Unarmed Civilian Protection and Accompaniment

What is UCP?
Unarmed Civilian Protection and Accompaniment is a proven and courageous practice demonstrated in local neighborhoods and large-scale international conflicts, with a variety of strategic methods.

The DCPT offers UCP based on human dignity and nonpartisanship with a focus on: 1) protecting those most at risk, 2) supporting constructive conflict and nonviolent resistance movements, 3) re-humanization and as possible cultivating empathy.

See this video about UCP from our partner Meta Peace Team.

When use UCP?
UCP is helpful in various conflict situations, such as neighborhood conflicts, accompaniment of individuals at risk or children going to school, protection for those living on the streets, political demonstrations, overnight vigils, etc.

How can DCPT help?
1) If you know of an event, ongoing situation, group, or person in need of UCP by professionally trained persons, contact us and we’d be happy to deploy and/or train your local group to offer UCP and accompaniment.

2) If you’d like to create a Community or Neighborhood Safety Unit, we can consult on ways to develop this.

What are some DCPT examples?
1) Community Safety Unit:
 We are providing a CSU deployment at Columbia Heights Plaza in Washington DC through consultation and partnership with local community organizations and individuals. The general purpose is to offer alternative community protection mechanisms in light of existing tensions and potential for destructive conflict. Specific objectives: a. Improve community relations and imagination around public safety, b. Prevent violence and destructive conflict through nonviolent responses, c. Offer a channel to enhance access to needed resources for those in the Plaza and make civic plaza a more accessible and enjoyable place for all community members. (Aug.-Sept. 2021)

2) UCP EVENT REPORTS: examples include U.S. Election Demonstrations 2020; direct accompaniment of a black, community organizer, pastor, and candidate for congress in the mid-west U.S.; Black Lives Matter demonstrations; immigration demonstrations in San Diego, CA and Tijuana, MX border; Unite the Right Rally, March for Life, Westboro Baptist Church demonstrations in Washington DC; a 22 day, 24-hour vigil with NAKASEC (Korean migrants) in DC; Israel-Palestinian demonstrations in the DMV area; Republican National Convention in Cleveland OH, 2016; etc.


Below are some older examples:

Providing Accompaniment:
In 2011-13, through our partnership with the National Homecomers Academy (NHA), 2-4 Safe Passage volunteers walked along the routes where children go to and from school in the Kenilworth-Parkside community. Accompaniment activities were led by the Homecomers, returning citizens who are committed to giving back to their communities. The Washington Post wrote about the program in September 2011. The intention was to provide a sense of adult support for the children and model adult engagement. Combining this activity with other local community building initiatives NHA and DCPT helped to unleash the power of neighborhood members to begin to take on these roles of protective accompaniment.

Providing Monitoring and Protective Presence:
In 2011, DCPT surveyed neighborhoods to map the areas where conflicts simmer and are most likely to erupt.  The first one identified was Gallery Place, a booming downtown area where teenagers “hang out,” families attend sporting events, and tourists & a variety of area residents come for movies, restaurants, and night life. Merchants who view the young people as a threat have hired security guards and demanded increased police presence.

Between the police, the security guards, and Metro transit police, the area bristles with uniforms. At least some of the time, young people respond to the defensiveness and occasional hostility they encounter by pushing the limits or applauding those who do. Violent incidents between youth and police have occurred, iPhone and wallet snatchings are not uncommon, even with the police presence, and violent incidents continue.

DCPT members engaged the scene Friday and Saturday evenings and at other times as needed to monitor the interactions of all parties, including the police. We practiced proactive presence by talking with the merchants, guards, and police as well as young people, adult residents, and tourists. Our intention was to offer respect for our equal dignity, active compassionate listening, and conflict transformation skills to all the parties involved and to be seen as non-partisan with resources to provide.

Resources DCPT provided include nonviolent conflict intervention training opportunities and social service connections for youth looking for housing, food, education, jobs, etc. We’ve also developed “tip cards” on nonviolent conflict intervention tactics for security guards and youth; as well as “tip cards” on knowing your rights for the youth in situations of police confrontations.

UCP Eli Meg Lind