General Assembly notes 10/30

Occupy Seattle General Assembly

  • Date/time: 2011-10-30 18:40
  • Location: Westlake Park
  • Minutes taken by: Phil Mocek
  • Audio archive: http://www.archive.org/details/OccupySeattleGeneralAssembly2011-10-30

Facilitation Team

  • Facilitator: Hudson and Christina
  • Agenda: Michael
  • Taking stack: Arlin

Campers

  • facilitators suggest beginning with whole-group discussion of last night's turmoil at Seattle Central
  • Matt
    • Josh noticed two neo-Nazis come up to the camp, ask about local bars, and ask if they could hang out at camp
    • one had Sieg Heil tattoo
    • Josh told them where bars are and that they could not hang out
    • got word out about their visit
    • people with security and anti-fascism expertise, including several anarchists who have recently researched how to deal with Nazis
    • Nazis returned, were identified
      • started doing hail-Hitler salutes
    • guy in a top hat allegedly
    • saw campers attempt to escort them off while chanting "Nazis out"
    • saw members of Peace and Safety — Circus and Cameron — start to lay hands on those who were attempting to escort Nazis out
    • others began to lay hands on them and remind them to remain non-violent
    • Nazis eventually pushed out by the crowd
    • In his opinion, all of this could have been resolved easily if those escorting them out had been left alone
      • peace and safety overstepped their mandate, used violence against other campers
      • circus admitted that he was drunk while in his P&S role
      • very emotional speak-out afterward
      • some said that Nazis target us due to ethnic diversity, revolutionary status
  • ?
    • More info about what he saw, none of which contradicts what Matt said
    • Man in top hat intervened by saying, "They have a right to be here," and "They are part of the 99 percent."
      • He was told that they were definitely Nazis and that he should step out of the way
        • he did not comply, caused lots of trouble
        • he heavily misrepresented what happened
    • His friend, visiting Occupy Seattle last night with news from Oakland
      • she was involved in confronting Nazis
      • she was violently attacked by about five people, tackled to ground
        • doesn't know who did this or if they're members of P&S
        • thinks these people should not be part of OS longer
        • demented if use violence to defend fascists and call yourself a pacifist
    • In ensuing discussion, were many OS people who insisted on defending the rights of the Nazis.
      • This is despicable.
    • Has heard, did not witness, that the Nazis were attacked, and this happened at the boundary of the camp, not within it.
    • There was an individual who called the police on anti-fascists in the camp, in direct violation of the agreement of this GA
      • That was despicable, this person has no place in OS
  • Sharla
    • both Cameron and Circus have acknowledged their actions were inappropriate
      • have stepped down from that role, no longer part of P&S
      • were intoxicated
        • this was violation of
  • ?
    • Woman confronted Nazis. Guy called her a bitch for trying to confront them, tried to hit her.
      • When confronted later, said Nazis have social liberties, too.
      • denied trying to hit her
      • said should not have called her a bitch, though she was being one
      • Thinks he should be asked to leave.
  • ?
    • from long experience in this kind of activity, going back to 1960s, seems to him that one danger to us is agents provocateur
      • people trying to destroy this movement
      • may work for police or corporate interests; hard to tell the difference
      • don't let them provoke you
  • Maria
    • What she saw was horrific.
    • To see violence against each other and a guy feeling entitled to hit a woman is intolerable
    • Provocateurs will come back. They'll know what we're talking about. Might be here now.
    • Need to figure out who we can trust to be on peace and safety.
      • trust them for accountability
      • doesn't feel safe with people who were on Peace and Safety
  • Matt
    • Told that person who called police was Giovanni
      • response: Was right behind Giovanni, and a cop car parked in the turning lane, because he saw them walking fast northbound,
      • stopped, explained to cop what was happening
      • in two minutes, by time they reached Denny and Broadway, were 5-10 squad cars, questioned Giovanni and two people with them
    • We voted not to speak to the cops. Giovanni's actions violated our principles
      • you may not agree with them, but they were voted on democratically
  • ?
    • Shouldn't jump to conclusion that there are agents provocateurs
    • snitch in our midst is big deal, don't use this phrase lightly
    • these were Nazis
  • ?
    • Was there last night. Watched everything that happened very closely
    • was injured slightly by member of peace and safety when he inserted himself in attempts to force out Nazis
    • can't do anything about agents provocateur, but should work on how we treat each other
  • ?
    • In regard to provocateurs
    • facilitators are not peace and safety, and escalated the situation
  • ?
    • Believes that we need to have a mentality of tolerance.
    • People are human and make mistakes
    • Part of this may have been failing of the entire group to properly inculcate people into the movement and understand how they should behave
    • If people recognize mistake, deserve retribution
    • White supremacy, harassment, etc., have not place in the movement
      • cannot defend people who behave that way
  • ?
    • re: talking to cops: Policy does not apply when people are in physical danger
    • calling cops on people smoking weed in tents is different than approaching a brawl and letting the police know what's going on
    • was there, next to them, when brawl broke out
