Proposal for Thursday 12/29 General Assembly: Occupy Cleveland

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

PROPOSAL

Occupy Cleveland (OC) proposes to Occupy Wall Street (OWS) a 6 month direct action budget of $26,938 to begin January, 2012, to strengthen the Occupy movement in Cleveland, the state of Ohio, and the Midwest.

OC’s purpose is to give voice, courage, and hope to the 99% through a sustained effort to expose and attack theillegitimacy and injustice of imposing on our democracy the purchase of political power in favor of the 1%.  OC will deploy creative, bold, and dramatic actions to educate & persuade citizens to reject deference to authority and instead challenge and defy authority, encourage citizens to take responsibility for their communities, take to thestreets, refuse to submit or cooperate with illegitimate action by the 1%, and thereby inspire in the greater populace a new courage to resist not only the foreclosure process, but all manifestations of the power of the 1%, to demand their rights, to defend each other and their neighbors when they face foreclosure, to convince victims to stay in their homes when facing foreclosure, and thereby empower the 99% to force an end to all foreclosures in Cleveland, Cuyahoga County, Ohio, and the United States of America.

OC also intends to use this grant to build capacity within the Occupy movement locally and regionally, through the first ever Midwest General Assembly, to be convened in Cleveland prior to the March 6, 2012 Ohio Republican presidential primary, featuring teach-ins & trainings to address major opportunities and challenges to the Occupy movement, including organizing, facilitation, the consensus process, civil disobedience, direct action, legal observation and research, the foreclosure process, outreach, media, online advocacy, fundraising, and other topics, ending in a major direct action in Cleveland.

PROCESS & IMPLEMENTATION

Embracing the horizontal and transparent decision making process of the Occupy Movement, OC will submit this proposal & budget to the Occupy Cleveland General Assembly (OCGA) for consensus approval.  Upon OCGA consensus, OC will submit the proposal to OWS for GA approval, upon which implementation will begin immediately, with work being coordinated out of OC’s downtown Cleveland office at 850 Euclid Ave.

All actions will be deployed based on targeted research for maximum impact, with a focus on inclusion of local neighbors and communities, outreach to all community leaders and residents, coordination between all OC working groups, training and capacity building within OC and the broader community, financial and operational accountability, rapid response and mobilization, an aggressive media strategy, internal communication, assessment, and evaluation.

BACKGROUND

Cleveland, Ohio, and the Midwest generally, has been at the sharp end of the 1% for decades.  The city of Cleveland has shrunk from a population of nearly 1 million in 1950 to less than 350,000 in the 2010 census.  Most recently, Cleveland is the epicenter of the foreclosure catastrophe in the United States, literally having been emptied by the fraud and theft of mortgage securitization, with no end in sight.

Since 2006, tens of thousands of homes in the Cleveland area have been seized by the 1%, many left to rot.  For 2011, through November there have been over 9,000 foreclosure filings in Cuyahoga County, meaning there will likely be over 10,000 for 2011 – at the peak of the first wave of the foreclosure crisis in Cuyahoga County in 2007, there were 14,000 foreclosures filed countywide.  This has left thousands of dead and empty properties across the county, has left hundreds if not thousands of homeless families, collapsed property values, resulting in underfunded schools and public services, destroying the city, county and state from the inside out.

The complexity, unfairness, impenetrable non-transparent injustice of the foreclosure process is completely rigged in favor of the 1% against the 99%, forcing homeowners into further debt to find lawyers, or to defend themselves in court without legal help, against an army of foreclosure law firms whose sole business model is to be paid by banks to throw families out of homes which the bank does not own. The fraudulent securitization of mortgage debt in the US has made it impossible to know how many of these foreclosures are a result of fraud, or how many homes were seized without the foreclosing bank producing proof that they own the property.  Against these odds, homeowners feel they have no chance, often giving up on their own rights, perpetuating a catastrophic cycle that favors only the 1%, destroying the 99%.

In short, foreclosure is perhaps the most perfect manifestation of the power of the 1% over the 99%.  It may also be its most vulnerable point for attack.

OCCUPY CLEVELAND ACTIONS TO DATE

Occupy Cleveland began on October 6, 2011, establishing a tent city that evening on a sidewalk along West Roadway across from the Tom Johnson Free Speech Quadrant of Public Square.  The tent city grew to 70 nightly occupiers over the next two weeks and constantly engaged in trainings, direct actions, marches and providing services to occupiers and Cleveland’s downtown  residents.

On October 21, the City of Cleveland withdrew permits for overnight occupation, and 11 occupiers were arrested on the Tom Johnson Free Speech quadrant shortly after the 10pm curfew by an overwhelming police operation in full riot gear.

