—by Patch Perryman
It’s been quite a season for all of us in the Timbers Army. The capos, drummers and trumpeters thank everyone who joined us in the North End, on the road, and across the globe.
But before the season ends, we have one more request of you (AKA #BYCAP).
You may take it for granted that you’ll be at the next match, singing and chanting yourself hoarse. You’re from the North End and you’re there to make some noise, right?
But what if you couldn’t?
What if the joyful soundtrack of the Timbers Army was off limits to you?
You wouldn’t be alone.
Here’s how you can help:
Instead of buying a pint, consider taking that spare change, that small bill, whatever you would consider to be the value of a “thank you beverage” and put that money into our pickle buckets, which you’ll see hanging off each nest along with one on the main stage.
We will turn that money into tuition breaks for those campers, because even though grants are essential to run Camp Meadowood Springs, the costs campers face are often the initial obstacle for them to overcome. Since the first BYCAP ask back in 2011, the Timbers Army has raised enough to pay outright for 15 campers—and we cannot be stopped from doing more.
If you cannot be at the match on Saturday, September the 29th, you can donate here (select "TA BYCAP"). Every bit helps—no matter if it’s on the pitch, in the North End, or in our community.
Thank you. See you in the stands.
—The Timbers Army Capos, Drums and Trumpets Corps
The 107ist board would like to thank all who have participated in the discussion on this topic. Through this process we have given special weight to our Asian and Pacific Islander members and the broader API community, locally. While we don’t discount the ranging concerns around this issue, we believe that our use of the sunburst throughout our iconography is very different in meaning from the Rising Sun, yet we do understand and acknowledge the concerns of some of our members in this regard.
As a result, we will be retiring the green and white capo stand flag unless/until significant design changes can be made. Also, we have been talking with the creators/owners of the current BAF and Away Sunshine flag about evolving the flags to incorporate more Portland-centric elements that will make them more divergent to any perceived negative reference. They will be attending our board meeting next week to discuss paths forward. They have been hoping to have alterations to the Away flag ready to travel to KC on the 18th, but it may go into temporary retirement until those changes are completed. Due to the sizable logistics of working on the BAF, any significant changes would need to be an off-season project for them. Therefore, the BAF will be used in its current state throughout the rest of this season.
We also feel that this is a great opportunity to highlight some of the great work being done in our community to productively address hate. The local group Coalition of Communities of Color is working on a hate incident reporting app as a clearing house for incidents that will streamline tracking and response. The Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO) is leading the development of a highly detailed rapid response system of protocols that the reporting app will feed into to provide the most effective, unique response for each reported incident. This system is currently in the beta testing phase and is proving out well. The hope is to have it up and running in the coming months.
By continuing our relationships with many of our communities susceptible to hate, we aid in the social change to obtain self-determination, wellness, justice and prosperity for all who call Portland home. Through the strength of efforts like these we can contribute to an even broader impact on these present issues and we welcome you to continue to join us as we look for ways to do so.
This post is not an official statement on behalf of the 107ist board. However, it has been reviewed by the board before posting. This is an attempt not to state opinion or prescribe the solution, but to frame the issue in a way that elevates the discussion constructively as we move forward. While we continue to deliberate as a board, it is important that we continue to hear from you, our membership and community at large.
Well, as per usual, the Timbers’ participation in the Lamar Hunt US Open Cup has not been short on controversy. As we were hosted by LAFC in their first run at the Cup, a multitude of controversial things to talk about swept over our community. I’m going to be addressing one of these specifically, as it brings up some very valid issues that are being discussed within the membership and at the 107ist board level. While much of the discussion arose in social media circles, a lot of the deliberation at the board level is in response to a very well-thought-out email to the board from a member of the Tigers Supporters Group (TSG), the LAFC supporters group based in Koreatown. As many of you may know, when the Sunshine flag went up after the Timbers goals in LA, the recognizable similarity with the Rising Sun flag of Imperial Japan surprised those who know that the Timbers Army and the 107ist have an ethos that completely contradicts the embodied meaning in the Rising Sun flag for communities who suffered under the atrocities of Imperial rule.
