NYCGA Minutes 10/26/2011

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NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY DAY 40

Meeting Date/Time: 10/26/2011 / 7pm EST

Location: Liberty Plaza

Facilitators (F): Facilitators: Leo, Danielle

 

Stack taker: Larry; Stack greeter: Reza; Time keeper: Alejandro; Minute taker: Carrie

Process Review/Opening Comments: We’d like say we’d like to make this GA go as fast as possible. We will explain why shortly. But it’s something coming from Direct Action. We abide by two important principles. The first is that we take progressive stack. This means the stack taker will reorder the list of people who want to speak by prioritizing traditionally marginalized voices. The second principle is a self-imposed principle called step-up, step-back. Take note of the privilege in your life and if you have been traditionally encouraged to make your voice heard in society, we invite you to step back, and if you have been traditionally discouraged from making your voice heard, we invite you to step up.

Review of hand signals: Fingers up, wiggling means “I feel good.” Hands horizontal, fingers wiggling, means “I feel okay.” Hands down, fingers wiggling, means “I do not feel good.” A “C” means point of clarification, when you have a question that pertains to what’s being said. Finger pointed up means point of information, that you have pertinent info about what’s being said. Finger up, pumping, means speak up. A triangle means point of process, when there’s something conflicting in the process and it needs attention. A block signal, an X with your arms is very serious. Use during a proposal when you have moral ethical or safety issue with what’s being proposed. You are also able to stand down if your block is something you’re willing to forgo to allow the process to continue. Fingers rolling means wrap it up. Use this with compassion.

 

AGENDA

40.1.  Agenda Items (Principles of Solidarity Consolidation WG Breakout Discussion, Direct Action Emergency Proposal, Occupy Central Park Emergency Proposal)
40.2.  Announcements

 

40.1.  Agenda Items

40.1.1.  A proposal from the Shipping, Inventory & Storage working group

40.1.1.1.  In case you haven’t heard, people from across the world are big fans of ours. We receive hundreds of packages every day. As we work hard to sort and deliver all of the shipments, we are working equally hard to organize the storage space for working group surplus. It is a large task. And there is a lot of stuff. Before we can have the conversation about what to do with our surplus, it is important to know exactly what we have. That is the “I” is SIS: Inventory. There have already been many generous donations of shelves. This is helping us turn unruly piles of supplies into a coherent stockroom. Tonight we are asking for $2,500 to purchase more shelves

[Full proposal here: http://www.nycga.net/2011/10/25/draft-proposal-for-wednesday-1026-general-assembly-shippinginventorystorage-s-i-s/. ]

We will wait to purchase these shelves until Friday. If we can find a better deal before Friday, we can always use more than 20 shelves. This would not only facilitate an efficient and accurate inventory, it will also create a more useful storage space for all working groups.

F: Opening stack for clarifying questions.

40.1.1.2.  Clarifying Questions

F: Closing stack

40.1.1.2.1.  What kind of shelves are you looking for?

Response: We are looking for good shelves, cost-effective shelves. We have been donated shelves before that are easy to assemble. We like them because they are eco-friendly and cheap.

Point of Process (POP): Can you tell us the other agenda items, so we can all go to the Occupy Oakland march?

Point of Information (POI): We aim to end this meeting by 9 so we can all go to the march.

F: Stack is open for concerns.

F: Closing stack. Temperature check? It looks like we’re building toward consensus. Any blocks?

Point of clarification (POC): Where are these shelves going to be placed?

Response: We intend to purchase them on Friday and have them in place on Saturday so we can do inventory. The storage facility is at 52 Broadway, generously donated by the United Federation of Teachers.

POC: Why the Fed of Teachers? Why can’t they donate shelves?

Response: They’ve donated a lot.

F: Final temperature check: Good
40.1.1.3.  Consensus.

