Minutes, Sunday January 22

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1/22 Demands working group


7:30 pm: Meeting began

Andy and Jake agree to be facilitator

Peter agrees to be stack taker


Agenda items:

MLK Jobs march report back

May 1

Students activism

Report back on Jobs action Newark


Impeach Obama

Meta discussions


Jay: People’s organization for progress- 385 day Jobs for all- same length as the Montgomery boycott. Daily protest, 4:30-6, Springfield and Marketplace. Very easy. Path from Penn station. I’d like to have our group endorse their action. They ask people to take up one day. I don’t know if that would be a special. The demand is identical. They had an MLK action that brought in a lot of different groups. Greg and Eric Lerner was there. We’re not doing it in isolation.

Cecily: what exactly are they asking us to? Go out?

Jay: they want endorsement and ideally that we’d bring out as many people as possible. They have a microphone and a sound permit. There are cars going by. They have big banners. We want someone there on the bullhorn.

Cecily: Can you send it out on the listserve?

Itzak: I’d like to see this in writing. We’ll probably approve it. Can we endorse with the GA? I’d like to see it in writing. Website, etc.

Andy: More report backs?

Greg: this connects with the General Strike. We’ve been at the DA meeting. Has everyone seen the General Strike call from LA? It is around not just JFA but also mortgage foreclosure moratorium, health housing and basic human rights and immigrant rights. That has been endorsed by 4-5 major city Occupys and several smaller ones. I’ve taken it out to NJ, New Brunswick and POP. I would raise, I’ll come along to this discussion later. I’ve been involved with Occupy New Brunswick. It’s not the university group. It’s a community occupation. What they’ve done- working groups are taking immediate action- they’re targeting area where the communities (needs it). They’ve gone to welfare center and gotten opinions. Demands aren’t abstract. They work with a group called “new labor” working with immigrant workers that engage in direct action. So the idea is to get a criss crossing of different groups working on different idea. There was a murder of a member of the black community. All you folks in Brooklyn- do stuff on the ground.

Cecily: this is a point for the metaconversation.

Cecily: SO i went to the MLK March for Jobs on Monday Union Square. This group, occupy for jobs, which is not Occupy Wall Street, but is coopting the title in a positive way, put together a march and coalition, and OWS announced it. They went out there and did this thing- they tried to go into Trader Joes and Best Buy and announced these speeches that these employers are hiring people part time and temporary and not doing full timed or benefits. It wasn’t planned well. When we showed up, 300-400 people there. We went to 2 different banks. It was a diverse group of people. People are psyched about jobs. Occupy for Jobs seems to have a market. That’s something I’d like to discuss in the metaconversation.

Itzak: The Occupy For Jobs is the same webpage as Workers’ World.

Elena: I went to protest Obama in Harlem when he was at the Apollo theatre. This was endorsed and organized by Occupy Harlem. It was his fundraiser event. There were 50 of us there. It was cold there. I saw Nelly from Occupy Harlem. She did the people’s mic. It was OK. I hoped for more people. It wasn’t publicized well. I thought there’d be more confrontations.

Cecily: Not antagonistic at all. I understand that Obama’s not been doing what he said he’d do, but, what was the hope to gain from the protest itself?

Elena: Visibility, especially an area like Harlem. A lot of his support came from Harlem and the African American community.

Vivek: it was more issues based.

Itzak: That Nelly Baily would not support Obama is not news and getting 50 people is par for the course. If you push Obama on issues, fine. Did they push Obama on issues, or was it just “you are the enemy.” Which approach did Nelly Baily take?

Elena: The spot light was not on us. There was tons of press. She was mentioning specific policies that he’s failed people on.

Greg: When I went to the DA meeting, I was in a meeting with the anarchists. They don’t care about the GA or the people sleeping in the park. I say we just proceed and work with whomever.

General Strike (10 minutes) endorsement

March 1 student march (2 minutes)

Impeach Obama (15 minutes)

What’s next (30 hour)

Queer caucus (5 minutes)

Jobs action (5 minutes)


Temp check on “What’s next” as first.

General Strike and March 1 as last.

