GA Minutes – 7pm, Thursday 24th November 2011
Occupy LSX General Assembly Minutes
7pm Thursday 24th November 2011
SUMMARY OF DECISIONS
1. Call for international European day of action in late March, [Consensus achieved]
2. Creation of a Working Group to look building bridges in Europe, specifically regarding a caravan around other groups in Europe in response to an invitation by Tunisia. [Consensus achieved]
3. Arranging a video-link with Arab Spring movements on the International Day of Human Rights on 10th December. [Consensus achieved]
WORKING GROUP FEEDBACK
Everyone is welcome to get involved in Process. We plan GAs – taking proposal and discussion topics and slotting them in. The themes for this week have been set, and are on display on a board in the Library Tent.
Bring your proposals to our twice-weekly meetings in the Salvation Army Cafe, which take place at 2.15pm on Mondays and Thursdays.
We’ll be continuing our discussion about ‘what is consensus’ tomorrow, and will move it onto the message boards at occupylondon.info – join in the discussions there.
We also help provide meeting support – facilitation and consensus training. You can get in touch with Process by leaving your note or details in the Process pigeonhole in the Info Tent.
If you have a proposal or request for funds, there will be a member of the finance team in Starbucks every Thursday at 4pm.
Bank of Ideas:
Things are slowly coming together. We’ve for a health and safety inspection today. We’ve kept some bits sealed off so far for this reason. Our legal umbrella has been well established. Court is next Friday.
There is still space left to be allocated. If you have friends, connections, organisations that need space to do something wonderful and ethical, then please let us know. We want to make more friends – come along and be our friends!
We’ve received a lot of love and energy from St Pauls and Finsbury Square, and we’re here to send some back to you. BoI is an amazing space for people to use. We hope to be there long term. It’s been billed a ‘public repossession’, as in how banks repossess houses. Hopefully more buildings will be repossessed. If anyone from SP or FS needs space or help, you’re welcome – we have lots of experience.
It’s the end of our first week at BoI today. We need more help, experience, skills – let’s help the movement grow. We hosted the conference of UK occupations last weekend – 30 cities occupied!
Let’s get organisation and communication between all 3 sites clearer and help each other out. Big up to everyone at all 3 sites!
We’re having a protest on Saturday in solidarity with what is happening in Egypt. All over Egypt, upper and lower, there are unprecedented numbers of people on the streets.
The violence is much worse than it was in January. Tear gas is being used, people are choking, throwing up, convulsing. It might be nerve gas – we’re not sure – we’re researching what it is at the moment, but the canisters don’t have a company name on them. They might be from the UK.
We would appreciate it id you could press your government not to support the Egyptian military. We’re growing in Egypt – we ask for your solidarity. It means a lot to have solidarity from the people, not just the governments, of different countries, from all parts of the world.
We will be marching from Edgware Road to the Egyptian embassy on Saturday. A march setting off from here will assemble at noon on the cathedral steps.
Possibilities for changing General Assembly frequency rotating/merging GAs between the 3 Occupy London sites.
How do you feel about the GA, with regards to moving it?
We could merge the GAs, rotate them around the 3 Occupy London sites, merge some whilst some rotate and other continue – merging Bank of Ideas and Finsbury Square only for example. There are lots of ideas. Part of the reason for this discussion is to reinvigorate and reunite all 3 camps – uniting the GA – to get around, discuss, boost, coordinate and communicate with each other.
Lots of people have lots of ideas. Let’s spend 20 minutes, maximum 2 minutes per person talking about this. How do people feel about the way they’re going? There are 3 going on every night at the moment.
> It’s really cool seeing lots of people here who’ve been somewhere else – I feel more involved and connected. I would like to see this more – political strategy GAs together as Occupy London. Each site has its own identity, but having a joint GA at least 3 times a week in one place would be good. I would like to rotate between here, BoI and FS. It’s not about where we are, it’s about being together. There is something unique about this site – lots of public walk past and get involved, and that’s the nice things about having GAs here. When there’s not a GA here, perhaps there can be Tent City University events at St Pauls in place of the GA, so people walking past can still get involved and it doesn’t seem like an empty place – the public can learn something cool about economics etc.
