Press-Republican

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March 22, 2014

Fight against street harassment comes to Plattsburgh

PLATTSBURGH — Some high-profile examples of street harassment brought the issue into sharper focus for Matt Hall. 

Back in 2010, a friend was beaten in a gang attack.

During a Take Back the Night event in Plattsburgh in May 2013, marchers were subjected to calls of “sluts!” as they moved down the street.

“It seems like at least two or three times a year there’s a high-profile case that gets in the media,” the Plattsburgh man, 26, said, noting as well the recent use of the N word on a fraternity party list at SUNY Plattsburgh.

And that, he believes, skews the reality — that verbal abuse on the street actually happens multiple times every day.

“I want to create a culture that stands against this (street harassment),” he said. “Realistically, this is not going to just go away, so it’s how we as a community are going to face these things.” 

HOLLABACK! HERE

Hall, whose passion is social justice, had seen an ad campaign for the Philadelphia branch of a movement called Hollaback! and was impressed with its message.

The nonprofit, according to its website, aims to end public behaviors that oppress people, whether in a “sexist, racist, transphobic, homophobic, ableist, sizeist and/or classist” fashion.

After completing three months of training, he has introduced Hollaback! Plattsburgh locally.

“I feel like Hollaback! is a good way to mobilize the community,” he said.

Saturday, the local incarnation of the movement will hold a fundraiser at the Koffee Kat on Margaret Street.

“We work together to better understand street harassment, to ignite public conversations and to develop innovative strategies to ensure equal access to public spaces,” the site says.

Since 2011, the movement has spread to 24 countries.

WEBSITE, TWITTER

Come April, a Hollaback! Plattsburgh website will go live, serving as a platform for people to share their stories, with an option to post anonymously and include pictures. 

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