General Assembly minutes 20/10/2011

 

John (church liaison) welcomes everyone to 6th day of OLSX. Talks about the role of process (organising general assembly). Check with info desk to be a part of the process. We encourage as many people as possible to be part of this (process).

New addition to the camp. Double fence line that comes direct out of the church. Reason it was put up was because of a couple of issues (church fire exit). If there are any questions re fence, there are posted signs on it.

Hand signs are demomstrated.

News items (e.g. BBC) that St Paul’s has asked us to leave, are all false. Don’t go into the church and make issues with the church. Way to support the camp: encourage people to go visit the church. St Paul’s say that visits are actually up for this time of the year (compared to others).

Portaloos have arrived. There will be more coming at some point. Please respect the fact that there are only two toilets. Ensure that if they start getting too full, a sign goes up to show this. If they overflow, there will be an issue with health and safety. There are 5 access points or walkways that have been made clear. These need to stay clear so we can stay here and for all of our safety.

Media: signs were put up by the church (not police) to fulfil their fire and safety requirements. They’re working hard with us to make this a safe place for us to be. And don’t read the Evening Standard.

The toilets will have a short lifespan in terms of amount of time and people who are here. To ensure we can have maximum use out of them, we won’t be opening them until all avenues of public toilets (e.g. Starbucks) are all closed to us. There are (almost) 24-hour toilets on the far-east side of the cathedral in the shopping mall. Need to find out opening times (close at midnight?). Can someone volunteer to go from this meeting to go check toilet-opening hours?

[Volunteer's response: shopping mall toilets are open until 10pm Monday to Saturday, 5pm Sunday].

We’re trying to build a community here. We need to develop a very respectful and respectable community here. Needs to include every aspect of society.

Please, no graffiti on the establishments that are allowing us to use the facilities.

Contact shelter re tents. Shelter is trying to organize tents that are not in use, see which ones are available. If you want to stay here overnight, there are possibilities, instead of setting up your own. Please coordinate with shelter. Information tent can give you shelter contacts.

Brings together several groups that have been bringing together Saturday events. Media update: Independent, Evening Standard negative press. For Saturday, in terms of media, we’re proposing that at 11am we have a meeting in which members of the media will be invited to meet different members of different working groups. Show broad range of opinions here, including anti-capitalists. Temperature check? Positive. We want to form an emergency group that will meet tomorrow 9am at media tent to plan for Saturday. Media narrative: Tent City University, Outreach and Publicity, Media met to flesh out events for Saturday. This involves making changes to the assembly for Saturday. It will be a public assembly. One of the changes is, it’ll start at 12pm, pending a wedding planned. The ad hoc working group will present news from the UK and the world, personal testimonies of activists and working group who were involved in setting up the camp (OLSX space), social justice movements organised outside OLSX, make a connection between their activities and ours: occupy half-term (mother in Cambridge, school half-term organise an occupation), banker who sleeps here, electricians involved in dispute here in City of London, disabled peoples’ alliance against the cuts (marching on Saturday), someone from Dale Farm to give his testimonial, single mothers self-defence, campaign against very severe prison sentences etc.

Update from Tent City University. It’s an open, non-hierarchical space. Nobody has one solution. We had several lectures today. On Saturday, there will be a panel of people discussing pragmatic ways of bringing about systemic, real change. If anyone has ideas, we have an e-mail setup (tentcityuniversity@gmail.com). Let’s build this and go from strength to strength.

Agreement about police. Last evening, police came to front to make an announcement. We had a small meeting this morning and we brought some points to the 1pm meeting. FIP (forward intelligence police), going around taking pictures of people, should not be on site. Police should not be in meetings. We’re glad they’re not here tonight but there were 5 of them last night. This is a peaceful camp and we’re here to stop serious and organised crime by banks, politicians and police. If people are having informal chats with the police, they should bear in mind that the police are gathering information. That’s their job. If you’re chatting about activities and plans of the camp, you could be putting yourself and others in danger. Yesterday in Dale Farm, police tased people. Just down the road from here, Ian Tomlinson was killed by police. There were police with tasers at 2am last night. We need to be much more cautious about what the police are doing. If the police want to take off their uniforms and help build a liaison committee, they can go to the liaison committee and say what they want. Inside those uniforms, there are people. If we don’t talk to them, we can’t hope to convince them to join us. Are we privatising these meetings? Aren’t they open meetings? Just need to be aware of what’s going on. If they get the order (and they will), they’ll use any information they have against us. John suggest that behaviour towards police becomes a subject for further discussion.

