GA Minutes – 7pm Tuesday 13th December 2011
Minutes Tuesday 13th December 2011
Location: Tent City University
Event: Evening General Assembly of Occupy London
Date: Tuesday 13th December 2011
Weather: Cold winds, after the storm.
Facilitator: Explains consensus and hand signals…
We have a little group to sing, please listen beautifully.
[insert group and song name]
Facilitator: Thank you. We will start with a positive announcement.
Multi-faith group: Invite everybody to hear Rev Jesse Jackson, veteran of American civil rights movement, speak at Thursday 3pm in front of St Paul’s steps. If the weather is bad it will be in Tent City University.
Facilitator: Are there any more announcements?
Announcement: 8 million people killed by dictator in Congo. Tomorrow at 12 o’clock in front of congress embassy there is a demonstration. Gather here at 11am if you want to go and support.
Announcement: This weekend Edinburgh will be hosting second UK-Ireland Occupy meeting.
Facilitator: Discussion will be about aims, but before we will hear about an incident yesterday.
Contribution: It is everybody’s individual choice to call the police if they have been threatened or attacked.
I did not get involved to report people to the police. But when we have a situation where people are not being respected and being attacked then I feel it is important to report the situation to the police. I have received death threats and reported this to the police. I hope the people who spat in my face and threatened to kill me will face a stiff sentence. I encourage people to stand with me to make sure these people face justice.
Question: Why did you approach these people?
Security: They were trying to put up a tent in a place that was not allowed. As soon as I said something, my life was threatened.
Response: It seems to me the people shouting about how they don’t like Occupy are the people who don’t contribute.
Response: I have been abused, had people call me names and I have had enough of it. It needs to stop.
Comment: I got strangled by the security guy for challenging the finance group. Why has nothing been done about that.
Response: That will be addressed.
Comment: You guys wind me up.
Response: The tranquillity team have been doing a great job keep people safe and looking after the cathedral.
Comment: They still wind me up.
Contribution: This is not a separate jurisdiction. If somebody acts violent towards me, I will call the police. It’s your responsibility to decide what to do.
Interruption: You should ask yourself why you’re hear. You don’t call the police.
Response: We are all friends here. I don’t go quickly to the police. We have tranquillity. We have a scheme first to communicate with people. If they don’t communicate, then if they still want to use violence, we go to second step. But not first to the police. Everybody should respect each other.
Comment: It’s all concepts of grown ups. We’ve gathered here for a common reason. It’s being lost. We have to learn how to live with everybody. The bells are too loud for children. There’s not much listening. Even when the girls were playing there wasn’t much listening.
Facilitator: On that note, let’s move on to next point of agenda.
Question: Why are only some working groups on the website?
Response: There is a meeting tomorrow at 6pm.
Legal update: I came to Occupy for politics. I have met some of the most amazing people here. I met people who it’s hard to get on with. We have to take care of each other. If people are being violent it breeds fear. Not a society where women are scared to go to toilet during the night. I’m supposed to be in court on Monday. I’m afraid that’s not going to happen. I’m not sure what it is that I’m going to be spending three days defending. Do you want me to defend the right to get pissed and abuse each other; not to be reported to the police when if they committed these acts on the street they would be arrested. I’ve lost my flat. My struggle to spend time with my kids has been made more difficult. Sort your shit out people!
Comment: Let’s have some silence for 2 mins.
[30 seconds silence]
Interruption: Why’s it silent?
[90 seconds silence]
Interrupter: I apologise for the interruption.
[Facilitator changes from Saskia to Phil.]
Facilitator: I am going to take questions on the last point that was raised.
Comment: I am here to reform family law system, which is very unfair to women and men. The issue is how we talk to people. Important to be mindful of what you say. Think about how what you say will make somebody feel. Not sure what transpired yesterday, but it is important to be mindful. … If we make decision we need to write it down. Probably repeating myself but I will keep saying these things over and over again. Let’s make this a transparent movement.
Facilitator: Thanks very much. How do people feel about moving on. Going to take some more points…
Comment: If Tammy goes we don’t have a case.
Comment: I have been coming every now and again. It’s been great to do this. Everybody should take a step back and think about why you’re here.
