11/6/11 POC Working Group Meeting Minutes

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OWS People of Color Working Group / Caucus Meeting
Sunday Nov 6th 2011

Facilitation Team

Co-Facilitators: Angelique & Jodi
Stack: Ileana
Note Taker: Sonny
Vibes Checkers: Julian & Jamie

Intros to facilitation team, what is POC working group, and intros to each other
–>Japanese filmmakers present, media/labor activist making a short documentary for youth in Tokyo.  Bob Lee taking photos for his blog.

Reminder of group guidelines and process

Review Agenda

Subcommittee Report Backs

  • Press:  We have gotten some great press for our POC working group including NY times, the nation, etc.  We are compiling a database of our media hits, including a list of people who are available to talk to the press.  Press has a proposal for diversity in OWS media work coming soon.  Give Kanene your email address to be included in database. Kanene.holder@gmail.com
  • Prisioner Solidarity: Our teach in on Tuesday at Zuccotti- 40-50 people, it was awesome.  Ideas: writing letters to political prisioners, working on ways to do prison visits, using the POC group to get behind certain actions.  If you want to get involved contact Nidhya or Israel – israelmercado5@gmail.com
  • Arts and Cultural: still hasn’t met.  Have a lot of sketches for logos for POC working group but are at a standstill until we meet.
  • Education:  Workshop on Saturday nov 12th, challenging islamophobia.  Anti-racism trainings: 2 trainers that work with people’s institute have offered to do internal trainings for POC working group focusing on internalized racism, etc.  11/20- day of healing for people of color. Have council of elders come, civil rights activists, etc.  They want to connect with us and pass on their stories, etc.
  • Facilitation: Will be organizing another facilitation training soon.  For spokes councils, there will be a shadowing system to train facilitators. Facilitation working group meets daily at 4pm at 60 wall street. Join us!  contact sonny to get involved: brooklynwala@gmail.com
  • Safer spaces: have not met but are having conversations about many proposals that came out of discussion at meeting 2 weeks ago.  Please contact Angelique if you are interested in helping. angeliquevnixon@gmail.com
  • Finance: Jamie/Osiris. Discussing protocol on how to get funds from OWS. $100 offered to working groups if they needed. Easiest way is to get reimbursed by giving Finance people receipts.  But petty cash is going to change with spokes council.  Interested in creating an employer identification number so we can open a bank account in a credit union.  Nonprofit status?  Tax-deductable donation.
    • Discussion: Do you mean setting up a 501c3 (answer, yes, we do mean that). Lots of people don’t like that idea.
    • Finance is trying to figure out what to do with donations.
    • Fiscal sponsorship?
    • Sounds like a proposal, not really the time for this.  Point of process.
    • Make an agenda item for next time.
  • Kitchen working group report back (Prita and WG rep)
    • Diego from kitchen.  We feed a lot of people every day.  We have been working on external projects, working with unions, clergy, etc.  Wanted to reach out to POC to work on projects with you.  We can provide vans, $300-$500 of budget for food.  We want to use food as a way to help bring people together.


Any projects we have can be submitted to kitchen for support!

      • Question: would POC caucus have to come to kitchen as a group with project ideas or could individuals?  Answer:  We want to work with POC caucus.  Any projects we are working on – approach kitchen working group for support with food.  We want to unite people with food.


  • Moving Wed meeting time b/c of Spokes Council
    – spokes council meeting is at same time as POC working group mtg
    • We have Consensus in changing meeting time!
    • Tuesday or Thursday instead?
    • Proposal: Thursday at 6:30pm
      • Good temperature but concern about leaving people out who aren’t here.
      • So let’s decide at our Wednesday meeting about when to reschedule to.
    • Concern about a later weekday time for people who work late.
    • Suggestion: one meeting a week? Streamline agenda.
    • Suggestion: move meeting around to different neighborhoods to 5 boroughs.
      • Response- this is OWS POC working group, it makes sense to be based here.
      • Outer borough Occupations are mostly POCs so they don’t need POC caucuses.
      • Concern about accessibility of wall street.  As a parent who lives far away, it is tough to get down here, would be easier to have it in our own neighborhood.   How do we widen this circle?
      • A lot of people don’t have access to email, esp people at Zccotti.  For consistency sake, it makes sense to keep meeting here.
      • IS there childcare? YES.
      • Concern:  Not many POCs at Occupy Brooklyn.  I appreciate this space but I do feel like once a month or something because we have numbers to get us out to other occupations that might really need us.
      • Revisit what to do about Wednesday meetings at this Wednesdays meeting.