The Rising Sun flag has been in use for hundreds of years in Japan and has always been a symbol of war. Rooted in use by warlords, it became a symbol of national military strength around 1870. Many atrocities have occurred under its shadow. As the first nation to truly embrace industrialization and its advantages in warfare, a sense of racial superiority grew out of Japan that led to the Imperial mindset as a colonial power in the region.
This perceived hierarchy of superiority allowed them to justify the subjugation of the occupied peoples as they expanded. This manifested itself in many ways, from the sexual enslavement of hundreds of thousands of young girls, to around 6 million people being forced into Japanese labor camps and mines from Korea alone, to thousands being forced to participate in torturous medical experiments (Maruta). In one gruesome example, hundreds of thousands of Chinese people were raped and/or brutally massacred in one particular campaign of savagery referred to now as the Rape of Nanking. An estimated 36 million casualties were created in the Asia Pacific during WWII under the shadow of the Rising Sun flag. What’s noticeably missing from that statistic are Koreans, as they’d been occupied for over 20 years by 1931 and were considered a part of Japan at the time. Some estimates put the total number of casualties from Imperial expansion much closer to 50 million. While this is a similar number to the casualties in the European theater at the hands of Nazi Germany, we all (in the West) can recognize the inherent negative meaning of Nazi symbolism; yet it has become apparent that we know little of the meaning of the Rising Sun for those who were occupied in the Asia Pacific. Unlike Germany’s efforts to atone for this period in their history, Japan has largely failed to apologize, atone, or even wholly recognize the grievous acts that occurred at their hands over the same time.
With the sorrow of many, the Rising Sun flag is still in use in Japan. It has become the flag flown for Japan’s defensive navy and, with slight variation, other branches of their defensive military. It has caused numerous controversies at sporting events through its use on uniforms, both flying free and being hung in the stands, and even as face paint. The casual way it is incorporated in advertisements, fashion, media, etc., serves as a continual reminder to many millions of people. One specific current use is very troubling and can be directly correlated to conversations and reflections we have been having here in this country and in Portland in particular. Anti-Korean nationalism in Japan has been making a resurgence using the Rising Sun flag as one of its symbols. Some of the hateful language used is almost verbatim, after translation, to the hateful vitriol that has been growing like a cancer in the US. Watching video of protests and counter-protests on the subject is eerily similar to what we’ve been seeing here in Portland in recent years.
We’ve been doing a lot of soul-searching as a community in recent decades as to our role in WWII, with much of this focusing on the internment of the Japanese-Americans living in our communities. What we haven’t focused on largely are the effects of Japanese Imperialism on the populations they invaded over this time. As a Pacific Rim city, we do have a sizable population of Koreans, Chinese, Pacific Islanders, and Japanese; however, they lack any real enclaves like what can be found in many of the other major cities along the West Coast, most notably for the Korean-American community, who have Koreatown in Los Angeles but no comparable community here. While many in these groups locally have gained growing cultural acceptance in this region over time, their assimilation with the wider population has been deep in some respects and lagging in others due to many factors. A part of that is choosing your battles, and raising awareness about this symbol hasn’t been the chosen battle thus far. That’s kind of what brought us to this situation, regretfully. Something that is this important to so many people, and having the larger population be basically oblivious, is a true societal failure. There’s no other way to put it, really.
I personally applaud the Tiger Supporters Group for bringing this to our attention. The strength of the Korean community in LA as a true part of the diaspora is a great asset to the overall region there, and to this country, for that matter. Brought together often through adversity sometimes more than cultural similarity, their community identity and solidarity with other minorities was formed through fire. Following the 1992 Los Angeles riots, Koreatown was reformed from an enclave of immigrants to a community that is deeply engaged as an active part of the cultural and political landscape, advocating not just on behalf of Korean-Americans, but for all minority populations. Through this strength as a community and their place in the wider region, they are more able to bring issues like this to the broader consciousness. This does deserve our support and does align with the ethos of the 107ist.
