Does anyone wish to see the OWS movement become violent?
If we let a bunch of Occupiers, who have come from all over and have given their lives to this movement with the hope of changing this country and our world into a more inclusive space; if we let these people, who our movement has been taking care of, into the streets of New York at the beginning of February, without food and shelter, effectively cutting them off from the resources they have grown dependent on, we must understand there is a good chance one or a few of them will turn to violent means. Originally, this was brought to the GA as an emergency break-out discussion for the following reason: If any member of the OWS movement turns to violence, it creates an opportunity for the government to label the entire movement a terrorist movement and then every member must worry about consequences. Already the UK has given OWS the label, and rumor is our own government is waiting for the opportunity. On Wednesday night (01.18,12), at Spokes Counsel two fights broke out, fights that were caused due to there being haves and have-nots amongst us. If we don’t work to resolve this, we must understand this is only the beginning.
We are a community. We are a community living in the public eye of the world, demanding the larger world community work to take care of those amongst us that are disenfranchised. If we ourselves do not work to ensure all Occupiers are housed, fed, and working, we ourselves are no better than the society we are protesting. In the wake of housing options being cut, and access to G.A. funds being cut, we propose the OWS movement radically shift gears for a moment and work to ensure every Occupier become a self-sufficient member of our community. If we can become a self-sufficient movement, a group of people able to take care of their individual needs while protesting the great atrocities affecting all of us, then truly we can be a model able to change the world.
There is a huge disparity within our community, the top and bottom can and must learn from one another. Non-Occupiers need to understand that Occupiers can’t make it to many meetings as they’re forced to adhere to church hours, and Occupiers need to understand that non-Occupiers can’t always be out during the day since they have to work. And after this is understood, we must find a way for both groups to communicate and work together to ensure the weakest amongst us is self-sufficient and not seen as a burden or blight on our community. As a non-hierarchical movement, we must joyously lift up the weak amongst us while praising the already strong and everyone in between. We are a community. This must be our mantra.
We propose we work together to find every Occupier a home, a job, get those on food stamps that are eligible, get all those eligible for government subsidies on them, and ensure every Occupier is self-sufficient. And then, this Spring, when more people join our movement, ready to nonviolently fight with us, we must make it a priority to help them find employment and learn to be self-sufficient before leading them to places of protest.
During the Thursday GA (01.19.12), we broke out into discussion groups to address this topic. Many great ideas were already brought up: getting the Radical Social Workers involved; offering displaced Occupiers an easy transition into the New Haven and Newark Occupations for the remaining winter months; utilizing the Occupation force for fundraising, and have a larger breakout session outside of GA similar to Open Spaces. Almost everyone involved, whether they started hesitantly or supportively, at the end of our conversation was enlivened and understood the need for this. We ask that you join us on Tuesday as we solidify through discussion pragmatic ways to empower those Occupiers, who only three months ago, were being called heroes: help us form workshops immediately to offer our heroes key-knowledge, most take for granted, like resume creation and access to public welfare services, such as food stamps for those who are eligible If in three months, heroes can become bums, then the whole should once again cry, “Oh how the mighty have fallen.” But it will not be the heroes who have fallen, it will be the whole Movement, whether in the Office or on the Streets, and we will all rightfully be chastised for our fall!
The people with money in this movement have many times been the ones in the office, the ones using OWS money, and now in the coldest moment of our Movement, many of these very people are the ones shutting down spending… now I challenge you, if you have, to actively seek to help those amongst you that don’t have, help them to enjoy in the having. If this idea scares you, then I must ask you, why are you here?