OC challenged the curfew in federal court, resulting in a negotiated settlement with the city, which now permits OC 24/7 access to the Tom Johnson Free Speech Quadrant and a stretch of the adjacent West Roadway sidewalk, including a 10×20 canopied space, but without permission for sleep, permanent structures, or other shelter or services.  Despite the weather, and the unconstitutional limits of these permits, OC has renewed the permits without interruption since the arrests, and as of this proposal continues occupation on Public Square, one of only about 60 remaining occupations on public property in the United States.  This has allowed us to remain in the spotlight and be a rallying point for our expanding coalition.

OC’s “info tent”, the remaining tent permitted by the city of Cleveland at the original OC encampment on West Roadway, has been continuously occupied 24/7 since the October 21 arrests, and is planned to remain occupied indefinitely. OC has held daily General Assemblies since October 6, both on Public Square, and in a recently leased office space at 850 Euclid Ave downtown.  All General Assemblies have been livestreamed and archived.  The “info tent” has become the rallying point for OC, the most visible presence of OC in Cleveland, receives mail at the address “99% Public Square”, and continues to evolve in preparation for the cold of a Cleveland winter.

In addition to constant marches and direct actions against the 1% broadly, OC has built a coalition among like-minded organizations in Cleveland, including organized labor, homeless advocacy groups, local faith-based organizations, the LGBT community, environmental advocacy groups, legal reform advocates, and other Occupations across Northeast Ohio.  In November, OC played a key role in mobilizing against and defeating Ohio Issue 2’s attack on organized labor and collective bargaining, directly contacting voters and rallying support.  On December 5, Cleveland City Council passed an emergency resolution supporting the principles of the Occupy movement by a vote of 18-1.

OC has specifically targeted the foreclosure process, and has deployed 2 direct actions against foreclosures with consensus support from the OC General Assembly (GA) – a successful eviction defense in Cleveland on November 14, 2011, and a cross-Occupy anti-eviction demonstration in Orwell, Ohio on December 15, 2011, deployed in conjunction with Occupy Youngstown, Occupy Ashtabula, and Occupy Kent State.  OC has targeted five (5) foreclosure law firms for online direct action, resulting in one firm completely scrubbing its website.

On November 26, 2011, OC mic-checked over 10,000 attendees at the annual Winterfest holiday lighting ceremony directly attacking Huntington Bank, the sponsor of the festival, including deploying a projection (bat signal) onto a 20-story building calling on Clevelanders to “Demand The Note” and stay in their homes for the holidays if they are facing foreclosure.

Due to extensive media coverage of these actions, including national television and radio, local television, radio and print media, and OC generated media, OC is receiving regular requests for help from homeowners facing foreclosure.  OC’s goal of creating hope, instilling courage, and creating capacity within the wider community to challenge the illegitimate, unfair, and fraudulent process of foreclosure is beginning to take root.

DIRECT ACTIONS PROPOSED

MIDWEST GENERAL ASSEMBLY – $6,050

In order to cultivate cooperation and the free-flow of ideas amongst the Midwest Occupations, OC proposes to host the first ever regional General Assembly for the Midwest in February, in advance of Ohio’s Republican presidential primary on March 6, 2012.   All occupations in the Midwest will be invited and encouraged to send occupiers, organizers, facilitators, trainers, and other key members of the movement to share best practices and expertise.  The workshops seek to develop shared knowledge about the topics pertinent to the Occupy movement as well as develop the skills necessary to effectively execute direct actions pertaining to the OWS movement and build the movement through outreach.

The goal of the Midwest General Assembly is to build capacity within the movement to conduct direct action in local occupations against the 1% in favor of the 99%.  This goal will be accomplished through increasing our efficacy through grass roots organizer skills training,  legal observer and rights training, and education regarding financial and governmental topics.

Instructors:  Ideally, we would recruit some OWS folks to come in for some of the sessions, especially the consensus process session.   Additionally, we will recruit professors from area universities to lecture on some of the “topical” trainings.