In comparison to much of this country, we all, as supporters of the beautiful game, have an above-average comprehension of the subtleties between flags. Every four years we’re reminded of this via the World Cup. The slightest variations between flags can mean completely different things. One example is the banter the Timbers Army has been trading with one of our rivals using marine signal flags (“Your ship is sinking; abandon ship”). Another example is the use of a sunburst, the shared element between our Sunshine flag and the Rising Sun flag. The sunburst is not limited to these two, as it’s used in the Nepali peace flag (red and gold) and has been used in Ireland (green and gold) for about as long as it has represented the national military of Japan. The green and gold sunburst in Ireland traces back to use by the Irish Republican Brotherhood and has been used as a symbol of their fight for independence for well over a century. Irish regiments who fought in our nation’s Civil War for the Union carried with them versions of the green and gold sunburst. It has also made its way into the terraces through the supporters culture behind Celtic FC, a group that largely shares our ethos.
Now, I’m not going to deny that our Sunshine flag wasn’t influenced at all by the Rising Sun, but the meaning behind the flag couldn’t be more divergent. The original Sunshine flag was conceived out of our tradition of being led by Timber Jim with his daughter’s favorite song, You Are My Sunshine. But, while the song has a lot to do with the Spread the Love part of our ethos, another aspect is the strength of our convictions, and ignorant of the larger implications above, the Rising Sun had that inherent strength. The making of that first incarnation was the largest single tifo display item we had created at that point. While small compared to the spaces we’ve used to paint our displays since then, it seemed big at the time. Its creation wasn’t like slapping a bunch of paint around like our other displays; this was hand-sewn, and the sounds of the sewing machines will still bring a smile to the faces of those that were there. During the planning stages, the flag got the nickname BAF (Big-Ass Flag) due to the relative size, and the name stuck. It made its debut on July 14, 2004 in, oddly enough, a US Open Cup match against the San Jose Earthquakes. The Open Cup for us back then was a huge deal. It was our one entry point into the CONCACAF Champions League and a chance for us to prove our heart and passion when facing clubs above our league, not only on the field as a club, but in the stands as supporters. Our passion and heart that we gave to our team to embrace led to some of the most epic moments of that era in club history. Even though we always fell short, Our Boys frequently did us proud.
Only a few weeks after the debut of the BAF, Timber Jim’s daughter passed away in a car crash. The resulting outpouring of emotion was codified though the singing of the song and the messages of love, hope, passion, joy, and strength were embodied in that flag -- all things that were needed for us to heal as a community and to give Jim the support he needed then and still does to this day. Truly, it became more than just a tifo display. When it goes up over the North End after we score a goal, its message of pure joy washes over us. Hope is one of the strongest characteristics of the human condition. Through literally the worst of times (well outside sport), hope can get people through. When hope is lost, one’s ability to cope is lost too, and any downward spiral is near impossible to get out of. We look to the Sunshine flag as a symbol of that hope in the darkest times and we use it as a symbol of our convictions. As a result, it is one of the most ubiquitous symbols in our iconography: shirts, hats, patches, scarves, stickers, banners, large tifo displays, tattoos, all inspire these very pure emotions through the incorporation of the sunburst, so much so that it’s a key element in the Timbers Army crest and the 107ist logo. This is the symbol we put on youth kits when we sponsor a team. This is the symbol that we use to take our message into our communities.
After the original flag saw such an abundance of use over the years, it definitely showed its age and was falling apart, so it was retired shortly after our move to MLS. Feeling its loss, a couple of supporters with master sewing skills decided to make a new one, again by hand, and that is the one used in the North End of our stadium now which has some obvious variances from the original. Later, they decided to create another one specifically for away days which is closer in design to the original BAF. This is the element that travels with us so the regional and traveling supporters can be washed over by it, and helps our support for the team transcend geographical space.
Now, given the knowledge brought forth about the meaning for many when they see symbols like our Sunshine flag, we are at a crossroads. The only thing agreed upon at this point is that we can’t do nothing. This is far from placating another supporters group’s concern; this is about recognizing an issue in our own community much broader than our flag. Knowing that members of our community are affected in this way by the Rising Sun flag cuts right to the heart of who we are as an organization. Any simple solution we choose will be a disservice to many of those among us. It must be more broadly and deeply addressed. In the days since this conversation started, we have started a dialogue on this with Asian Pacific American Network of Oregon (APANO), who are fellow members of the Portland United Against Hate (PUAH) coalition, and will be taking this issue together to the wider coalition to discuss what can be done moving forward.