Impeach obama, endorsement of job actions, queer caucus equality.

We do the endorsement and queer caucus first, and then Impeach Obama.


Susan: What’s next for Demands?

Cecily: prior to joining this group, I thought about doing a Demands caucus with AFL/CLC and flood the GA and get demands for the true 99%. I think when I joined this group I was very much “we need demands right now for the true 99%” The point then was to normalize a conversation about demands. People felt that they were empowered to make demands. But now there are a lot of demands being made. SOPA, Occupy for Jobs, NDAA: people are making demands out. Instead of putting ourselves on a pedestal, which makes people revolt against us, maybe we should be paying attention to what kinds of DA’s are going on. We have failed so miserably. We have isolated people of color, LGBT, women, and people of the working class. We can listen to what’s vibing. We should be cataloging, see what is trending, get working groups together, and see what actions are being done and be a catalyst for other groups.

Jay: I don’t think we should characterize JFA as a defeat. The discussion around demands- the opponents have tried to defeat us. We started a conversation across the country. The LA May 1st JFA is influenced for us. We went to the GA and we fought. And only because of the lunatic rules that they operate under, 2/3 was not enough. The Graeberian faction was able to dominate. Now what we need to work on, what I always saw- we need a campaign. We can’t be a talk shop. Now we need to struggle for it. I am against any changing or limiting the exclusion of immigrants or ex-offenders. Even though Visions is loosey-goosey, our demand fits in there. This gets to the heart of oppression in America today. What i think we need to do to go forward- we need to get in May Day planning. Stop being a parliamentary body.

Susan S: What if Jobs for all passed? So what will we put into action. How do we work with other people? In a way we haven’t been thinking long term enough. We just wanted to take it to the GA and fight the anarchists. That’s nonsense. What is it that we want to do. My feeling is that we ought to get together with DA who is working with the General Strike.

Cecily; We normalized the discussion of the demand. We don’t need to go to the GA. We should be working with other groups. We should have been in the MLK parade. We should do things. We don’t need the GA. We’re allowed to do that. Our group said “We will demand things.”

Steph: My feeling about JFA- it’s out there, what makes sense that can pull people in? I think my feeling is, there are certain things that can pull people in. There are lots of groups putting out messages for specific things that people can get behind. Connecting to DA and things already out there and endorsing things that make sense. Demands group has its own perspective. The idea of what is this all about. Demands group can get behind those things.

Greg: I’ll suggest some analysis. Direct Action: Two kinds- protest against and for such and such. The other are Direct Actions are to stop someone’s foreclosure. That’s obvious. A group of people throw a monkey wrench in the machinery and get a tangible result. JFA fits into the protest. You can’t walk in and say give us the job right now. My feeling is this: in New Brunswick and elsewhere- you can combine the two- do organizing and make demands. I’m inclined to say get out there and work with the local groups and issue groups. We can take the handful of areas and stop bad things from happening immediately. As you build forces you can build and demand for more. Social services can be disrupted. That’s an immediacy level. It’s within grasp. The millionaire tax is back on the issue. I throw that analysis out. What role do we play. Part is coordinating. Or go out and grab something. New Brunswick is trying to pick issues. What can 10 people do? Is it possible we do a symbolic people? What can we do with the resources we have? Can we get a good demonstration going. We are not limited to Jobs for All? Even the general Strike is a broader platform. POP is working on mortgage foreclosure as well.

Steven: I like the idea of working more carefully about DA and protest. I want to talk specifically about written demands and getting them through the GA. I don’t think we’ve normalized the issue of demands. Other groups didn’t want to use the word demands. The movement doesn’t like us. This movement needs a political platform or a critique of capitalism that comes between the declaration and the Visions statement. Visions and Goals has a much better relationship with the GA and the broader movement. If we’re interested in producing documents that get the GA’s approval, work with Visions and Goals. We can be a subgroup of Visions and Goals if we want. I sent out an email to the list-serve in a way that might be more amenable, to avoid certain fights. Those kinds of goals we could push the V&G group to adopt, which they could maybe get endorsed by the GA. Non-demands could help disseminate. Either cartoons or a pamphlet.

