Proposal to establish a grievance council

Posted by & filed under Assemblies, Past Proposals.

Violence in the GA is Unacceptable


Lately, every other General Assembly seems to have an assault. This is an extremely disturbing development. If General Assemblies cannot be conducted without violence, Occupy Wall Street is over because most people will not want to come to a place where a few people are allowed to bully others. It doesn’t matter if those enacting acts of violence are of color, being a so called minority gives you no special rights. In fact, certain violent perpetrators have been perverting topics such as marginalization , racism, and homelessness and using them to hide behind violent and criminal acts. Just as one’s skin color gives one no special rights, living in a home or being homeless gives no one the right to commit acts of violence. One cannot justify bad behaviors by saying someone is homeless.

Those who commit acts of violence, particularly repeated acts of violence, quite clearly do not care about principles of solidarity. While we cannot bar them from parks, we can decide not to put them on stack on the GA, that they not be allowed to bring proposals to the GA, not to give them free metrocards, and not to allow them in spaces controlled by Occupy such as spoke council, for a period of two to 4 weeks or more, depending on the grievance process. This proposal will establish a formal grievance council, who will determine the road back.

While this is up to the victims of the assault, this group of proposers urges victims to file police reports and seek restraining orders, if need be. To those who speak about the crime of excluding anyone, by including violent people, you exclude others. People have left the movement because they feel unsafe and will continue to do so unless this matter is addressed. Most occupiers have been wonderfully kind to each other. We cannot allow a few people to destroy everything for everyone in this movement.


solidarity working group

9 Responses to “Proposal to establish a grievance council”

  1. Aaron

    FA: Strike the first sentence of the last paragraph.
    FA: Define a process for adjudicating attested grievances. For instance: require at least one eyewitness corroboration, and GA or Grievance Council to achieve unanimous consensus on the facts of the matter.

    I don’t believe my 2nd FA is sufficient, but I suggest it as the starting point of a discussion. The spirit of the proposal is well-taken. Initiating physical attacks on members of our community absolutely should not be tolerated, and it should be helpful for the community to endorse a process that expresses our unwillingness to tolerate attacks. However I think this proposal as it stands may encourage something of a power structure that can be subverted to counterproductive ends. I encourage the proposers to bring this to GA as the first step in soliciting broader community involvement that can result in a more sound proposal after a few iterations.

    Thanks for the initiative.

  2. Sean McKeown

    Hi, Solidarity Working Group.

    A grievance council, in a vacuum, does nothing. What defines bad behavior, besides “I know it when I see it”? What restores trust to the community, so that people again wait patiently for their turn to speak instead of breaking process, which is almost always the predicating action that leads to breakdowns not merely of process but also of civility, tending to spark these violent confrontations? Whose job is it to get involved in physical confrontations… and what criteria are we using to select individuals to facilitate these grievance discussions?

    Here’s a large volume of information that can hopefully inform your proposal and work towards its improvement. The grievance process is the one about which I know the least – but the rest of the pieces you may still find useful to help understand not just what the grievance process should be, but how it should interact with the remainder of the our social systems and protocols in a fair and directly democratic way.

    You’re proposing a black box. I want to see inside of it. And for it to be livestreamed. :)

  3. bana be

    I also agree that the first sentence of the last paragraph should be taken out. Furthermore, while I believe this proposal might be well intentioned, there are many people thinking, discussing and working towards creating a “grievance process”. So I find it problematic that a proposal is being put forth without any details as to what this process would look like and also without attempting to work with folks that are trying to do this work.

    That being said, my FA would be to table this proposal and if those of you behind this proposal want to work towards creating a grievance process you all should contribute to the efforts being made. This should be a community wide discussion and creation, not one coming out of an individual working groupor small closed meetings.

    • Monica McLaughlin

      Why would you remove “While this is up to the victims of the assault, this group of proposers urges victims to file police reports and seek restraining orders, if need be.”?

  4. CarrieM213

    Ditto everything Bana said. We all agree with the idea behind this proposal, but the proposers should instead get in touch with the people involved in the already established and ongoing process for creating a “grievance” council or transformative justice system. This proposal has the best intentions but has no real teeth, that is, no specifics and no understanding of the groups already working on this. I would recommend withdrawing or tabling it until further research and connections are accomplished!

    • Monica McLaughlin

      No proposal can have any real teeth. The only thing that would would be for us to start vigilante justice, something that I would never advise.

      If someone is attacked they should call the police. If the person assaulted fights back and leaves a mark on the attacker and then fails to call the police, the attacker is then free to call the police and have the victim arrested for assault. The victim will most likely win in court especially if they have witnesses; however, the vicitim will be forced to go through the judicial process which may involve a brief jail stay and several trips to court. Lawyers are expensive. If the victim makes more than $28,000 a year, they will not be eligible for a court appointed attorney.

  5. Darrell Prince

    Twinkles on all of these.. this is not remotely a proposal.. more like a complaint.. Facilitation removes MY POSTS??????

  6. Monica McLaughlin

    If someone is assaulted, they should call the police and file a complaint. To fail to do this is to allow a violent person to remain at large with no consequences except removal from OWS. This violent person might kill the next person they attack.