by these very same realities in day-to-day life. The work that we did at Pointless Fest is necessary with in the community regardless of whether an event is taking place.

We hope that in the future our work serves as a model for both those
organizing and attending events. The lesson we as a group took from Pointless Fest, is yes this work needs to be done, but it does not necessarily need to be us. Our goal is to empower those who are a part of Pointless Fest (whether that is organizer, security, band member, or fest goer) with tools and knowledge to start providing support for everyone at this event and hopefully take it on with them. We are sure that many people have these skills and knowledge that already attend or are part of this event, and make it a part of their daily lives. We hope that next year this service will still happen, but hopefully not with us, as a somewhat outside group, but organically from the community that participates in this event
Based on other events that bring in a lot of people from all over for a certain period of time, like Pointless Fest, here are some common problems and mistakes that organizers need to address if they want to take this work and making their event safe (in least in terms of the sexual assault, safe-space, and support):
Being accountable to people who are coming to the event (whether they were the intended type of group or not) We are all in this together and arbitrary lines about whether a person is in a community or not, is rather beside the point, in supporting someone who is. This is part of what accountability means.
Holding organizers or yourself as accountable. As organizers of an event, or security, etc. it is necessary to hold yourselves and your fellow organizers accountable to process o safety.
Supporting people doing support work. People who do support work (and this is not just us, or not just Pointless Fest) need organizers to support them
Follow through. Once an event is over, does not mean support work is. It is important for organizers to check in with the people who deal with this work to a) to understand what has happened b) to gage what needs work and c) to support ongoing work coming out of an event. It is also important in terms of supporting people doing support work because it shows that organizers do appreciate and the work and do take it seriously. Follow through from Pointless Fest organizers fell apart because the organizers were too busy to meet with us ( right after the event there was some phone tag and attempts to co-ordinate schedules, but it fell apart, we then tried to figure it out again, but the organizers were too busy) .

These are some of the problems we have recognized. We hope they are not viewed as attacks, but critiques in a process to create supportive and safe spaces that the organizers of Pointless Fest and people attending it expressed they wanted. We feel some positive steps were made and we hope by pointing out some of the mistakes next year they can be addressed and hopefully not happen or happen better.

-Philly’s Pissed and Philly Stands Up