General Assembly 21st November 2012
Royal Festival Hall 7pm
Facilitator – Liz / Saskia
Minutes – Jack
Proposal – Climate Siren Costs
CONSENSUS – Only 3 attendees consent, all others STAND ASIDE – £500 between 4 people.
Proposal – Obstruction Charges Indemnity
CONSENSUS – £500 indemnity granted.
Discussion – The future of GAs
Facilitator presents GA. SSP, Process etc.
Tom – My proposals include one on reworking the the way legal ring-fence funds things.
Saskia – That would disadvantage the other proposals
Tom – Reminded of a horse, a bolt and a stable.
Harj – People have come to this GA to hear the proposals. But it’s a relevant concern Tom.
Liz (F) – The ring fence doesn’t contain enough to allow for all money to come out of there. Some would have to come from the main account if these all reach consensus.
Peter – How much in the main fund.
Liz – can’t answer fully. Contacted the bank for a statement. There’s £2000ish in the account with the £1330 of that being legal ring-fence.
Proposal from Peter Coville
Request for payment of legal costs for Buckingham Palace climate action 23/6
On 23rd June this year, I was one of four activists from the Occupy London EEE working group who scaled the gates of Buckingham Palace and attached themselves with banners calling on the Government to take urgent action to cut CO2 emissions. This action received attention in the national and global press, helping keep this issue alive both here and abroad, and building the pressure for meaningful action on climate change. The four activists – all active members of Occupy London EEE – were found guilty of “organising or participating in an assembly in the Royal Parks without the written permission of the Secretary of State” at Westminster Magistrates Court on 9th November, given Conditional Discharges, and were ordered to pay costs of £247.50 each, making a total of £990. The activists were all active members of EEE, and the action furthered the stated objectives of Occupy London as stated in Article 8 of our Initial Statement:
8.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.
None of us has the private resources to pay these costs, and therefore wish to apply for all or part of the total costs (at the discretion of the GA) to be paid from the ring-fenced legal fund of Occupy London.
Tom – No one else here from the list of 4?
Peter – They were emailed, but 2 can’t be here. 1 hasn’t responded
Tom – Last time others weren’t here for a legal finance request, it didn’t’ go through.
Liz – That was because we couldn’t get the details of individuals involved.
Peter D – I agree with Tom, also how desperate are these people if they can’t even make it today
Peter C- Phil, Cyril, Peter, Fiona. Can’t answer for absence really. Or excuse.
Tom – Conditions of the court?
Peter – Payment by 3rd Feb 2013
Sara – Criminal Compensation schemes, have these been investigated?
Peter – Yes, there were some monthly instalments.
Sara – What was the original assignation of OL on this?
Peter – It went under the label of Climate Siren, but as the event was planned there became a higher level of Occupy input. We assigned in the end the most suitable label to the action, and this has happened in Climate Siren and OL EEE related things before.
Steve – Could these legal funds be pooled for various climate based action groups? Why have you instantly decided that you are going to pay the fine? Why pay the fine?
Peter – Serious legal implications.
Liz – you get so many days per the amount of the fine. e.g. In the 90s £600 would get you about 10 days inside
Saskia – What is Climate Siren?
Peter – It’s an affinity group.
Ben – Is this then civil disobedience? You didn’t get fines, you got costs. You support the state by paying the fine. I don’t understand the thought patterns.
Peter – I think it’s covered by the dictionary definition of civil disobedience. I would have lost too much. We all have to make this a personal decision.
Tom – This kind of inquisition is what I’d hope to avoid. This is why my proposal is relevant, to allow it to be judged by those involved in this side of arrestable things.
Liz – Possibly take a few more, but everyone has had a chance to speak.
Harj – Repeats points about OL / Climate Siren links
Peter D – Surely you knew this was arrestable. Why would you do this with that foreknowledge of that but without the money to pay the fine?
Peter C – yes. But we felt it was important.
