NYC GENERAL ASSEMBLY MINUTES 3/17/2012
Location: Liberty Square, 7 pm
Facilitators: Lady and Craig
Live tweets: Dicey
Working Group Reportbacks
Emergency proposal: To sign a letter asking for a federal investigation into NYPD surveillance of Muslims. PASSES CONSENSUS.
Breakout groups to discuss May Day. ACCOMPLISHED.
Meeting of the Minds Meeting. TABLED
Facilitation (F) starts GA off with a chant of “1! We are the people! 2! We are united! 3! This occupation is not leaving!”
Working Group (WG) Reportbacks:
Direct Action: We are training for spring! Every Friday. At 2:30 pm. Meet here in the park. Will also have a training tonight on the west side of the park. Will happen simultaneaously with this GA. Meet down at the west side in 10 minutes.
F: Today’s our birthday. We’ve had two marches and a lot of other events happening during the day. What’s gonna happen right now is that there’s a teach-in at the same time as the GA. It’s up to people to decide for themselves what they would like to do.
F: This is a 24-hour occupation! If you know someone who is not here right now, text them, tweet them, call them, Myspace them! (laughter) Tell them to come here!
F reviews process and hand signals.
Caroline: This proposal is to sign a letter asking for a federal investigation into NYPD’s blanket and unwarranted surveillance of Muslim communities. The letter has been written and circulated by Muslim advocates. It has already been signed by dozens of civil rights, faith groups, and community groups. They have reached out to OWS and asked us to sign in solidarity.
[singing of “solidarity forever”]
CQ: Can you read the letter so we know what we are agreeing to?
A: I would be happy to read the letter. But it’s three pages long. …
Proposer explains: The NYPD has appears to have targeted Muslims just because of their faith. The letter goes on to detail all the surveillance of Muslims at cafes, community centers, etc. It describes the screening of a hateful film. It goes on to mention letters written by other congretional representatives, local leaders and so forth. It goes on to say that state and local officials have not been successful in holding the NYPD accountable. It asks finally that the Dept. of Justice “Vindicate our socity’s commiitment to equal justice under the law and the prohibitions against targeting communities based solely on relition, ethnicity, or national origin.” That’s pretty much the sum of it.
F: Any more clarifying questions? Please get on stack.
CQ: Where can we read the letter in its entirety?
A: I am going to ask. I was told earlier that it is now on the NYCGA.net website. That has been confirmed.
CQ: Did you use the term “illegal surveillance”?
A: I can check in the letter to see if it’s there.
CQ: My only concern is that we make sure that this is a request for an official investigation and not a direct accusation to the NYPD. I personally think that they’re guilty. But we can’t come to that conclusion until a federal investigation is done.
A: I can answer both questions now. First, I do not find the word “illegal” in this document. Do you want to extend the question? I want to apologize. I went to three places to try to print some copies but it didn’t work out. To your question: I want to say that the letter is asking for the federal investigation that you want.
CQ: My question is: Who will be doing the investigation?
A: The letter is addressed to the U.S. Attorney General Eric Holder. It asks him to direct the Dept. of Justice to conduct the investigation.
CQ: Who would be the official politician? If you can’t give us their name, who are not willing and not cooperating with our cause and the courage of our movement, that once was born at this exact location, Sept. 17? Thank you.
F: That question is not intended for this proposal so we can maybe get it on stack later, when we have a soapbox.
CQ: On this petition, what will we actually be signing? The Occupy Wall Street movement, or all of our names individually? Or what?
A: That is a good question. It is not a petition. All of the signatories are groups. I am open to some discussion about how this group would sign its name. I would suggest that it would say something like “Occupy Wall Street, consensed upon by the General Assembly in Zuccotti Park on today’s date.”
POI: This is the New York City General Assembly at Liberty Square!
POI: They have officially taken all the trash cans and the cones so we can’t throw them. [Ed: Out of process]
FA: I think we should sign. I wonder if there’s any way to add in our signature some kind of demand related to stopping stop and frisk, as a related struggle. I don’t really know how, but I imagine it’s possible.
