Occupy Seattle General Assembly
- Date/time: 2011-10-31 18:35
- Location: Westlake Park
- Minutes taken by: Phil Mocek
- Audio archive: http://www.archive.org/details/OccupySeattleGeneralAssembly2011-10-31
- Facilitator: Danica
- Taking stack: Jack
- At Seattle Central
- We've established a washing station. Please bring reusable silverware, bowls, cups for your own use and reuse.
- Kitchen has been reoriented
- Need to help fellow occupiers understand our good neighbor statement. Please familiarize yourself with it and remind others about it.
- Fellow Red Cross canvassers were physically and emotionally harassed during the Occupy Seattle march on October 26, seemingly because people thought they were government-affiliated.
- Red Cross started in Sweden. They are neutral. Don't harass them.
- Potential camper
- area is not wheelchair-accessible
- wheelchair-bound friend set up tent on far side of camp, putting her at increased danger of police harassment
- people feel excluded
- heard campers at SCCC talking about building a wheelchair ramp yesterday. Hasn't happened. Unknown if that's due to regulations or sloth.
- Education group has started education tent. What's that about?
- Will set up huge tent 8pm Wednesday with books and other great stuff.
- Need art supplies, paper, sturdy table, lamps and lanterns. Ask friends and businesses to donate. Donate.
Working group announcements
Arts and Entertainment Working Group
- drafting mission statement
- meet in front of See's Candies 3pm Sunday
- meeting 4pm at a coffee shop nearby
Sustainability Brigade Working Group
- working on getting more straw for SCCC grounds
- Businesses are getting rid of straw now. Ask if you can have it.
- Garbage/recycling/compost is sorted nightly at 9pm. Please read the signs and put things in the appropriate receptacle.
- As of tomorrow, we'll have garbage and recycling service. Still working on compost.
- Working on worm composting bins this week. Hopefully have workshop later at SCCC.
- got two new porta-potties today
- always need more volunteers
- meeting 6pm Wednesday, Labor Temple, 2800 1st Ave,
- If in union, would like to be, or know someone who is, please come.
Tactical Working Group
- Nazis are not welcome
- reorganizing Peace and Safety, Tactical, and other groups to prevent
- meeting today 9pm at SCCC to devise proposal to bring to GA
- group will be securing our safety at SCCC perimeter until we find model of peace and safety
- reaching out to churches and homeless shelter to use their space
- SCCC teachers union will soon issue statement that if SCCC president kicks us out, they will strike.
Internet Communications Working Group
- Forrest from ICT leaving soon to attend national/international conference call of occupiers worldwide
- announcing formation of national/international workgroup
- meeting tomorrow morning 11am at Seattle Coffee Works at Pike Place Market
Fundraising Working Group
- Porta-potties were paid for personally by SCCC teachers union president
- We don't know how long she or the union will keep on paying
- Emptying them is expensive
- We're spending lots of money, but people are not taking fundraising seriously
- If you're in a meeting where plans are being made and nobody suggests talking to Fred about fundraising, bring it up
- This Saturday morning, needs someone who lives near Lake Forest Park to attend weekly peace vigil there
- Need to sell signs to those people, but Fred cannot be there
Media Working Group
- Now has ability to update events on website
- If you have event for the calendar, email firstname.lastname@example.org
- Is this instead of e-mailing ICT?
- We both have ability to update calendar.
Peace and Safety Working Group
- Saturday night, at about midnight, police came through campsite for second time, and there was no problem. Shortly after, was approached by camper he knows and trusts, and received a disturbing report about an outside individual in his tent doing disgusting things and rifling possessions of the tent owner. When stranger was searched, was found to have several bags of white powder. When camper went to report the problem, got into argument with someone known as "Top Hat". When Lifeguard tried to report to rest of Peace and Safety, was intercepted by Top Hat. Top Hat was unreasonable and argumentative. Ended conversation to finish P&S business.
- While talking to other members of P&S, two men entered camp. One man had Seig Heil tattoos on his face. These were not people wearing skinhead costumes. They were attacked violently by occupiers. Did not see or hear that skinheads attacked us. Members of P&S and others who joined to peacefully expel skinheads were physically attacked by other occupiers. Was very concerned that things could get out of control, that people could be gravely injured or killed — no exaggeration.
- After expelling the skinheads, one of whom will have a scar for the rest of his life to remember this adventure by, returned to camp to find several occupiers fighting each other. As that wound down during an awesome, lengthy, peaceful, discussion, Top Hat continued to cause problems. In his view, Top Hat provoked many problems and refused to leave when asked to leave nicely more than three times.
- Finally, at about 5am, when a very drunk individual, not part of our movement threatened to stab someone from our movement, Peace and Safety and several others gently confronted him. He did not like that, and he left.
- Regrets that he is withdrawing from Occupy Seattle until there is clear statement on our policy on violence.