Tent with solar panels. Multi-faith/no-faith tent. 7am a lady is coming to do a led-meditation. If anyone has a faith that has special requirements, come speak to us. It’s a space to chill out and get a little bit of peace.

(Interruption by city council taking away our waste).

Several people from the crowd ask what the agenda is. Person at the mike is not the facilitator. We need to reach a consensus on the surplus tent. We need to upgrade it so it’s rain and water-proof, as well as new tables and chairs. Costs more than 150 pounds, so need agreement from general assembly. John gives the agenda outline.

2pm tomorrow there are people doing random acts of kindness.

Temperature check on two points. Police have said that after 7pm we can’t have loud music. The residents are behind us here. Hold these shows around the corner from St Paul’s where there are no residents. Are people up for doing that? We should have a time limit of maybe 10-11pm, so that people can sleep in that area. 11pm is the agreed time. Someone points out that we agreed to 11pm the other day.

Second point. 2pm tomorrow, anyone who has any kind of

over-regulation of corporation of London and would like to discuss this and not adhere to some ridiculous legislative procedure. Please meet with us here with us after general assembly.

Kitchen update. Donations are coming in thick and fast. Fresh food is coming in, from pubs, curries etc.

Sam (Ryan, Tess) from finance. At the moment we have just over 4,000 in cash. At the moment, it’s being stored at Russell square. Anything more than 150 quid has to be accepted during the assembly. Toilets have been very kindly donated. People want to donate large sums online. It seems to us that this money will become very useful to all of us here for numerous reasons: structure, energy, legal fees.

Proposal: Create bank account

The Co-Op gives its money to the Bank of England that puts it in other banks and gives it to the stock market. I propose that we have a finance group, use credit union accounts instead. That’s the only way to ethically bank.

Non-registered charities are not allowed to bank at credit unions. So this would have to be in the name of individuals. We need to think about the consequences of that.

We would open an account as an unincorporated body. We’d have to provide a small blurb for what it’s about. It would a community account. Non-registered body.

Why not open a post-office account? Reply: it seemed there were various problems in it. It’s opening another bank account anyway. It didn’t seem to be any easier. Don’t believe it’s ethical either.

You can create an unincorporated body right away but it can only take a maximum of 5,000 pounds. Otherwise, you get in trouble with charity. Sam replies that limit is definitely not 5,000 pounds (UK Uncut has more than that), maybe 500,000.

Proposal to open bank account but not leave money on it. Use it for transactions, take the money out.

It is incorporated money. Coop has reputation of being a relatively fair bank. The money would not necessarily safe. The credit rating of Coop was reduced by one level by Paul’s two weeks ago. Money not safe in a declining economy.

Escrow service. The problem isn’t storing the funds, it’s transferring them to us. Take the money, hold it until another party removes it. This is normally done in transactions, e.g. buying a car, house etc. Are we seriously standing here and talking about the ethics of transferring money? Money is an inherently evil thing. We’re still compromising ourselves politically.

Finance group about 30 people each hold a credit union and are accountable for all transactions that go through that credit union (has limit of 1,000 pounds). That would be an ethical way of doing it.

It’s all coming across as a little hostile. Thanks to finance group. It’s such a contentious issue, finding something ethical in banking is a near-impossibility.

Did you forget the caveat? We’re here to protest the stock exchange! Even credit unions make a profit.

I just want to know, are our books transparent, where are they kept, can I see them? Are they online? Can we all see them, please.

Books are currently being set up. We have been vigorously collecting all the receipts. We have started a book process, we can put it online. We’re just facilitators for the collective. We have to use some kind of restraint, we’re in a public space.

I’d like to echo. I feel that the issue here is time. We have offers of money now, we need it now. The proposal is that there’s a holding auction now. Money will be transferred ASAP into the best option. Time is a priority.

