GA Minutes – 1pm, Friday 18 November
Summary of Proposals and Decisions
1. Should we formally instruct Karen Todner as out solicitor, and John Cooper QC as our Barrister, to formally represent us? [Consensus achieved]
Last night we took a new site [Warmth]. It’s near Finsbury Square, it’s an old bank building owned by UBS, who have left it empty. We have squatted there, and will be using it as a communications centre, a bank of ideas, an extension of the occupation [Warmth]. There will be an update from someone over there later in the GA.
This weekend there will be a national meeting of Occupy networks and anti-cuts groups. Delegates from Leeds, Bristol, Norwich and all over the country will be attending for the whole weekend. We’ve invited other social justice movements to take part. There will be workshops in Finsbury Square on Saturday evening and Sunday.
We are looking for volunteers to help us cook Saturday dinner and Sunday lunch for the visiting occupiers. If you can cook at home and bring it in that would also be good. We are also looking for people to run between the 2 occupation sites, showing the way to the delegates.
Let’s all make our visitors feel welcome this weekend. It’s an amazing chance to share our experience.
The General Assembly approved the organisation of this movement in 3 large groups:
1. Logistics (for the camp)
2. Support of campaigns
We are working on improving communications between these groups.
Bank of Ideas:
Yesterday, Some people from Occupy took an old BUS building on behalf of occupy. It has a conference space, cinema, kitchen, canteen, offices, and resources for everyone to expand and grow.
The police turned up – Inpsector Ward from Hackney constabularly had a look and decided he was OK with the people being in the building. This morning The City turned up, and after a few tensions they are now OK with it too. A media conference has now taken place, so the official word is out – we have a building!
The building will not be for sleeping in, it’s it’s simply a resource and working space. We’re offering it’s facilities to local communities and Boroughs like Hackney. It’s a strictly alcohol / drug free zone. Children and vulnerable people will be there.
It’s a building for progress – please everyone go and check it out!
It’s in the UBS building on Sun Street, 2 minutes walk from Finsbury Square.
Eviction / Legal:
City of London Corporation have resumed their legal proeedings against us, and the notice they served expired yesterday at 6pm. The media have dramatised this event a little – we’re still here. We’re taking this matter to the courts.
There are 3 in the eviction working group: me (Paul), Matthew and Duncan, I’m the only one without legal qualifications. The QC representing us in court appeared at the GA last night at a press conference. Video of this should be available online. There was a media scrum – they’re definitely interested.
We’ve just had a meeting with our solicitors, who discussed our next steps. Unlike New York, the CoL are taking proper legal processes – there’s no threat of the police suddenly coming in and removing us by force.
This is a legal issue, so we have to deal with some things on a formal basis. We need to formally instruct the solicitor and engage our barrister. This is being minuted, and will become part of the legal document that represent us as an occupation. We have to be precise.
Should we formally instruct Karen Todner as out solicitor, and John Cooper QC as our Barrister, to formally represent us?
Without this formal instruction, they cannot represent us further. We are using the sovereignity of the GA to make this instruction. Any clarification points?
> Will us taking this action constitue occupy as a different kind of body, under the legal definition?
< This leads into the second part. After we have done th initial instruction, we must then decide what kind of structure, who we are, and how we will appear to the court case, as individuals and a collective group. I don’t want to go into too much details with the charter, which is the next part of this announcement. We need to instruct our legal people fairly quickly otherwise they can’t continue to act for us. We can spend a few days deciding how we present ourselves after the instruction.
If you agree, wave hands: [Warmth]
Any blocks? One. Want to come down and bring your concern to us?
> The man who blocked has walked off, and before said he ‘disagrees with the whole thing’.
< OK, that disagreement is noted.
Is the general body happy to go ahead? We have consensus.
For a matter of record, I declare that the Karen Todner solicitor and John Cooper QC have been formally appointed to represent us.
This is John Cochran, a site liaison between us and the firm, you’re welcome to chat to him about things if you have any questions.