Liz – temp check – Not Warm
OK, so how can we forward this proposal, anyone?
Ben – If I was to do an action I would take responsibility for the results of it, and own up to that situation. I wouldn’t come to a group for recompense but I don’t feel strongly enough to block this proposal.
Anthony [repeats the possibility of rejecting or reducing the rate of pay of the costs]
Liz [clarifies again.]
Harj – Clarification – Have you tried other sources of funds?
Peter C – It’s been attempted. Considering other sources. But we felt that we were closest to Occupy then any other thing. So we came here first.
Saskia – Having taken donations in info tent. I do feel uncomfortable with the gesture of going to us because we’ve got it. I don’t think it sits with this. “I got nicked, you have a legal fund, you should pay my fine” I just don’t see it like that. We talked ORIGINALLY of how the ring-fund was for possible damages after the eviction.
Jonni – Register an objection. – I feel the action has been retrospectively labelled as an Occupy London action. I feel that this is an abuse of networks of known individuals. That only because these people knew us, they got the process sorted. Perhaps I could counter propose a small amount, I’m sure they can afford a part of it.
Peter D – You could look at this action as having costed £900 pounds. Would it have been granted if it had been proposed beforehand.
Anthony – I’m in favour of this, increasingly so. This is an act of solidarity. There’s gonna be more money later.
Jack – Peter D and Jonni’s objections should be tied together. This was an act of consumerism where the costs were credited by networks. The cost was £900.
John – Proposal – Pay in full Peters amount or half of the amount.
Peter – We aren’t strangers. This wasn’t renamed Occupy after the event. We didn’t go out there in the way Saskia suggests. We couldn’t go and speak to OL about this given the nature of the vent. Jonni made an assumption that I could pay, but I am struggling to pay my rent at the moment, Cyril is unemployed and the other two are only on 10k a year. Article 8 of the Initial statement fits.
Liz – temp check on £500 – warm.
Counter Proposal of £600 – Possible block.
Jonni – I still don’t feel that we’ve solve the objections that are rightly held. I shall stand aside. This is against all my principles.
Saskia – Stand aside – Not comfortable
Ben – Stand aside – not comfortable
Anthony – Stand aside
Sara – Stand aside
Jack – Stand aside – Against the very principle of direct action. It betrays the notion of resistance.
CONSENSUS – Only 3 attendees consent, all others STAND ASIDE
Me and Angela Quamaide are in court on Wednesday the 28th of November, on a charge of obstructing policemen, during an adhoc action against police brutality. (painting PC simon Harwood killed Ian Tomlinson on an outside wall of our squat, The person writing this , was approached by police attempting an arrest and we tried to de-arrest him, ending up being arrested for obstruction.
I Believe this is in line with point 9 of the initial statement
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
We are both committed activists and members of Occupy London, having been both been arrested on official occupy events. As a proposal I would like the GA to indemnify us to the tune of £500, The reason I am asking this Before said trial, is that I don’t want to go to prison and may not have the luxury of putting off at least a portion of fine.
I’m hoping to win the case though , but am finding it hard to build due to lack of resources and various people being in different countries.
Peter D – How did this further the statement?
Tom / Jack – Strong message against police brutality, widely spread. It’s hard to place value on it.
Ben – Was the de-arrest essential to the action.
Tom – no. but I do help people in those situations.
Anthony – De arrests are important.
Jonni – Taking into account your bravery, could you wait until further news before the money is granted.
Tom – Well. No.
Peter D – Have you considered going to jail in the same way we asked of Peter?
Tom – It’s possibly remand, which is fine really. Connors said. I don’t like being questioned by people who haven’t been arrested.
£500 ring-fenced to be paid in the event of the fine and costs being needed, if found innocent, the ring-fence will return to the larger legal ring-fence.
CONSENSUS? – Objections
Jonni – For same reasons as before I stand aside!
CONSENSUS – £500 indemnity granted.