There is current talk about altering the flag or even removing it from our iconography. Removal isn’t really possible, as its breadth within our culture runs too deep. Even if we tried, it would only have the opposite effect, as any existing reference would invoke the specific negativity we’re trying to address. Altering it by simply adding elements runs the risk of sweeping the issue under the rug and could be taken as just putting lipstick on a rat. Even if you get into the specifics of the sixteen rays or something (our number always varies), it discounts the fact that alterations to the Rising Sun are presently being used as representations of the original. As it stands currently, the away day Sunshine flag is the closest representation, especially when it is displayed with left side justification of the sunburst. The very least we could do is be very specific about orienting the flag so the justification of the sunburst is to the right, which would both turn the reference upside down in the international signal of distress and provide us with a constant opportunity to discuss the why, just like many of our other traditions. Maybe that flag simply retires with the other.
Again, there is no real solution at this point. The important thing is we’re started processes, are having the dialogue, and we look forward to hearing from and working with more of our members and others in our community to address the issue.
Please feel free to comment.
Last week, I had the honor of being named the Portland Timbers’ 2018 Community MVP for my work with the Immigrant and Refugee Community Organization (IRCO). If you are at all involved with the Timbers Army/107ist, you are probably already well aware of the work we have been doing - and I use “we” because while I was the chosen nominee, by no means did I do it alone. Michelle “Bella Devil” DeFord organized supply drives. Kyle “Caterjunes” Jones tirelessly worked the phones setting up a venue for the kids to play futsal, resulting in one of the two most magical moments I’ve ever experienced as a Timbers Army member, when the Portland and Minnesota fans broke into an impromptu game with the IRCO kids before MNUFC’s inaugural match (the other of course being the Atticus game). Outside of 107ist, I have been helping the kids with their homework most every Saturday and acting as a big brother to one particular refugee family, which you can do as well!
For being the Timbers’ chosen winner, IRCO will receive at least a $1,000 donation. With your help, we can turn that into $25,000. From right now until the All-Star Game on August 1st, you can vote for IRCO to take home the grand prize. Portland’s representative has won two of the last three years, including last year’s champion, Keith Palau, and between that and countless Save/Goal of the Week awards, Portlanders have shown they know how to get out and vote. But it won’t be an easy lift. There are many passionate fanbases around the league and we cannot take victory for granted, especially given that the All-Star hosts in Atlanta are shattering attendance records left and right. Between their gate receipts and home field advantage, they have to be seen as the favorites here, which means it’s going to take a bigger effort than ever before to come out on top.
You can vote once per day per device (that means once on your work computer, once on your home computer, once on your phone, etc.), every day, on their website at https://mlsworkscmvp.com/#timbersfc and on Twitter by tweeting and/or retweeting the automatically prepopulated tweet that will include the contest hashtag, MLS WORKS handle, MLS Club’s handle, Wells Fargo’s handle and the Website URL, along with the reason why you voted for your choice.
If you want to make the Twitter part easy, you can schedule a tweet in advance for every day of the contest. Twitter dot com will only let you schedule tweets if you give them a credit card, but you can connect your account to Tweetdeck for free and schedule them there. Go to tweetdeck.com, log into your Twitter account, click on the new tweet button in the top left, copy the text below, paste it into the text box, click “Schedule tweet”, and pick some time today. Then repeat those steps for tomorrow. And again for the day after tomorrow, and on and on until August 1st. Now you don’t even have to think about tweeting every day - but make sure you still vote manually through their website as well. Every vote matters!
Here is the text to tweet:
I just voted for Scott Jeffries, the 2018 @TimbersFC @MLSWORKS #CommunityMVP presented by @WellsFargo https://mlsworkscmvp.com/#timbersfc
Thank you for your support. Let's bring home the grand prize and show our immigrant and refugee neighbors that they are supported and welcomed!
A statement on behalf of the 107IST Board of Directors
Over the last month and a half, the 107ist Board of Directors has been working diligently to address the issue of sexual harassment/assault within our ranks, and has been taking the issue very seriously as it has dominated our deliberations over this time. We regret that over this same time, other credible incidents have occurred and have been brought to our attention. While we have now since taken direct action, the board understands and shares the frustrations of those affected. To aid in our deliberative processes moving forward, we have updated our Code of Conduct to more specifically address these types of incidents.