> The live team could set up a Skype conference call – we could bring all 3 GAs together through Skype.
> We need to clarify this point, chat about and find the best system. Revolving GAs are good. St Pauls is the main energetic place – its important to keep energy focussed here as its a public open space. We could have a joint process meeting between all 3 sites, deciding where the big GA is going to be – each night it moves to one of the sites, and we all come there. Could be simply one each night, but St Pauls has better energy. Food thing about movement is it’s out in the open and all can get involved. I suggest we either come up with a plan tonight, or talk about it more in all 3 sites tomorrow and come back on Saturday with proposals to make the system flow well, keeping St Pauls as the central focus.
> I agree – when I came down here, it was St Pauls where it all began, it’s where my heart will be, and it’s where the general public are too – they think of here when they think of the Occupation. It would be great to come up with an idea tonight to put into action immediately. If it doesn’t work we can change it. Half the time coming together isn’t necessarily that important – it’s just that we’re in the same space, talking together – because we a re a movement. With respect, Skype won’t have the same feel – we need to be here in person loving and hugging each other – that’s what it’s all about!
> GAs have 2 functions – internal discussions and external political consensus building. St Pauls is the best place by far for public facing discussion. By all means rotate internal discussions, but other sites are not as accessible for the public.
> It’s nice to be here, to be a part of this. I’m sure more like minded people would like to join who can’t stand the cold, or camping. We need to go live on live, go towards global consensus. There would be more of us – the world is ours, one people, interdependent, a symbiotic part of the biosphere!
> We need to be online also – but it’s important that we’re here together, physically. The more bodies, the more people, the more consensus we build, the more people we have. Coming together is a good idea. Working out how to do it is important – we do need to come together.
> St Pauls is special for the public. The best things is people coming on an evening, making a habit of it, being blown away by the meetings, breaking into small groups. People have said it’s been the best meeting they’ve had in their life. Participation is the best thing – the media are not picking up on this, but the public are. This is the best venue for it. It’s not so accessible at BoI, space at FS is not conducive to 100’s of people. There’s the concern of spreading too thin – infrastructure is getting difficult here in particular. We’re losing people – the balance of strength has to be attended to, we’re not as solid as we were in the past. Having a GA here every night might be asking a lot of the other camps, but with 3 major GAs here a week, arranged a long time in advance – GAs for decision about political statements, of decisions about where we’re going, or major discussions the public will enjoy. If we have 3 major GAs here a week, people won’t get annoyed about coming from the other sites all the time.
> It doesn’t matter where. It’s just important that we get together. What about beyond here? Livestream does an amazing job – I plug in to it when I’m at home. Coverage of GAs is vital to get information out. People are plugging into different sites, information is spreading through the global network. In the end it doesn’t make a difference what GAs say here – the combined GAs of the global movement are coming together. Wherever we need to be going, we’ll get there anywhere.
> There’s been lots of talk about online things. We’ve got livestream. People who can’t be here in person can join the online working group. There’s an online GA daily.
> Music. Some GAs start with a song. We could finish with one too. This would make GAs more enjoyable to people, and attractive. Musicians could top or bottom off GAs – plenty would come out. And I don’t mean raves till 1 in the morning! [Warmth]
> Bringing a few strands together. We’re getting thin on the ground here. We’re spread out. Assemblies are important. We’re right in front of the cathedral, next to the financial establishment. We don’t want to get too spread out. We need to be spirited, alive, musical, singing! We need to keep this place very alive – this is where it starts. Let’s bring the dislocated strands spread to other parts of London back to here. Let’s not let the heart lose its beat.
> I agree completely – this is where the focus of energy is. The dynamic of people. Let’s also think about the hard facts of reality – whether and how sustainability comes into the dynamic. One reason might be fewer people around – a shift in the weather. It’s going to get a lot colder. We need to look at options and possibilities in order to create a sustainable movement with lasting purpose.