Cecily: I have seen 2 or 3 cases where people have used the D word. Even at the Jobs march, they used the word “We demand.” In working with other people, our own reputation will grow, and no longer have stigma.

Jake: I don’t think we’ve normalized the demand thing either. The language used by other working groups or political group. There is enormous resistance to adopting demands. We convened because we thought they would be useful. What we thought would be most useful was to build bridges with other groups. We haven’t yet persuaded the rest of Occupy movement and the GA that we need a political platform with relatively concrete demands to work with other groups in the city. We thought a political platform would help us. I think that we should think about where the movement has succeeded and we haven’t. The declaration is broad. It covers economics, society, ecology, everything wrong with this stage of capitalism. Our focus was isolated demands that we’ve tried and tried to build support for but without to get the rest of the movement on board. V&G has sought to build a longer statement. They are also down to fewer people than our working group. There is something they have right. To build this platform, we need to speak the language of the movement a little move. Economic and political demands relating to our ecology and our environment, how we treat each other. We’ve talked about a political platform. The best thing for this group should do is building a platform of another kind. We know that demands are coming out, how do we put these together in a platform and move it forward. I thought you made a good point about thinking long term. We want to work with other working groups. Also propaganda. Part is direct action. I hope we can work with DA and good to hear that Arts and Culture came on. I hope we can work with Writers and Artists. When we think about going forward, I think we should build a platform to work with these groups.

Andy: I’ll step back as facilitator. I disagree that JFA. Some parts were very successful. The fact people were talking about demands. Good that people in the news were able to hear about demands. We have to weigh both sides. Demands have been passed not by us because we’ve been severely marginalized in this movement. We have to deal with that. I like the idea of long term. Working with DA. One group is International DA. We’ve been gathering together with people from different community organization so we can coordinate a larger world wide protest. Things beyond what our government is involved with. Lastly, people brought up DA. They have set up- a decent set up. Their set up was something we talked about in terms of breaking people up into groups that we are passionate about. What I propose- more with DA, subgroups, working on stuff we’re passionate about, and I think we worry too much about the GA. If we subgroup and do our own thing. Do something great and disseminate it. All movements have written good things and disseminated them.

Itzak: I’ve been hanging around other working groups: visions and goals, structure, solutions cluster. I’ve been interacting with people who are not part of us. As they discover that I’m not a monster. They say that I’m just like them. That is useful. What we should do: we should deal with issues, not demands. We can still call ourselves demands. We do not create those issues from our own subgroups. If you have- the point is- there is a need for immigrants or ex-felons those issues are important to be addressed. There should be working groups. That is all. They will pay attention to those issues. People who care about issues should address it. If they need people to work with them on these issues. We should be an issues group. Whatever we write, demands, etc. We are not a legislature. We do not count how many jobs there should be or deal with renewable energy. JFA’s weakness- it failed not because of my criticisms, but because a small core of people oppose demands. Nevertheless, we should not try to write omnibus issue statements. That’s about it.

Susan: change how we think about demands. Not “your demand” but our demand. Issues. When we think about a demand as “ours” then we are not able to take good recommendations or suggestions and we can’t follow a consensus process. That goes against the spirit of the movement. If someone gives a good suggestion and the original proposer doesn’t like it, that stops it from becoming more effective.

Susan S: When there are big actions, like MLK’s birthday- we should all go. That has nothing to do with demands, it’s related to the movement. We really need to do that. This is what is it all about. MLK and what he stood for. It’s not about our egos. It’s important that we tune in to things larger than ourselves. Our own personal things. With Occupy it’s the same thing. There’s no reason to have bad feelings. We’re all a part of the same thing. Everyone should go to a MLK event and we come and talk about it.

Peter: Everyone is saying what I’m trying to say- when it comes to the issues for demands. First it is was too early, then it was too late. IN terms of having demands, it won’t matter until we have media presence. In the meantime, we can advocate for demands. DA is not so important. Not just what we say but the position we come from. When it comes to operating with other people- we not only demanding jobs, as some anarchists are going beyond jobs. We can incorporate stuff in a united way that creates a common front. Sometimes we want to win, but we should support thing that aren’t objectionable . We should spread out, enter other groups. The one thing- we are talking about Demands and we have a bad reputation. I don’t know how well we can launch thing from us. That may hurt us.