But time is not a good enough reason to jump into a situation. We are here in front of the LSX to protest against the finance system. This is a political question. Are we authentic or not? We have to create a difference now and here. This needs more time, discussion and research.

It’s nice that UK Uncut has offered us our solidarity. But why is it acceptable that they make demands on how we run things here.

We have people in jails right now, giving us our support.

We should focus on strengthening ourselves?

We always have to accept our principles? Why are we accepting money? Are we becoming greedy? Police: we have to act with honour and integrity at all times. Don’t get too pally with the police.

OWS has 300,000 dollars and a bank account.

If we want to go pure, we need to go barefoot. Sneakers are made in sweatshops.

There’s a real danger we radicalise ourselves out of existence, disappear up our own rectum. Sometimes we have to wade through the shit to get rid of capitalism.

Hold this discussion, do more research, not make a decision tonight.

Western-union type system (money is only held). Escrow service (holding party for transactions, money isn’t stored).

Since the weekend, the three of us in finance have been working non-stop. Lots of people here who said quite recently they don’t want money, these same people have been coming to me asking for money. People are needing money and will need a lot more of it.

Drugs and alcohol discussion will be taking place.

Has finance researched every single proposal made?

Put something on the info board about all the proposals, so we can all understand.

Hitch-hiking in Ireland, I was picked up by a very old man who used to be a banker. Miners were storing their donations to Irish banks to keep it safe. Thatcher sent people to put a freeze on these donations. It’s a possibility that we could have our money frozen if it’s in a bank.

Let’s make a decision to have intoxicants in the privacy of tents and not in public.

Would you like to have the discussion about drugs and alcohol before we make the decision about the bank account?

Technical point. Can’t we just exclude UK Uncut from the general discussion?

Lots of people getting very wound up and stressed out. People are shouting over each other. Just be patient and wait your turn.

There’s free for all, do what you like because this is here and now and we’re free. Can we have a bit of discretion. Nobody has to go without a glass of wine with their dinner. What you do in your own tent is your own business. Or we just outlaw.

We will be breaking into some discussion groups.

Crowd loudly disagrees. No, no, no.

Natalia facilitates drugs and alcohol discussion.

Who agrees to ban drugs and alcohol completely?

We’re an open occupation. How are we going to stop any geezer from walking into the meeting?

We police ourselves.

Please respect the process. Respect the process.

We don’t make our own laws yet. We’re not our own nation. It’s a public space, anyone can walk in.

Phil, Boston, Denver, NY – all these places have banned alcohol.  Main thing is, we should enjoy this, we should have a good time but we’re not here to party. We’re here to stand up. There are pubs a block away!

Are you suggesting we come back intoxicated?

Respect the process. Respect the process.

We can’t ask passers-by to throw away their drink.

Lucy. Women’s safety. If anyone disregards this point, we have a problem. We owe it to the movement to make this a serious occupation. Spread the message in a gentle, friendly way. I’m one of the people who has been concerned about my safety when/about staying here overnight.

Can we start creating proposals of what we’re going to do?

Crowd shouts: stick to the original three. Complete freedom of do whatever you want. Discretion. Outlaw.

How do we judge drunkenness?

If we ban alcohols and drugs, we’re going to find a way to enforce it. Our state and government has been trying to do that for 40 years and failed. Bit of common sense. We can regulate ourselves.

Discrepancy. I think we need to think a bit more collectively. Can we think beyond the fact of whether we want to have a spliff or a beer?

Announcement of Jewish festival starting tonight.

We had to move all the tents today. The reason for this was a request(?) issued by the London fire brigade. Cathedral has to comply with fire laws. One of the points fire brigade made was that there be no alcohol on the site. They’ll shut down St Paul’s cathedral.

Venus. Last night I was so scared, I had to take somebody to sit outside my tent.  He was out of his head. During the day, journalists come round and every time they take photo or me, all I’m doing is crashing beer cans. That is not what we’re here to do.

[Tina - Woman from outside comes aggressively forward, is abusive to John, says she lives here, demands to get to the microphone. She is asked to wait her turn to speak but pushes through the crowd and starts shouting. Crowd chants "Process! Process!" and doesn't let her be heard. She is gently escorted outwards, pushes back etc. I went back to taking minutes.]

