1/8/2012: Blocks Protocol at General Assembly

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

This is a proposal to repair a serious problem we are encountering: the abuse of blocks. During a General Assembly, its Facilitation team is able to tell a person “That’s not a clarifying question, that’s a concern.”  And yet, for the most contentious part of the GA – blocks – neither Facilitation nor the body as a whole is empowered to decide whether a block is valid or not. And many of the blocks made are not valid at all, some people have been using them well in the double or maybe even triple digits, when they are envisioned to be a serious issue over which one would consider leaving the Movement rather than a chance to issue an earmark or obstruct process for personal reasons.

 This is a solution proposed by C.T. Butler, the co-author of On Conflict and Consensus. What he says is that the democratic body of the GA should be able to give a temperature check as to whether a block is valid or not. This does not mean the GA agrees with the block necessarily, but it at least validates that the reason stated is an applicable moral, ethical, or safety concern, in the context of the group as a whole, rather than a personal concern or a block issued out of some other motive.

 This would give the General Assembly, the group whose combined efforts represent the movement as a whole, the ability to also say whether a block is valid or not. This will foster an environment that will function the way it was intended to, by requiring that all valid blocks articulate a moral, ethical, or safety concern, i.e., it must be explicitly stated how the proposal in question does harm to individuals within the movement or the movement as a whole. Otherwise the block may be challenged through the following process:

 1.  A Point of Process may be called upon a block that sounds invalid.  A block that is contested by a Point of Process should be re-stated, and time given compassionately to the individual to speak to their block as clearly as possible. 


2.  For any block that has been contested by a Point of Process, do a temperature check to get feedback from the meeting body.  If 75% of the meeting assembly does not believe that the articulated reason matches the form of a moral, ethical, or safety concern for the movement, that block is not considered a valid block. 

This is not intended to divine truth, or arbitrate opinions.  All that this is intended to do is require that the grave seriousness of which blocking is supposed to warn is being addressed in the process, as opposed to providing the blocker the ability to voice a strident ‘no’ with a chance to speak their mind, or an opportunity to offer an earmark of a friendly amendment without which they will stand in the way of the process.  So long as the concern voiced behind a block fits the frame of a moral, ethical, or safety concern, regardless of whether this is a popular position amongst the group as a whole.

 As a ‘sunset clause,’ this proposal clause will expire one week after the passage by the General Assembly of a Community Agreement, as this will itself arbitrate whether a block is based on the shared values of a community as a whole.

— Sean M.
— s_mckeown@hotmail.com

51 Responses to “1/8/2012: Blocks Protocol at General Assembly”

  1. Haywood

    I support this wholeheartedly. This is a reasonable and rational proposal that will go a long way towards fixing a very serious problem in our self-governance. We cannot fall into the same leftist trap of letting our own rules and process hold back our movement. PLEASE SUPPORT THIS.

  2. Michael Korn

    I also support this measure but there are a few concerns I’d like to add. For this measure to actually become effective, two issues should be thoroughly addressed.

    One – We must insure that the blocker gets to fully articulate their concern for blocking. Not to put the blocker on the spot but I would ask he, she or ze to position themselves right in the middle of the GA attendees so they can address everyone eyeball to eyeball. I want to insure that the blocker’s reason is understood to the best of all concerned so if the block doesn’t stand….there is no reason for further dissension.

    Second – However, to insure that a denied blocker doesn’t continue to blow up the GA process we must move the GA indoors and set up a system that BARS, yes BARS, serial blockers from attending. Maybe start off with some sort of suspension process (say 1 or 2 weeks) where attendance is prohibited. Hopefully after a ‘time out’ the person will be a bit more thoughtful and will carefully think through a block before they bring on the chaos.

    Additionally, if I can safely assume that GA attendees are mostly warm blooded mammalians, you might have noticed that it’s freakin’ cold outdoors. If we desire to be as inclusive as possible, bringing the GA indoors will markedly increase attendance and would add to the validity of the GA process. When GA’s are less than 30 in attendance, it feels more like a meeting of a politburo, rather than a direct democratic procedure that we wish for ourselves and the general society at large.