Andy: I have spent more time with anarchists than anyone in the park. But I don’t think its impossible to work with the group. We haven’t branded ourselves so badly. I think what we’ve been doing with Solutions cluster has been positive.

Cecily: I’m responding to Jake: I have also oddly spent a lot of time with the anarchist. I think i bought in to their idea a bit that OWS is supposed to a purist symbol. It’s not supposed to be defined by a singular set of demands. Instead what should be a number of parallel campaigns and movements. OWS is just a symbol, that can and should be co-opted at every movement whenever anyone has a concern. OWS is not the place to set a platform. When you set a platform- you kill a symbol that brings anarchists, socialists, and libertarians together. We’ve never been able to sit together and have a conversation. We should have parallel movement. We should co-opt and Occupy everything.

Elena: I have a question: I feel like these last two comments- why are we pandering to these anarchists. I don’t care.

Andy: as long we don’t disrupt too much, they are fine with us.

Jess: I am speaking as a peripheral participant. I’ve been following Demands closely, first time. I want to say- the movement that everyone connects is the idea of economic equality and social justice together. Looking at our history and our society. We’ve never gotten to the point of economic equality. This is where we are now on the trajectory of inclusion. With the economy, people realize that 1% and the workers. The message has resonated. The demands group can support many demands. We don’t have to have a platform. We’re not ready to make that leap. That’s not the thing. The thing to do is to keep the focus on what’s resonated. Anything that brings us to that is what we should be focusing on. No matter who is focusing on it.

Jake: I don’t know what the difference between endorsing and building a platform is different.

Jay: My response: the 1% in NY have created a Manhattan centric city. We wouldn’t do that as a movement. The movement is not just Manhattan. Our demands are resonating around the country. The West Coast is confronting the shippers. LA has solid demands linked to us. When we talk about what we’re doing, it shouldn’t just be with Zucotti Square. This demand is powerful and the movement is powerful because it transformative. It’s just not just about creating NGOs and promoting identity politics. JFA speaks not just to the 1000s in Occupy movement but the millions needed to transform society. The main outline is there. We need as a movement to take action to win it.

Greg: as far as where we are- this current arrangement is not stable. It should be readily apparent. As i said, you reach out to people and we come back to the demands that only the state can do. With 20 million unemployed, there is no goddamned way that the people in the park can address this. 2 trillion dollars sitting there with major capitalists who are not hiring. It takes state action. That is life and death for millions of people. I want to see that combined. Finding ways to reach people. That’s what this group has done. I think it was unfortunate that we just focused on jobs. Really was a strategic demand. I don’t think we should renounce. The movement has to be strategic. We have hit on something people respond to.

Susan S: for God’s sake- let’s not allow division. I’ve been through the 60s. They all split up. Our main thing should be unit of purpose.

Craig: All I’m hearing here is how unpopular Demands how we branded ourselves incorrectly. A lot of you have spoken to more people than I. It seems that there is a core, small fringe core group that opposed what we do. The majority is indifferent to us. If they like what they hear, they are favorable. They really don’t have a strong set in stone opinion. I think this anarchist core who thinks the movement should be what they want. In spit of the fact they don’t believe in hierarchy they are going to dictate to OWS. They are the only significant opposition to what we’re trying to do here. Apart from them, they don’t care about us. I don’t see why we need to worry about this small group. People who don’t do anything for anyone but themselves. They are a fringe. If they’ve got a problem with it, I’m not in favor in changing what I do or what we do on their account.

Andy: The themes I heard:

  1. Work with GA
  2. Do we break down in subgroups?
  3. Idea of articulation.

For the next meeting: Who will we work with and how? Do we still articulate? Are we going to move to subgrouping models?

Jake: If people could formulate proposals for next week?


Susan: proposes that we endorse the Queering OWS Equality Pledge and reads Pledge.

Group comes to consensus on Equality Pledge.