    • broke out when people started yelling obscenities at the Nazis, challenging them, getting in their faces
    • need better peace and safety
    • broke into mob in 30 seconds because people saw potentially-dangerous people and started acting violent toward them
    • doesn't like Nazis, doesn't think he should yell at them at 2am
    • If he sees people fighting with Nazis, he will tell the cops
    • Is concerned with physical safety of his friends and family* ?
      • re: talking to cops: Policy does not apply when people are in physical danger
      • calling cops on people smoking weed in tents is different than approaching a brawl and letting the police know what's going on
      • was there, next to them, when brawl broke out
      • broke out when people started yelling obscenities at the Nazis, challenging them, getting in their faces
      • need better peace and safety
      • broke into mob in 30 seconds because people saw potentially-dangerous people and started acting violent toward them
      • doesn't like Nazis, doesn't think he should yell at them at 2am
      • If he sees people fighting with Nazis, he will tell the cops
        • Is concerned with physical safety of his friends and family
  • ?
    • one big challenge with peace and safety is GA has never approved mechanism for dealing with elements trying to cause trouble
    • this led to dissolving of common sense last night
    • suggests GA, Tactical, Peace and Safety get together and make joint proposal about how to deal with conflicting elements that turn violent
  • ?
    • person is innocent until proved guilty
      • if proved guilty, then penalty is enforced
      • in this case, people should not be excluded permanently from the site
        • should be able to explain what they did
    • people can make mistakes
      • if they are sorry for their mistakes and we are convinced that they will not repeat the mistakes, they should be allowed to rejoin us
  • ?
    • When she heard commotion, turned and saw people swinging at the neo-Nazis
    • Thinks it's very important that above all else we protect the movement.
    • Understands about not calling police, but if situation can escalate, must protect the movement and not disrespect that which we're trying to accomplish
  • ?
    • Was there. Did not run toward commotion.
    • Some people here got caught up in the commotion.
    • Problem is that SCCC has no alcohol, no drugs policy
    • Group has failed to pass good neighbor policy. Just have statement. It's not enforceable.
    • We've been so busy talking about whether to talk to police have failed to pass good neighbor policy.
    • Suggests that instead of getting emotions worked up about what was observed, we do what was needed to do before we moved to SCCC: pass good neighbor policy
    • tonight 9:30 is meeting tonight with faculty to welcome us
      • opportunity to take time to think about good neighbor policy
  • Shawn
    • Our unskilled facilitation style helped escalate an already-disastrous situation
      • yelling over people who were yelling increased panic
    • Many of the anti-fascist activists have much experience in de-escalation tactics and continuum of force (containing violence with minimum of force)
    • suggests peace and safety work in training with anti-fascist activists
  • ? – Giovanni went to police, singled him out. Because of Giovanni, he and another were detained, illegally searched, threatened with arrest, and banned from Capitol Hill for the night
  • facilitator: temperature check: continue discussion?
    • yes
  • ? – is misunderstanding about 99 percent vs. 1 percent
    • those of us in the movement serve the 99 percent
    • cannot include some people, such as those who truly cannot take part due to mental disability ? Chris – This may have happened at other occupations in the country. If not, it may.
    • Should take our lessons and share them with others, reach out to find if others have dealt with these issues
    • Suggests we put together something like open letter to the movement on defending our space from neo-Nazis and other assholes
  • ? – Many campers not here. Suggests moving GA to the occupation.
    • Has happened elsewhere. These people are trying to insert themselves because the left is so inclusive.
  • ? – When it comes to white supremacists like neo-Nazis, did a good thing by pushing them out. Have been other places, like Wall Street, but we were first to push them out.
    • calling police in situation when we're removing Nazis is not acceptable
    • exception to rule was if you yourself are in imminent danger
  • ? – Requests clarity on proposal passed by GA on communicating with the police.
  • ? – Believes that in all respects, we should be respectful and not resort to swearing at people or being disrespectful at any point.
  • ? – How many people have members of immediate and extended family who died fighting actual Nazis
    • Uncle saw Gestapo murder his father because they were part of German underground in Italy
    • does not thing cooperating with police is a good idea
    • was right next to Nazis when people starting yelling, cursing, fighting
      • was a mess
      • need to find a better way to deal with this
    • finding the person to call police in a witch hunt is not the way to go
    • we're scared, upset, and had violence in moment of triumph
    • remember that even in tense moments, cohesion and understanding among us is important
  • ? – Anti-fascist Working Group will meet tonight at 10pm by SCCC statue
    • Due to police role in upholding white supremacy, we're not interested in talking to police, who trust police, who think they're workers, too
  • Sharla
    • In response to last night's events, have two meetings set up
      • training in de-escalation
      • Friday 4pm SCCC
      • Sunday 1pm SCCC
    • We all need to de-escalate. That didn't happen last night.