Emergency Announcement: Report-back from the Direct Action meeting about what happened in Oakland. If 100-plus cities get together and occupy their spaces in solidarity with us, we need to stand up for them when one of them goes down. So at 9 we’re going to meet here and we’re going to have a low-risk-arrest march going via the sidewalk. Other groups who may risk arrest will be walking through other marches. At 9 you’ll be updated. This is at the same exact time as Oakland will be marching, and DC will be marching.

40.1.2.  Principles of Solidarity Consolidation breakout groups

40.1.2.1.  I’m Kelly with the Principles of Solidarity Consolidation working group. This doc was first generated on the second day of the occupation. It’s gone through three different breakout group sessions. It’s been drafted by you, the GA. The last draft was on Sept. 23 It hasn’t moved in a while. We’d like to request your input, thoughts, and great minds to be added to this document. I know it’s a shorter general assembly and there’s a big focus on other occupations, and that’s what we need to be focused now. But we also need to focus on what holds us together here. I’m going to distribute this document to the crowd now. And perhaps groups can be formed around those with the document. Breakout groups are usually followed by report-backs from those groups. Because we’re on a time crunch, we are not going to have group report-backs. After a 10-minute discussion with your groups, representatives from those groups should come to me with their drafts with all of your amazing input. We will then synthesize it and propose this again at a GA and perhaps a spokes council, if that gets passed on Friday, to come back here and look at it again.

F: At this point, we’re going to have a short breakout group discussion about a document.
POP: Maybe ten minutes isn’t enough?

Response: I’m aware of that but I have to work within the constrictions of the GA tonight. If we do it tomorrow, there will probably be more emergency proposals, as there have been all week. This is the third time I’ve been to Facilitation to get this on the agenda this week.

F: Let’s take these ten minutes and figure out another way afterwards to give more feedback and take more time with this document. Specifically, there’s room on the website to give feedback on documents.

Response: There’s also an alternate draft of this document that will be posted for comments and suggestions as well, online. I’m sorry for the short time. I just really want to get something from all of you.

F: Breakout groups. I ask that you don’t move too much so we can get together again quickly. 10 minutes starts now.

[Breakout groups discuss for ten minutes]

F: This was obviously not enough time. We’ll have more time some other time. The next step is the Principles of Solidarity working group will put this document on the NYCGA website. You’ll be able to comment and respond to comments as much as you want. Thanks for this timely conversation. Please pass forward the sheets to Kelly.

40.1.3.  Direct Action emergency proposal: Solidarity for Occupy Oakland

40.1.3.1.  For medical and legal funds. The Oakland occupation was evicted yesterday morning very violently by 500 riot police with rubber bullets and tear gas. Yesterday night they marched to reoccupy and were met with ten rounds of tear gas. The footage depicts what looks like a war zone. Of the injuries reported, there’s an Iraq war veteran who is currently unconscious in critical condition, shot in the head with a rubber bullet. Another vet is still in the hospital with a head injury from a tear gas canister. Twelve people have injuries from the police that haven’t gotten checked out because they were in jail. There have been more than 180 arrests. Twelve people are still in jail for $10,000 bail, being charged with remaining at a riot scene. Two other people have larger bails—one an 18-year-old arrested beside her mom, who is being held on $12,000 bail. A man beaten by the police is being charged with assault on an officer and is being held on $30,000 bail. Bonding out the fifteen people would amount to $16,200. The remaining funds will be used for medical bills, which will in no way amount to that much.

This money will also go for legal because tonight, at a 6pm march, they will try to reoccupy. The NLG does not provide money for bail or medical expenses, therefore the responsibility is on the movement. Occupy Oakland has been the most economically and racially diverse occupation in the U.S. Thus it comes as no surprise that they were the first of this scale to be violently evicted. If we want to make any claim toward being a movement inclusive of everyone, it is crucial to show material solidarity with Oakland. The violent decimation and consequent violent attacks on Oakland will set a precedent for how occupations across the country will be dealt with. Both Atlanta and Denver were moved on last night. If we want people to resist this oppression, we need to support their resistance. Occupy Oakland, has no material support and collected money dollar by dollar [unintelligible] … their support got him bonded out. It is in this spirit of mutual aid and solidarity that we ask for $20,000 for our fellow occupiers on the West Coast. It is only together that we can keep this thing going.

