Occupy Seattle Anti-Oppression and Accountability Principles

We are the 99% and our task is to unify the 99%. Unfortunately, we live in a society that is racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, and ridden with various other interconnected forms of repression.

As the Occupy Seattle community, we will consciously and urgently work on dismantling these systems of oppression in our movement. We are working on creating a comm unity where everyone’s autonomy is respected, protected, and treated equally. We all have different levels of privilege that we strive to acknowledge and educate ourselves about, in order to ensure that these privileges are not used to oppress others. We want to have an inclusive atmosphere of ideas in which we do not police each others’ thoughts, but we have absolutely no tolerance for oppressive or intimidating words or actions.

We do not accept any of the following in our community:
■ White supremacy (racism against people of color)
■ Patriarchy (sexism)
■ Ageism (oppression against youth and/or elders)
■ Heterosexism (oppression against LGBTQ people)
■ Transphobia
■ Anti-Arab sentiment (or Islamophobia)
■ Anti-Jewish sentiment
■ Religious intolerance or intolerance of non-religious people
■ Class oppression (classism)
■ Cultural intolerance
■ Oppression based on immigration status
■ Oppression based on experiences with the justice system
■ Disregard for indigenous autonomy
■ Oppression based on appearance or size
■ The following behaviors are also unacceptable:
■ Representing the Occupy Seattle movement to the media or to any other entity without approval of the general assembly
■ Negotiating with the police or the City without approval of the general assembly
■ Instigation of violence in all its forms, explicit or implicit, whether physical, emotional, sexual, verbal, written, graphical, or through indirect means such as calling the police on another person when one is not in imminent physical danger

Any violation of these principles will be dealt with through a community accountability process, to be described in a future Accountability Working Group proposal

26 Responses to Occupy Seattle Anti-Oppression and Accountability Principles

  • Aristokronik anarkist says:

    Help point out trade policies connected to local HEDGE FUnd fronted companies cheating workers out of 70% of pay, while commodity speculators getting capital gains tax brake off what they stole from local working families forced to pay local tax base and cruiseline terminals ,with 1/3 salary due to drain of currency from offshore and wallst consolidators buying off key 2 party monopoly, as if benefitting community when Libraries close early or dont open cuz property taxes were raided by govt to cover bank bond payments to cover offshore infrastructure business costs ,as if u.s. is business friendly to a deFault….Back tax the hedge funds ,cruiselines and 3rd world shipping magnates spilling oil each of last 7 years in u.s. waters while fighting in court case to not pay what was needed for the B.P spill that still hasnt been made due to (m/v selendang ayu).treasons in u.s. 2 party appointed special interest courts..(federal judge ricardo martinez,James Robart),..so focus on legislation and a subjugation communication to nation for exposing the hosing of locals from connected wallst and commodities markets presently responsible for the nation dying of starvation with our bellies full of unsustainable food supplies.
    boycott bartells.com want to be member of commuter polluter action faction email- stopthebycatchkillers@gmail.com-Raise the POrt Rate discounts through a federal injunction from Obama to make all Carnival ,Celebrity,Norwegian,Royal Carribean,Princess ,Holland america,Disney,cruises, to pay $150 per passenger upfront to seattle and sandiego and where ever else they try and pay off local sellouts to subsidize before the people realize, and/or Shutdown cruiseline seasons throughout immediately..Stop the Dutch Rule of Law excuse for abuse

  • msmikestew35 says:

    You say “We are the 99% and our task is to unify the 99%. Unfortunately, we live in a society that is racist, sexist, classist, homophobic, and ridden with various other interconnected forms of repression.”

    It seems lost on you that the 99% did not take to the streets demanding equal rights for all races, or women or gays. Your determined effort to push the class issue aside is quite evident in your trying to give prominence to “racism” and “sexism” over class – in the way you order these terms in that opening statement.

    You are trying to misdirect this movement of people who have genuine grievances cutting across all these other lines you seem to think are more important. Please give an account on how this statement was developed and whether the exact wording, order etc was democratically approved.

    I asked in another post for you to account for the presumably undemocratic modifications you have made to the web site. It might be instructive to get them answered as well. (requiring registration, removing recent comments from the home page)

    • evann says:

      Agreed. I am all for the sentiment of this statement, but to pretend that a movement inspired by and fashioned after a movement called “Occupy Wall Street” is not first and foremost about financial inequality (aka class warfare), is almost insulting in how blatant those who wrote this are trying to downplay the most important line in there.

      What has brought everyone together, and keeps everyone together, is the financial inequality. I’m all for supporting equality in every other way, but this movement can’t (and shouldn’t be trying, lest it be doomed to failure) fight all battles all the time. This movement is first and foremost about economic inequality, to pretend otherwise is both incorrect and foolish.

