General Assembly Minutes: 17/10/2011
Called to order: 19:00
Chico introduces the statement issued yesterday by Occupy London, calls a member of the crowd to read it out from a cardboard placard. Statement is read to audience cheers.
- The current system is unsustainable. It is undemocratic and unjust. We need alternatives; this is where we work towards them.
- We are of all ethnicities, backgrounds, genders, generations, sexualities, dis/abilities and faiths. We stand together with occupations all over the world.
- We refuse to pay for the banks’ crisis.
- We do not accept the cuts as either necessary or inevitable. We demand an end to global tax injustice and our democracy representing corporations instead of the people.
- We want regulators to be genuinely independent of the industries they regulate.
- We support the strike on 30 November and the student action on 9 November, and actions to defend our health services, welfare, education and employment, and to stop wars and arms dealing.
- We want structural change towards authentic global equality. The world’s resources must go towards caring for people and the planet, not the military, corporate profits or the rich.
- We stand in solidarity with the global oppressed and we call for an end to the actions of our government and others in causing this oppression.
- This is what democracy looks like. Come and join us!
Chico introduces standards for running the GA meeting, starting with hand signals. Hand waving indicates agreement, one hand raised indicates a question, two hands rolling together or compressing indicate time to wrap things up etc.
Next, the general role of facilitators is explained with the different types and specific roles of facilitators detailed.
This is followed by a description of the focus of the evening GA discussions, namely philosophy, politics and (types of) action. The remaining general meetings are: 10am (working groups meet) and 1pm (update on logistics and practicalities on the site). Evening meetings are dedicated to visions of the future, with the aim of effecting real, tangible change. They end with shout-outs and an overview of recent media coverage.
Working Group Updates
Work group representatives come up next, each with a 2-minute slot.
Shelter (?): We have some marquees and getting more but need more weights and sandbags. Tents have been assigned numbers but need to know when tents can be made available, i.e. are not occupied. Also need to sort out tenting arrangement as soon as wind drops, to arrange for through ways. There’s a guide/map in the process of being made, suggesting the best places for pitching new tents.
Publicity and Outreach (John): A leaflet has been produced, containing the 8-point statement. Will be organizing delegations to visit schools etc. to build networks and for purposes of funding. Meet under the Capitalism is Crisis banner.
Waste and Recycling (Venus): Lots of trash around at the moment. Try and crush down everything. Most of the waste is coming from alcohol. If people are leaving tonight, please take some bags with you. Cigarettes are still an issue. Use container for the butts.
Kitchen (Chris): The kitchen will be closing in half to one hour’s time. Will be moving to/in a grand marquee.
Legal (Ben): This team is ad hoc at the moment, relying a lot on Green & Black Cross. Relying a lot on legal observers. 8 arrests occurred over the weekend, 2 bailed, 6 were charged. These last are appearing on the 27th 9:30am at the city of London magistrate court. A know-your-rights workshop is being held 6-7pm every day. Get bus(?) card.
Media (Peter): New tent with 50 people capacity. WiFi has been set up. Press has been wholly positive; 88% of Guardian readers are in support. Need as many spokespeople as possible. Sign up for media training. Need volunteer reporters to gather stories from people to pass onto media. Need someone to be reporting back from general assembly. Also, we’re looking into indie media. If you have any ideas, talk to us.
Medical (Hannah): We have hand warmers, space blankets available, come visit if you feel very cold. Remember to wash your hands. Need volunteers, with or without (e.g. first-aid) training.
Tech (Jules), branch of Media team: You are currently being watched by 420 people. Radio PA system has been set up. Tomorrow we are getting donation of solar panels. Petrol donations have also been coming in but being used up almost as fast.
Uni/Teaching (new team, ?): Starting series of educational meetings. Located next to library. Discussion will be after the assembly. Meet at 6:20 tomorrow to listen to invited professor discussing war and imperialism. Marquee being set up tonight, help requested.
Chico announces tonight’s discussion theme: what do we want and how do we get it. It is to be carried out in groups of about 10 people and last 20 minutes. Nominate a person within each group to give feedback (2 minutes per group). People with facilitator experience, please come forward. Discussion will be followed by media roundups and shout outs.
End of corporate control, no more privatization and spending cuts, community over corporate work. Redirect military spending. View biosphere as one. Free education nationally, eventually globally. Expose depths of corporate corruption. Globally organized economic strikes.
Get rid of ethnic, sexual etc. labels as pigeonholing can be divisive and stereotypes breed prejudice. However, there was division within the group on this issue, the speaker stating she was queer and citing her own views on the importance of being visible and not hiding one’s origins. Also, lots of empty buildings in London that could be used in housing, art colonies etc.
Two callouts: to workers, all out, stay out strike (November 30th). On November 9th, call for students to occupy their own student unions. Want to schedule events for people who can visit us during lunch or after work. Work with homeless centres.
NHS and education, corporate organizations. Propose attending shareholder meetings or direct action, lobbying and using pressure groups on MPs and shadow MPs. Nationalized banks.
Bring system under workers’ control. Let’s build up towards the strike action of November 30th. Go out across London communities, hold assemblies. Look at ideas for tackling the banking system. Start organising our own services, e.g. libraries, like in Spain.
How does this occupation tie in with 30th November? How do we get more people here? Direct action on tax dodgers in this area, e.g. Starbucks. Link with student protest 9th November. We need a revolution basically.