F: Opening stack for clarifying questions. This is a very specific proposal and we ask your questions and concerns be specific to this proposal. You can find more info about these events elsewhere. Right now we consider this proposal.

40.1.3.2.  Clarifying Questions

40.1.3.2.1.  This is a very short question, and might be met with POP. Is there any way Chicago can get any of this money? Because they’ve been struggling a month.

Response: The Direct Action working group is drafting a proposal to send funds to Chicago, Atlanta, and Baltimore.

40.1.3.2.2.  Robert: Two questions: Are you beginning a Kickstarter fund? And when the legal process is done, is the bond is returned?

Response: We are in the process of establishing a Kickstarter fund for each of the occupations who were raided. This proposal is to make the funds available to the occupation. The bond, if it is 10%, is not returned. If you pay the whole thing, it is returned. The $16,200 is the total amount of bond. The total amount of bail is more than $100,000.

40.1.3.2.3.  Aton: I’m concerned there will be even greater demands for money for bond after tonight. And is that really enough money?

F: Right now stack is only open for clarifying questions.

40.1.3.2.4.  Georgia: How much time do we have to give this money?

Response: As soon as possible!

40.1.3.2.5.  Can it might be a little bit more precise?

Response: People have been in jail since yesterday. As far as I’m concerned, that’s too damn long.

40.1.3.2.6.  Tanye: Is the money going towards medical expenses for not just the Oakland occupation, but other occupations that were involved in skirmishes as well? It’s also the case Chicago is in dire need, so are the funds going to be directed only to Oakland or the general occupation of the various regions around the nation? Are we establishing a precedent that demands a larger structure to address?

POP: Can we please keep these questions and concerns specifically regarding the proposal, only about Oakland? Acknowledging these other questions are for other proposal that are currently being developed. Oakland only!

40.1.3.2.6.  Ben: Who’s collecting the contributions here tonight?

Response: They have a PayPal.

40.1.3.2.7.  Bernadette: Is this going to establish a precedent for other occupies to ask for bail and medical expenses if they have terrible things happen?

Response: We hope that it does set a precedent.

F: Opening stack for concerns.

40.1.3.3.  Concerns

40.1.3.3.1.  The amount of money is inadequate considering the number of arrests that may occur by the time the money arrives.

Response: We are too. $ 20,000 is the amount we talked about with Oakland today. Perhaps if we have a consensus to raise the amount, we would do that temperature check.

POP: Please let the facilitators run the meeting.

40.1.3.3.2.  Seth: There will be more arrests in the future and if we set a precedent of tying up large amount of funds, this could also be used as an excuse for the police to hold more people.

Response: That’s the risk we have to take. OWS has $500,000. We have to recognize we have a greater capacity to fundraise than the other occupations. We need to take this responsibility seriously.

40.1.3.3.3.  Kelly: All the money we give them will go to fuel the prison-industrial complex, the cops, and leave them with little resources when they are out of jail.

Response: This is a proposal for legal and medical funds. If that’s a concern, we can either raise the amount at this meeting or bring it to another GA to rebuild their camp next meeting.

40.1.3.3.4.  Ryan: I would like a member of the Finance team to educate everyone on where this money would fit into the budget. That way everyone can make informed decisions.

F: Is there a member of Finance here? While we look for them, let’s finish stack.

40.1.3.3.5.  Sarah: I have a comment on the concern that giving bail money to people will encourage police to hold people longer. If we don’t get the bail money, there will be less people on the streets, which is what the police state wants. We should do what is right and worry about what the oppressors want.

40.1.3.3.6.  Ben: Since I gather that concern is the appropriate time to make an amendment and I gather there is concern shared that this isn’t enough money, let’s make it a concrete proposal to amend the proposal we’re discussing to give them $40,000.