A: I am going to check right now but it wouldn’t surprise me if stop and frisk is not mentioned in this letter already. Muslim Advocates does work on issues like that. I also don’t know if they would allow us to change the letter since there are already 100 groups signed on to it.
FA: I don’t want to change the wording of the letter. I just would suggest we combine how OWS feels about the related struggles.
A: I would think we could release a press release mentioning that. I would say further that the letter does mention stop and frisk.
F: Temp check on moving forward?
F: Standasides? No.
F: Blocks? No! Consensus!
MAY DAY BREAKOUT GROUP DISCUSSION
Marisa: I’ve been working to plan May Day. If you don’t know, it comes from the Haymarket riots … It’s a day for the whole movement to come out and show solidarity in the street. Here in New York, we made a pledge to have a day without the 99%. We are going to take the streets, … if you want to help plan, please come to our Wednesday night meetings, 33 W. 14th St. But let’s break out now and talk about our ideas for May Day.
[Breakout groups for 10 minutes]
Breakout Group Reportbacks
Group 1: My group discussed the tactic of the “moving into the banks” action should be taken into public sites around NYC. Also, that everone should wear black. More coordination with labor unions. More shutdowns, like Occupy Oakland did. Also, to reach out to the bankers and financial workers to join us on that day. And to gain popular support of non-occupiers or peoele sympathetic to OWS.
Group 2: We discussed the phrase ” A Day Without the 99%.” Some found it straight to the point; others not so much. Some thought “A Day Without the Cooperation of the 99%” might complement this day. Also, people who’ve suffererd from police oppression might get a soapbox at Union Square at 4. … We focus more militant actions at the end of the day, creating time and space for people who want to avoid arrest. Also, moving the march time from 5:30 to 6. I think we’ll probably leave at 6 anyway.
Group 3: People wanted to see empy workshops, stores, all the people in the streets. We want to see May Day as the biggest day of action yet for OWS. And a coalition with the unions and the immigrant labor, who have all been planning this together and have adopted a horizontal structure for meeetings. Also, there’s a teach-in , Sunday night at Judson, on building affinity groups at 7 pm. Also, free subway for the day and truckers shutting down bridges and the Actor’s Equity Union to shut down Broadway and the hotel union to shut down the hotels. Construction workers to shut down all construction sites, such as the Freedom Tower.
Group 4: Our group was very creative and had a lot of ideas, so we put them down in a couple of summarizing points: We should have a lot of fun activities with educational valu–to do flash mobs, hand out flowers with little notes with information. We should get the students to joins us as well, like Occupy Albany. We should pay attention to the spots we are going, value their history. Make plays about what happened there. We should take this as an opportunity for outreach and mass civil disobedeince. And at 5 when everyone comes out of work. And we hope we could make something people could wear so that those who can’t participate in the general strike could still wear a badge or button.
Group 5: Visual mesaging and imagery. Using imagery from ’30s workers movements and railroad workers movements. … One idea was the use of the fist drawn in … Another idea was depictions of John Henry and depictions of railroad workers in general. We didn’t write anything down.
Group 6: We would like to see the occupations of workplaces and universities on May Day. Also like to see a shutdown of Midtown. Doing this through affinity groups, organizing an affinity Spokes Council leading to May Day. Also, people from nearby towns to come and participate in this action. Also emphasize that May Day should only be the begininng. Also, the creation of mutual aid networks throughout the city so we can support each other and not look to the state or corporations to provide for us.
Group 7: Having feeder marches representing a broad concern of issues facing New Yorkers, the people around the country and world, including policies like stop and frisk, school lbudget cut, anti-foreclosure, student debt, and austerity measures in general. Also a lot of excitement about doing actions that would affect the 1%, like taxi drivers who move their asses around. Also, domestic workers and labor that ‘s not generally valued or organized and helping them organize and be recognized. Also, excitement for a dance party. A lot of excitement! [laughter and dancing]
POI: There’s a 24-hour knit-in planned for the Monday before from 5pm going till 5pm on May Day. Hapening right here. We’d like at least 1,000 people knitting. Please contact the Fiber Arts WG. We will be teaching people how to knit and make their own clothing. I don’t know how to knit, so you don’t have to know how!