November 17th Day of Action:

  • Really big day!
  • 3 different time periods:
    • Breakfast: Civil disobedience, big.  Very high risk actions.  Early morning. If you’re not up for high risk of arrest then this isn’t for you.
    • Lunch: Going to outer borughs around 2pm, subway hubs – Fordham, Broadway Junciton, Boroguh Hall, Jackson Heights, Jamaica Center, Parsons, 125th street west side, union square, staten island ferry.  Going to have soapboxes there for an hour.  Then everyone will get on subway and do mic checks.  People will ride down to battery park then march to foley square, probably.
    • Dinner:  Foley Square: big gathering, mobilization.  Then some folks will go do another civil disobedience.  Then celebrate the 2 month anniversary of OWS, with cake, etc.
    • NEXT MEETING: Tuesday at 7pm.
    • To get involved in planning, contact “Nicole Carty” <nacarty88@gmail.com>.
    • Question: can POC as a body endorse this action?
      • Concern: wash heights GA met and decided to march from 181st to zuccotti park.  Concern about bringing everything back down to ZUccotti.  It would be more helpful if we stayed in our neighborhoods.
      • No blocks. CONSENSUS that POC working group officially endorses Nov 17th.


Egyptian activist from Tahrir Square wants to talk with us and have a discussion.

    • Would be a good idea to invite her to our meeting, but also an open forum at OWS would be great too.
    • We should do something with her.  Because we have a lot of business in these meetings but maybe we should create an event with her at a separate time that would be better.
    • Has she expressed info on participating in a direct action? Not sure.
    • OWS press is always excited when ppl from other movements that have influenced us have come.  Once we figure out something great/fun to do with her, they are always happy to do press releases.
    • SHE IS HERE UNTIL WEDNESDAY then goes to Boston.
    • Claudia from Harlem would be very excited about working on this.  Would be a interesting way for me to get involved.
    • Julian reached out to person to who sent out info but hasn’t heard back, Sonny too.
    • We are doing an ongoing direct action in harlem right now around housing issues.  This would be great to get her involved in our struggle.
    • Direct action would love to work on this.
    • Maybe folks interested on this can form an ad hoc group to figure this out.
      • YES. Everyone agrees. Claudia will be point person.
    • Point of info:  There is something happening tomorrow evening with her.  Will get more information and send it out to list.
    • Point of info:  she is coming here today at 4:30 or 5:00

E-mail listserv discussion

Proposal: we use our consensed upon discussion guidelines for these meetings for our email list as well.

  • Concern: they need to be re-written for guidelines specifically for email list.  (people agree)
  • Concern: we need a more exciting tone for our meetings.
  • Concern: How will we enforce guidelines on the email list if we adopt them?
    • It’s related to our mission.  We need to figure out how we can mediate negative situations.
    • Community being accountable to the community.  That’s how it’s enforced.  Part of the email process is a problem about who is on the list.  Might be provocateurs, etc.  At a certain point we have to ask people to step aside.
    • Next step would be how do you pull somebody out?  I suggest we don’t do it on email, we do it right here in person.  It’s a trust issue.  I was just at another issue where they are from Native American communities and bringing their cultural processes into how they run their meetings – a spiritual guidance to their meetings.  How could we make our process more exciting, and loving and reflective of people of color.
    • We could moderate emails.  Maybe a group of moderators.
  • We must set a more positive tone in our meetings as a safer space.  All our problems are set aside when we come sit in our chairs, that would actually lead to less back and forth on emails and in these meetings.  There’s research and structures on how large groups can be more effective.
    • Response:  Be in touch with facilitation subcommittee who is in conversations about these questions about how to make our meetings more effective and positive.  Join us!
  • Friendly amendment: we restrict our listserv to ppl in NYC.