Someone suggests organising on-site security. By us, for us.

Option 2 now becomes discretion plus security group onsite. Neighbourhood watch?

Are we just creating another police state?

Both options (complete ban, responsible use) receive blocks. A 3/4 majority vote is required for a blocked option to pass.

The issue is a security issue. And sleeping. What we have to do is work together to create an environment that we can work in. It’s about us all looking out for each other.

Go round the side, have a drink and be sober when you come back.

People have been shouted down. Can we actually focus on the process of respect and listening to each other? Give priority to people who haven’t spoken.

Effect of alcohol in cold weather. I love what you’re doing here and I want this to succeed. How many of you woke up to below freezing this morning? Alcohol dehydrates your system. Remember the health implications of what you’re doing. Drink hot drinks in the morning.

Darius (has been recording on video-cam all of tonight’s GA meeting). I came here on Monday. The police wanted you to go, St Paul’s let you stay. If drugs and alcohol are more important than what your cause is, I’m not sure you should be here.

[Someone who looks like a sympathetic onlooker]. I tend to wake up at 5:30 in the morning to go to work. I keep finding wine bottles and beer cans. Doesn’t present a good image to people going to work. Students and unemployed.

There are a lot of things that we do. For this to continue and be sustainable, we need to do this: ban alcohol.

Bear (kitchen). I wasn’t told about this. We’ve not been informed that this has been going on. I don’t feel as representative of the democracy. We’ve been left out of the loop. We want to have our voices heard, I think it’s unfair. I work in security. I like alcohol. We need to start having some sort of mediation of disputes team, negotiation team. Deal with the situation, rather than banning it. We should have a team to deal with the problem directly. Be pro-active though still inclusive.

Important that parents can feel ok about their kids being here. It’s been done elsewhere, we can do it here.

I talked to police briefly about this. I had a beer in my hand at the time. The fact that the police do not mind. On Friday and Saturday nights, other people were walking in drunk. We need to defend ourselves from that. Currently, there’s nobody who’s been an issue to our movement.

We are in this together. We can solve this together. Please, we have to be sensible. I suggest to those people who are really against and those really in favour, can you please meet. In a very nice way. And then find a solution.

Kitchen talks about people trying to deal with drunks.

75 votes for banning drugs and alcohol.

29 votes in favour of discrete use.

We don’t have consensus.

 

Can anyone who feels strongly about it, please form a working group to discuss it. Just talk about it. Alcoholic working group. Alcoholic non-anonymous, can you discuss it.

Second day of general strikes in Greece.

450,000 workers and students. We all struggle against the state. Can we quickly vote to send a message of solidarity today. The police actually killed someone today on the street.

Voted yes, for sending a message of solidarity. That was easy. We are in solidarity with the Greek protests.

Dale farm. Yesterday 7am, more than 100 police attacked Dale farm people and supporters and activists. There were around 50 activists who resisted very strongly. The police managed to enter. At the end, the Dale farm they escorted the activists outside to stop them from being arrested.

Setting up a power working group tomorrow, to look into issues of power (e.g. solar). Please meet 11:30 tomorrow here.

We’re about to wrap up the general assembly. 7:30pm tomorrow, can anyone think of the kind of general assemblies people would like to have. We have gone bog down. We have not discussed anything ideological, which is a shame. We need to keep ourselves here for a reason. We still haven’t decided what the reason is. Please come 6pm, here tomorrow at the process meeting. If today was good, tomorrow needs to be better.

Promise by process group (Tina, John) for voting to take place first thing at tomorrow’s assembly (7:30 pm).

 

Post-GA suggestions:

 

Alcohol/drug issue should be voted on only by people who live on campsite.

 

Has finance heard of Tridos bank (ethical banking)?

 

Process improvements:

Announce GA theme earlier in the day, so interested parties can be warned in advance and participate as necessary.

Go around camp and collect grievances; kitchen was unhappy at being left out, working groups didn’t get to share their updates.

Have working group updates prior to any discussion.

Have a GA meeting on how to improve process.

Hold emergency process workshop (to avoid the zoo experienced tonight).

Other?

 

 
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