> I agree with almost everything everyone says. The heart of the movement is here. I’ve been away, looking forward to getting involved. This is a wonderful space – an amphitheatre. People in the other camps – there hearts are there. It might be naive for other camps to feel solidarity, that its not just St Pauls – go there to show them we’re with them and other camps around the world. I just came back from Romania, I didn’t know there were 3 camps. We should go there once a week and show them love too. I’ve got a sweet band who are gonna come down and play! [Warmth]
There’s a suggestion that we might be able to come to a conclusion tonight. Temperature check – can we do that at the end of the GA if there’s still time? [Warmth] It’s a possibility. Not overwhelming support. Let’s leave it for now.
INTRODUCTION TO EVENING TOPIC
International Outreach working group
International outreach are starting to do 3 things:
1: Establish links with other occupations, looking at logistics, how, what platforms – linking up with Spain, Wall St, Take The Square, a revolutionary network.
2. Working on drafting a global statement, and inviting other assemblies to draft one, looking towards a global occupation movement statement, to branch into each other and unite as a worldwide movement.
3. Organising days of solidarity with other occupations – such as the Egypt march taking place on Saturday, and other days in the past.
Does anyone have any questions about what we’re doing?
> Any update on how many occupations there are over the world now?
< Not 3,500. It was 960 a couple of days ago. > Since so many people are involved from so many nations, perhaps we should consider a global constitution?
< For now, we’re looking at a statement talking about what sort of world we want – democratic systems, alternative democracy, just, sustainable, how to go about making the statement – what sort of world do we want as part of a global movement. You’re welcome to bring that up when we discuss it. > Do all the different occupations get along? How easy is it to have a global discussion?
< Not easy. It’s difficult just to have a discussion between St Pauls and Finsbury Square! [Warmth] We are working on establishing communication platforms – there’s already Take The Square, with online global discussions on Fridays and Sundays. Every week people log on and chat. It’s not easy. We have some personal contacts with other occupations. We’re trying to gather momentum to join everyone up. > The tech teams are more organised now. The Bank of Ideas has more space for us to get organised. We can project on a screen with 4 web pages, one occupation in each corner – London, New York, Rome, Madrid, Tokyo, wherever – we can project assemblies happening in each one, and can communicate with each other – a national and global communication network. Big up the tech team!
Call for international European day of action in late March
There have been quite a few international and global days of action every now and then, with one coming up in December. I want to propose that we make a call to for a Europe-wide weekend of action at the end of March 2012. We will invite other European countries to action. We want to see if the GA agrees, and if we can get consensus to do that.
It will be a Europe wide call for a new model of democracy, to build a new european project based on people, sine the current model, based on economics, is in crisis. It can also serve as a stepping-stone to the more worldwide event to mark the anniversary of the 15th May Spanish movement.
I’m asking for us to agree that we will have a weekend of action here, and we will send a call out across Europe. Actual actions will be planned in the months to come. For the call to go out, we need consensus now.
Any clarification points?
> Is the call for other countries to come here to London?
< The invite is for every movement to take part with actions in their own cities, like these days of actions usually work. > Will the call that we’re sending out come back to the GA to be approved? How are we framing it? The line about a new model of democracy is a bit vague.
< There has been a lot more thinking behind this idea than I’ve shared now, to keep the introduction brief. It could possibly be a strike at the weekend, or engaging in a shorter working week. There is a lot more content. If we approve the call, you can join the working group to help formulate it. Right no we’re just looking for consensus to see if London wants to call for a weekend of action – what we actually want it to be is a separate thing, as happened with the October 15th action. > Does it have to be restricted to Europe – can we invite Africa, Australia and Asia as well?