    • Lake Desire says:

      Dude, class reductionism went out of fashion in the 60s. Any critique of capitalism is narrow and incomplete if it ignores how capitalism depends on racism and sexism to divide the working class, deflate wages, and create pools of under/unemployed people to break strikes. Read some socialist feminism and get with the times.

      Also: this statement was approved at GA, so how is it undemocratic?

  • msmikestew35 says:

    Friends –

    This movement has two parts. There are the organizers who are careful, timid and non-confrontational. There is the rest of us that more determined to see this through. First let us see why this happens.

    The organizers likely have some experience in politics that is practiced today in a “respectable” borgouis setting. This means that they understand how politics of negotiation, back room deals are done. They are likely the sort that assumes that by explaining grievances to the ruling class, we can get them addressed. They idolize non-violent struggle not because of its political power, but because it alone does not pose a threat to the existing class relations of society and thus saves them from any fallout.

    But the rest of us are profoundly different in our perspective. We have seen that the ruling class does not limit their oppression of us. And since we don’t relish talking to them, have no intention of joining a government run by them for the interests of the wealthy, we are less inclined to have illusions about them. We are oriented towards the workers and clearly see that the ruling class does not represent the 99%.

    The most vital task is to come to a correct understanding as to what historical conditions caused the decay and corruption of the economic system. And what are the demands in that context. This discussion needs to be started. Please look at the perspective published by WSWS so we can discuss:

    http://wsws.org/articles/2011/oct2011/pers-o15.shtml

    It is highly uniting and it presents – in my view – the only concrete, well thought out program for the working class that has the potential to inspire and galvanize all oppressed people.

  • office dude says:

    Geez, really? No, I obviously do not want to be hanging out w/ bigoted or oppressive people either. That being said, it’s not like a large hunk of Seattle is hanging out together protesting *severe* financial inequality.

    “The most vital task is to come to a correct understanding as to what historical conditions caused the decay and corruption of the economic system.”

    No, no it is not; not right now. The most vital task is get “the people” out showing their faces in support of a more unified message demanding FINANCIAL regulations and action-like breaking up the “too big to fail” banks and prosecuting the white collar criminals who helped cause the financial meltdown! It is vital to remind people of that meltdown and the ineffectiveness of both the White House and Congress dealing both w/ that meltdown and the lack of job creation.

    How about something like that on the front page of the website? How about ANYTHING that has to do with financial reform? Not tents, not “club” rules against ageism and classism (although that begs a question…), but ideas that unite the 99%. 99% of Seattle. That’s a large number of very disparate people: very few of whom are not political activists, many with jobs and families (so not only do they have full schedules, but they’re freakin’ tired), and MOST of whom (yes, most) agree with the OWS message but are desperate to find common ground w/ the folks already taking action. Sadly, regarding the latter, the 99% is simply growing frustrated.

  • msmikestew35 says:

    office dude – Whether it is realistic to expect the capitalist government to implement financial regulation, when their system itself is careening out of control all over the world is a discussion – it is a big discussion. We need to push this item on to the GA and make sure it gets prominence.

    The way i undersand this, the effect of deregulations (merging traditional banks with the shadow banking system) was an increase in the profit rate of the bank. Under the capitalist logic, any corporation that cannot match the average profit rate of the market soon goes under. It is not a choice of the capitalist, it has already been decided by the system – capitalism – itself.

    So banks used their servant, the government, to enact certain deregulations. For a while the profit rate increased. But it was not to last. While the state kept lowering the interest rate that the banks got , so that they could in turn lend to businesses and workers and make more money, even that could not prevent the crisis. In the end, the banks decided to create derivatives tied to mortgages.

    If you look at the sum value of all the mortgages, it is really tiny [$ 12 Trillion], compared to all the speculative wealth (like collateral debt obligations, credit default swaps) that rested on the mortgages. [the CDS marke alone is some $50 Trillion] I think of this as an inverted pyramid – at the bottom you have all our mortgages that have to support all other products serving the rich that are built on top of this.

    A mere demand to change things back (reform finance) cannot be heard by the rulers. Why? Because the deregulations were a necessary step in preserving capitalism (increasing profit rate). The changes were necessary under the objective laws of capitalism.

    History does not go back, really. Feudalism was replaced by Capitalism. Capitalism cannot go back but has to keep trying to move forward. But like feudalism hit certain obstacles back then, now capitalism is hitting definite limits to its expansive power. All objective facts point to the need to transition to Socialism.