Working group announcements

  • time: 19:50

November 2 Working Group

  • Chris
    • organizing two big activities Wednesday:
      • March on major bank where there will be an action that will start at 2pm at Seattle Central
      • Jamie Dimon, CEO of JP Morgan Chase, will be speaking at Sheraton. Will march, picket. Will be awesome.
        • 6pm from Westlake Park. Get here early to help make signs.
      • Seattle Central speak-out at 1pm, leading in to the march on major bank

Labor Caucus

  • Dan
    • Meeting Wednesday 6pm, will try to move to 7pm to accommodate Dimon action

Tactical Working Group

  • Zach
    • Porta-potties at SCCC are full
      • locked, because it costs $280 for Sunday cleaning, only $80 tomorrow
    • seeking to start new group to be better prepared for situation like last night's
    • they organize inter-working group meetings
    • meet 5pm at Convention Center on first floor

Process and Facilitation Working Group

  • Ed
    • compiling document about how we have these conversations
    • need more input
    • some people bothered that we vote, have blocks, don't vote, use consensus, etc.
    • propose that opening topic for Monday's GA is now to decide things: voting, consensus, ?

Media Working Group

  • ?
    • drafting open letter to SCCC President
    • will meet tomorrow

Get Money out of Politics Working Group

  • ?
    • first meeting was today
    • meet 3pm Sundays near See's Candy

Peace and Safety Working Group

  • Norm
    • Today, arranged two trainings for de-escalation
      • Tuesday afternoon
      • Sunday afternoon
      • see calendar for details

Action Announcements

  • time: 19:59
  • Mia – multicultural potluck picnic Sunday November 20

Future Proposal Announcements

  • ? – Will propose move GA to SCCC as soon as possible
    • rationale: numbers dwindling
  • ? – Will propose policy similar to no police policy, Occupy Seattle remain fascist-free zone
  • ? – Will propose we start every meeting with abbreviated equality statement (shortened version of our accountability statement)
  • ? – Will propose that proposals be published on the website before brought to GA
    • that's underway; ICT is to put prominent link on site to page with upcoming proposals
  • ? – Will propose that Occupy Seattle respect a diversity of tactics, a diversity of ways in which people utilize to keep themselves safe, including right to self defense