– concern: how would we know where they’re from? how would we control that?

  • There are serious trust issues I have with people in this group now because of some of the emailing that has been happening.
  • The email list gets very passive aggressive.  There is a guy that has been putting out hateful youtube videos about occupy the hood and he is a provocateur.   We have to confront it.  We need a common enemy.
  • Suggestion: Whenever there is a critique, also make a suggestion
  • What is the listserv being used for?  While folks work on creating more positive energy, in the mean time we should have a listserv that’s only for business, announcements, and not back and forth discussion.
  • I’m a teacher, and when I’m dealing with my students we have to go over and over and over again how to have a safe space.  Same thing here in a way.  The email list needs to be more mediated.  I have some conflict resolution background, so I’m willing to help with that.

Can I suggest that people who are interested in working on safe space and mediation and make some proposals to the whole group.  Maybe this would be more productive as a small group.

    • Response: there is a safer spaces subcommittee and a facilitation subcommittee working on these issues.  Please join with them.
    • NOTE: someone needs to go ahead and DO this. We didn’t decide on who.

Report from 477 occupation in Harlem:

  • We are working on combating predatory lending, getting heat and hot water in a building in harlem.   Harlem is POC so we should be supporting what is going on there. 477 W. 147th Street is the building. We need everything from food to people. We have wireless internet.  We’ve spent our own money because we haven’t gotten support.  My name is Semi. Please talk with me if you have questions.
  • Proposal: We endorse this as POC caucus so kitchen working group can support this occupation.
    • we should be supporting this and be the presence of OWS in our own communities. I’ve been going to barber shops in the Bronx and Brooklyn to do outreach.  I want us to go to where our people our at and get stuff done, instead of bickering online.
    • CONSENSUS on endorsement/support!
  • IDEA: We could also draft a proposal to send this occupation money from the GA if we want to.
    • Good temperature
    • Since it’s an emergency situation can we do it tonight?  YEs.
    • Blog diva can blast this out on twitter
    • Question: What exactly does this occupation constitute? What do you need?
      • Answer: there are 8 units in the bldg.  Predatory lending situation.  Got the loan through an attorney who is not in prison.  There is no heat or hot water right now.  This is the building where Queen Mother is supporting.  People need to come experience and see what is going on here.  We want to do a demonstration in front of the building or press conference to bring attention to what is going on.  Bring it back to OWS messaging – GREED.  We need comfort, kitchen, books, anything you can think of.
      • This could be an action that unites us all and brings this group together in action.
      • If you live close to there, we should put together an emergency list of people who can protect them and show up when needed.
    • Question: do residents have specific demands? What are the goals of the occupations?
      • Answer:  The building is under foreclosure right now.   If we can get the money, we’ll pay off the loan.  Their immediate demand is heat and hot water.


  • Point of information: Right now there is a nation-wide effort to stop foreclosures for people facing them.  Individual foreclosures would be challenged.
  • This is a perfect item for us to concentrate our media efforts on.  This is the story we want to get in OWS journal.
  • Consensus to empower ad hoc group of POC Caucus to draft a proposal for financial support for the 477 occupation in harlem to take to the GA.
    • UPDATE: this happened last night and was approved by the GA for $3,000! Congratulations and well done!