  3. yuri

    While this may address a block being ‘appropriate’, it does nothing to stop the disruptive nature of inappropriate blocks. Specifically it actually makes matters worse by wasting more time dealing with inappropriate blocks. It helps shift the focus away from a proposal and directly to the person making the block which if the block. So in the case where someone just wants attention and wants to talk and dominate the GA’s time, you are helping them with this proposal. Please think carefully about what you want to accomplish with this proposal. Do you really just care if a block is valid or not? Validity of a block itself is pretty self-evident and this just seems to give people a pat on the back for realizing the appropriateness or inappropriateness of a block. Perhaps it lets consensus eventually occur, but mostly it just throws more attention on and time for people blocking without providing any remedy for abuse of blocks. I posted a few possible ways these issues could be addressed without arguing about what ethics, morals, etc are without making value judgements about someone’s block and without allocating more time from already lengthy GA’s for disruptive individuals.

    • Jackrabbit

      Excellent point Yuri. I do believe however that bringing guidelines to what is and is not abuse of the process as well as an ethical way to hold people accountable is a step in the right direction. I’m sorry I didn’t get a chance to see your posted remedies.

  4. sumumba

    i agree with ALL that’s stated above…BUT how about we just BLOCK anyone FROM entering a GA or SPOKES who has blocked MORE than 5 times in GA’s and or SPOKES…BECAUSE OBVIOUSLY there are SAFETY and or ETHICAL concerns on the part of that individual and we shouldn’t CONTINUALLY allow their SAFETY/ETHICAL concerns to worsen their MENTAL HEALTH condition…..o wait!

    • Siobhan Ogilvie

      what about our mental health condition? This never ever ever ending discussion is making me clinically depressed. We can’t even approve solidarity with J17 (a one day event 55+ occupations are already in solidarity with) – you think this will pass?

      • Yoni Miller

        I’m going there, and so are the two people who blocked the proposal earlier. We took issue to the fact that they are EXTREMELY reformist, and even advocating to stand behind Bernie Sanders, which goes against many of the things that NYCGA has been fighting against. We are radicals, and thus are not entirely comfortable with the entire program of #J17, however we are still going, and autonomously we encourage everyone else to do what they believe is the right thing to do.

        • Siobhan Ogilvie

          Not everyone is standing behind individuals. I don’t stand with the socialists but I didnt fight the events where they had tables. I can’t even tell you if I stand with the large unions since I am not a member, but I celebrated them standing with us the first time we showed our strength in early October. For personal reasons, I left moveon, but when my member friends heard about one of our marches on their site and joined I was thrilled! What is going on is extremely divisive and instead of saying stand with us, this NYC based group is saying my way or the highway. Many are taking the highway. Look at our recent participation. I’m so tired of what used to be an inclusive movement becoming a selfish movement. I hear many are going from NY, so if it is so offensive we can’t show solidarity…why? To me that is even worse. To hear the people who blocked are going…..unbelievable.

          I think OWS is letting the perfect be the enemy of the great. How does it look when 200,000+ people show up to stand in unity for the movement and the original OWS is not in solidarity? We look bad and it is an exact reason why people are stepping back from us in NY. I’m grateful most states don’t act like us.

          • Dallas

            No one is saying “my way or the highway”at all! People are getting the mistaken impression that the GA opposes everything we don’t explicitly back.

          • Dallas

            Furthermore, I personally don’t quite understand why anyone would feel that they need the approval of the NYCGA other than to use NYCGA resources. To structure our movement otherwise sort of goes against the core concepts of leaderful non-hierarchy and decentralization, no?

          • Siobhan Ogilvie

            This is nothing to do with money. It has everything to do with unity and inclusion. Increasingly NYC OWS has become exclusionary of everyone who wants to stand with the group EXCEPT for those looking to exploit it for personal needs. I think it is disgraceful we can not put our names on the list the the 55 other occupations in solidarity. If NYC wants to stand alone, so be it but I won’t stand alone with it. I want this movement to work and when we had 20K people show up at the early protests, I thought it would. Now we are down to 60 because we tell people how they have to be. We don’t want to be associated with unions, we don’t want to be associated with political parties, we don’t want religious groups (which I have heard), we don’t want people from the 99% declaration group, we don’t want mainstream media. I am so sick of the exclusion meanwhile everyone is up in arms because violent people may be asked to leave a meeting. This is insanity.