    However, the change from feudalism to capitalism did not happen peacefully. The nascent capitalists of the 18th century (borgouise) conducted a heroic struggle to change the system. The reason they enjoy a privileged place in society today is due to the lasting effects of that struggle.

    But now a new period is dawning. The working class is finding out that the capitalist class is unable to even provide our *minimum* needs. This is the single best reason we have to proceed with our revolution, to change the capitalist profit system to one based on human need and therefore democratically controlled by the working class.

    The one pleasant thing about our revolution that it will be far less bloody than the borgouies revolutions. The working class is much more advanced and educated today. The capitalist class is a numerically insignificant minority. The mighty armies that the capitalist class built are tired by endless wars, the soldiers are ready to join us – if we have a correct, well worked out perspective.

  • blue_rain says:

    Defining racism as “White supremacy”, come on guys you can do better than that? And if your intent was not to define racism, but to include one aspect (even if dominant) while excluding all others, well that in and of itself IS racism. What about people of color discriminating against whites? Do you deny it happens or do you dismiss it because it is less common? What about people of color discriminating against other people of color??

    • Lake Desire says:

      First: please stop assuming everyone is “guys.” It erases the participation of women.

      Second: People of color hating on other poc serves white supremacy because it is divide & conquer. White people are not systematically victimized by poc. Maybe you should attend some of the anti-racism workshops that have been happening at OS?

      • Blue Linckia says:

        Honestly, criticizing the word choice of others is somewhat pretentious. Just saying it more likely then not will promote disunity. And this is a sentimental document, not a piece of legislature, let’s not pick apart the terminology used within it. It alienates us to the rest of the 99% that ISN’T involved in the Occupation movement.
        Just some food for thought

  • blue_rain says:

    Aside from the ideological arguments above, this whole thing needs to be taken down and re-worked. It is not congruent, cohesive, or concise, it is formatted poorly, and the definition of terms was so poorly researched that they can only be characterized as subjective. Very disappointed by the quality of this … very disappointed.

    • Lake Desire says:

      So come to the accountability working group, which put this together. Or come to GA, which democratically approved this statement.

      PS: everything is subjective.

  • bhamjason says:

    You’re gonna lose 99% of your support if this is how you conduct things. This is supposed to be about people who are out of work and lost their houses, not the ‘systems of oppression’ you’re ranting about.

  • Bradford B. Morrison says:

    Friends,
    I would like it if people refrained from trying to make our diverse group of “occupiers” behave in a utopian (or near-utopian) manner in regards to “oppression”, which the top article lists 14 categories of; under some kind of rather draconian-sounding “absolutely no tolerance” policy. Our group is very diverse, and that is a good thing. It is good to get to know each other and also for the reason that, in my opinion, it would be a big plus if we grew greatly in size over the next few weeks and months. If we tell people that we have a “no tolerance policy” about speech and behaviors which can be interpreted in a wide range of ways and which are (in my opinion)sometimes only very slightly “non-utopian”; well we are going to have that much tougher of a time recruiting new members.
    I gotta get some rest now…I’ll be down there on the night shift at Westlake Park a bit later tonite. Stay safe and warm, everyone.
    Thanks for listening
    Peace and Love
    Loudmouth Karaoke Brad

  • Bradford B. Morrison says:

    Friends,
    As a slight addition to what I wrote above, it also seems to me that the following is a completely contadictory sentence:
    “We want to have an inclusive atmosphere of ideas in which we do not police each others’ thoughts, but we have absolutely no tolerance for oppressive or intimidating words or actions”. Well, maybe I am just thickheaded, I’m not sure, but to me,”ABSOLUTELY NO TOLERANCE” implies that someone IS INDEED “policing” peoples’ words and/or actions. I don’t think that is what we need in the group at this point, for the above explained reasons.
    Thanks for listening
    Peace and Love
    Loudmouth Karaoke Brad

  • economicinsider says:

    It’s funny how white supremacy is notated first, given the quite diverse community Seattle encompasses. From my experiences, in college, and now in the work force, white people are the ones that are currently more segregated against; yet you do not mention having no tolerance for the oppression of a regular, plain Caucasian. It seems to be the norm today that white people have no place in society, and are demonized for their “success”. For example, many people in this movement blame the white bank executives for being monetarily greedy, and see that there is not enough diversity within the upper ranks of large companies. Realize however that these executives from many of the large companies had inherited their status or rank from within their own family. Any large company with any history from other parts of the world, say Japan, will most likely have head executives from their own color/nationality as well. Don’t get me wrong; I recognize that unfortunately, many other races or colors take heat for their own permutations. However, in this case, not all white people are successful, and own banks, or make 6 figures. Furthermore, white supremacy is an outdated term, which is, and should be reserved for those arrogant fools that represent themselves poorly to society, and should be used in those cases only. White supremacy is certainly not as commonplace as many would like to think. Society does not commonly conjure terms of Black Supremacy, Asian/Asian-American Supremacy, or Arab Supremacy. So please, place this in perspective when you choose to include the term, “White Supremacy”, but fail to address the non-tolerance for the supremacy of any other race. If we want to live in an equal society, we need to hold equal views on ALL colors.