In addition, we are creating a special subcommittee to address issues of sexual harassment and assault as they arise and, given the sensitive nature of such incidents, are working on anonymizing reports if someone so wishes. This will allow us to track incidents, help us to identify escalating behavior, and inform a response that is both judicious and timely.
One thing that we have learned through this process is that we all need to be doing a better job identifying problem behaviors and advocating for those who have been victimized. As a result, we have vetted and selected a professional bystander intervention program focusing on sexual harassment from a group who understands who we are, what we do, and what we stand for. We will be holding the first of these trainings later in July and August for the board, game day ops, and in-house security. Any available slots outside this group will be open to members at large. Our goal is to have these early trainings help the trainers understand the uniqueness of our community as we open them up to broader membership moving forward. It’s worth noting that we are still working on hosting bystander intervention trainings more specifically geared toward incidences of hate, but we found that the subject matter was divergent enough that they needed to be two separate trainings.
We look forward to collaborating with all our membership as we collectively work toward building a more welcoming environment free of the predatory behavior that has made our ranks an unsafe place for some of our members. These behaviors are not limited to our shared spaces; they expand across our society. We feel we have the capacity as an organization to move in the direction of the leading edge, and each of you is an important part of that capacity.
Let’s do this, Portland.
107ist Board of Directors
Are you ready for some fútbol!? Timbers Army Football Club (TAFC) is proud to announce that registration for individual players and teams is now open for the new Fall Recreational COED 7v7 league! This has been a dream of mine since I started playing soccer at the ripe age of 47 six years ago. Thanks to the efforts of the TAFC 7v7 team of Dawn Bauman, Ray Terrill, Eric Kilgore, Bill Packwood, Pedro Nunez, this league is happening this Fall 2018. TAFC teams such as Old Growth and Thundercats have been bringing players into the game for years but there hasn’t really been a league that shares our vision. Competitive players have plenty of outlets in the Portland area. This is an outlet for the rest of us.
The is a true recreational league designed to bring new players out to play the game they love. We are creating this league to spread the love of soccer and bring people into the game. If you haven’t played soccer since the 6th grade or you have never played before, this league is designed for you. The emphasis of this league is fair play, sportsmanship, camaraderie, and community. “Aggro” or ultra-competitive behavior will not be tolerated. This is not to say that advanced players are not welcome. Competitive players who believe in our league ethos, want to play with their friends and make them better will be welcomed with open arms.
You can register as a “free agent” individual player and we will either find a team who needs you or create a team from the list of free agents. You can also register your recreational 11v11, futsal, indoor or Donut Derby 7v7 team. If you are worried about having enough players, we will supply players from the free agent list to supplement your roster.
All games will be on Sunday afternoons with start times of either 4:00pm or 5:30pm at the awesome new Eastside Timbers Academy Training Center 4710 SE 174th Ave Portland, OR Match Dates: 10 match season on 9/9, 9/16, 9/23, 9/30, 10/7, 10/14, 11/4, 11/11, 11/18, and 12/2. Costs: $650/team and $50/individual.
OASA cards are required by the first game 9/9/2018.
If this league sounds like something for you register yourself or your team here:
Hope to see you out on the field this Fall
Timbers Army FC
The Multnomah County Library made us a list! (Thanks Alicia!)
Booked! made us a list!
Twitter uses also suggested lists, which can be found here, here, here, here, here, here, here, here, and here.
- by Clifford Eiffler-Rodriguez
Being a part of Timbers Army FC helped me get stuck in.
I moved to Portland in 2003 and lived in the area on and off for several years. I had read about the Timbers and Timbers Army. However, it would take many years before I drummed up the courage (and the cash) to start attending games in late 2008. I was immediately hooked. Despite standing on the very edge of the TA, I was amazed at the connection I felt to the group, and the group to the club. It was the most vibrant and authentic sporting experience I had ever been part of.
In an effort to learn about the community and get to know people, I stumbled upon the SCUSA message board and spent countless hours trying to soak in the culture of the group. This led me to buying my first set of scarves, occasionally posting, and even attending a few away matches (the 2010 U.S. Open Cup trip to play Kitsap remains a notable one) where for the most part I knew people, but more than likely they didn’t know me. A couple of years in, I remained largely only a witness to the spectacle.