            Someone just commented why on such a lovely warm evening is no one at GA tonight? I can tell him why. Because it has become a divisive exclusionary group. If we can’t stand with the other 55 occupations from all over the country, then it’s not all of them that is wrong. It is us. This is a disgrace and I’m not pretending it is anything else. I am ashamed of us.

          • Dallas

            I personally am not at GA because a whole bunch of stuff at my paying job went wrong involving services being offline, so I am stuck at an office in another borough for now.

            @sio99 I can’t tell you what to think, but I’m not talking about money either.

            Don’t ask for permission, ask for forgiveness…. you don’t need GA buy-in to do most things. Sure, 56 GAs may look better than 55 on a list, but let’s keep that in perspective.

          • dicey troop

            Siobhan- you obviously have very strong feelings about this, and I completely respect that. You make good points and your objection seems well-founded.

            I do, though, have a few points of disagreement, and I’ma share ’em with you, in the spirit of this thread.

            I think you’re lumping some things together that really don’t belong in the same category.

            I’ve got blocking objections to many outside forces of co-optation (defining co-optation as exerting steering force on the movement without regard for our directly democratic process). I think several unions have done this (SEIU, in the first #OccupyCongress) and I think that many Democratic Party apparatuses have tried to do so as well, or made steps in preparation to do so. That includes individual political campaigns, MoveOn.org, Barack Obama, and several other organizations.

            Many similar institutions have behaved more considerately, though, or in actual solidarity with #OWS. Several unions in New York, those coordinated with on #D12, and others elsewhere have worked in actual coalition with local occupations. Some traditional get-out-the-vote organizations and many traditionally Democratically-focused netroots hubs of organizaton have done amazing work, and even MoveOn.org at one point held to this. Point of crucial affection from me to those organizations. Though, to MoveOn.org, I say: where are you guys? There is absolutely no reason you shouldn’t be involved in this movement on a personal level. I know there aren’t very many of you, and you’re a close-knit team. Come on down.

            Anyway– I rarely have a chance to block bad external actions — in fact, that’s a pretty good test of how co-optive they are.

            But co-optation from the inside, from within #Occupy, is something for which I have a completely different, and actually often applicable blocking objection — and I have reason to hope that this situation will be less intimidating given some time.

            Here’s my objection: using representative structures, or making decisions for stakeholders with which you are not in a directly democratic form of accountability, violates the #OWS principles of solidarity.

            The first “point of unity” it lists:

            Engaging in direct and transparent participatory democracy;

            I really think this is important! It may sound overzealous, but I’m very convinced it really is the core structural element of the entire movement and the reason why it is so easy to access. The inclusion of all voices affected by a decision is, to me, the subtext of this unity point, because direct democracy lives or dies on this. it’s a challenge I see no option not to embrace.

            It’s true, too, that those principles are the only meaningful community agreements we’ve got, and, just in general, until we strengthen that component of #OWS, undermining them is dangerous.

            And, just on a practical level, working around the process because it is underdeveloped skips past an important challenge we need to meet together: to build meaningful directly democratic structures that enable intralocal, regional, national, and international conversations within the #Occupy process.

            That’s why I blocked the #J17 solidarity proposal. It’s not personal, and I think it’s likely we share many of the same end goals. But let’s stick to our process and find a way to work together and include all voices.

            And I’m completely confident we can find a way to do that. Look, the ball’s already rolling! Super exciting, I think:

          • Siobhan Ogilvie

            I understand fully your fear of co-option. We saw the tea party which may have had a few principles most of us could get behind (they were as loud of a bank bailout as we are) be entirely co-opted by extreme right leaning and the biggest names in oil. In one way it was a sad lesson but in other ways they did some things right which yielded them in power. It is important to study them to see what was bad (and believe me, I was never a supporter) and what was good. What turned people on to the early days was a message that we are all being abused by a rigged system. (sound familiar?) We all have skin in this game – it is affecting us all, (again – 99% talk) They had no leaders. (hello!) They had massive rallies, that spoke a populist message that yielded much power in government. Unfortunately at some point the loudest and the wealthiest changed the focus to what was their agenda and ultimately pushed all that populism away.

