Proposal for Saturday 12/17 General Assembly: Jehan Semper

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

re:           Proposal for establishing
Detained Occupier Support Services(DOSS)

Purpose

Provide a guaranteed personal point of contact and support services to detained Occupiers in New York Department of Corrections facilities.

Service Description

Arranging and handling pick-up, storage and shipping of detainees’ personal property, contacting  and relaying information to family, friends and significant contacts on behalf of detainees, visiting detainees, delivering desired/requested items, establishing and maintaining commissary accounts, attending court appearances and meeting other reasonable requests of detained Occupiers as-needed.

Example of Services Provided

If an Occupier detainee is taken into custody without financial resources and/or a personal point of contact, the Occupier would contact me with their booking/case number and location within the Department of Corrections. I would visit the detainee to obtain information as to the nature of the arrest, charges, bail requirements and their experience with the New York Police Department, make an initial deposit to their commissary account to allow them to contact family or friends if needed, bring them desired personal property such as clothing or documents or pick-up personal property in their possession at the time of the arrest for delivery or shipping to a location as requested by the Occupier detainee, deliver requested items or documents to their attorney, attend court appearances if requested. Family or friends of the Occupier detainee would have the option of contacting me if they are not able to reach the detainee.

Budget Requirements

Recurring and Fixed Costs

Monthly

Metrocard      $104

Cellular Phone Service Plan
(Unlimited Nationwide Long-Distance)      $50

Storage Space      $100

Daily

Stipend for Expenses/Incidentals      $100

Variable Costs (Requested As-Needed)

Commissary Deposits

(Initial Deposit Per Detainee)      $10

Shipping/Transportation

(Detainee Personal Property)      ***

3 Responses to “Proposal for Saturday 12/17 General Assembly: Jehan Semper”

  1. Robert Segal

    Love the idea.

    But: Yet another monthly Metrocard and personal cell phone request.

    I am becoming more and more convinced this needs to stop. It should, perhaps, never have started. OWS might subsidise transport and communications costs for an individual but we ought not be paying all transport and all cell costs.

    I hope everyone realises that unlimited Metrocards and a personal cell phone are perks that provide great value to the individual far beyond their utility to OWS. To expect an individual to receive all the personal benefit of unlimited transport and cell service entirely on OWS’s dime, without requiring any contribution from the individual (“Hey, I’m with OWS! I get free phone and subway rides!”) is absurd. Typically, people who wish to contribute to an effort, be it a job or a volunteer cause, pay their own way to-and-from and buy their own cell service. It has nothing at all to do with ability to afford such things. Having fewer dollars does not make one more deserving of dollars. A major chunk of a typical New Yorker’s budget? We have to buy Metrocards. It’s why MTA fare hikes generate huge headlines. We hate it.

    But such OWS budget requests as this have opened the door to corruption of the most base and common sort. It’s a bit like pilfering office supplies — except the office says, “Yeah, go ahead and take home as many boxes of pens as you like.” This is not sane practice.

    When I worked on Wall Street I hated the idea the lowest-paid building staff got 30 minute lunches and were entirely on the clock whilst, if you made six figures, you took time off — entire days off — at your discretion and could tell your lower-paid staff to take out your dry cleaning and get your car washed because doing so yourself might inconvenience you.

    When the Group fails to realise that its human nature to want get away with shit and justify it however one can, that’s one thing. But when the group opens the cash box and says, “Come and get it”, that’s time to draw a hard line.

    Has OWS opened the cash box or hasn’t it?
    I would halt all Metrocard and cell funding for OWS.

  2. Erick- Jail Support

    I have to say, this proposal is not particularly well-crafted, in addition to being an unnecessary complication of the support systems already in place for arrested Occupiers. I have not met this person in more than two months of coordinating jail support, and their online presence gives no indication that they have any experience with addressing the concerns of political protesters who have been arrested and are awaiting release or arraignment. While I appreciate the desire to help those facing charges and detention, this is a very counterproductive way of trying to do it, in addition to being impractical. One person, even full-time, simply cannot provide even point services to detained occupiers, if only because of the sheer number who will come up at once during an action.
    My greater concern here is that the proposer shows a thorough ignorance of the way NYC arrest and processing work, given that most of the proposed services to be provided are simply not possible in the context of someone being arrested for protest. These services have much more to do with providing support for those in prison, not jail. We have yet to see any OWS people be sentenced to actual jail time, instead most face extended detention after arrest, with most of that time spent in the custody of NYPD, rather than Corrections. Let me break down why some of these suggestions are unworkable:
    -Arranging and handling transport of personal effects: this is good, and usually possible, but is already being done regularly by friends and jail support team. (Also, shipping? To where?)
    -Contacting and relaying info to occupier’s tribe: Already done by people calling JS to get updates, requires building a network of confidence and trust with those who possess said info, additional networking to be done.
    -Visiting detainees: Not possible. Detainees are not able to be visited while in precincts or central booking/courthouse by anyone other than lawyers, and even they sometimes have trouble
    -Delivering items/commissary deposits: Also not possible, see: visiting; commissary does not even exist outside of prison or prolonged detention at Rikers (extremely rare for OWS). Also, presumes contact with detainees that does not happen most times, no phones or other communication are provided by NYPD.
    -Court appearances and other requests: Sounds nice, too vague. Occupiers already support each other in court.

    All in all, this proposal strikes me as the attempt to help by someone with little to no experience in this field, who has failed to contact or consult any of the occupiers who have been working on these issues of jail support since the beginning of OWS. While I wish we could provide some of the services suggested in here, the scenario outlined is a fantasy. The reality of jail support for OWS in NYC is that it requires the skills and efforts of a wide range of people and groups, and the idea of creating DOSS fails to recognize the work done not only by members of the jail support team, but also other working groups (including, but not limited to: Medics, Support, Kitchen, Protest Chaplains, SIS, Media, Comhub, Library and Finance/Accounting). Additionally, there is no mention of the National Lawyers Guild in this proposal, who are the most crucial group that we coordinate with.
    All of the above relate to the proposal itself, but in seeking more information about the proposer online (in the absence of any contact from them about how we might work together rather than at odds), I find myself rather concerned after reading their bio/marriage proposal on the website http://www.jehan.com/profile.html. Specifically, what concerns me, other than a poor analysis of the gender binary and gendered life roles, is the fact that she expresses a personal disliking/disinterest in associating with anyone with a criminal history, while saying that police officers are very welcome as life partners. Such a view on the world and people seems fundamentally incompatible with being empowered as the primary liason between arrested occupiers and their tribe or the rest of the movement.
    I encourage the proposer to get in touch with the jail support team at 774-257-4697 so that we can help them guide their desire to help into a more productive path, perhaps helping to back up the existing team that is preparing for the Reoccupy action tomorrow. Working alongside the experienced members of the team may provide some context to better understand both the needs and potentialities of helping arrested occupiers, not in some fantasy world, but in the hard reality many of us have been working in around the clock for months now.