Minutes, March 3, 2012 General Assembly of Occupy Port Townsend
Location: Upstage. About 25 people present.
Welcome new members/visitors
Quick working group reports
Break up into small groups, report
Wrap-up, next few weeks of calendar events
We had guests from Occupy Albany, New York, and new members
An event was announced for this evening, “Around the World in Seven Beds,” following up a bed-in on Valentine’s Day at Occupy New York.
Working groups reports:
Move to Amend: Met Wed. 10 am at Uptown, had a bake sale this morning at Food Coop, now have 1,000 signatures on Move to Amend petition, halfway toward the goal.
Direct Action: At the time of the meeting this week, everyone was in Olympia. Next meeting Wed 5:15 pm at Necessito Burrito.
Communications: Our communications system is pretty good. We should use our Google group to communicate outside of G.A. structure.
Non Violent Direct Action: Working on best time to meet. James Ward and Paul Richmond will offer education on foreclosure facts. MoveOn is planning to offer Non Violent Direct Action training; L doesn’t want to join in, wants to keep Occupy separate.
Process and Facilitation: Our procedures are now so well worked out, and going so smoothly, that two meetings per week of this working group are no longer needed. Instead, the group will meet one hour before every G.A. instead. They can always start up another weekly meeting if it becomes necessary.
A temp check was done about this; all but one twinkled okay.
Banking: Members, who are now out of town, have made a brochure. A logo was chosen after a new logo contest; the same logo won that won the last logo contest. Members of Banking will take the new brochure (with the new logo on it) around to local businesses to create support for our Banking goals.
Visitors from Occupy Albany:
They’re doing a lot of Direct Actions about a new “Money out of Politics” constitutional amendment. Occupy Wall Street has sent around a couple of buses to promote the issue in New England. Albany had an encampment, which was shut down.
Occupy Albany is also working on “Inequality in Taxes,” looking at different tax models, which corporate loopholes to attack, trying to overcome the lack of political will on the part of the public. They’ve opened communications with the Tea Party. On the Dylan Rattigan show, OWS and Tea Party representatives found that the same corruption issues were troubling them. Occupy Albany feels that if there can be that much agreement all the way on the other side of the political spectrum, clearly they need to get out into the community and touch base with everyone.
B: Occupy the Hood in South Seattle doesn’t use internet, just community grapevine. A class of “socially conscious clowns” graduated from their training this week in Pt Townsend.
S: The Black Panthers got out into the community with breakfasts before school and health .
?: The constitutional amendment is so nonpartisan that the Republican caucus was signing it.
?: I talked to a slippery bank manager this week. Our new Outreach working group is starting this coming Tuesday.
L: There’s no daycare center for the homeless in P.T. We should find a site, and combine the daycare center with Occupy. Our winter homeless shelter ends March 16th. They’re an apathetic group. It is closing because the permit will expire, funding will run out, and the City Council seems to feel they represent public opinion in denying that there is any homeless problem.
?: Went to the Republican caucus this morning in Chimacum – Ron Paul was leading.
?: I went to Shut Down the Corporations Day in Olympia; we shut down a couple of banks. At the Occupy Social Forum in Olympia, we tried to talk with Kevin van de Wege. We pressed him hard about money in politics; he denied that there’s any such problem. We learned he’s in ALEC (a right-wing think tank that gets members who are legislators to push bills they suggest). We told the Leader, who called Van de Wege and got no response as to whether he’s an ALEC member. Van de Wege left a message on J (an OPT member)’s answering machine claiming to be a spy within ALEC.
?: Move to Amend was lost in WA Judiciary Committee – we need to press the members individually, since there’s no record of who voted it down. We need to get enough petition signatures and then go after them.
Re: proposal passed last week:
L: Last week we voted to have G.A. every other week instead of weekly. Next week, March 10, there will be no G.A. The next G.A. is on March 17; then we skip March 24 and go to the Kitsap event. Occupy Kitsap has carpool arrangements on their website.
