#OccupyLSX First General Assembly
London’s first General Assembly took place on 9th October during UK Uncut’s Block the Bridge, Block the Bill action on Westminster Bridge. The General Assembly is the main decision-making forum for #occupylsx – as it has been for other international occupations, drawing on the model pioneered in Spain earlier this year. It’s a form of direct democracy, a space for debate that is totally open to the public – it’s there for anyone who wishes to make their voice heard and there is plenty of room for dissenting voices, although we try to reach consensus.
It is intended that the General Assembly become a permanent feature of the occupation, an open forum which will provide a platform for everyone to air their grievances, demands and proposed solutions. The hope is that the General Assembly will be allow us to create a list of demands democratically – a unified message that represents the sentiment of the 99%.
The turn out today was excellent, with around 400 people participating. After listening to presentations from representatives of #OccupyWallStreet #OccupyMcr (Manchester) and some who were present at the Take the Square demonstrations in Spain earlier this year, the Assembly split off into working groups of about ten people who were asked to think about their reactions to Occupy Wall Street, and the actions that preceded it, and what they mean for us here in London. What follows are the collated thoughts of our working groups – twenty of them in all.
What do we think about the demonstrations on Wall Street and elsewhere. What do they mean for us?
– We need to remember that not everyone has the same kind of privilege – not everyone that wants to come down can come down.
– We had some discussion about tactics: Saturday is a nice idea but nobody cares because the city is going to be shut down anyway – if we’re trying to shut down the City, we should go on Friday! (It is not, incidentally, the consensus of the Assembly that the aim is to obstruct the usual working of the City.)
– Three points: One: focus on inclusivity. Two: Be organised. Three: Make it a message everyone can agree with. We are the 99% and the organisation needs to reflect that from day one, on the day.
– Occupation is good. We want to occupy. We think that OccupyLSX should be as inclusive as possible. We also think that just like this meeting, that that action should help plan other actions after the occupation. We should be linking up with the strikes on 30th November. We must have a list of clear demands. Rock on!
– The general sense of apathy amongst the youth must be broken. We must protect the NHS. We do not want an American system of healthcare.
– Inequality causes depression and greater inequality causes greater depression.
– We need to link up with other movements happening across the nation. Let’s start exchanging contacts with each other
– We need to be as fun and accessible as possible
– We cannot win single issue campaigns. We have to have broader based campaigns. We have to force them to do what we want. Power means nothing without a demand. We are all born as individuals.
– We have all been inspired by movements across the world and we have inspired movements across the world. In order to link up with #ows in US, the movement in Spain and the students and workers in Greecel, Italy, the Middle East and Chile, it’s important that we go to the City of London, that we occupy the stock exchange and that we work with people across the world for a fair and more democratic society. We are an example of democracy in action.
– I’m a Palestinian who has been on the wrong side of occupation. It’s been proven by the Israelis that it works… If they call you criminals, you can tell who the real criminals are. You can legimately occupy.
– We talked about the creation of money and how the money system is turning us all into debt slaves. We also talked about those that control the means of production. We also talked about issuing protest currencies
– We need to get people involved with the NHS involved with this.
– We need to create public spaces in places that are private like the London Stock Exchange. We need occupation to change the priorities among the youth and the population in general. During the occupation we need to have discussions, entertainment and the engagement of all who attend.
– In our group we talked a lot about taking inspiration from global movements. We want to maintain analysis of all these different issues. We want to learn from movement in Israel… there, celebrities killed the movement. In Spain they committed themselves to a General Assembly process. Wall Street wasn’t just an occupation, they also staged lots of actions: this is important. We want to support the General Strike on 30th Novemeber.
– We don’t want to ask those in power to make change for us. We also want to be doing that in our local communities. A lot of these social movements don’t have enough ways of buildng up their own power and it’s too much asking those in power to make changes for us. On 9th November there’ll be a big demo in London.and we should join forces with that.
– We can debate strategy, and thats a wonderful thing…but we all need to find our own voice. An autonomous organisation such as this is wonderful. Every person has a stake, we are all equal.
– We’re coming to an end of this General Assembly. At the first general assembly in wall street there were 70 people. Now there are tens of thousands. We are already more than 70, so let’s do this in the UK! Occupy London!
– Let’s stay on this bridge, those of us who can. Let’s keep talking and see how long we can stay!
– Each and every place in this country needs to unite and take over! This is our land!
Further images of yesterday’s GA may be found on our flickr.