Proposals

  • facilitator: Small GA attendance. Whether to vote will be up to GA and proposer.
  • Mark:
    • concerned that there is small group of people, no livestream. Suspects that proposal will not be controversial. Wants it to be symbolic act of unity and solidarity. Concerned that there is insufficient attendance.
    • proposal: Change name of this park in our literature and when we refer to it with media, as John T. Williams Park
    • rationale: other parks around the nation have been renamed after victims of police violence
    • temperature check: appropriate to vote on this now?
      • no
    • proposal tabled at proposer's request

Announcements

  • facilitators: we'll talk about possible move of GA after tonight's GA
  • Tabitha – Missed discussion of last night's events. She was awakened. Was slender woman wearing gray who threw bottle at someone. Hit Tabitha's eye. Hit someone else. Had never seen this woman before. Nothing happened to her. Many witnesses. Doesn't know where she is.
  • Mark – Part of the difficulty with getting enough people to vote is that the past two voting GA's have been dominated by emergencies. Hopes our next GAs will focus on moving forward. Tired of being distracted by police, white supremacists, etc. Went out with friends last night. Bars in Pike-Pine were all spilling out drunk people. Returned to camp and found peace. After incident, was hysteria, emotional outbursts, inability to calm down. Need to stay centered.
  • ? – Cannot stay for post-GA discussions. Main reason for low attendance may be that it's not at the occupation. Observes that the process can be cumbersome for new people. Doesn't know all the gestures. Understands need. Sometimes new people come and want to speak, find it difficult to speak.
  • Shawn
    • Regarding provocateurs: usually counterproductive to snitch-jacket someone. However, it's always effective to point out and make transparent disruptive behavior. As we get strong calling-out of behavior, doesn't matter why someone is doing it.
    • has been very hard to work through many proposals and differences related to privilege. We should be proud, because these are issues that have already splinted many — maybe majority — of occupations in the nation. Deepest social issues in our nation, and we're doing great job of finding common ground across them.
  • Christina – May become victims of our process if we can't get enough people to vote on moving GA.
  • ? – Ask not what your occupation can do for you, ask what you can do for your occupation. People up there should be down here. Feels bad for them. Need to get together and get strong. Too many people take passive role in society. Need to change that, talk to people. Ask people why they're not here, let them know we needed them.
  • Ed – Tuesday night, we will vote on where GA will be. People who care should be here if they can.
  • ? – Participation in this movement is not necessarily being at the GA but sleeping at Westlake or SCCC. That's what the real action is. We're occupying Seattle.
  • ? – Regarding people not coming down from SCCC: Many of them are concerned that our encampment will be lost if we don't have enough people up there.
  • ? – Someone said, "If someone wants to vote and be part, should come to GA." Should make a push to get them here. He'll be at them. Thinks they're important. Should make attempt to get everyone from SCCC here for that vote.
  • ? – Agrees that the occupation is crucial. GA needs to beware that the occupation is occurring. At Tuesday's vote here at Westlake, regardless of numbers, need to take binding vote on whether to move GA to SCCC. We are an occupation, not just another protest. What makes us strong, different, hopeful, revolutionary, is the occupation.
  • Tabitha – Can talk about this all day, but we're the minority. Everybody is up there. Kitchen is the heart of this movement. We're not near it. People in the kitchen working tirelessly.
  • ? – The GA does not speak for movement. It speaks for those who want it to speak for them. Does not speak for him and lots of people who feel similarly.
  • ? – It's not just the kitchen at SCCC, but food, and we meet at dinner time. Need to think about people's stomachs and health.
  • Mark
    • Many people are paying attention to what happens here but are not represented. Many may not think we speak for them, but are interested in what we do, so let's remember that even if there are only five people at GA, those people need to reach out and make it bigger.
    • When we're here for whatever reason, would be good to have banners by road. Are asking now if we left Westlake because they want to drive by and support.
    • When leaves, would like to leave with others.
  • Ed
    • Can we convene some kind of meeting at SCCC to ask opinion of those up there? Do they want GA down here?
    • Does anyone want to continue holding GAs here?
    • Might be possible to develop consensus if everyone wants to move before Tuesday. If we ask everyone up there and down here, and majority want to do it, we don't have to shackle ourselves by chains of our process.
  • Christina – If we announce tomorrow that we're holding GA at SCCC? Is that enough?
  • ? – When we move up, after breaking, can we march carrying those pumpkins, saying Occupy Seattle?
  • Shawn – Was one of the people advising that we have this meeting and next Tuesday's in this cold, miserable place. If you have friends at City Hall, might want to let them know about this. Advised because several people there would be very concerned if GA moved without their say. But they're not here.
  • ? – Doesn't see anyone here who is connected with SCCC. When we talked about the move, we said we'd continue having GA here. Should check in to find out if it would look bad to SCCC administration after such short period of time.
  • ? – Said earlier that we could just move it up there. Thinks that if we decide to move it up there, decision should be made here.
  • Christina – Wonders if we could pause this GA, go up to SCCC, engage people tonight.