            We are on the same crash course. We are getting too narrow minded and not caring that we are pushing away an immense amount of struggling Americans that need OWS desperately.

            I understand the Bernie Sanders thing worries some. How about suggesting we have other parties who OPENLY support OWS come. Buddy Rhoemer would be great. Ralph Nadar? It doesn’t matter who. Out own wonderful city councilman. If people are interested to listen, they do. If people aren’t they don’t. Who are we to say? I can promise you I have sat through countless GAs listening to one or two people go on and on about things that I may disagree with but it is not up to OWS to close down a soapbox which is what J17 will be, No decisions are being made, It is a call to rally and stand with our brothers and sisters and we have turned our back on them. One thing I have come to the conclusion of with tears in my eyes. OWS has already become co-opted. It is just more sinister then what this call to action has been accused of only by just a few. I am convinced Wall St money has found it’s was into our own to disrupt and stall every meeting we have, I used to think it was NYPD. I am now convinced otherwise as I thought of how easy it can be done and I don’t even think some realize the extent of it.

            I call for an intervention at OWS. I call for an objective review by people who have studied Co-intel. Be it the council of elders, the black panthers, the ACLU or even the authors of some of the great books out there. With our process a small number of people can blow up the whole cause and while I am sure most working diligently as yourself have only the best intentions, these psychological tactics can work on us all. None of us are immune including myself. In fact I have fallen for a couple in retrospect and I am not ashamed because I learned. I wont be lead astray again with that particular trick.

            I will be counted as a New Yorker on J17, but not as an Occupy Wall St member. I am hearing you have strong fears on co option but ask yourself were you as fearful of Egypt’s intentions when you stood in solidarity with them or did you block that? Did you research all who spoke in the square or did you consense because it was the right thing to do? Will you be in solidarity with Nigeria and will you research their possible political ties or will we block them? How about the occupy the caucuses? Did you block them since the libertarian congressman was such a vocal front-man? Where does it end? If we stand for freedom of speech, why is this movement afraid of that? I truly am confused, and disheartened.

            How about asking before anyone participates, that they state I am not speaking for OWS, I am speaking for myself?

  5. sumumba

    probably AND I’m in solidarity but honestly I’m TIRED of THIS fixation on OCCUPATION alone…this movement is so much BIGGER THAN that…jmo

    • Siobhan Ogilvie

      it’s also not being #56 – it’s being part of the National Movement. Why is the first official movement not participating with the rest of the country? Why are the same people who blocked the solidarity proposal going at all? That is audacity at it’s finest. Either we stand with each other or we don’t. NYC OWS chooses to walk it alone. The money will dry up, the people here for the money only will be gone, and the few people who turned their back on the rest of the movement out of principle will be standing alone.

      NYCGA can not expect every other occupation to go by their doctrine not can they do this alone.

      • Dallas

        No one expects anyone to go by our doctrine! The expectation is that a national movement doesn’t need one city or one borough’s signoff. NY is *NOT* more important than any other Occupy or GA.

        • Strong Women Rules Working Group: Organizations, Groups and Members

          Who the fuck are you using my name as your fucking example for your fucking agenda’s. Seriously dude get a fucking life. I am sick and tired people using my name for their evil ill. I have this to say if you cannot handle the hit get the fuck out of the kitchen, stop bitching and do something for movement. Bitching is not part of our protocol actions and doing are. Next time you want to fucking using my name for your egocentric self indulging trip of I want you to leave my fucking name out of it you idiot weed-head ass hoe. Do not used me as your example, I do not know you nor care for you so stop fucking using my name you jack-ass.