F: Friendly amendments. It sounds like we already have one. Do we have others besides increasing the amount of money?

F: Finance is here.

40.1.3.3.7.  Pete from Finance: I was not consulted about this. We’ve been bleeding money in the past month. Realistically, in the last two weeks we’ve spent about $60,000. Now, that’s a lot of money. What we have on hand is not that much. We’ve been preparing a financial statement. It will be out very soon. [murmurs and remarks from crowd]

40.3.18 F: Please let’s keep our energy cool. We have a tough decision to make. Let’s keep it love.

40.1.3.3.7.  (Continued) Pete from Finance: Who here is at their first GA? [some claps] We basically have about $175,000 in our bank account. We have more money pending. That money has not yet cleared. At the rate we’re going, this is a very large chunk of our money. I’m in solidarity with the other occupations, but the reality is, we need to start a fund to help the other occupations but we should start doing that by opening other channels of contributions. The money we have has been raised to run the operations here in this park. It costs us a lot of money and at the rate we’ve been going I have serious doubts we’ll be able to make it through December. Our expenses have been growing. So has the number of people. These are connected. [These figures are unofficial].

F: To remind everyone, we are trying to keep this GA short for the 9 pm march. I f I may, let’s bring this proposal to friendly amendments while keeping in mind this time limit on the GA.

POI: On this subject [unintelligible] see us as their enemy. It’s a common tactic and they’re very smart. Only they do it one step at a time, so just caution us to be wise with our finances. Also, this is the center of the occupation and the whole nation and the world looks to this occupation for strength and inspiration, so we must be strong here.

F: Three friendly amendments. Closing stack on FAs.

40.1.3.4.  Friendly Amendments

40.1.3.4.1.  I understand that OWS cannot afford to fund every town that gets shut down, however this is a particularly violent act and because we are an example, we should look at that and turn it around by giving them a helping hand. My amendment is that for particularly violent acts, that we release funds like this one. It cannot be every time a camp gets shut down.

40.1.3.4.2.  Phil: In addition to the funds we send to Occupy Oakland I propose we send 100 tents, which we have available, because all of their tents were destroyed and the resources we have, including our money, does not belong to us! It belongs to the movement and the movement needs it!

Response: It is not our decision whether this is a precedent. We accept the tents proposal.

F: Reminder, amendments must be deemed friendly by the proposers.

POP: Can we do two waves of the people’s mic? MIC CHECK.

40.1.3.4.3.  Andy: I believe there was a major block that was not acknowledged. No blame. Some people here a little while ago made a disparaging remark about the police.

POP: Right now, we need to finish with friendly amendments.

40.1.3.4.4.  Sharon: I propose that we send Oakland $40,000 now, then open a channel for raising funds for other occupations.

F: The specific amount of money seems from people’s hand signals to run the danger of derailing this proposal. I’d like to get a temperature check on any increase in money beyond $20,000. [Negative.]

Direct Action: Judging from the hand signals, we’d like to stay with our initial proposal of $20,000.

POP: I’m confused. When we have such a difficult decision, why don’t we do consensus first of all for the initial proposal, and then for the other proposals? Also, why the facilitator becomes the voice of our emotion as a gathering of thousands of people?

F: If you’d like to join Facilitation, we could use the help.

F: We have an existing process and this delay is a violation of it.

F: I’d like to remind everyone this is our GA. We’re trying to come together as one body. There are many voices. It’s necessary to be respectful.

40.1.3.4.5.  Katie: If we agree to set the initial amount proposed this time, I think we should make an amendment that would actually be dedicated to forming a group that would raise funds for people who get arrested in the future. There’s a lot of sympathy across the country and world for everything that happened in Oakland.

POI: It was recently reported by Finance that we have $160,000 available. We also have an additional $340,000 that is pending.

Response: In response to your friendly amendment, they already said they were forming that group. We will join it.

40.1.3.4.6.  Mike: I propose that the funds unlocked be available for shipping costs for the tents and other supplies.

Response: We accept the amendment.