Possible workshop ideas include:

  • Legal Observer Training
  • Fundraising & Financial Reporting
  • The Consensus Process
  • Media Liaison Training
  • Tech Best Practices
  • Social Media Activism
  • Foreclosure Process 101
  • International Trade and the Occupy Movement
  • The Student Loan Crisis 101
  • The Labor Movement and the Occupy Movement
  • Student Activism
  • Senior Activism
  • Direct Action Planning
  • Action Brainstorming
  • Women and the Occupy Movement
  • Fostering Diversity in the Movement
  • Working Group Best Practices
  • Occupy regional coordination
  • Community Outreach Strategies
  • Civil Disobedience Primer
  • Online Advocacy
  • Sustainable Systems in the New Economy

FORECLOSURE DEFENSE – $5,700

OC will conduct extensive research to identify targeted properties already in the foreclosure process whose defense is most likely to further the goals of ending foreclosures, focusing on the most active banks and foreclosure law firms.  OC will identify like-minded foreclosure defense organizations as allies in direct action, including but not limited to organized labor, foreclosure advocacy NGOs, local clergy and faith-based organizations, local elected officials, and other affinity groups.

Based on this research, OC will deploy at least two (2) direct actions per month through June, 2012, beginning in February, 2012, and at least one in January, 2012.  Direct actions will include civil disobedience by trained Occupiers and homeowners, targeted action against local branches of the most active foreclosing banks, targeted action against foreclosure law firms, and other actions designed to halt the targeted foreclosure.  OC will work with neighboring Occupations in Northeast Ohio to build capacity for foreclosure direct action across the Occupy movement.

CREATIVE DIRECT ACTION – $9,025

Termed originally within the OC proposal workgroup as “epic shit”, OC plans to leverage the media success of previous actions to deploy dramatic direct action, including a major action after the Midwest General Assembly.  Among the proposed actions are included, but not limited to – painting an entire block of foreclosed homes (of which there are many in Cleveland) with the colors and logos of the banks which have foreclosed on the properties, deploy a targeted tree sit, descend nine Biblical plagues upon targeted banks (including crickets, frogs, and other pestilence), a giant inflatable tube waving arm guy, and an Occu-Copter to hover over all these actions and shoot video.

MEDIA ATTACK – $3,500

Within the context of the 2012 Ohio Republican presidential primary on March 6, 2012, OC will purchase targeted media (TV, radio, online) intended to build visibility and recruitment into the Occupy movement.  A draft ad is linked here - http://youtu.be/fcaGU6O5dAU.

TECH – $2,013

OC will build internal communications infrastructure, designed to be both mobile for use in direct actions (i.e. at foreclosure eviction defenses), and to build capacity for the OC office at 850 Euclid Ave.

INFO TENT (BASE OPERATIONS) – $650

As one of only 60 remaining occupations on public property in the United States, OC plans to reinforce the “info tent” to keep it occupied 24/7, despite numerous restrictions in the city of Cleveland permit.  OC proposes to shore up the info tent with a hoop house, flooring and warming supplies.

TOTAL PROPOSED – $26,938

9 Responses to “Proposal for Thursday 12/29 General Assembly: Occupy Cleveland”

  1. JZ

    Impressive. I would question the plagues action (though amusing) and the TV ad is interesting but how many people does this ad apply to now that so many have already been kicked out of their houses? Now playing devils advocate I would ask should NYC financially support any or all occupations?

  2. Voter March

    Occupy Cleveland has put together an impressive agenda and we are in solidarity with them. Foreclosures are a serious problem nationwide and Ohio is listed as No. 12 in foreclosure filings in 2011
    See http://realestate.msn.com/article.aspx?cp-documentid=28364347

    Occupy Cleveland has to first look at their own fundraising efforts. They have raised $2,719 towards a goal of $15,000. See https://www.wepay.com/donate/occupycleveland As a starter, they should get listed on the Donations page at http://occupywallst.org/donate/

  3. Juggler Ted

    Hey Occupy Wall Street, how about offering money to Occupy Cleveland for basic needs including a place for people to sleep that might involve paying rent? Instead of offering money that is is mainly going to be used for extravagant direct actions for the benefit of the mass media? Because the approximtely 20 people currently organizing Occupy Cleveland don’t think they can request money to help pay for rent and those 20 people are the only people who vote at GAs because there is no place for the public to sleep if they want to be involved in Occupy Cleveland. How about helping us pay for a place to sleep! Because that is something we need and this donation/grant/budget proposal is focused on things we don’t need to build the movement. Do those 20 people deserve $20,000 to keep up business as usual or do you want to help Occupy Cleveland actually involve Cleveland in their plans? Just look at the budget proposal! $650 for base operations. $12,525 for “epic shit” and “media attack.” $6,000 for a Midwest General Assembley with 20 people available to organize it and less than two months to get it done. This $20,000 is the majority of money that OC will have and this budget is seriously slanted toward stupid shit like painting foreclosed homes with bank logos. That is not the way to help the local Occupiers establish a sustainable movement. Is Occupy Wall Street trying to enforce an agenda on the other Occupy movements? because that is what it looks like from here.