        • Strong Women Rules Working Group: Organizations, Groups and Members

          Who the fuck are you using my name as your fucking example for your fucking agenda’s. Seriously, dude get a fucking life. I am sick and tired people using my name for their evil ill. I have this to say ,if you cannot handle the heat get the fuck out of the kitchen, stop bitching and do something for movement Sereiously how many working group’s are you involve with/ how much work do you put in with in or for the movement, if your ass do not do anything for the movement than shut the fuck up?… Bitching is not part of our protocol, actions and doing are. Next time you want to fucking using my name for your egocentric-self indulging trip think twice. I want you to leave my fucking name out of your ugly ass agenda’s, you idiot weed-head/ass hoe. Do not used me as your example, I do not know you nor care for you or what you have to say , stop using my name and stop wasting space/air and goods here in these lovely planet ” Mother Earth.”stop fucking using my name you jack-ass.

      • Siobhan Ogilvie

        No one requires a sign off but we have been in solidarity with countless other events without even question. We joined in solidarity with Egypt for God’s sake without questioning their affiliations and I am not sorry we did that. I am only saying it would be really nice if we could in be solidarity with the rest of our own country’s occupations but it is what it is. What it is, is shameful and I am saddened even more that no one else has spoken out about this. We are only as strong as our weakest link and if NYC is the weakest link of the occupy movement, then that is pathetic. I still am in shock.

        More and more the dysfunctions and exclusionary practices of NY’s occupy movement is turning off the public and worse yet, people don’t seem to care. I’m genuinely saddened and discouraged that no one is even concerned about it.

        At least I know Occupy Harlem is in solidarity so at least someone has done NY proud. I do plan on going and I will speak up that I am autonomous since Occupy Wall Street proudly is not in solidarity with this event unlike most.

        • Urbaned

          Thank you for being strong and voicing your concerns, Siobhan.

          • sumumba

            whether we like it or not the COUNTRY and WORLD is ALWAYS looking at OWS as the epicenter and LEADER of the OCCUPY MOVEMENT…lets WOMAN AND MAN..AS THAT is…let’s and show some GREAT LEADERSHIP and be ONE GREAT example to the world…we can START by getting CLARITY of who we are by CONSENSING on the VISION STATEMENT and then GOALS

          • Dallas

            @sumumba I was the person (or maybe there was more than one of us??? =) ) who handed the statement back in with a note that “says “do-ocracy! Post this, baby!”. Not sure what you all are waiting for at this point, but I digress.

          • sumumba

            i think u just did D… :) but im not sure who has the feedback i will ask at the next v&g working group meeting tho

  6. US Citizen

    It’s nonsense like this that will, in the end, cause this whole effort to have been for nothing. Honest to God, get Gene Sharp’s writings from the Albert Einstein Institution and learn how to do non-violent protest EFFECTIVELY. The Arab Spring was NOT spontaneous. It was planned with the help of the Institute. Organizers from Egypt visited Boston and the Institute beforehand. Many other countries used Sharp’s proven methods successfully for their own uprisings. As long as USA’s Occupy gets bogged down in this high school student council BS, it will never succeed. There are thousands more who would join the effort, support you, and participate if this nonsense would stop. Many have left the movement because of it. Do it right….or just go home and stop this.

  7. Lisa Rubenstein

    Sean – Thank you for taking the time and effort to try to find a solution to the perpetual blocking syndrome. I think it is an excellent start – there may be some potential for abuse on the other end of it – the voting for consensus to hear a block should said blocker not be a member of the regular blocking brigade.
    But I think we need to try this in real time, rather than theory, to see what other measures are needed to remedy this issue. Well done!
    I do not feel it is our right to bar anyone from attending the GAs unless we have specific rules that determine unacceptable behavior and procedural consequences in place. When criteria has been established and the individual makes the choice to break a rule, fully cognizant of the repercussions, then it would be fair to suspend the rights of that individual to be a part of the GA community.
    @ US Citizen – Hmm, the Albert Einstein Institute – great idea! Why don’t you research it, make a proposal, and get back to us.