  • Lex is going to occupy the barber shops throughout communities of color in NYC. lexgetit@gmail.com contact for more info and to work on this.
  • Jenny Lee: 99% school.  We are doing events on at a space on adam clayton powell.  We are working on organizing an unthanksgiving day event on steps of American indian museum at bowling green.  We are just 4 mothers, we need help. the99percentschool@gmail.com
  • Bob Lee: I’ve been working with Asian american orgs in Chinatown about an action this Saturday at 2pm marching from bayard street to zuccotti park.  We are having a mtg , if you want to join, get in touch.  Make an Asian presence felt in this movement.  One possibility is that we might rewrite the newspaper in chinese.  Contact – <rlee@artspiral.org>
  • Malcolm: there was a march planned on Tuesday the 8th to stop the deportation of a Bangladeshi man that we endorsed.  HE IS NOT GETTING DEPORTED so no march. Yay!  We’re still doing work on this issue.  He got a one year extention.
  • Zubeyda: there is a trainers working group.  Basic teach-ins/trainings about OWS, what is consensus, direct action, etc.  we’re meeting Wednesday at 1pm at 60 wall.  We’d like to be in touch with others doing trainings too on anti-racism, etc.  zubeydana@gmail.com
  • Elisha: occupy DOE action Monday at 5pm on steps of tweed.  Come!
  • Khalif: building a better community – there seems to be a big gap between what we’re doing and homeless community.  The things I hear you’re talking about aren’t basic human rights.  We gotta get back to the basics.  The basics first is human life.  Right now we’re going in so many different directions.  How are you gonna have a job if you don’t have a place to live? I’m a part of Picture the Homeless.   People of Color aren’t involved in all the other groups, this is a big problem.  There is a racial split in the park.
    • Point of process: let’s revisit this after announcements are done.
  • Nan: I take care of females who need a place to stay in the park and rape victims.  When I heard rape was happening to women I felt sick about it because that could be my mother, my sister, or me.  I need support of black people around these safety issues in the park.
    • Point of process: let’s revisit this after announcements are done. Let’s support her! This is important!
  • Sumumba from outreach and vision and goals: we support  the 477 occupation. Let me know if you need anything from outreach.  We need more POCs in visions and goals.  Get involved in the other working groups. We have to do this ourselves, we can’t wait for them.  We’re creating a movement.  We need our voices in all of these working groups.
  • Mikey from Movement for Justice in El Barrio.  POC caucus endorsed our event.  We need your support to bring people out to the event this Monday night at the Julio de Borgos Cultural Center in East Harlem.  7pm.
  • Saara:  Rally and Friday prayer on 11/18 at foley square in solidarity with muslim community. Some of demands are around ending racial profiling and surveillance of muslim community.  12-4pm.
  • Johanna: Member of educators for mumia abu jamal.  12/9 marks the 30th year of mumia’s incarceration.  It’s likely that the DA is going to put him in jail for life without parole.  We want to raise consciousness about the new jim crow of our time – incarceration.  Event in DC at the national constitution center.  Buses will be leaving from NYC.   Cornel West, Vijay Prashad, Immortal Technique and others will be there.  I’m a prof at Baruch College and I have Mumia call into my class. I wonder if we can have him call into this movement/events/meetings.
    • YES, good temperature on that!
  • 11/12 challenging islamophobia training, organized by education subcommittee, as an official POC caucus event.


Support for Nan (Black women’s safe space group at OWS camp) during Spokes Council: to get the tents and personal items back from whoever removed them a few days ago at the encampment. We suggested that she makes sure she is one of the spokes for occupiers so that she can raise these issues.

Support Community of Homeless who are occupiers and fear that they are being pushed out of the camp.

Support for each other; getting to know each other in the POC group; IDEA – having a POC potluck so we can talk and find out about what each of us is doing in our own communities.

Discussed the white inclusion ongoing issue/debate. Suggestions made about having one private meeting and others in the Atrium. Discussed the difficulty of being in a public space and having to secure our meetings (examples of disrespect from white folks raised)

Discussed more ideas about internal work for our POC group – ways to take action and support each other. (We hope that some proposals come out of this discussion.)

Several of us walked over to the GA after – and supported / offered back up for the emergency proposal for money and support for Occupy Harlem – AND IT PASSED!

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