Military-Industrial Complex, mass-media and economy are merged in one big gang-bang. Coordinate with other occupy groups to pull all our money simultaneously out of the banks. Education system: to math, English and science add truth and corruption (economics?). History has been made by creatives. Put this message into your passion. Make it cool, so the kids will pick it up.
It’s an idea that we have growing here. Victor Hugo said, nothing can stop an idea whose time has come. We’re keen to feed on that. There are plenty of small trade union actions, let’s tap into them. Example, on Wednesday there’s action by the electricians’ union at Blackfriars. But we can’t be pigeon-holed simply as anti-capitalists. We need to develop a compelling new narrative to describe ourselves. We also need to look at how we are cutting into the general population. Why do people have so much sympathy for us? A workshop on why 68 worked.
Transparency of banks and investments (audits). Industrial action and mass movement. International communication via internet. Communication with universities and schools. Education shouldn’t be cut, it should be untouchable. Direct action. Make ecocide the fifth(?) crime against peace.
We tried finding a historical perspective. Phrasing is important (e.g. anti-capitalist). Find accessible, unified message. Go look at getmoneyout.com. Dylan Ratigan campaigns for getting money out of politics. Do not allow trading of basic commodities, e.g. food, in stock exchange. General strike (30th November). Don’t work this day if it’s possible/legal.
Issues that connect every one here, in this area. Make a banner to (of?) our website. Slogans from Barcelona: don’t look at us, come and join us or you’ll never own a fucking house. We need a positive image, one that doesn’t feed into peoples’ negative connotations, e.g. general assembly. Get better leaflets with our statements/demands on them. Broadness (of vision?) appeals to more people, not too radical. Do we need to make it more specific? Keep the arts and music, speakers and lecturers, entertainment and learning.
Get together with all occupy groups, have link-up, communicate with all of them. Set working groups to educate the young people on the banking system. Transparency. Create alternatives to the banking system. Create scheme shares, small banking systems from the ground up. Make tax havens illegal, internationally. Tobin tax.
Total rejection of privatisation of the NHS. Make sure we’re well represented in social media. Change in education system. Transparency of banking system. Teach effects of banks on global economy/society.
Need for global cooperation. Direct democracy, grass roots government. We can provide an example to the entire world. We have had clashes. We need to work together to establish principles to unite over. Bring about accountability and justice. Tax the banks, close tax loopholes/havens. Strong, ethical, effective bank regulation. All public money should be put to public, not private, use.
How to maintain and build up the numbers here. Both online and physical work. Shift “demands” to “objectives” (or other term). Need for increased visibility and publicity. If you have Photoshop, use it to design postcards, stickers, labels. Take the postcards to libraries, local shops, put the stickers on cash machines, petrol pumps. Focus on OccupyLSX as a brand. Branding in this case is about creating instant recognition. Use occupylsx.org. 20000 on FB is nice but not enough. Concern about transport for those unable to reach the site: carpools, especially on weekends from the suburbs. Solidarity with unions, endorsement of our message by workers’ unions. Physical action, outside of the camp site, to include picketing.
Non-violent communication not only with the police but also with each other. Get in touch with the media (letter, press release), get them to communicate with the police. If 100,000 people sign a petition, Parliament has to discuss the petitioned issue. Let’s get to the values underlying the issues we’re facing, rather than just use labels like “capitalism”.
Info tent is not yet an info working group. Volunteers required.
It costs £150 per load to have rubbish removed. Please take some home.
Call-out for tomorrow morning. Two entrances remain to LSX remain open. Go with your placards, leaflets and talk to people who come and go. They could be cleaners. We talked to some, and got smiles. Get them to crack.
There’s rain coming tonight (forecast), tents need to be taped down.
Legal observer: some protesters talked to the police and the chalk line barrier has now been extended a few metres in from the food tent.
Mr Hamish will be giving a lecture. He gives a brief speech. This cannot be done, cannot be won, in a day or a week. Hopefully, you’ll continue after I’ll long be dead. I’ve been researching this for the past 30 years. After working in building sites, I went back to the university, taught philosophy, psychology, sociology. “The dialectics of universal history”. We are all the substance of a naked ape and yet here you are so refined in how you treat yourselves and one another. Think of a new stage of development. You are not simply individuals. Individuality needs mutuality. Lots of love to you all. Keep on keeping on.
Chico calls out for info regarding the toilets.
Petition for a British detainee (Babar Ahmad) in custody for 7 years and is waiting to be extradited to the US. Need 100,000 signatures by November. We’re at 32,000. It’s an e-petition, so can be completed via e-mail. e-mail addresses requested.
Dale farm announcement: they’ve now exhausted all legal processes and have lost their appeal. Looks like eviction will be starting tomorrow or shortly thereafter. Appeal for people. Also need clothing, blankets, food. Leaving around 7am.
Media coverage update
Highlight is the title “Move along please, canon tells police” from the Guardian. Protesters set to dig in for the long haul. Coverage has been wide, including FOX, CNN and Al Jazeera.
Finance news: UK economy stalling, Centre for Economy and Business Research predicts GDP 0.7%, RBS predict 5000 job cuts, BP $15 billion profits from sister companies, Goldman Sachs $1.5 billion from acquisitions. 1500 meetings between corporate lobbies and coalition government. Ian Duncan Smith, Liam Fox, links to Tea Party in America.