TALKING STICK DISCUSSION – THE FUTURE
John – We exist as a network, we’re still on facebook, groupspace. We shouldn’t kill ourselves keeping this going. If this is a waste of energy, we should be doing other things.
Liz – I intend to resign from the finance team. I see it as a kind of AGM thing. I had kind of hoped that … there’s a very strong case for decentralising the money. We’ve come together to show dissatisfaction around the system and this money issue has not helped. This pot has never seemed to empty. At the point we have £300-400 left, I would resign, so I now am. I would advise Occupy London to think hard and carefully about it deals with money. I think GAs with finance proposals are best avoided by people due to their nature. I would use a GA for discussion space and the generation of ideas.
Ben – When I came to Occupy, what really excited me was that it was open forum where all voices were welcome and listened to and we can discuss and share agreement. We currently have agreements that we operate by consensus, that we do things authentically and with integrity. But I find that we tend not to operate on consensus or with integrity. I don’t like that.
People ask why I talk about Laura Taylor and why it matters to me so much. It was because it was dishonest and a construct by a small number of people who kept it secret from all of us. I first said “not in my name” about governments and war, I now find myself saying this about Occupy London.
Sara – I have made my peace with Occupy London, just wanted to come to my last GA so that I can move onto more relevant and ideologically appropriate things for me and my views on how to change the world.
Peter D – I think OL will fade as an organisation, but there are organisations growing and endeavours spreading and widening. I think finance was a divide, but I’ve seen other things that have divided. Ideology was a big problem. I think there is a lot of scope for linking up. I don’t think the movement will fade, I think the injustice still holds us together. This has been a first for some of us. And it leads on somewhere.
Anthony – I’ve been with Bradley Manning campaign for 2 years. With Ecuadorian embassy we had support. Ignoring all you’ve heard, I’d like to assure you that without that they would have bust out Julian Assange. That was because of Occupy. We’re being challenged constantly by the two Londons – rich and poor. We know each other and trust each other. This is probably the first GA I attended for some time, but there’s value here.
Steve – I think it’s important that as a movement we are inscrutable. It’s important. We don’t need GAs every week. In the real world I think problems are gong to increase. I think with the trust built, we are going to need each other. We don’t have a movement without trust. I trust people here more then I used to . There are a lot of possibilities. We have a shared identity
Tom – No one asked for this system. Churchill commented on this. Some of the greatest proponents of consensus ignore it whenever they want, like Kelsey Fry. I think people focus too much on the internal email comms. We put too much stuff on people like that, when it’s the kids. All the homeless people and the Tammys that are cynically used to further the cause. Me and Jesus are looking after it. Fuck consensus, David Graeber is a wrong ‘un if you ask me.
Jonni – When people come together in groups people jostle for position. Occupy London appealed to me because I believe the means should be a part of the ends. I saw the assembly as the means to an open society and people were made accountable, and I found it to be powerful. They’re not perfect, but they haven’t been used, I don’t know why. I still believe that the scientific method is the most useful approach to the world. Unfortunately Occupy London doesn’t trade in it.
Saskia – Many different groups around the world were using consensus decision making. I find the accountability and transparency hard to deal with. I have always thought that GA is a form of DA when done in a public place. I wanted to continue to have GAs on the steps of St Paul’s after the eviction. We decided to have them on a Sunday, and then they slowly fizzled out. I wish we had more GAs, not just about finance any more, nut to discuss and share information. I am beginning to question the point of GAs. Perhaps we have to wait for more people to inhabit that space.
Jack – Most of the GAs have emptied because people in Occupy London have realised that the power in the movement isn’t held in any of the democratic functions or anything like that. Occupy London is autocratic – people are spat up and chewed out. It is a vicious and abusive place. I don’t think there’s much left to get sad about any more. I have nothing against people getting together to move forward with actions. There’s no point in me rehashing all of my other arguments which you have seen on Group spaces [basically, Occupy London is a form of ethical consumerism based around the commodification of protest. It was purged of all radical thought over the course of the last year]