- David, new Peace and Safety member
- Has been talking to other people at P&S. Seems they need to do some restructuring. Plans to make that happen.
- P&S should be trained on de-escalation techniques.
Legal Working Group
- From Morale Working Group: Akila wants everyone to know they're meeting after GA in front of Sephora
- Met as team this weekend, want to know who others feel about Legal having clear and open workgroup meetings.
- Will make proposal announcement regarding violence issue.
- Planning multicultural potluck picnic on November 20, Sunday before Thanksgiving.
- Anyone who wants to help plan, please join next two Sundays 3pm at Westlake Park.
Anti-fascist Working Group
- fascist, in this context, includes Nazis, homophobic fundamentalism, sexism, and general oppression
- Role will be:
- set watch for perimeter of encampment
- force fascists out with minimum force necessary for conflict de-escalation. Not harm on camp, but to expel them with our safety and self-defense in mind
- alert encampment of police presence and/or approach
- remind campers of non-engagement policy with SPD
- schedule training by trained people who are trained in martial arts and conflict deescalation so this is not a specialized skill
- WG will not:
- mediate conflicts between campers.
- enforce on campers
- police us
- fetishize violence
- want violence
Morale Working Group
- have lots of exciting projects to implement, but need more people
- ? – City Hall permit is expiring tomorrow
- If you're worried about this, should talk to Patricia
- Aliana – Chase CEO Jamie Dimon will be speaking this Wednesday evening at Sheraton
- ? – Bank Transfer Day is this Saturday
- ? – Needs 30-40 people who want to sign up with credit unions to join our march. Rally at 11am, speakers until march at noon.
- ? – Several people will go dressed as bankers to close accounts
- ? – Two actions Wednesday. First is 2pm, march starting at SCCC, to action at major bank. Then march will leave Westlake Park at 6pm. Please arrive at 4-5pm to make signs and other preparations.
- ? – UW students walking out Wednesday 12pm for rally at Red Square, then marching to SCCC to join bank march.
- ? – students in Olympia are planning November 28 action targeting budget cuts
- livestreamer – cable TV show "Our Forum" will be at Westlake Park tomorrow 1pm
- Aliana: This is Christian-based media group. Reached out to Media group about intention to be here. Believes they are nice people.
- clarification: His last name is Christian. The channel itself is not Christian.
Announcements of Future Proposals
- Corey – proposal regarding violence toward members and non-members
- ? from Get Money Out of Politics Working Group – Take people to Olympia on November 28 to put pressure on special legislative session to tax the wealthy instead of shutting down schools and ending basic health care
- Elvina – Stop anti-winkles while people are speaking.
- facilitation note: If you have proposal to announce, please bring it to P&F at 6pm. IF you cannot be there at 6, get in at least a day before.
- ? – He along with other students will bring proposal about accessibility and demands centering on people with disabilities and how they are affected by capitalism.
- ? – Is there a process for disagreeing with a WG without joining it?
- At some places, GA has nothing to say about what WGs do unless it affects or speaks for the whole. Hopefully if WGs have mission statements, can get called out if wandering from mission statement or if it affects the whole. With things that obviously affect the whole, good for us to have clear mandate XXX.
- In general, working groups are people doing stuff, so generally, answer is no.
- ? – The block has been a point of contention. It's hard to define the fundamental principles of why we're here. Thinks block should happen when acts of civil disobedience are at issue. CD fails when there's not enough support. Link this to the block somehow.
- ? – Would be good to have some way to judge block not on its merit. People abuse the block just because they don't like how the vote turned out. Please quit whining and have self-discipline to stop misusing blocks.
- ? – Despite the degree to which people dislike overcoming 4/5 supermajority, this is good.
- ? – 4/5 block ends up XXX principle of majority rule. The supermajority rule in WA State legislature is the way Republicans keep us from taxing the wealthy.
- ? – Every time there's a block, it's just because someone is upset about vote. Process has been handle improperly. When block happens, supermajority is framed as upholding proposal, but should be focused on the block.
- ? – People who have said that block is to strengthen voice of minority against majority are correct. Sometimes the majority can trample a minority. However, most successful and constructive blocks he's seen have led to refinement of proposals so they address and encompass the voice of the minority whose voice was not heard in the proposal formation. Would like to hear suggestions for better facilitating that. For example, first time good neighbor statement was proposed, was blocked. Long conversation resulted in proposal that even the proposer preferred. Doesn't always work that way.
- Andrew – Is not here every day. His wife is not here every day. Acknowledges that he's not as familiar with the block process we're dealing with on day-to-day basis. However, that said, it seems as if part of the problem may be a lack of unity about why we're here.