With a growing passion for the game, my interest in starting to actually play soccer had been stoked. When I first moved to Portland, I was introduced to playing as an adult by signing up for the intramural program at PSU. It was a neat game and it scratched an itch. Soccer, at its most basic level, was a game accessible to people of all skill levels.
Despite moving away for a couple of years (and cleating the crap out of everyone playing pickup in Salem), when I moved back to the area, I started looking for a team to join in Portland. I was bouncing around, working for various indoor soccer facilities, and while the employee discount afforded me a chance to play soccer, I wasn’t playing the same game that I saw from the stands of PGE Park.
Poking around the internet, I found out about the Greater Portland Soccer District (GPSD). I soon learned that there was a TA-specific league. After posting on the message board with the hopes that a desperate manager would take a flyer on a nobody, my search ended up grinding to a halt. My requests had fallen on busy ears.
So, I kept my eyes open.
Then came open play. It was an initiative led by the TAFC committee to rent a field and invite players from the league and any others who were interested to come to play under the lights at Buckman Field. Since it was open to anyone, I decided to head down with the small hope that I could find a team with an available spot.
After a couple of open play sessions, I connected with Bill, who was leading the committee at the time, and shared my desire to join a TAFC team. He couldn’t promise anything. Most of the teams had full rosters and turnover was limited. But eventually he heard that one of the teams, Guerreros Verdes FC (which would later become FC Bridge City), were looking for some players for the upcoming season and connected me to their manager, Manny.
Manny’s team was looking for center backs for the upcoming season, and despite having never played the position, I was happy to step into the role. He invited me to a tryout to scrimmage with the team and some friends to make sure I was a good fit.
From my point of view, it was an absolutely disastrous performance. The only time I had played 11v11 was in the fourth grade, and frankly, I had no idea I was doing out there.
After the scrimmage, I went to Five Guys to drown my sorrows in a huge pile of fries. That’s where I ran into Leo, a member of the team, and he was very gracious about my performance. However, I thought there was no way I would ever hear from these guys again.
I don’t know if Manny can illuminate the conversation the managers had that day, but having managed several teams since, half the battle is getting players to pay and show up to the games. A couple of days later an email arrived with a .doc which outlined the team’s rules and expectations. These guys were serious.
That first season was beautiful. The adjustment to playing the game was difficult, and I made my fair share of mistakes, but the team found itself driving out Gladstone HS to take part in the Fall Championship game against RCA.
I still feel we were robbed. At least we got to ease the pain of the result with carnitas.
Results aside, I had found a home within the TA. Guys who had my back on the field and who I could share a drink with post-match. Timbers games became a place where I no longer high-fived strangers after a goal, but hugged friends. There was no turning back.
Since then, the family has grown, and I have had the opportunity to play with more and more people from the Timbers Army and Rose City Riveters.
At times the Timbers Army FC world is big and complicated. We partner with the city, PPS, and a bevy of other organizations across the city to run leagues, put on tournaments, and get people out playing soccer.
It’s a heavy lift. We largely depend on the work and goodwill of volunteers to make these things happen. But when I stand at Buckman watching the Donut Derby being played or lace up my cleats to take the field for Thundercats FC, I cannot help but think that we are fulfilling this following commitment by the 107ist: "The mission of the 107IST (107 Independent Supporters Trust) is to support soccer in and around Portland, Oregon, from the grassroots to the highest professional level."
I love the volunteers who give so much time to make this happen.
I love the teams and players who I can count on to show up and play.
Honestly, when it comes down to it, this is one of the purest representations of this game that I can imagine.
I am so happy to have met and played with so many of you. This is a family that I cannot believe exists.
I love PTFC, but at the end of the day, nothing bring me more happiness than seeing family and friends on the field.
This is something special. Thank you so much for being a part of it.
As the engine that fuels The Timbers Army and the Rose City Riveters, the 107IST board represents a growing and disparate group of supporters. We know that as supporters we will disagree about many things, large and small, in person and online. But as an organization there are some things on which we all agree.
Recently we received a report of an incident in the stands right here at home that caused an individual to feel so unsafe that they left the game early. Both the board and the front office responded. We wish we could say that this was an isolated incident, that only one person in the stands has ever engaged in harassing behavior, and that it was only one time. We wish we could say that everyone who comes to jump and clap and sing for the team always feels safe to do so. Sadly, we cannot.