F: That’s the end of friendly amendments. Temperature check on this proposal: We propose that $20,000 plus 100 tents plus shipping costs be sent to our fellow occupiers in Oakland. We are approaching consensus. We have one POP.

POP: The contribution that this camp is making to Oakland, are other camps contributing as well?

F: POP: That’s not a POP. Please come and ask the working group later.

F: Do we have any blocks? We have two blocks. Just to remind everyone, a block does not mean that you disagree with the proposal. A block means you have a severe ethical moral or safety concern with the proposal.

40.1.3.5.  Blocks

40.1.3.5.1.  The reason why I blocked it, is Finance is right. We cannot afford to keep on giving money when people ask. Also, we’re spending way too much money. We need to maintain this occupation as much as possible.

POI: It wasn’t my understanding that Finance said we shouldn’t send them the money. They just reported how much we have and how much we’ve spent.

F: We’re gonna hear the other block and then consider them both.

40.1.3.5.2.  I’ve been here since day one. So I take blocks very seriously. I have multiple reasons for my block. When I came to hear the proposal I asked the proposers if they cleared it or at least run it by Finance. I asked in my concerns for a Finance member to give us information about the current situation. I got the impression that when this proposal was run by Finance, they were told it was not a good idea. And now if you recall, it was brought as an emergency agenda item. That doesn’t sit right with me. The other item, moral and ethical reason, is that if we start giving out money to other occupations, it becomes hierarchical, when we become the purse strings of the movement.

Response: One point of misinformation that was just said, is that we did not talk to Finance. Last night we talked to Finance. They did not tell us the budget of this occupation. They did tell us it was a bad idea. But we decided to take it to the GA because that is not transparent to keep that information clotted there. This is an emergency proposal, again, because people are broken and jailed in Oakland and we as a movement are trying to help them.

POI: Emergency proposals, especially for large sums, is that if Finance is consulted prior to presenting it to the GA, it is very important that is included in the proposal.

POC: For the Finance group, do they know and are they aware that this money that they control is individual money coming from individuals to help not only this occupation but other occupations?

F: POC is information, not opinion.

POI: The strength of this occupation is totally dependent upon the strength of other occupations. These are connected, related occupations.

POP: That’s not a point of information.

POI: I suggest we let Facilitation actually facilitate. If they cut you off, it’s not disrespect, just sticking to the process.

F: I want to ask if the blockers hold their blocks. Does she hold her block? Yes, she does.

40.1.3.5.2.1.  I would like to ask Victoria, who educated me about my block, to speak. if she won’t, I’ll hold my block.

40.1.3.5.2.2.  Victoria: Last night, I was approached by the people making this proposal and I was present for their discussion with Finance. Finance explained why this would not be a good idea, at which point I volunteered to find a way legally, that we could expedite this process and get Oakland the funds for bail before Thursday. Ideally, this would have involved setting up a Kickstarter that should have been made this morning and using all of our social media hour by hour to promote this Kickstarter. We have a history of raising funds very quickly. That was my proposal. It was my understanding that this Kickstarter would be brought to me this morning and released to the media around 10 am. I didn’t hear back from the proposers until around 5, when I heard that this hadn’t worked out and was being brought as an emergency proposal. This is a breach of process. I do think this money should find its way to Oakland quickly. I’d like to offer one last friendly amendment.

F: At this point, we need to ask if you hold your block for this proposal as it stands.

POC: When someone offers a block, they can also offer amendments.

40.1.3.5.3.  Blocker 2: I would like Victoria to offer her amendment.

F: We’re gonna hear quickly this last friendly amendment.

40.1.3.5.4.  Victoria: That we release these funds with a caveat that within the conference call between occupations, we begin discussion immediately for how to set up this national trust which would hold funds available to all occupations for legal aid and bail.

Response: We accept the amendment.

40.1.3.5.5.  I withdraw my block.

[cheers]

Clarifying Question: Your proposal is to spend $20,000 to Oakland and then set up a fund?