- Carol – When we are discussing proposal, some of us believe we have very strong reasons to oppose proposal as it stands. Those who feel that way can say so when they get to speak ("I have a very strong feeling against this proposal.") Need not block, just get in line and attempt to persuade like everyone else. Can have good discussion like we did with good neighbor statement. Changed that by raising hands and making strong suggestions. Likes to block Bank of America, not her community.
- Shawn – We've done two different things with blocks. First, voted to either uphold or overturn the block. Then switched to this supermarjority thing. First approach made it clear that we're considering different principles than the proposal itself. This seemed non-intuitive and confused people. So we switched to the supermajority approach, but now we're still talking about the proposal instead of the deeper principles.
- Corey – When he blocked proposal to move to SCCC, had two reasons: 1) could be argument that it violated our basic principles, but wasn't very committed to this. 2) Felt decision to move camps should have required supermajority. He abstained from voting.
- ? – Maybe instead of asking if we uphold the block, ask if there's a need for more discussion.
- ? – Numbers here are limited. A vote can go one way or another based on who is here tonight. Livestream should not just be watching. Need to find a way for them to participate.
- ? – We're focusing on the symptoms instead of the disease. Let's address who proposals come to the table. By the time one comes to the table, should already have supermajority.
- ? – How we determine whether to support block should be flexible. Constraints of beaurocracy are what got us here in the first place. For example, Corey's SCCC move block was admittedly faulty. The block of good neighbor policy kind of worked out.
- ? – When we're going back and forth about proposals and how they relate to our fundamental principles, particularly certain principles, should cite the principle at issue.
- ? – Partially in response to previous comment and also in response to broader block issue: There is no formal set of principles. Rather, lots of people are angry because the world is being XXX and we're part of that. Part of the block issue is that we're humans, and it's sloppy. Those who have deep concerns about the block should go back to GA weeks ago XXX
- Carol – Some people think of their vote being yes if they agree 100%. Alternative system she learned many years ago is to vote yes if you agree at least 60-70%. Expected 9/10 vote, allowing to go with proposal even if not 100% in everyone's heart.
- ? – Strongly believes that we should discuss the proposals when they are announced [rather than day of vote]. This would assure that everyone who spoke got to provide their input, and working group could refine proposal before bringing to vote.
- Hudson – Intrigued by Carol's idea. Dislikes win/lose angry votes where people come in determined to out-argue and out-mass the opposition. Everyone, even people who win, leave hurt and angry. What Carol is talking about with other ideas about consensus, intriguing but scary. Might lead to new way of working together instead of against each other.
- Mark – In a winner-take-all system, one side is forgotten. It's a system of oppression. Whitman called it the tyranny of majority. U.S. Constitution protects against this. Consensus is about the Espirit de Corp. No one wants to be shut out or dismissed. Consensus making should allow everyone to have a voice and be heard. If people think they're being heard, will go along with what the majority think in order to keep solidarity. So if in consensus, we can allow people to speak their mind even if the group decides to do something different, that's good. In past consensus-making he's done: if you block, have chance to explain why. If really feel like it violates your core personal values, have right not to participate and other people should respect that. We can continue somehow in some form so people don't feel shut out.
- Fred – All over the world, traditional indigenous cultures did not have concept of human rights. Not because they liked oppression; just didn't need those rights. Western culture brought this with tribes. Everyone belonged to a tribe and new his place. New they and tribe would take care of each other. In this group, have some people doing lots of work and some not doing any at all. Because we cling to rights, we say first thing you get when you come here is rights. Never addressed responsibilities. Thinks there is no such thing as a right without a responsibility.
- Our current process is basically simple majority vote. People have insisted that anything else is anti-democratic. Tonight, hasn't heard a word in favor of simple majority. Wonders if anyone would miss it if we stopped using it. Alternatives to simple majority is to require supermajority to pass (80, 90, 100%). Consensus is another option: Keep at it until there's consensus. We're using simple majority by default.
- ? – Super majority is nice, but we need to move forward even when we disagree. What would stop banks or mayor from sending one person down here to veto things we want to do since we're based on absolute consensus. Like if one person with heart in right place but stubborn holds things up. Simple majority not best, but thinks block should allow someone to make case case passionately and force re-vote, but not require supermajority.
- Tabitha – This conversation is important to our evolution. Need to decolonize our minds. Likes idea of consensus mixed with percentages within your own personal being. Not about agreement, but if something is good for everyone. Sometimes it takes lots of time to hear everyone's concern, but each is valid and helps us make better policy.
- ? – Because of infiltration, pure consensus is dangerous. Favors some form of supermajority after attempting to reach consensus. 51 percent allows ten people who feel really strongly but couldn't be there to vote to miss out, resulting in large margin of error.
- ? – Conversation is focused on supermajority. Consensus is unrealistic if we define it as 100 percent. If you have a proposal, better be clear that most people agree with it. Should talk to people and have large support before vote. People should know what they're voting on. Suggests supermajority (80%?) for all votes. Suggests requiring quorum (50-100 people).
