[Noisebridge-discuss] Maria asked to leave. 2015-09-03

Rubin Abdi rubin at starset.net
Fri Sep 4 17:56:57 UTC 2015

Hi there all. This is mostly a re-account of what happened from my
perspective. The whole episode lasted around 45 minutes for me, so please
excuse me if I don't get every detail right. I'm not writing in the names
of those involved and leaving it up to them if they want to say anything
about this or not through our public discussion list.

Yesterday around 11:45-ish I got messages requesting if I could swing by
Noisebridge and give a hand in helping folks with a dispute. Once I
responded to the message it had turned a bit ugly at that point. There were
reports of Maria verbally assaulting people in the space, which is a
violation of our anti-harassment policy. The report continued on that the
folks in the space asked Maria to please leave and return once she's
scheduled mediation, and that she wasn't doing so.

So I walked over to Noisebridge with the goal of deescalation, mostly not
caring what had happened prior to my arrival. I got in, had a quick chat
with the folks pinging others online about the situation (whom were quite
honestly hiding on the other side of the Hackatorium and looking
justifiably spooked), then walked over to Maira to have a chat. The first
thing she said after I greeted her was something to the extent of, "I'm
happy to see you, I have so much to tell you" in a really cheerful manor
which was rather odd, so I asked her if she knew what my name was, and she

I informed her that a few folks in the space presently have stated that
she's been verbally abusing them and that I wanted to come by and check on
how the place was doing and make sure everyone felt ok. At this point any
cheerfulness she had disappeared and her tone became very agro. She started
to complain about how the others in the space were mistreating the Juki
sewing machine. I offered to her that's fine and all and no one should be
mistreating machines in the space, but it's not ok for her to verbally
assault them over it. She became more upset, and started to angerly yell at
me about how the others in the space have lied and that they are "bitches"
and that she's done nothing wrong. I asked her to calm down and I'm only
here help the situation, she became even more upset and started to flail
her arms around.

The interactions that I had with her from when we started talking to this
point was enough for me to not feel comfortable with her being in the
space. I shared with her my observations on her current actions and said
that I didn't feel like her negative attitude at this time was good in the
space and that she wasn't helping me in us trying to resolve whatever the
conflict was. I asked her to please politely respect my wishes by packing
up whatever she's working on and leaving for the day, that if she wanted to
return to Noisebridge to please schedule a time with the mediation group so
a 3rd party could help resolve the situation, and hopefully by that time
she would be more cheerful and ready to talk positively. She then yelled at
me that she had been trying to get a hold of me to talk for the last few
weeks but since she doesn't have email she can't do that. This again was an
odd thing to hear because she doesn't know me, or knew what my name was
prior to today. I offered up for her to return on a Tuesday night since
there will be people here during that time that can help with the situation
and wouldn't require emailing and scheduling on her part.

This was the point where she...

1. Raised her voice even higher at me.
2. Stated that if this if the case she'll just leave and never come back
3. Plugged up her ears with her fingers.
4. Started to scream that she wasn't listening to me anymore.

After a bit more of trying to talk with her, I finally decided it was time
to make her options clear to her. I loudly state that she needed to leave
the building in 15 minutes, otherwise I'll be forced to call the police to
come by, and no one wants that. She unplugged her ears, said yelled that
she needed at least an hour, then went back to sewing whatever she was
working on previously without getting up or cleaning up. I reiterated the
15 minutes part, which riled her up to start yelling and plugging up her
ears again, which prompted me to get up and leave her area.

I walked over to where others in the space were hanging out, asked them to
get on Slack and start pinging to see if any one else could come by to
assist in making it clear to her she's not welcome right now. Community in
numbers and all that.

So for what it's worth the "calling the police" bit was very much an empty
threat on my part and I had no intentions of having the police get
involved. That was all until all of us in the space heard her loudly speak
into her phone, telling an officer she felt threatened, asking for a police
escort out of the building, and providing our street address. This prompted
me to also call the police station on Valencia, offer myself as a key
holder to the floor and explain the situation. They stated they could come
by and help.

I believe at this point another member of Noisebridge came through the
door, not knowing the situation, and immediately went to help deescalate
Maira after they figured out what was going on. I went out to the curb to
wait for the officers. About 5 minutes later they showed up. I explained
our space, who this person was, why they've been asked to leave, and when
they could return. They were fine with it. By the time we got up stairs,
Maria had grabbed all of her stuff (and also taken some extra Noisebridge
resources), and was ready to leave. She was extremely polite and nice and
cheerful to the police offers. The police officers were surprisingly
respectful. The officers asked if she understood that she's only allowed to
come back during a Tuesday night to seek mediation and was not allowed to
return otherwise. She responded that she just isn't going to come back ever
again. The officers then escorted her out.

I would like to apologize to the community, I feel like this situation
could have been handled slightly better. Additionally the police presence
was really excessive, and I wish my empty threat hadn't turned into her
actually calling the police. I am thankful for those we were at Noisebridge
that helped, especially the Noisebridger who came in on the middle of the
whole thing and jumped in to calm Maria down more. I'm also happy the cops
that did showed up weren't in jerk mode and also felt their presence wasn't
really needed either.

Unsure if I'll be around at the next Tuesday meeting, but if folks need to
have productive discussion about this I'm around.


rubin at starset.net
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