Marissa: Thank you everyone. I hope to see you on May Day. Please go to our website, http://maydaynyc.org/. Meetings: Wed. at 6:30pm at 33 W. 14th St. And usually 1 on Saturdays. Typically at Judson but are kind of in flux right now, so we’ll let you know on our listserv.
MEETING OF THE MINDS MEETING
F: This is not a proposal for a new WG, but to discuss a Meeting of the Minds.
Proposer: Meeting of the Minds is a group intended to create mass action within OWS. It encourages groups to agree so they can move forward on a massive scale. Its objective is to have mass action pushed through GA to direct action at least once a month. … There are people that don’t get along in the GA and a lot of ideas get blocked for that reason. Even though differences of opinion are good, sometimes they can bring the movement to a complete halt. Meeting of the Minds would serve as a mechanism to prevent that from ever happening. It’s on the 31st of March, at 60 Wall Street.
POP: I think that my understanding is that the GA doesn’t need to consense on someone having a meeting. In fact, at OWS we encourage people to self-organize with other members of the community and we don’t have to approve it.
Ted: Occupy Farms is gathering together over 2,000 acres upstate. This is enough to feed 3,000 peoplel and we need your help. We have a little coalition of people like me who have lived up there. We want to treat it like our home, while we invite OWS to help cultivate the source of fuel for this movement. So I want to invite you to take part in that, by starting your own seeds. Go to OccupyFarms.net. Start planting some seeds in the comfort of your home, church, or wherever you are. Come find me, go to OccupyFarms,net or Facebook OccupyFarms fan page. A lot of you might know we don’t have money and we should sustain ourselves. We can produce the things we need!
Leo: There’s an event called Open Spaces that we do every other Friday. We don’t make any decisions. There’s no agenda. We talk about what you want to talk about! If other people want to talk about that, they come and talk to you! Come this Friday from 6pm to 10pm 235 W. 23rd St. b/w 7th and 8th. We are making a new commons. Come join us!
Danny: Happy 6-month anniversary OWS! We’ve all been through a lot in the past 6 months. I am part of an affinity group that runs OccupiedStories.com. Our goal is to archive and mapify first-person experiences within the movement. If you have a story or experience, I implore you to go to …. and submit your story to us. We publish eveyrting we get.
Scott: I’m visiting from Vermont. there is a nuclear power plant in Southern Vermont called Vermont Yankee. It’s run by a corporation called Entergy. It’s from Louisiana. It does not care about what Vermont wants. … On Thursday, March 22, we will be protesting at Entergy’s Brattleboro headquarters in Vermont. We hope that you join us.
Shawn: I just wanted to share with you our alert text loop called Occupy Alert, like the one that just went out an hour ago to say Liberty Square is re-occupied! You can get on it by texting @occupyalert to 23559. It doesn’t text you very often, but when it does, it’s very important!
Occupy New Haven: We just challenged our eviction with an injunction and won! In two weeks we face another potential eviction and invite you to join us to challenge it again. On the 28th. Hang out as long as you want. We have a great camp and lots of space.
Billy: There’s a march on the way to the park from the Left Forum right now! Stay and welcome the march. Also, as we move toward midnight, we will be passing out blankets. We are asking you to spend the night. Call your friends. Twitter your friends. Have them come down here. This is a 24-hour occupation. Does this look like a movement that’s all done?
Mic check! We are allowed to have blankets in the park, just not sleeping bags. Call your friends. tell them to bring blankets. I’m serious.
Lady: I have reports that Cornel West might be coming to the park. Also, Michael Moore might be coming to the park. Also, thank you for a wonderful GA!
END OF GA