Now we need to consider the legal process, and defining ourselves as a legal entity. A draft has been formed, and a few people have given input. We want everyone to look at this proposal, and for it to be put into a GA at some point.
The suggestion is that we form a ‘Occupy LSX Charter Group’ to look at this. It’s a simple consitution and association document, nothing more than a little community group would have – not a great ream. Just a general who we are, and how we work together.
This is only a draft. The content is as follows:
Introduction: In order that we can sustain the growth of our movement and not be side tracked from unscrupulous elements from within this document has been put together to help people understand ho this movement expeccts supporters to act safetly and responsibily.
Guidelines: 1. Everyone who comes on to an Occupy site is expected to behave in a responsible manner. 2. Be hygenic and maintain a state of cleanliness. 3. Be compassionate, respectful of people and their property and have a sense of integrity. 4. Make sure that their belongings are safe and not left out, tempting for others to take. 5. Be prepared to volunteer for tasks and various duties that this movement requires in order for it to progress. 6. People who are familiar with the running of the camp should be prepared to ask questions to strangers who might be removing equipment and feel empowered to stop them if necessary. 7. People who are not familiar with the running of the camp should be made to feel welcome and briefed about these guidelines. 8. Innappropriate behaviour is not encouraged and therefore people acting in an abusive and antisocial manner may well find themselves unwelcome, banned or even reported to the police.
The aims of Occupy: 1. To educate the public about the unfair economic and social conditions they face in this world brought on by the Government, the city of London and the Financial Service Sector. 2. To participate in a process of transformation with the relevant parties involved to change the current capitalist system i.e the current banking, tax and financial system to one that is more equable, fair-minded and transparent for the people of this country. 3. To achieve a better and fairer society which empowers its people to seek out their potential and live a more productive and fruitful life. 4. To offer assistance to other countries when and where requested to do the same as we have achieved and alleviate their suffering. 5. To support and spread the other Occupy Movements and their global message.
The first meeting for this working group will be tomorrow, Saturday 19th November at 11am outside Starbucks – the meeting will take place somewhere also. Please come to this meeting, especially if you don’t like the charter, have something to add, or disagree with something you heard in it.
The next steps in the process will also be talked about at the meeting tomorrow. The next bits are updates about what’s happening, and how you can get involved in the process.
We need an idea of the precise number of tents and people here at Occupy LSX so we can present things in court. Obviously people come and go. We will deal with that within further processes so people can have their voices added to what’s we’re doing. We’ll call for volunteers to help count tents and get some sense of the number of people staying here. No identities, no names, so neither presented to a court.
When a court action is taken, there are named parties. Occupy LSX is being treated as the main party. The constitution will define if we are a group of people, enabling us to be a named party as a group…
> What difference does it make legally, whether Occupy LSX is a group or a bunch of individuals with their own determination.
< It’s simple: money. Costs can be applied for. The courts want people to pay for legal costs. Lawyers, process, they want money. If an individuals with assets gets named, only 1 individual, if Occupy LSX don’t win, they will take your house to pay for costs. As a group, they can’t target us individually like that.
Ther may be people who want to be named – it could be everybody, or it could be a few people. If it’s 60-70 people, that might be a good thing. They must be aware of the situation though, and nobody needs to make a decision right now. The legal ramifications, and potential financial consequences, must be discussed first.
There is a principle in law of the ‘Man of Straw’ – it’s pointless suing a MoS as they don’t have anything. There is little risk for them to come forward and name themselves. Lawyers will want to get paid for things.
The next aspect: people can give witness statements. We will devise a witness template. People can put their reasons and tell their story – there is not financial risk, as you are not a named defendant. This template will be put online, and we will make a group to facilitate putting these things together.
Individuals or organisations can be named or give witness statements, so if you’re part of an organisation with interest, you can get involved through them too.
Paperwork is being filed in court this afternoon, we may get some formal papers filed here.