  8. Robert Gabrielsky

    I was at Zuccotti on September 17. I work, live far from Manhattan and have some medical issues, but I have made it up to OWS at least two or three times a month since September 17 and I consider myself a part time occupier. That said I personally believe that the decision making process of the NYC GA is deeply flawed. As I understand it, it basically leaves no room for dissent short of leaving the movement. Ultimately one can either “consent” to a proposal or “block” it and their is no room for dissent that falls short of being so egregious that it would cause one to leave the movement. I find that profoundly undemocratic. That said, I think the movement is far too important to leave over a matter of process and I would prefer to work within the existing decision making process while voicing my opposition whenever I can appropriately do so rather than leave the movement.

    • Jessi Parrox

      point of information: if one dissents against a proposal, one can propose a friendly amendment. This FA is then accepted or rejected by the proposers. (I would have thought the FA would have first had to reach consensus of the GA… but that’s not the way I’ve seen it instituted.

      I’m not addressing anything other than that point of information. I’m not intending for that poi to alleviate all of your concerns.

      Best wishes

  9. Patricia L

    I want to go on the record to say I have serious moral and ethical concerns with this proposal. Although I’ve never before blocked anything at GA, I’ll definitely block this. The idea that anyone (or group) should be able to debate the validity of someone’s concerns contradicts the very idea of the GA consensus process. How is it OK for us to authorize ourselves to decide what constitutes a moral, ethical, or safety concern?

  10. Patricia L

    Tonight’s outcome: 6 blocks, and 3 stand-asides. It didn’t pass modified consensus, with 16 in favor and 9 against.

    • Lopi

      The irony was not lost on me, that two of the main disrupters who abuse blocks were among the blockers last night. One of them actually threatened a woman that spoke up about her telling her which way to “vote”. These two individuals are doing everything in their power to destroy ows in nyc.

      We desperately need infrastructure to deal with people who threaten violence on others within the movement. It’s not acceptable in any way shape or form! We are a non violent movement! It’s not surprising that violent people block so often! It’s like a game to them. A competition. To Her that which wont be named, last night was a victory! She was totally gloating afterwards, after she threatened an older women with violence for daring to speak out against being told how to “vote”

      These two people really do not have a firm grasp of understanding of what the point of consensus process is.

      In my mind, the point of a block is to raise a serious ethical, moral or safety concern for the GROUP as a whole. In my mind, a person who throws up a block does so in hopes that they will be able to remove it with the proper friendly amendments because they are WITH us, they want consensus to work, they want to find common ground. If they dont feel fantastic about a proposal, they can stand aside in the interest of allowing the desires of the majority to be met. It’s not about belligerently holding a block to make a power play. That, imho is a gross misuse of this system.

      Last night a so called “friendly amendment” from one notorious disruptor was “get rid of this proposal”
      I hope Sean reworks this proposal to take into account the valid concerns that were raised and brings it back on tuesday so we can deal with this issue!!
      The other person in question, her reason for blocking this proposal was that it “silences voices” If that is not ironic, my hair is made out of wires. Her constant disruption silences so many voices is redunkulunk.

      It’s ridiculous. One person blocking like 100+ times should not be allowed to stay in the movement. One would wonder why someone who feels the need to block that often would even want to stay in the movement when it’s obviously not in tune with your principles. can I get a witness?

      • Lopi

        I meant “it’s redunkulunk” which is another word for ridiculous

      • Dallas

        BTW did anyone mention to Razor that the aggressor in question invoked his name as a means to convey a threat WRT to a GA vote? I’m not so sure he’d be down with that at all.

  11. Siobhan Ogilvie


    NYCGA empowers those that want disharmony and descent and makes it nearly impossible for those hoping for unity and growth, That is not where we were 2 months ago when we embraced everyone who looked for common goals. This has been a bad week for me with OWS. I’ll say it again. We need an intervention. I think there are people who have a vested interest in seeing us fail navigating this new path we are on. They learned our weaknesses and we are making it easy for them. My only saving grace is this seems to be more of a NYC issue then other occupations so I am counting on them to pick up the baton we dropped.

  12. sumumba

    I’m so TIRED of these BACK AND FORTH folks who think that we should be ‘INCLUSIVE’ just for the SAKE of ‘inclusion’….i mean when and WHERE do we draw a line? I mean maybe we also need to ‘include’ BLOOMBERG AND RAY KELLY and allow them to BOTTOMLINE all of our DIRECTION ACTIONs and COORDINATE strategy?