Comment: Just want to say something about Tammy. I stick by what Tammy. She is crying her eyes out.
Interruption: I don’t care, it’s her own ignorance.
Facilitator: I’m going to take one last point.
Comment: I’m a trained para-legal with 20 years high court experience. I came to help legal team. We do have a case. We have been very badly advised because they have served the document on the world and not on the Occupy (“persons unknown”). Honestly, City of London doesn’t have a case. Nobody should have made a statement because that would identify you.
Facilitator: Because process has been abused so much, we are not going to continue with the general assembly. It is clear that nobody wants to have a general assembly. So the general assembly is over.
Announcement: Mic check!
Response: MIC CHECK!
Announcement: The general assembly will continue shortly.
[Assembly gathers again. Facilitator changes back from Phil to Saskia.]
Facilitator: Explains consensus and hand signals.
Will read out initial statement. And then take points from people about what has been achieved. Then if people still want, we will break into groups to discuss what else we want to do.
Reads out initial statement:
This initial statement was collectively agreed by over 500 people on the steps of St Paul’s on 26 October 2011. Like all forms of direct democracy, the statement will always be a work in progress and is used as a basis for further discussion and debate.
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 the 30th November and the student action on the 9th 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.
The present economic system pollutes land, sea and air, is causing massive loss of natural species and environments, and is accelerating humanity towards irreversible climate change. We call for a positive, sustainable economic system that benefits present and future generations. 
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!
Comment: How was statement created?
Facilitator: It was created by consensus on the first day. It was later changed by consensus to include an amendment from the environment group.
Comment: How do you want to achieve it?
Facilitator: That’s what we’re working out. What do people think we have achieved?
Response: We have created a lot of hope that change is possible.
Response: There are a lot of people who dislike what is happening, and we have brought it into the public eye. We keep people thinking about these issues.
Response: Have brought a lot of hope to people who are asking “what can I do” – you can come and join Occupy and help work it out.
Response: Talking about politics and economics was erudite thing, now have general members of the public wandering in joining is the discussion. That’s probably the best thing we’ve done.
Response: We are learning how to tolerate each other, how to communicate with each other, how to question current system. Are going to make a solution for all the major problems. We don’t leave it to parliament, politicians. We are questioning the system, directly by the people. We respect all views and good idea to be open for all ideas, and make it deeper and deeper and really change the system.
Response: Nothing more incredible to be debating all the issues with people you wouldn’t meet. The personal issues are taking away all the good that comes from debating the issues. Probably not best environment to be sleeping, not staying here but imagine it wouldn’t be very pleasant. Hope the people here can work through these issues. I know it’s difficult, me and my wife have arguments. But hope you can resolve these issues and then resolve the bigger issues.
Response: Has exposed all the corruption in the city etc. I feel privileged to be here.
Response: We are asking questions. The strength is our plurality. We are fighting for the same thing. Bringing divided groups together. Need to be careful to keep the diversity, so we represent the 99% (if that’s what we want to do).
Response: I have been with library. It is a good model. Free food, free tea and coffee. It’s good to keep it open. We can apply it to everything, like laptops. When we achieve that [trails off].
Response: One thing that hasn’t come out: people who have found a community, who will accept them. Stories that have brought tears to my eyes.
Response: We are relearning to live as communities. We have been atomised by individualistic society. We are told to be selfish, and are trying to learn what it means to live as a community.
Facilitator: Would like to add, it’s difficult to see when you’re inside the camp. There is an incredible amount of discussion out there, online, etc. One thing that is empowering is that we are supporting each other. The problems we are having are the problems of our society. If you look at the broadcasts, Occupy is framing the debates. We have changed the debate.
Response: Very honoured and privileged to sit down with beautiful people who are standing up for issues that are affecting normal people.
Response: Why we were arguing amongst ourselves, there was a beautiful full moon with a double rainbow, and the masons were having a dinner up the road.
Facilitator: Anybody else?
Response: There are lots of issues: some have been addressed by political and social hierarchy and they would not be addressed if we had.
Response: We have been brave enough to show that we don’t have all the answers.