< The Europe-wide idea was because there are other global worldwide action on other days, such as the 15th May, which has already been called for. This would serve as a stepping-stone towards that, but only Europe wide. People don’t expect the UK to call for something Europe-wide either. [Test for consensus] Are we in agreement to have a weekend of action in March 2012, and call for other Occupys across Europe to participate? Do we have consensus? Are there any objections or concerns to raise? No. Everyone’s happy – we have consensus. [Consensus achieved] — PROPOSAL Creation of a Working Group to look building bridges in Europe, specifically regarding a caravan around other groups in Europe in response to an invitation by Tunisia. — There was a gathering in Nice, France a few weeks back, when the G20 was in Cannes, we held a ‘counter-summit’ involving numerous individuals from various movements across the EU, North America the Indignados, French, North Africans. It was really inspiring to be together in the same physical space, talk about commonalities and ways to work together in the future. The summit was only of individuals, so no decisions were made, but at the end some proposals came out of it. One relates to a day of action on the 10th December, and there’s a couple of other things. We are proposing to form a Working Group at OLSX that works towards specific future mobilisations and convergences between different Occupy movements, which are: 1. Responding to an invitation from activists in Tunisia – at the gathering in Nice they invited everyone there at the end of March / early April to have a social forum, to discuss and continue the conversation. 2. A caravan of activists leaving London and travelling to visit other Occupations across Europe, then converging somewhere like Greece. We could make small trips to places like Paris and Barcelona to start with. So, we’d like to set up a WG to look at ‘joint convergences’ firstly, to look towards a gathering in Tunisia at the end of March and help build bridge, and secondly, to look into other ways to build physical links with Occupations around Europe and round the world under the remit of the international group. Any questions>?
> I will happily bike to Greece with anyone who’s up for it! If anyone wants to join me, or donate me a bike. We could even go to Tunisia – it’s not that far – you just have to go across, then around a bit of sea! I’d be up for it.
> Not all of us would be able to bike all the way. How do you propose we fund train travel, for example?
< The WG would decide. NGO’s could provide the money. The WG would discuss details. > It’s a fantastic idea to link up, but at the same time we don’t want to exclude people financially – we need to make sure that anyone who can’t afford to do it has an equal chance with everyone else to go – that’s a part of what we’re doing.
< The WG will discuss this – we will try to make it equal and get a balance of people. >It’s really important for the global movement to be able to meet face-to-face. I’ve met activists in other countries. This movement has been building for decades – there has been years of waves of activity. One wave, this recent wave in Tunisia and the Arab Spring – people from lot’s of different Arabic countries have difficulties getting into Europe – it’s important for action from here that we link up with Arabic countries. Similar groups have made visits over the years – Indian farmers came to Europe, we’ve gone to Seattle, Prague, Copenhagen. These were the earliest places where the consensus and WGs were in process – we met and refined these processes. I would like to see a trip to Tunisia happen, and would like to raise funds so anyone can go. Let’s link up across countries, discuss the future we want to see, and put it into action.
> Solidarity between groups in different places is a wonderful concept. My questions are, firstly – is a team being created here and in other places simultaneously, and second – how do we facilitate a cohesive, facilitative experience between factions around the world, and get a single message together? There’s a danger of fragmentation. How easy is it to get accurate consensus between groups, and how do you propose to do that?
< Many of these questions go beyond the remit of the proposed WG, but they are important. The gathering is not intended to make decisions about the global movement, just a space and reflection for individuals to meet and think about strategies and tactics. These convergences are just a place for meeting. c> I would like the proposal to indicate clearly that the money will be independently fundraised for, and not come out of the Occupy London money, because that could get messy. Please can the proposal include saying that money from here is not coming from Occupy London?
< I fully endorse that. Maybe now is not the time to get into that. Now is not the time to discuss that. Fundraising for this would be specifically for travel around this. > What date do we have to be in Tunisia by?
< That’s just one proposal – the date is not clear yet, but would likely be late March / early April. [Test for consensus] OK, so the proposal is to create a Working Group to look into our Tunisia invitation and building bridges in Europe, specifically a caravan going around Europe, but we’re only deciding whether to create the WG here. Any concerns? Do we have consensus. We have consensus. [Consensus achieved] > Where is the Working Group going to meet?