    Or maybe under the ‘INCLUSION CLAUSE’ we should allow the PRESIDENT of CHASE or B of A to facilitate accounting meetings …or McDonald’s should be ‘included’ in preparing meals and TASKED with giving us ‘HEALTHY MEALS’?

    wtf? MAN AND WOMAN UP FOLKS…ALL SERIOUS MOVEMENTS NEED TO DRAW THE LINE SOMEWHERE….AS Siobhan SAID…lets STOP empowering those who abuse process and order of our GAs, meetings and SPOKES under the ‘BANNER’ OF ‘INCLUSION’..

    I’ve been a activist over 28 YEARS AND I’VE never seen so many POLLY-ANNA (PC), AMATEURISH/ACADEMIC folks who KNOW little to NOTHING about Movement Building but are so intent on displaying their lack of knowledge through their ‘concerns’ , VOTES, statements and blocks too… smdh,….


    • Waterlily

      I’m sorry, I can’t resist making a comment here however nonconstructive it may be. I’ve had several posts “disappear” because, like sumumba, I grew up in an era where you tell it like it IS. It’s possible that many of the younger OWS activists came of age in the era of a nauseating philosophy of political correctness (1990’s) and/or have internalized Ghandi’s message to a fault. Idk but, as others have reported here (many times), there is a dysfunctionality going on that is turning people off of all ages and backgrounds. I can’t even watch the GA an SC livestream any more let alone be there in person. My daughter who was a minute-taker at GA resigned in disgust.

      There have been numerous positive suggestions for improving the process that would allow OWS to move forward. Sean and Charles, just to name two recently, have come up with down-to-earth suggestions to smooth out the process at GA and SC. Will SOMEbody, ANYbody listen to the people who have the movement in their hearts and minds, rather than in their wayward ego’s? Also, the war is not with the police. I said it before and I’ll say it once again; it will be the pity of the century if OWS falls by the wayside. Winter will have nothing to do with it.

    • Dallas

      People gripe about it when Nan and Trish do it (and oddly, Nan has griped to me about others doing it) but it bears saying again. GA (with modified consensus) works PRECISELY by bringing more people that share your POV to GA instead of leaving when you get outvoted. Any voting body lacking a set limit on the number of participants works that way.

      Maybe we should do Game Theory teach-ins? I actually believe I suggested that in another forum on this site =).

      • Sean McKeown

        I use it extensively. Some might even say it’s my religion. 😉

    • Siobhan Ogilvie

      If they stand for our core principles (which you are working hard to define), with clear motives to grow and strengthen the movement, inclusion should be the standard. If their behavior is destructive, divisive, dangerous (which would include Bloomberg), violent, or disrespectful the behavior should not be welcomed. Everyone has a bad day, where we say the wrong thing, use inappropriate or disrespectful language etc so on those occasions maybe they have to be asked to leave. Second time it happens, they sit out two weeks. Third time, 4 wks etc. There is always the ability to come back but you have to check your behavior. Violence however is more serious as is destructive behavior. It is ok to impose rules on ourselves. It doesn’t mean we are intolerant or exculsionary. In fact in means the opposite. It means we will not tolerate others’ intolerance of OWS. It means we will not allow aggressive chaotic behavior to disrespect the movement. Frankly this should have NOTHING to do with Nan, Trish or anyone else; It has to do with the behavior and whoever can not show respect has to deal with the consequence. I have heard things like telling a minister who opened up his church to us for meetings and housing that he will burn in hell. How is that constructive or appropriate to anyone who stands with us? That exhibited behavior should have been enough to say you have to go now. In this case that was Nan, but if it was Justin, Sumumba, Dwayne, Tess, Sparrow or even myself I would say the same rules apply to all.

      Let’s pull those supporters close and step back from those who are fighting us instead of the opposite.

      • Dallas

        I’m using Nan or Trish here as examples of people who DO somewhat understand how to manipulate the GA process… not actually trying to put anyone in a bad light here.