Adjourned 20:36

5 Responses to General Assembly notes 10/30

  • Steve Leigh says:

    If the movement is to be successful, it must be a movement for the interests of the 99%. It needs to take stands on divisive issues that some in the 99% will disagree with. It cannot expect to represent all the opinions of the whole 99% and should not try to do so. Trying to please everyone will just water down the movement to the point of being ineffective.

    If we want to continue to include women, people of color, LGBT people etc. in the movement, we cannot tolerate racism, sexism, LGBT-bashing etc. Most occupiers accept this in general but some balk at it when it comes down to concrete cases. Opposing racism and sexism means opposing open participation of unrepentant racists and sexists in the movement. The case of the Nazis is the most extreme, but it applies more broadly. A recent Socialist Worker article explained this in relation to the Libertarians:

    http://socialistworker.org/2011/10/26/libertarians-ideas-dont-belong

    The Nazis and the police may be part of the 99% as far as their income, but they defend the interests of the 1% in their actions and ideas. If we want to fight for the real interests of the 99% we have to take a strong stand against those who defend the 1%—no matter where they sit economically. This applies most importantly to the hypocritical politicians who support us in words but continue to lay off public workers and cut budgets.

    • mohawkman99 says:

      no they are not just because they are white means nothing. you font know how much make so stop with discrimination.

  • jessemulert says:

    I’d thought the GA only had the authority to make and enforce decisions which affect the occupation as a whole, not decisions of individuals. How is it then that there can be penalties when an *individual* makes a decision to talk to a police officer? This is not inside the jurisdiction of the GA.

    Additionally, how is it that all of a sudden people “have no place in OS” and “aren’t welcome at OS” and should be “banned from the site”? Is there a list somewhere of kinds of people which are o.k. and kinds which aren’t? A blacklist if you will? This sounds like a splendid idea! This is an upgraded form of last week’s rhetoric, that we should value and solicit (aka privilege) the involvement of some persons over others, and follow this belief even when we knowingly exclude the non-valued set permanently. The conversation I witnessed favored a young person of color over a presumably white Grandma in Lakewood. This is discrimination in the guise of diversity. This is a power structure in the guise of equality.

    Merely inverting the existing social ladder doesn’t make the ladder go away, we’ve just changed perspective. I think the Progressive Stack is a good thing, and inverting the ladder has real benefits, but don’t be deluded into believing that the new power structure is all inclusive, or equal, or unsusceptible to abuses of power. This anti-Nazi mob-fervor amounts to the same old power trip, the same old victimization, the same old consolidation of privilege. Maybe we should change all our signs to read “We are the 90-ish Percent”, it’s really catchy.

    I can be fine with resolutions regarding non-violence, or resolutions granting P&S certain power and authority, or discussions of which ideologies, when materialized, run counter to our aims. But what apparently happened was some on-the-spot group-think “decision” demarcating a group of ideologies and their adherents as taboo and enemy (facism, Nazism, etc). Certainly, Nazism and Facism both have elements of their belief set which run counter to our GA approved Accountability Statement (and basic human decency), but we should target the behaviors, arguments, and power structures advocated rather than the general “-isms” and the specific adherents, the “-ists”. If we insist upon a broad exclusion of an “-ism” and its adherents, then there needs to be a GA discussion and proposal, not just an assumption of guilt or an assumption that we all agree or an assumption about to whom the occupation is open. There are lots of socialists in this camp: that used to be a hangable offense. Quite a few anarchists, too, a belief set just begging to be scapegoated: which one should we isolate, shun, mock, outlaw, and forcibly suppress first? Come on, it’d be just like old times.