Response: We accept.

F: The other blocker has her own friendly amendment that would remove her block.

40.1.3.5.3.1.  (Blocker 1, continued) If Oakland’s occupation, their legal team, works with our legal team hand-in-hand together, I will remove my block.

Response: We accept.

F: Final temperature check: [overwhelmingly positive and cheers]
40.1.3.6.  Consensus: $20,000 and 100 sleeping bags will be disbursed to Occupy Oakland, and a fund set up.

F: We’re moving on to another proposal. At 9 o’clock is the march. It is now 8:59. For the people who want to leave for this march, you should go. Let’s get through this proposal. [At this point many people leave to go join Occupy Oakland solidarity march.]

40.1.4.  Occupy Central Park Emergency Proposal

40.1.4.1.  We are currently in the process of planning Occupy Central Park, a one-day cultural event that will gather in Central Park on 11/11/11, the global day of solidarity. The event will not be a protest, but a people’s fair. We will have the chance to come together as the 100% to start building the foundation for this new, positive world which we dream of. We come here today to get the official support of OWS GA. So that we can make this as big and awesome as possible.

F: We’re gonna do the same process. Let’s make it quick if we can. Stack is open for clarifying questions.

40.1.4.2.  Clarifying Questions

40.1.4.2.1.  This will not be an overnight event?

Response: No.

F: Closing tack for clarifying questions. Opening stack for concerns.

40.1.4.3.  Concerns

40.1.4.3.1.  Why can’t we build a permanent settlement in Central Park?

POP: This is concerns about this specific proposal and that question can be addressed later.

F: Closing stack for concerns.

POP: I do have concerns about this proposal but I feel that Central Park shouldn’t be confined and we should take a slower movement towards it. This discussion is important and needs proper time. It’s not too close, there’s drums in the background, and we’re far from desperate. If we can decide what to do at this moment right now, I’d be more confident in m decision-making ability of my community.

Emergency announcement: Apparently Occupy LA is about to get evicted. Just heard this from someone I trust. It may not happen tonight.

F: We want to finish this as soon as possible. We have a direct response to this concern.

Response: This is just this one event, before something bigger we are planning in the spring.

F: Closing stack for concerns. Temperature check on this proposal … a few hands. I see a lot of people with hands up a few people horizontal and some people not doing anything. Are there any blocks to this proposal?

40.1.4.4.  We have consensus on this proposal.

 

40.2.  Announcements

F: We have two more things that will be critical announcements and then we will end GA.

40.2.1.  Ben: I’m here from Food working group. You may have heard about some changes in the kitchen. I’m here to clarify what’s going on. The kitchen is not closing. Not even temporarily. We will continue to feed and sustain this movement every day of this occupation. For three days we’ll be feeding a simplified menu. We will serve the same simple meals to all occupiers and all members of working groups. This will be a time for reflection and building solidarity in our movement. We will continue our mission feed everyone in this park. We will distribute info about this action tomorrow and answer all your questions then, going camp to camp, working group to working group. Our mission in the kitchen is to create a revolutionary space for breaking bread and building community. Let’s do this together.

F: There are a number of people who want to make announcements. If you want to, come get on stack. If you want to join the march, go ahead.

40.2.2.  There will be a forum for everyone’s voice to be heard, an open mic at Battery Park, Friday at 5:30. If you are musicians and have interest in starting a weekly open mic for OWS, go to Info tomorrow.

40.2.3.  OccuStock Music and Performance Fest will be held in Providence, R.I. this Friday, Saturday, and Sunday. It will be at India Point Park from 4 to 11. Occupiers and sympathizers will be there. You can contact Occupy Providence at 203-918-5463.

40.2.4.  The Spokes Council proposal from the Structure working group that will be decided upon on Friday in the GA will be available tonight on the NYCGA website (http://nycga.net/spokes-council) They will have minor changes sometime tomorrow—a few typos and maybe a diagram.