< One of the breakout groups in the next bit of the GA will be the beginning of this WG. — GROUP DISCUSSION International outreach activities: European caravan, Arab Spring solidarity on 10th December, International Migrants Day on 18th December, and further possible actions for the week of 10th-18th December. — There are a lot of ideas for the week of action between 10th and 18th of December, which have already been at other GAs. I want to introduce some more ideas to you, take a temperature check on how we feel about different actions, then break out into smaller discussion groups to talk about what we should focus on in this week of action. The 10th December is the International Day of Human Rights. I’ll read out some of the things other assemblies are doing and proposing from international meetings: – Engaging in solidarity with Syria and the Arab Spring? Naming and shaming other human rights violators – going from embassy to embassy? – Engaging with problem human rights, declaration and proposing amendments to them, such as the right to revolt – Madrid will be doing this. – Calling for a big march to make it a big day? The next item is not as specific or concrete. Sunday 18th December is International Migrants Day. Ideas from Spain include taking action against immigration detention centres, engaging with the policy of freedom of movement. On Monday 12th December Occupy Oakland, who shut down their port a few weeks ago, are calling for a shutdown of all ports on the US west coast. We should show solidarity with that as well. The International Commission WG is to serve as an intermediate between different assemblies. I’ve fed you back some of their ideas. It would be great if we could brainstorm ideas that we have here at the London GA. [GA breaks into 4 discussion groups for 20 minutes, then one representative from each group returns a summary of their discussion] 1. International convergences Long bike rides. How can we link up with other groups in other countries? We already have an international commission, so we should use them. There are already marches all over the place – in France and Spain – we should find a list and see what’s already happened. We could make an ‘Occupation Surfers’ website – people could log on and say ‘I want to go to this city’, find the nearest occupations. The trips need to have aims, and we need to think about concrete ways to feed back to GA here. We need to make Occupy accessible to everyone – we should visit places without Occupys, and outreach to get more involved. Bike ride to Greece – we can do 60 miles a day if we’re fit. But what about the young, or people who aren’t so fit? It will involve lots of planning – where can we stay, should we take tents, where will we charge phones. Needs to be flexible. Language classes to help trips. We’ve started an email list, we’ll meet sometime next week to continue this discussion – details of this will go up in the Info Tent. 2. Further action in week of 10th – 18th December One idea stood out for us. We could have a speech on human rights from someone well informed about it at Hype Park speakers corner. We could have a ‘die-in’ around the speech, to symbolise victims of gunmen who abuse human rights worldwide. We could move the speech around London – to arms manufacturers, or embassies of particularly abusive countries. 3. Action on International Immigration Day Suggestions: street theatre, where one could gain access by filling out an enormously complex asylum seekers form – 50 pages – just to see a play about someone who wants to get out but can’t. Identify and target nearby demonstrations, marches, pickets, have a large presence to highlight the possible causes that contribute to the need for immigration – ties back to what we’re doing here. Exposing the nasty consequences of profiteering corporations in lots of countries with a march. Killing the language of immigrant, asylum seeker, the other etc. – it’s out planet, so why shouldn’t we be able to move about whenever and wherever we feel? We could provide asylum seekers with practical support in detention centres, provide them with literature in their our language informing them of their rights, and how to deal with the procedure, and facilitate some direct structural support and helpful action. 4. Action on Human Rights Day and day of solidarity with the Arab Spring on 10th December We can have a screen, and be able to see people who aren’t here. When we do some action, we should see out audience – we’re talking to grass roots people, not David Cameron. We have to go to Edgware Road, as lots of Arab people live around there. We can have a marches touring around all the Arab embassies, and include non-Arab embassies that have tyrannical governments. There’s a Syrian art exhibition on one museum, which would be a good target. During events, let’s highlight that people who live in or are from Arabic countries and live here are part of the 99% – they are with us. Let’s highlight the hypocrisy of the UK government – how they criticise tyrannical dictatorships, but on the other hand support such countries. This is related to arms dealing – we are the 2nd biggest arms producer in the world, after the USA – we sell arms to all Arab countries for money, and don’t care about the consequences. We could highlight some human rights charters, and individual rights, such as the right to free expression etc. We shouldn’t limit things to existing human rights – we should develop them, as they’re not completed – should the wealthy have the right to be wealthy at the expense of the rest of the people? The International Commission WG can’t make all of these things happen alone, but hopefully Outreach WG, Direct Action WG and others will help to make these things happen. If you would like to get involved with international stuff, we will be meeting at 3pm on Sunday at the Bank of Ideas. All are welcome to join us, there will be a lot of coo, stuff to do. A lot of out activity takes place online, because of the nature of international outreach. Email firstname.lastname@example.org to be added to the list. — PROPOSAL Arranging a video-link with Arab Spring movements on the International Day of Human Rights on 10th December — The people who helped to organise a video link between us and Syria a few weeks ago are looking for consensus to open wider international communication again – to show that we as the London movement are engaging with the Arab Spring. Do you agree that we should will take the opportunity of the International Day of Human Rights to engage with the Arab Spring here in London by setting up a video link on a screen here? [Consensus achieved] — SHOUT OUTS — > I’m on my way to Newcastle to help them out. They’ve been attacked by the EDL. I’ll be back soon.