In the course of the investigation and conversation resulting from this incident, we are also examining some truths about ourselves as individuals and as a group that might be hard to take. As AMAZING a community as we are, we need to do better, much better.
As 107ISTS, the Timbers Army and Riveters have a long-standing history of standing up to racism, sexism, and homophobia in the stands. We have long called ourselves champions of basic human rights. While this is most definitely true at our core, we also know we need to do a better job of putting our words into action. As a board and as individuals, we are taking a long, difficult look at what we need to do to create the conditions that give victims of harassment or assault the space and safety to know that they have advocates who will listen and respond. We need to learn how we, as a collective, can be better at intervening in the stands when we are bystanders witnessing such incidents as they occur. As a board, it is our duty to lead; and as individuals, it is each person’s responsibility to play a role in making the North End, and every place we gather, a safe environment. Our diversity and our numbers can, and should be, a strength.
In the coming weeks, the Board will be sharing a process for providing a safe, anonymous (if desired) and confidential place for folks in the stands to report incidents. We will also be improving our capacity to self-police, by providing bystander intervention training, first to game day operations and our own volunteer security people, and eventually to more members of the 107IST community at large. We are also evaluating implementing a code of conduct that clearly spells out what we should expect of ourselves and of each other, whether we’re cheering in the stands, gathering at a social event, painting tifo, or volunteering in the community.
We need to be better at clearly communicating what we all expect of each other. We need to be better at responding, both in the moment and after the fact, and we are committed to doing so.
Please hold us to it.
This is a guest post by TA members Emily, Nicky, and Dawn*.
Don’t be a shitty person. One of the reasons I fell in love with this community was the awesome people. It’s unfortunate that a few people in the TA ruin this experience and make others feel unsafe. Some of our founding bricks are acceptance and to spread the love. No one should feel unsafe or uncomfortable at a sporting event, during a goal celebration or otherwise. Keep your hands, hugs, beers, stuffed birds, and kisses to yourself unless you have permission. Use the Platinum Rule: treat everyone how you would want to be treated, but better.
Don’t be shocked or naïve that these things are happening. We’ve been trying to tell men that harassment happens almost on a daily basis, practically everywhere (our texts, pics or uninvited DMs, social media and in real life, possibly right in front of you). This harassing toxic behavior is perpetrated by people you like, maybe friends you know, or quite possibly even you. We are tired of hearing things like “He just likes to hug too much”, “He gets handsy when he drinks”, “Oh that guy, he kisses everyone when he’s happy”. No matter what we hear, whatever the excuses for the behavior, it’s not OK.
This is a BIG FUCKING DEAL. For all the lamenting we do about preserving TA Culture™, there has been a shocking amount of apathy when it comes to this shit. The amount of people who could name multiple offenders in the TA (including TA leadership) and know that this is ongoing, without having done anything about it, is damning, and if left unaddressed it will literally actually ruin TA culture (more so than bad corporate merch or eliminating chants ever could). It already has, to a certain extent – ruined the TA culture. There needs to be a seismic shift in the way we deal with this.
Speaking up when someone harasses you is hard and uncomfortable. It’s not always that easy to remove yourself from the situation. A lot of times if someone has been harassed or victimized they just want to get out of the situation. Plus, it feels shameful. It takes time to come forward, it takes time to come forward to someone you trust, and it takes time to be sure the person you trust is your ally.
Stop telling women “You should have…" or "Next time, you should do this”. Take a step back and start listening, switch your mindset to “I’m thinking about what I can do to make sure this doesn’t happen again”. Start having uncomfortable discussions with your friends when you see something. Call out a fellow ‘TA’ when you see this behavior.
It’s frustrating to be living in what feels like a broken system. There’s a lot of work to do to help fix it, like having nonviolent bystander intervention training or identifying the safe places/people for reporting harassment, always asking permission before you assume someone wants to be hugged, and maybe one of the easiest is for you to just speak up when you see it. Our society is a mess, but together if we all work to be better, do better, we can get back to being the community filled with awesome people that care about one another.
*Dawn is a 107IST board member, but here is writing as an individual supporter.