40.2.5.  There are two new working groups forming. One is called Catalyst, for the organization and coordination nonprofit groups, to make sure similar NFPs work together. There will be another called Best Practices, to serve as best practices between working groups, including audit functions.

40.2.6.  The Screen Guild is making T-shirts like this one over there. On Saturday we’ll be bringing a proposal to the GA to purchase blank T-shirts from a source that is sweatshop-labor free. There will be a proposal on the NYCGA site tomorrow. Please have a look. There’s a lot of different options we have about T-shirts. Please comment online.

Clarifying Question: E-mail address attached to this proposal?

Response: There’s already one on our working group page on the NYCGA.net (OWSscreenguild@gmail.com)

F: That’s the end of announcements. That’s the end of GA.

Adjourned 9:20.

 

22 Responses to “NYCGA Minutes 10/26/2011”

  1. qmh

    Great minutes! Just a note: after 39.3.28, the lines are renumbered starting with a 33 (i.e. 33.3.29). Should the lines still be 39 or should they be numbered 33?

    Keep up the great work!

  2. Stevenrowat

    Many thanks to the minute-keeper. Best by far of the ones I’ve read so far. Not a small point; this time it’s possible to really understand what happened.

    Not a criticism of the other minute-takers. I’m sure it’s extremely difficult to get all these words down from the flow in a GA. Perhaps Carrie can share some of her process with others; maybe in a workshop in how to gather GA minutes.

  3. Roxann

    So, you only want to hear “marganialized” voices, not everyone’s voice? And how do you determine who is “marginalized?” I don’t understand…I thought you were a movement for all people, but you’re becoming more and more like Congress each day.

    I also think it’s really funny you don’t want to share the wealth you’ve accumulated. I thought you wanted a true socialist society.

    And there is no place in the world you can buy tshirts that haven’t been made in China under sweatshop conditions unless you sew them yourselves.

  4. Dan Livingston

    Roxann,
    The idea behind asking folks who feel marginalized to step up, and asking folks who feel empowered to speak to take a step back is an exercise in self-assessment and self-awareness. It’s not as though you can’t speak if you want to, it’s just an exercise to get you asking yourself to take a look at your place in society and more practically, your place in the discussion.

    Also, it’s just a rumor that’s floating around which says that Occupy Wall Street wants a true socialist society. Occupy Wall Street clearly wants an open, democratic society. In any case, just because OWS has money doesn’t mean that it would be wise or in accordance with any political or social system I’m aware of to just start handing out money to whomever walks up to you. OWS is a social movement that is as serious as we’ve seen in this country in decades, and in order to keep moving it needs to be careful not to squander the few resources it has.

    Finally, it’s not true at all that you can’t buy t-shirts that haven’t been made with sweatshop labor. There are several product certifications out there, most notably is Fair Trade, which certifies labor standards and pricing for a whole range of products–from textiles to food to hand-crafed items–for consumers who want to participate in a different type of economy.
    Peace and Love,
    Dan

    • Jemma

      I have the same question as Roxann- how do they determine who is marginalized? Self awareness and self assessment are not an answer. I know that as a female I would be considered ‘marginalized’ but I do not feel marginalized nor will act marginalized.

  5. Michael Kusman

    MESSAGE TO OWS – Baby it’s cold outside!

    Listen, you protesters have done an outstandin­g job, and , deserve credit for igniting a worldwide movement. There are many people on this planet who’ve lost all faith and respect for the USA and you people are changing that. If a market driven capitolist democracy is to survive here , YOUR ideas need to be implemente­d.
    But I think it would be wise for all of you to pack up and go home now ( if you have a home to go to ). I really think your efforts would be better served if you all took a break now and planned to re-occupy next year. The time until now and then could be constructi­vely used to efficientl­y organize, establish a bona fide platform and hopefully agree on a leadership base. Next spring, our country will be consciousl­y absorbed in yet another meaningles­s presidenti­al campaign, and your brave voice will be heard much more effectivel­y at that time.

