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Photo via Shutterstock
Photo via Shutterstock

Queens residents who are interested in learning self-defense and de-escalation tactics can do so at a class hosted by City Councilman Jimmy Van Bramer next week.

On Dec. 14th the Women’s Initiative for Self-Empowerment (WISE) will visit Sunnyside Community Services at 43-31 39th St. to teach a class on self-defense, de-escalation and how to be an “upstander” (someone who witnesses something wrong and acts to stop it). It will take place from 6 to 8 p.m.

Van Bramer has held several events in the wake of the presidential election including a Community Speak Out where hundreds of people showed up to brainstorm ideas about how to respond to the election with “Queens values.” The councilman also organized a walk from the Queensboro Bridge to Trump Tower last month.

According to the councilman, this idea for a self-defense class was first discussed at the Community Speak Out.

“Hate crimes, bigotry and bullying are on the rise–just this weekend, three drunk men harassed and attacked a Muslim woman on a train platform while bystanders stood by and did nothing,” Van Bramer said in an email promoting the class. “That’s why I want to invite everyone to a community self-defense, anti-bullying, de-escalation, and upstander training, so we all know how to respond in hateful situations.”

Rana Abdelhamid, a Queens resident,  founded the organization after she was attacked at 16 by a man who told her to remove her hijab. Abdelhamid is a black belt in Shotokan karate and teaches these classes throughout the city.

According to Police Commissioner James O’Neill, there were a reported 328 hate crimes in New York City through Nov. 13. This number reflects a 31 percent increase from last year and there was both an increase in anti-Muslim and anti-Semitic hate crimes.

The class is free and open to people of all ages. To reserve a spot call 718-383-9566 or email

WISE will also hold these training sessions in Flushing, Astoria and Jamaica. To sign up for another class, visit the organization’s website.


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