We expect a schedlued direction hearing – pre-hearing-hrearing – on Wednesday next week at 10am. It’s veruy important we don’t disrupt the court process – we don’t want to upset the judge, as he might view our cause more negatively.
If you want to demonstrate, take placards and megaphones to outside the Royal Courts of Justice building. We suggets working groups send a representative into court who can feed back to everybody, and tell them all what actually happens. This takes the strain us from having to repeat what happened over and over again. It is a public process, but there’s only so much room in the court room. 1 person per WG.
We will meet at 11am tomorrow at Starbucks to carry on the discussion. Many copies of the charter are available at the info Info Tent. Come along, read, think about it. If any volunteers can help, leave contact details at Info Tent. My contact details are there too.
To clarify: the legal action is against the tents and structure – not against us – except in the wat we relate to the tents. CoL are not going to court to stop us being here as people – just to stop the tents and structures from being here.
We need volunteers to help us plan agendas, sort out proposals, and facilitate. We need volunteers. This is completely open, come and join us.
Process sounds all encompassing, but to clarify, we have 2 roles: GA planning
and meeting support. The latter involves enabling people to have constructive meetings that are transparent and accountable. To help out, get in touch by leaving your details in the Process pigeonhole at the Info Tent.
Daily GA planning meetings take place twice daily at 12 noon and 5pm. We are holding 2 weekly meetings to plan GAs in advance from next week, on Mondays and Thursdays. We’re going to leave 1 GA a week open for people who aren’t from working groups, or who are busy at other times to make proposals – we recognise the importance of this. We’re trying to be more efficient.
Facilitation is a good way to help WGs, campaigns, communications groups, anti-cuts networks. It helps us to power ourselves, run the meetings ourselves. It can be worth it, where we get things done in a 99% way. There is no commitment.
Facilitation workshops will take place Monday-Thursday 6pm-7pm, and Friday 11am in the Supply Tent, run by Seeds For Change. We are working on making these regular events – check at the Info Tent for when they’re going to be. Leave a note at the process pigeonhole to get involved.
We also need people to take, collect and print out minutes from assemblies.
> Last night I went on 5live, just as someone from New York was on the phone. They said “we’ve taken the bridge, today 30,000 people turned up, this action was already planned, we OWS eviction encouraged more people to come”. During the interivew I was asked if I’d become “militant”. I said “no, I’ve become enlightened and tolerant”.
> There were 35,000 people in the belly of the beast [Wall Street], surrounding the Bull Statue as the bell went off. This is direct action that went right to the heart of it.
> UK Occupations Conference this Saturday – we feel inspired, rejuvenated and connected by OWS and all over the world, it feels exciting and lovely.
> Let’s not forget the people in the south of Europe. Yesterday we had a workshop about Greece. The Greeks held a demonstration yesterday to commenorate the klling of students in 1976. More than 50,000 people were on the streets and the police reacted violently. One person is in a critical state, and more than 100 have been arrested. Don’t forget the struggles in Greece, Italy, Spain and Portugal – what’s happening there will start happening here soon.
> We just had a good “visions of another world” workshop. People came with immense ideas – sustainable housing, respecting at the environment. Many more of our ideas will go up on the columns.
> Our first speak-out workshop will take place this afternoon at 3pm, to help people nervous about speaking in public in TCU. Hopfully afterwards you will have the confidence to speak on this GA microphone.
> We will be leading a dance tomorrow at 2-3pm. Get your groove on to celebrate the occupation.
> We need systematic solutions that address the human heart.
> The word ‘radical’ is derived from the word ‘radish’ which means ‘to the root’.
> The Fawcett Society are doing a “don’t turn back time” march from Temple/Embankment to Westminster, to draw attention to women progress in terms of position and finances. Men and women will be marching. 12 noon at Temple tomorrow.
> If anyone can help at the Info Tent right now, please drop by.
> The GA at 7pm tonight, joint with LFS will be about direct democracy and peoples assembly.