        The question to me is: what forms and extent of manipulation are we all all willing to consent to, and what forms won’t we consent to? Where are those lines drawn, and how can they be fairly enforced?

        All politics and all activism is manipulation/”social engineering”, it’s a matter of what manipulations we’re willing to use and deal with.

  13. sumumba

    I’m wondering if there’s rules or (community agreements) or should there be for using this site? Seems like folks who excessively and incoherently CURSE and threaten others online is NOT about COMMUNITY OR MOVEMENT BUILDING for one and TWO we need NOT name names of those who are SCREWING ish up in OWS…they EASILY identify themselves online and off by their comments!

    But even deeper …it’s NOT personal but the BEHAVIOR of these same NEGATIVE individuals that’s the ISSUE so let’s address that…and REPORT them when they make divisive and PERSONAL attacks online and off…

  14. sumumba

    POLITICS breaks down to CONCENTRATED ECONOMICS…AND although our ‘political’ system is THOROUGHLY corrupt…doesn’t mean that politics or the word has to be

  15. Sam Redman

    The irony is that the same expressions of disgust and displeasure leveled against the behavior of the few who disrupt movement meetings are very similar to those comments and criticisms offered by many in the general public, who are repulsed by the behavior of protesters during direct actions which are intentionally loud, discourteous, disruptive, destructive and often illegal.

    And the further irony is that the justification offered by both the internal disruptive people and the direct action protesters is the same; freedom of speech… the constitutional right to be heard.

    An illustrative case in point is the recent protest in Grand Central Station. To block the expected peaceful passage and the right to quiet enjoyment of the train access lanes to those thousands of commuters under the guise of first amendment rights has no legal (or logical) justification. Of course, the not so subtle deception is that those protesters know full well that they are inviting arrest for their obvious illegalities and their further subsequent (calculated) resisting of those arrests. And they, convincingly to some, follow the whole “first amendment rights” charade with feigned indignation about police “brutality,” when that is what they wanted and expected and would have been disappointed had it not occurred as planned. The truth of such an assertion (that this example was a purposeful illegal action) would be substantiated if a similar, boisterous, interruptive “direct action” were being conducted at that same transit location by a right wing group. Such a disruption would be unanimously opposed by any OWS supporter (especially those trying to make a train connection at that moment) as a violation of citizen rights to peaceful use of a public space and thoroughfare.

    Now, I, like many in this movement, personally respect anyone (such as Lauren Digioia), who is willing to intentionally commit petty crimes to gain public attention for a noble purpose, such as the Grand Central “street theater,” sacrificing their freedom by committing illegal acts when they know arrest and conviction for their behavior is inevitable.

    However, if the movement can justify rude, interruptive, illegal conduct which violates the normal business and personal activities of the general public as appropriate expressions of free speech or warranted action to gain recognition for a just cause, then not respecting similar antics in internal meetings is without merit.

    However, like the reasonable public laws which make rude disruptive acts in public spaces illegal, OWS is acting appropriately to pass restrictions to such behavior, regulations which will provide for consequential punishment if violated.

    But when individuals choose to transgress those consensed codes of conduct and their punitive sentence is subsequently effected, we should respect them the same way we do the movement’s own scoff law protesters, who act knowing the consequences of their actions, not by excusing or acquitting the internal disruptors, but by giving a nod to their demonstrated loyalty to their own principles (however misguided), because they will be acting with full acceptance of their expected punishment to make their positions and objections well known to all.

    • Siobhan Ogilvie

      Respect is respect wherever we are. I told this story before but I learned alot on the shut down the bell protest. There were people who has to get to that job, their rent, or childccare or coned bill depended on them putting in those hours and we all know those bastards in those buildings wouldn’t pay them if they couldn’t get through. One gentleman (from the ActUp days of the 80s) took it upon himself to push through the crowd, grab these people by the hand and lead them through to the barricade to help. I watched him doing this over and over again, He & Captain Lewis who was there on that corner as well did so much by their peaceful and compassionate behavior so so many of us. I learned alot that day. Compassion and empathy is a powerful thing,