  4. reginahny

    This thread is a sobering example of what results when there is no consensed-upon agreement regarding how funds will be distributed. Or, more importantly WHY they will be distributed, and to what purpose. I’d like to see all funds support action — with movement support being voluntary (the slippery slope of in essence paying activists — whether with food, transportation, bail etc.) is one that I feel we haven’t discussed / resolved fairly as a group. The frustration and anger are understandable — but still focused on individual Groups / Occupations rather than determining what / how the movement supports its actions and then, its members. I certainly don’t have the answers, one group I’m working with is Accountability & Transparency, and there are of course many others who could take up the bigger, rather than the smaller questions. It’s not about Cleveland per se, it’s about how do we — the big WE — want to distribute funds and support.

  5. Juggler Ted

    Why is a good question. Why does Occupy Wall Street continue to try to take back that park and at practically the same time, give money away? Why don’t they use that money to buy houses or open shelters? Why can’t the money they give away be used for buying houses or opening shelters? Why does the donation have a six-month time frame and why does it have strictures as to what it can be spent on? Those strictures which might also be called laws, given from on high in a because-it-must-be-so manner put OWS in a ruling position over OC. Moreover they have enabled a particular approach to activism to gain the most sway in the budget because other modes or approaches are ruled out by default.

  6. Siobhan Ogilvie

    IMHO the money is contributed to help the movement grow, not to house a few people. Every expense we make should be for that purpose. That park is relevant because it is supposed to be public space, it is in the face daily of the financial district, and it sparked the movement. That would be like saying Tahrir Sq is irrelevant or Tienanmen Square is irrelevant (although I am not comparing loss of life). We were at a point were we were a tourist must see NY destination and while it was really annoying sometimes, it was incredible for word of mouth exposure. We had media in our faces daily. We probably won’t get Liberty Squ back the way it was, I have accepted that but I do believe once spring comes (and hopefully some public space lawsuit wins) we will be able to use it as a hub again for public information and meetings.

    I sound like a broken record but truly believe we geared off course some with people’s individual agendas instead of putting the national (and global) movement first. Im glad we are finally putting checks in place so individuals desires – good or bad intentions – can’t drain our resources and goodwill anymore.

  7. Siobhan Ogilvie

    On a side note – please dont take my comments to the Occupy Cleavland proposal. I don’t know enough detail to state my opinion.

  8. Juggler Ted

    Siobhan Ogilvie: “IMHO the money is contributed to help the movement grow, not to house a few people.” Siobhan you have made a good case for why Zuccati Park is important. It’s your opinion that “housing a few people” won’t grow the movement but there are others who disagree. There is more than one approach here and there is no reason why houses can’t be used in the fight against the banks. The banks are using their power over mortgages to steal land and lives away from people (and also to manipulate their stock shares). Houses might be just as good as parks for helping the movement to grow. For you or me or OWS or any other Occupy group or their financial sponsors to decide for the people that houses or other buildings shouldn’t be used as part of the movement, would be dictatorial. Do our donors now get to hold our purse strings, like commercial advertizers?

  9. Leatrice Tolls

    Ted… B4 bashing OWS or “US” for the GA approved choices made thus far… maybe you shoud have voiced your opinion first .. by at least participating live and in person in the 2 week long process of writing this proposal.. which .. you did not.. even though fully informed of it ..

    We @OC just raised another $1424 at the benefit I planned .. which you helped not with either..and chose to not attend …As you know we do have some $$$ that should be used for the human sustinance of our beloved frontline occupiers.. alas.. they , someone has to actually ask for it.

    We have compiled numerous lists of spaces suitable for habitating and occupying.. landbanked /foreclosures ect .. w/ no action taken by those who say they need it..the phrase you can lead a horse to water .. but cannot make them drink comes to mind.. Why do we “need” expect .. or in your case chastise OWS to pay for houseing when we have all the access to it necessary..30,000 empty homes & buildings in cuyahoga County alone??? NOT followed through on already by our own???

    Now there are liberties being taken w/ our office space in spite of it being agreed upon at a GA .. and being chosen in spite of the very real fact.. it is NOT a suitable choice for overnight slumber parties.. and we risk losing it because of kids instead of taking initiative to follow through in their own best interests for weeks chooseing instead to put whole group at risk by occupying the office. Our financial descisions have ALWAYS been made in our GA … which.. well.. you now say is dictatorial.. and I’m calling you out .. as .. haveing an opinion .. but no history of ANY action to create that which you think is OWED .. bad form ted.. bad form..