- ? – Feels as if we're all talking around a much bigger problem, which probably lies with lack of general idea of core principles. Block makes sense if there's agreement on core principles. Maybe that's the conversation we should have.
- ? – Thinks it would be better if we got everyone from occupation to be at general assembly, producing better vote. Has mixed feelings about people occupying Westlake Park, City Hall Plaza, SCCC.
- Shawn – Can turn these things upside down so they'll make more sense. GA could be to bring people in. Use lack of participation as way to diagnose that problem. Cannot decide on fundamental principles because we XXX. When argument was made that legality was core principle, GA didn't buy it. Later, when someone proposed that reclaiming public space was core principle, was popular.
- ? – Agrees that we need more people on decision-making days. Regarding having support before bringing to GA: This takes away from point of GA, which is discussion. This is why we separated voting from non-voting days. People on livestream should be here on voting days, being physical part of this movement. One of the fundamentals of the movement is that this (watching on Internet) does not constitute personal interaction.
- ? – Respects the people who stay overnight and occupy. When she's at home in bed, feels people who occupy should have their voices heard. Also thinks people who live far away, are unhealthy, don't speak English well, somehow need to be given the proper way to participate. Is a bit insensitive to say everyone can be here.
- ? – Regarding quorum requirement: Does that mean people voting or people here? People could withdraw votes to disrupt process. Regarding laying out clear agenda about why we're here: Feels there is tactical advantage to refrain from doing so. Similarly, should not have list of demands. If there's clear identification of why we're here, we'd lose what's so special about being here. Wants more than he can put in a list. Doing so would be too narrow, exclude people, and allow others to squash us.
- Fred – Other speaker used word "should" a lot. How to get from "should" to "do" was not addressed. Other person wants people to do lots of work. He's been working on fundraising since early in the morning. If he has to run around gaining support, will allow less time for collecting money for pumping toilets.
- ? – Before doing something, asks GA for temperature check. If Fred has proposals but no time to prepare them, ask for help. He offers it to Fred and others.
- Mark – Is cold. We need to deal with this issue. Would love to be inside warm conference room where lots of people could join without weather exposure. Really need indoor facility.
- Carol – City Hall has capacity of 285 on first floor.
- ? – Regarding list of demands or principles, finds that they can be both strength and weakness. We're all here because things are messed up. Our clear message is that we're pissed off, the world is not working, and we're trying to change it. Without a clear list of things that need change, and without concrete solutions in hand, how can we expect anything to have. It's well and good to be down here yelling — it's exciting — but without something to direct that yelling toward, with an end-game and a few things we want to change, where will we go?
- ? – Regarding decision-making, has been in meetings where 15 people discuss whether to authorize 15 dollar purchase. Likely waste of energy. It's unclear what decisions should be made in our GAs. $25 could be controversial to us if, for instance, someone spent it at a non-union shop. Grappling with what should be discussed heavily [in GA] and what could be done in smaller groups.
- Elvina – Has large house near SCCC. Could use it when it's very cold.
- ? – Does not have large house or job, but has library card and knows many librarians.
- Tabitha – Shouldn't be hasty about why we're here or to make statements about such. What we're doing is important and valid. This is out of the box, and it's the first time for many people to be outside the box. This is radical.
- time: 20:34
- Corey, Legal – Assembling corporate blacklist so we can suggest what businesses people should avoid.
- suggests coming to Labor Caucus Wednesday 6pm Labor Temple. These people do that all the time and would have good input.
- Elvina – Due to rising and falling tensions, is starting listening/group-therapy work group. If you like to bitch and gripe and complain but haven't been listened to, get in touch. Also, will have discussion with anti-fascist movement with concerns she has about specific people.
- ? – Likes to keep things simple, so is buying stickers, getting them out, and
- had 25,000 made by union print shop for $800 (3 cents apiece). Gave half of them to someone. Doesn't know where they are. Maybe distributed, maybe in car trunk. Kept half. Raised $700, has 4000 stickers left. Got over $200 during half-day with one role of stickers that cost $35. Many go for free. Wants people to have stickers, but since cost has not been authorized, is reluctant to give them away. Please let everyone know that we give these away, but please get money from people who have it and want to give it. She's gotten $20 for five stickers, given away 100 for free.
- Mark – Lives near where John T. Williams was killed. No flowers there. Put a sticker there, and it's still there. Has idea about calling Karen Strickland (president of Seattle American Federation of Teachers, who were there all night). Couldn't college give them key to conference room so we can have GA there? He'll contact Logistics about that. They seem to be adamant about supporting us. Asked them, "You don't think they'd gas teachers do you?" Answer: "We're willing to find out."
- Shawn – One of the proposals for tomorrow is to move GA to SCCC. Please be here for that vote.