First proposal: “Next Saturday, from 2:00 to 4:00, a powerpoint presentation with Lawrence Lessig on the corruption of our political process due to corporate influence and the effects of money and how that undermines voter confidence.” S will bring a projector and a screen. The powerpoint sequence will be interrupted twice to enable discussion among members, so that the one-hour DVD plus discussion will take two hours.
Originally the proposal included giving preference to replacing the G.A. sessions on off-weeks with educational presentations like this. S withdrew this part of the proposal after objections were made.
?: can you put a link to it online at Google? Answer: Yes.
The group discussed where it would be held. It will be at the Uptown.
The proposal passed.
That Process and Facilitation Working Group meet one hour before each G.A., with more meetings added as needed. Passed.
E suggested discussing Black Bloc tactics – “is it ever appropriate?” The entire group decided to discuss this topic.
[According to Wikipedia, “A black bloc is a tactic for protests and marches whereby individuals wear black clothing, scarves, ski masks, motorcycle helmets with padding, or other face-concealing items. The clothing is used to conceal marchers' identities, appear theoretically as one large unified mass, and promote solidarity.” Wikipedia says many peaceful protestors became more ready to adopt this tactic after, in Germany, police attacked 5,000 peaceful protestors. Police have found it easier to infiltrate demonstrators when they’re wearing black clothes and masks (they were seen coming out of police vans wearing these clothes, but demonstrators identified the police by their shoes!)]
Points made in favor of using Black Bloc tactics:
Black is the color of riot police. It sends back to them the message, we’re as powerful as you. Use any means short of bloodshed, set cars on fire, destroy property.
The disenfranchised use Black Bloc tactics, damage property, because otherwise the media ignore them. However, others (police infiltrators? people with different goals?) do violence, then the disenfranchised are blamed. As more budget cuts come through, and more people are made desperate for food, shelter, and health care, there will be more violence.
Violence is done quietly to us by the 1%, who keep their hands clean all the while. Well-to-do people may not understand why people might graffiti their protests or burn a bank-foreclosed house. Bullies back down only when you stand up to them.
A combination of poverty and repressive cops leads to violence. If we can connect with the Tea Party, we should be able to connect with people who use Black Bloc tactics. It is very important not to lose these people.
I’ve been at very heavy Black Bloc demonstrations where Black Bloc did a great job of ending it nonviolently.
My college professor destroyed draft records with the Berrigan Bros. It was targeted, very specific destruction of property. It can make a statement, and it can include the have-nots.
If you’re not having your basic needs met, you don’t have time for meetings. We should set up funds so these potential members could afford to join us.
Sometimes directed violence is a good tactic. When violence is undirected, you lose your message.
Diversity of tactics means you need to accept all tactics.
Points made against using Black Bloc tactics:
Nonviolence is more effective. Images in the media of police attacking peaceful protestors work better for us. We need to bring out enough people, as they did in Egypt.
Occupy is bigger than just who shows up. It’s also those who quietly support us. We could lose that support if we’re perceived as violent.
Breaking windows isn’t good at a protest that isn’t about breaking windows. It says you’re a group of hooligans.
Someone from Egypt spoke in Olympia; peaceful protestors blocked the streets, the army approached to attack the protestors, and a soccer group headed off the cops. Focus on the purpose of each rally, and the image we want to create. Black Bloc could give us a black eye.
We live in the most violent society on earth, with the most domestic violence. I am totally opposed to violence.
Violence can kill a movement.
In Oakland, Black Bloc people ran away after provoking the cops; nearby nonviolent people got arrested.
March 30, Fran Korten, Chimacum High School Auditorium, doors open at 6:30, starts at 7:00 pm, free
Monday night at the Grange, Agro-ecology, call 385 3455 for info
Outreach working group meeting Tues 5:15pm at Necessito Burrito
St Patrick’s Day demonstration, group will meet at Julia’s house to create a giant snake, will post an announcement online
Kitsap March 24, Day of workshops, at Pt Gamble?