Response: I’ve been here for two weeks, and I’m getting annoyed with people who don’t contribute to any of the working groups.
Facilitator: We’ve had that conversation earlier.
Response: Some people do have some answers, and it’s been good to get these people together. People are starting to have conversations that they wouldn’t have had. We are getting to the answers. We have only been here 8 weeks. Most political parties have been around for ages. Give us some time.
Facilitator: There are complex issues and we are working together on them. Do you have a point sister?
Response: When I came I volunteered in the Info tent, there are so many people who are extremely supportive. It’s really the struggle of the 99% here.
Facilitator: My mum and dad have said there is overwhelming support. The vicar enjoyed receiving a copy of the Occupied Time.
Would you like to break into small groups? Temperature check… Okay.
Facilitator: Let’s feedback…
Group 1: We talked about the immediate issue: trying to find out what’s going happen; have a back up plan if court case doesn’t go to plan. Overall aim to have tent city stay here, to have a presence so people can come a debate in a civilised manner, if court say people can’t camp here. Want to keep presence here, so we feel there is still a movement. That’s the main thing. Beyond that, keeping transparency and communication between people. There were solutions in other groups, I overheard bits, would be interested to listen to them…
Group 2: Have done good things. Lots of people feel very safe here. Do you feel safe here? Yeah, some of you. Do all of you feel safe all the time? We have to address the time when people don’t feel safe. There are some who are vulnerable. We could do that in a couple of ways. We could work on the sexism angle. You like that? We came up with a few idea. People could come together to discuss their roles from a gender perspective. Another idea, we could swap gender roles. You’d like to see me in a dress right? We would have an understand of what it means to be the other person. The other thing was discrimination in general. We didn’t know what to do about that. But we could get together and talk about it. The general assembly must be a moral and ethical hub for the whole thing. That’s probably why we get back people trying to destroy it. If people respect the process then things will work. Propose a discrimination working group.
Facilitator: You might want to call it an anti-discrimination working group?
Group 2 Continues: Well that seems a bit negative, but we can work on the name. Is there any enthusiasm for that? [yes] That’s all from our group.
Direct point: A lot of people who are abusive are not here. I was called a “chink” but I am Vietnamese. Had to go out of my tent….
Facilitator: Thanks for your point. Let’s carry on with the feedback.
Group 3: One of the aims is to achieve and win our aims. To set ourselves reasonable goals, things we know we can achieve. Really nice aim from our group: plant fruit and vegetable plants. Make better records, how to preserve conversations, how we can disseminate. We win a lot by sharing our experiences. Another aim is to practice what we preach. To look at collaborators and partners, to build links and relations to work with existing groups. That would be very valuable. Another: local general assemblies, create template so other people can do it. Also: to Occupy people into seats of power – why can’t we have people standing for Major? Also: to looks at empty spaces for workers, to make a report about empty buildings and make something meaningful and useful.
Facilitator: Are there any others? No. The hour is getting late. Thanks for coming back to continue this general assembly.
Finally, I have a sad announcement. Somebody is looking Eileen Glass, she lives in Birmingham, 50s, wears long fake-fur coat, she has gone missing. We have a mobile number for her daughter.
Comment: I know something about this…
Facilitator: Great, that’s us looking after each other. Any shoutouts?
Shoutout: Woman’s meeting Thursday 5.30-7pm. Not to be separatist but discuss things.
Shoutout (Shelter): Anybody doesn’t have a place? No. Great! We are doing our job! We had a lot of tents blowing away in the wind. Are going to work through camp fixing things up. Please help us at 10.30am tomorrow. There is another weather warning for Thursday. Recommend you secure your tent to the pallet. Not recommending connecting tents to other tents.
Shoutout: There are some roadworks just down the road. There are some big rocks. We can use them to hold down the tents whilst we wait for better materials
[discussion about securing tents…]
Facilitator: Anybody willing to go help collect cardboard? Yes, one, two, three, four. Great!
Comment: Somebody don’t close their tent, and when it rains everything gets wet.
Response: People need to close their tents.
Facilitator: Okay, brothers and sisters. Thanks for your solidarity. Occupy everywhere!