  • msmikestew35 says:

    If the GA approved this, it shows that the GA does not represent the 99% – the people who came out on to the streets did not ask for racial / gender and other forms of equality. They came out due to economic inequality. The issues were all to do with class.

    The organizers are trying their level best (that would include the GA if this statement was approved there) to betray the 99% and make this protest a harmless prop for the Democratic party.

    There are important lessons here for the rest of us.

    • Blue Linckia says:

      I couldn’t agree more! I wasn’t brought here in hopes of finding a magical equality rally, I came here to protest the consumer capitalist machine.

  • windjammer says:

    Hello All,
    I think the principles are reasonable. If they were decided by those pareticipating in the GA, then they are democratic. I believe there are going to be voices that attempt to, in a very strong manner, usurp the actions of Occupy Seattle in a direction that will marginalize many potential supporters and press for violence. Specifically, a violent, Socialist revolution is NOT something I would ever support – I also don’t support the capitalist as ultimate evil argument – and I very much identify with the (still vague) movement in NYC (as many do).

    Also, It is not weak or disengenuous to resist in a nonviolent manner, rather it is fantasy for some to think a violent revolution is at hand or would work in the US of 2011 – nonviolence is the most effective form of resistance as it contrasts illegitimate power against reasoned demands best. Acts of violence on the part of protesters actually hasten the demise of movements rather than lead to change.

    Lets not indulge in such fantasy, lets honor the hard work of the GA (stated as someone who has never attended a meeting) and keep our eye on the road (nonviolence only) – and lets find a map fast because many are watching and wondering if this will go anywhere.

  • vegangster says:

    I dislike speciesism. Humans conceptualize themselves as being the most important, whereas, without us the world would continue; while without the smalles of beings on the planet, we would never exist.

  • Robin says:

    I support radical inclusion of all people in the Occupy Movement. What I do not see represented in the above statement, and indeed, visibly in the above statement is disabilty/different ability… physical, sensory, communication, psychiatric, learning, mobility, or otherwise. The longest occupation of a federal building was perpetuated by people in the disability rights movement. We don’t see disability if we focus on ‘class’ issues due, in large part, to the exclusion of people with disabilities from the workplace, in spite of ADA and other civil rights laws.

    Radical inclusion addresses working across all kinds of difference.

    Love,
    Robin

  • billierain says:

    considering the poverty and unemployment rates faced by disabled folks, it shocks me that ableism is not mentioned in your anti-oppression statement.

  • Shredlet says:

    Classism is completely unproductive. It’s making generalizations about and attacking a group of people. Proponents of classism seem to imply that everyone in the one percent is our enemy, which is – simply put – ignorant nonsense. There are ‘one-percenters’ that agree with OWS, ones that are neutral (which are still a part of the problem, but not any more than people from any class who is neutral or willfully ignorant), ones that are against it (who actually ARE our enemies – but again – just like others against the movement), and everything in between.

    Members of the 1% started the class warfare, and we are choosing to continue it, but to what end? Does it actually do anything other than give us a cute little depersonalized silhouette to point the finger at?

    Nope.

    Another point to consider is that people can be easily replaced while still leaving the systems that have been corrupted rather unscathed. It’s hate-mongering, a tactic that our opponents are fairly well-versed in. To justify classism is to allow the ends justify the means.

    Also, a couple unrelated notes:

    Calling anti-Arab sentiment ‘Islamophobia’ is inaccurate, isn’t it? Not all Muslims are Arab, and not all Arabs are Muslims.

    And… Does it strike anyone else as ironic that this article – on “Accountability Principles” has no author listed to be accountable for its content?

    • tigertheo says:

      To my best knowledge, this statement was created by one of the Occupy movements back east and we adopted it because it was better than not having any such statement.

      But overall, it isn’t worth focusing on the technicalities of things. It is the basic principle that matters.

      The principle is that we are all equals and deserve respect. We should not be discriminated against or harassed. Not for being depressed. Not for being unattractive by others’ standard. Not for having bad breath. You get the idea.

      In my experience, this is an extremely democratic movement and if you don’t think so, then come along and see for yourself.

      The movement is going great.