    Another issue I see is one of infiltrati­on of your ranks by lawless agitators whose agenda is civil disobedien­ce. Taking a break at this time would help identify those whose intentions are merely to create disruption and seek self serving martyrdom. Good Luck!

  6. Roxann

    Please link me to Fair Trade shirts. I would buy them for some personal projects.

    I also think it’s counterproductive to try and judge someone’s “privilege” based on their looks. I don’t know what my place in society is beyond that I am working to try and keep my home. I work to keep my debts managable but the corporations are always looking for new ways to screw me over. I think you should allow ANYONE to speak without threatening them to check their “privilege.” I am afraid to speak because of this mandate. It might be best to remove this from the GA in the future or you risk silencing people without realizing it.

    • allen

      Roxann, You write as though you are accustomed to marginalization and self censorship. The message to step back is not directed at you. Speak-up! It’s your turn.

      • Roxann

        I am, but I don’t know how marginalized I am in comparison to others. I feel like I cannot speak because I will be judged.

        • Jaz

          The step up step back message is meant for those who are privileged in that they are mainly white males who are given the chance to speak, or just outspoken without being given the chance. The fact that you are a female-identified person (I assume since your name is Roxann) means that your voice is traditionally marginalized in society. Because of that, you are recognized by the GA stackperson and given priority over those previously mentioned, white males or outspoken people. Everyone is allowed to speak up, but women and people of color are given priority. This is not about judging people, it is about recognizing injustice and fair treatment and acting in a manner that is reflective of what we would like to see different in our society and the way we conduct direct democracy. I hope this helps.

  7. Dan Livingston

    Roxann,
    This link will show you how to find out information on fair trade products like t-shirts: http://www.schooltube.com/video/290bae8a382a43abac4b/Google-Search

    Again, regarding the privilege check, it’s not about anyone threatening anyone else to check their privilege, and it’s not about people judging everyone else’s privilege, it’s about each person doing a self-assessment about how they participate in group discussions, and to make an assessment of the group that they’re in before they clamor for the floor in the discussion. It’s a self-selecting awareness project, not a group gang-up and silencing project.
    Peace and Love,
    Dan

  8. Roxann

    I realize I could use Google, I was hoping you had a handy link. Ah well. Now I just feel like you are mocking me.

    That may be your intention, but I feel like I am silenced because if I speak, I will be questioned if I am “marginalized” enough to share my thoughts.

  9. Dan Livingston

    Roxann,
    I wasn’t mocking you, I was just being snarky. I’m sorry you felt mocked.

    As for the General Assembly, I suppose I would just have to suggest that you go to one and see what it’s like for yourself. It seems as though I’m not clearly communicating to you that the privilege check is just an exercise, meant to get people to think critically about their own role in society, and their own role in group discussions.

    Look, I’m a white man. I benefit greatly in this society because of my whiteness and my maleness. I generally get a lot more latitude in discussions because of this, and I understand that a lot of women and minorities don’t enjoy these same privileges. By using a progressive stack where marginalized speakers get to speak first, doesn’t mean that privileged speakers don’t get to talk too, they just don’t get to talk first. The idea here isn’t to lift up the marginalized by marginalizing another group of people, but to help marginalized people feel empowered, and to help privileged people get some perspective on what their privilege means.
    Peace and Love,
    Dan

  10. E Henry Schoenberger

    If the movement becomes aware of my new book, and i can get a number of free copies to some of the organizers it could become the manifesto for this crucially necessary movement. HOW WE GOT SWINDLED BY WALL STREET GODFATHERS, GREED & FINANCIAL DARWINISM ~ THE 30-YEAR WAR AGAINST THE AMERICAN DREAM, with a foreword by David Satterfield former business editor of the Miami Herald and 2 times Pulitzer Prize-winner, provides the brutally candid truth about all the culprits and issues that expose the root cause of the raison d’etre underlying the essential need of OWS moving forward. 216-287-4513, 216-752-3244 – http://www.howwegotswindled.blogspot.com