    • Steve Leigh says:

      Let’s be clear: The ideas and practice of the Nazis are genocidal and exterminationist. This is not some vague theoretical debate. They killed millions of Jews,Gypsies,the disabled, unionists, Communists etc. This is not just historical. Today on Capitol Hill , they harass and attack LGBT people. On Sat. night they tried to attack our camp. Their ideal society would allow no independent organization. In a Nazi society, not only would there be no OS, all those active in OS would be in prison, if we were lucky ! Nazis did in Germany and would today slaughter people in their scapegoated groups AND destroy unions and other means of self-defense for the 99%. Their ideas are antithetical to everything OS stands for. ANY movement that will be effective has to draw lines. It has to know its friends and enemies. There can be debate on where those lines should be drawn, but they must be drawn. If you tolerate all ideas ,even the most heinous, oppressive and destructive of the interests of the 99%, you will achieve little if anything. Would the Civil Rights movement have welcomed the KKK into their planning meetings? Would Jaime Dimon ( Prez of Chase Bank) be welcome at our general assemblies? If not , why should a political movement dedicated to the interests of Jaime Dimon and his class be welcome?

  • jessemulert says:

    Hold the boat, Steve. I’m not defending Nazism or Facism or the Holocaust or anything of the sort. Maybe you’ve noticed how the spectre of Nazism is a strange cocktail, part hysteric amphetamine, part nostalgic downer, part viagric bloodlust, and all so easy to peddle and thoughtlessly consume. The reaction at the Camp on Saturday, parts of the GA discussions on the 30th and the 31st, and your seething response are all evidence of this. I’m not knocking the validity of what you’re saying, just saying maybe it’s time to step back and take a few deep breaths. For example, based upon the witnesses portrayal above, it doesn’t sound like Nazi’s tried to “attack our camp” as you suggest, but simply asked if they could join. The version of events described above essentially continues: They were told “no” can’t hang at our camp, some people got pissy, they were being ejected from the camp, some Sieg Hiels happened somewhere along the way, and from everything I’ve read, it sounds like /we/ attacked /them/. Occupiers even attacked Occupiers. I wasn’t there, but from where I’m sitting it looks like the Nazi fever-dream has already begun to warp collective memory of the event. Keep in mind that all of this seems to have been over a *hand gesture* and probably some offensive or disagreeable things which were said. Sure, all the historical weight makes this more than just the equivalent of flicking the bird and saying “up yours”, but this is also not 1944: no bombs were dropped, nobody was gassed, no books burned. Maybe in the interest of having a useful discussion, we remove Nazis as the subject and replace it with something like racial supremacists, not so that we ignore harsh realities, but so we can think clearly.

    And I’m not saying OS shouldn’t be able to draw lines in the sand; in fact, our entire movement is premised upon one such line, the wealth gap. One of our strengths lies in the fact that this exclusionary line only impacts a small demographic (1%), by definition including everyone else. Other divides may occur which exclude some folks, but these are not a given and need debate, regardless of how obvious the distinction may seem. When we do draw such lines, we need to try to make them as efficient, necessary, and forgiving as possible.

    Now concerning these specific ideologues which were found worthy of violence, we already have some rules in place which allow the exclusion of these folks. It is vital to note that these rules do not divide along lines of belief or group membership, but along lines of action: If something derogatory to any race, orientation, or gender was said or done, there you go, remove them from the camp and let them know that these specific *actions* are not welcome because the attitude runs counter to our aim. We don’t need a new set of reactions and rules and workgroups to counter the impending Nazi/Facist/Stalinist threat. We already have better, more discerning, more forgiving ways of countering the destructive parts of these outmoded belief systems.