Jay: POP endorsed our demand. They came to our GA’s. They came to our JFA teach in. They have daily protests. I propose that we endorse. 150 NJ organizations have endorsed. Then we pick a day convenient- We would turn out for the protest. We would be at the mike and explain our reasons for supporting JFA.

Itzak: question- I would like to look at the details- written- other than Jay’s description. Otherwise I stand aside.

Andy: We should move to a vote. Any blocks or down votes?

Jay: Can I get a temp check on what would be a good day?

Andy: Something two weeks from now? How about 13 days from now.

Jay: Feb. 4, 12:30

Andy: Saturday the 4th, 12:30 Newark.

Andy: Temp check : who wants to discuss Impeach Obama.

Jake: How about a temp check on hearing the presentation. 5 minutes. Then we have a temp check on whether to discuss.

Alvin: killing of Libyans and invasion of Libyan; killing of US citizens, wiretapping of US civilians, support of Wall Street. He’s proven himself now with this NDAA to be a mirror of Adolph Hitler. No one wants to address this stuff. Whereas by March anyone of us can be indefinitely detained. What about the constitution. What would King do. What would King say. Would he allow this to go on? Or would he address is. Many times King would talk about the constitution of the United States. Look in the mirror. Who is the problem. Obama? No, you. You’re going to allow this to go on and call yourself a US citizen. I don’t have the right to compare to him to Hitler? I may be put away. You too for being here. That’s the law. You want to be serious about something. If you don’t speak up, you’re supporting fascism with your silence.

Jake: I think many are sympathetic.

Cecily: There are a few minutes left. Can we speak?

Facilitation agrees.

Cecily: Is this a commentary on Obama or our government? I would like to impeach the whole system. Where will impeaching Obama get us? Will we get someone even worse?

Itzak: I am not going to agree or disagree with the critique. They are valid. The issue is impeachment. It is demagogic. Sharp policy differences and this is an attempt by the fringe elements of the political system to further destabilize the system. The country is divided in the two. There are the Republicans and their allies and the Democrats. Fuck ’em but they are the lesser evil. And some of them are good. And my politics are to hold them accountable and push them leftward. There are disagreements among. If you believe that we belong in the 99%, and not in the lunatic fringe of society, than you will not consider this any further for discussion anymore.

Craig: This needs to be addressed over time. I agree with Itzak. We need to push back for a government that doesn’t do these things. If we demand that Obama be impeached, we’ll put ourselves in the fringe. I want to build a movement that can promote change and influence the government. Demanding the impeachment of the president is against what I’m here to go.

Elena: I agree with Alvin. I am in favor of impeaching Obama. We’ll complaining about the system. Who is the head first and foremost. I think it would speak loudly and clearly to the Obamatons, he’s in line with the 1%. If we can’t agree I don’ think we should be in this group. I think Obama and his satellite groups have attempted to co-opt OWS. Obama is good at rhetoric, but we should judge him on his actions. This is an excellent way to show him we don’t support him. If you can’t hold Obama accountable, who will you hold accountable? It shows we don’t support him and that he is the establishment. He is the head of our government.

Chris: we need to look at this form a historical point of view. We may have strong feelings against the Republicans or previous strong positive feelings towards Obama. The position we’re being put in the world. There’s movement towards war can change the society we live in. I don’t see it ending well. If we don’t stand against this and against this president, and literally putting us into prisons indefinitely. I don’t know what obama thinks. I don’t know if he knows what he’s doing. He’s dangerous. It bothers me that we don’t think we should get him out of office. Maybe we could get a decent Democrat.

Alvin: (rebuttal): The problem is not any GA any working group, the problem is the individual. Here in the white house. If this nation is to survive, Obama needs to be removed. Or you’re just as guilty of the crimes he’s going to commit.

Jake: General strike discussion

Greg: I want to suggest that we consider this. Concerted General Action. We should endorse the LA GA’s call for the General Strike.

Temperature Check on endorsing the LA call.

We don’t get a temp check on the discussing this outside the meeting.


The group consenses on having further meetings here at 7 PM, Full shilling.



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