> There will be a fundraising party tomorrow night for the Fortnum 145 – we’re raising money for these people who were arrested for sitting in a shop. Many quality acts, LSE students union, Holborn. 145.org
> Please can we have a minutes silence for all those lovely brave people in Tunisia, Libya, Egypt, Yemen, Bahrain, Syria, Lebanon and elsewhere who have laid down their lives for their belief in democracy that we enjoy here. For Rebecca. [Minutes silence]
> There will be a talk on Sex, Race and Class by Selma James at TCU tomorrow, and Jerome Lewis, anthropologist.
> Bloomsbury Social Centre occupation has now been opened by Gordon Square.
> On Saturday, the annual Reclaim The Night march will take place. It’s an all-female march for gender equality and against sexual violence and cuts to women’s services. All the women from the occupation who want to go together, meet 5pm on Saturday.
> The GA tomorrow will discuss the Corporations WG initial statement, looking for consensus.
> Shelter WG are collecting pallets tomorrow morning, please help us carry them at 8am. If you’re sleeping here, get your tent off the ground onto a pallet with cardboard on top to stay dry and warm. Come on down and get off the ground!
> To register as a representative in court for Corporation of London vs Occupy LSX, come down at 2pm tomorrow..
> After this GA, a Skype link with people from the Netherlands, ex US marines and people from the USA will take part in the marquee outside the Tech Tent.
> The artist Emily Young came down to the occupation today. She sculpted the stone figureheads on the Starbucks/Natwest building that overlooks the camp. She says we have her blessing. The figureheads are made from 140 million year old rocks from Dorset. They look upon us with serenity, wisdom and contemplation.
> Students are taking action. 6 UK universities went into occupation yesterday. Occupy everything – the movement is kicking off!
> To those involved in organising GAs – I would like to propose we invite more people to be involved in the decision making process, and invite more people to come and run GAs. Please never cancel a GA if there’s nothing arranged – just have an open mic and ask people to bring their ideas.
> How do we feel about developing the GA system? When should we get together as a group across sites as a GA next? Wednesday evening – would be good for feedback from the November 30th strike day? We can get together on Saturday too to plan for November 30th. Can I take a temperature check for whether we go afternoon or evening GA on Saturday. Saturday evening it is.
> There will be an amazing cabaret tomorrow night at the Bank of Ideas from 8pm to 11pm, with performers, jugglers, comedians.
> Last night I did a shout out about the disgraceful publication in the Evening Standard. I had a very good response, and people came up to me afterwards. I’m putting together a short statement I hope can form the basis of a press release. I also have ideas to take action, appeal for support, and demonstrate outside Kensington House and bring this home to the paper. As the London Evening Standard continues its campaign of smears, slander and libel against the spring flower of democracy at St Pauls, the camp vow to hit back. This free Russian financed ragtop is seeking to deceive the public with disinformation, and has no mandate in the capital city. Lebedev has taken over, with ex-traitor editor Geordie Greg, leading an attack withe the aid of smear, lies and disinformation, on the orders of Corporation of London and Boris Johnson. Britain has enough enemies within – we do not need outsiders from the global kleptocracy too. We should demand Lebedev dismisses Geordie Greg and replaces the entire editorial board with someone committed to ceasing misreporting of the campaign.
Thanks everybody, that was an amazing GA. Thank you for your respect. We got through 3 proposals and had an interesting discussion – thank you!