Intruders Invade Your Meeting

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Your Meeting is Crashed by Opponents

Take it Seriously…

These incidents happen and they need to be anticipated by leadership. An appropriate response is to:

  • take such incidents seriously,
  • have a reaction plan in advance, and
  • do not overreact.

If you have already received a threat, first go to this page:
What to Do When You Receive a Threat: Take it Seriously…

Which includes this advice for offices or homes:

If the group/individual harassing or threatening you shows up on your doorstep and attempts entry, lock the doors if still possible. Move away from windows if possible. Don’t hesitate. Do it immediately. Everyone in the office/home/group should be made aware that this is the policy, and they should feel empowered to act quickly and independently. Seconds count. Call 911 if your group chooses to involve the police.

For Public or Private Meetings in Other Spaces

Find out who is in overall charge of the meeting space, and if there is a particular person who is in charge on the specific date and time of your meeting.  Contact them and ask if they have a policy regarding removing people from a meeting who are deemed by you to be threatening, disruptive, or unwelcome.
Have a discussion with your group’s leadership or the collective on whether or not it is appropriate to involve the police.  If yes keep reading. If no, Go to Plan C. Collective Action

Be prepared if you agree to involve the police.

Locate the nearest police station and call them and ask for a brief meeting with the commander on duty about your concerns. They will probably say no. If so, ask to speak by phone with the commander on duty. If they say no, ask what would be a good time to call, and ask for the name of the person to whom you are talking. If they still evade the question, thank them for their assistance and say you will call back in an hour. Repeat the above.

If this does not work, visit the police station in person with at least one other group member.
Do not settle for “Just call us if there is a problem and talk to the desk sergeant.” This is often a brush off.

Your goal is the name of the commander and the inside line to the desk sergeant on duty. Sometimes this is the same line, but at night sometime the main line switches to a recording.

at your meeting space,
Do not elaborate on the situation.


Plan A.

First, the meeting facilitator should make it clear they intruder is re unwelcome and should leave. In some cases it is best to let the intruders make a short political or personal statement in the hopes that they will leave after stating their objections to the group. It is a small price to pay for avoiding the escalation into a more physical confrontation. If they refuse to leave, go to Plan B if there has been an agreement to involve the police. Otherwise jump to Plan C. or Plan D.

Plan B.

Have the designated security person call the police and explain that there is an unwelcome person who refuses to leave and that you already have discussed calling the police as an appropriate action with the person in charge of the facility. The facilitator should tell the intruder again that they should leave, and that you have now summoned the police to escort them out. If they still refuse to leave, pick from Plan C. or Plan D.

Plan C.

Collective Action. It is very unsettling to an intruder to have everyone at the event stand up in unison, face them, and start clapping their hands while shouting “Racists Out” or a similar appropriate chant. If your group desires, they can be alerted to this maneuver in advance. It is less threatening to not raise your hands above your chest while clapping and shouting. This is to avoid creating a sense of imminent physical rather than psychological threat to the intruder. If your group is agreeable to a bolder approach, start shuffling forward toward the intruder in small half steps at the end of each chant round. This is a group response and does not justify macho individual behaviors regardless of gender identity. Act with discipline as a group.

Plan D.

Delay any further action until the police have arrived.

Intruders with Weapons

This seldom happens despite the headlines and the reality that sometimes someone invades a space with a lethal weapon, especially a handgun or rifle.

If the person enters the room holding a gun or other weapon

Do not panic. Do not escalate the situation. If agreed to in advance the designated security person should hit the auto-dial for 911 and then place the phone down as inconspicuously as possible. Do not attempt to take a picture. Do not attempt to hide the phone. Just put it down. Everyone should remain in place, seated or standing. The meeting facilitator should calmly ask the intruder what it is the intruder wants everyone to hear about the intruder’s grievance with the group. This might turn a potentially deadly confrontation into a frightening event with no injuries. If you have agreed to involve the police, go to Plan D unless…

If a physical attack begins

Collective defensive action is the best response. Everyone should gather into a tight group and face the intruder or intruders. Defend yourself and others as best as possible under the circumstances, using chairs and other objects to fend off aggressors if needed. If agreed to in advance the designated security person should hit the auto-dial for 911 and then place the phone down as inconspicuously as possible. Do not think that having an alternate ecape route from the meeting space room will solve the problem. It will not. Either running toward the door willl escalate the sitution if the attack has not started; or, if lethal attack has started the last people trying to escape will be beaten, stabbed, or shot. Face the intruder. Defend everyone as a group.

If a person enters the room shooting or begins shooting.

No human being can outrun a bullet. Running away only guarantees that the most quick-witted and able-bodied persons nearest an alternative exit have a chance of survival. You do not want this on your conscience. Acting quickly and collectively everyone who can should start throwing chairs, tables, books, briefcases, canes, purses, walkers, trash cans, water jugs—anything—at the shooter, while charging and attacking the person with a focus on pinning the arm with the weapon to the floor. You are fighting to save lives. Be strong. Keep beating the intruder unit they release the gun and it is no longer in their control. The designated security person should hit the auto-dial for 911. You need to call the police. Really.

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