Occupy London Safer Space Policy


Open discussion is at the heart of our Occupation and our decision-making process. The more people we can involve in our debates, the stronger and more representative the results will be.

Occupy London wants to operate and conduct our discussions in a safe anti-oppressive space – whether offline or online – that is welcoming, engaging and supportive.

In order to ensure this we feel it is necessary to establish some guidelines for participants. These have been agreed by the OccupyLSX General Assembly.

Please note that, as with all forms of direct democracy this policy is a work in progress and suggestions are welcome.

1. Racism, as well as ageism, homophobia, sexism, transphobia, ableism or prejudice based on ethnicity, nationality, class, gender, gender presentation, language ability, asylum status or religious affiliation is unacceptable and will be challenged.

2. Respect each other’s physical and emotional boundaries, always get explicit verbal consent before touching someone or crossing boundaries.

3. Be aware of the space you take up and the positions and privileges you bring, including racial, class and gender privilege.

4. Avoid assuming the opinions and identifications of other participants.

5. Recognize that we try not to judge, put each other down or compete.

6. Be aware of the language you use in discussion and how you relate to others. Try to speak slowly and clearly and use uncomplicated language.

7. The group endeavors as much as is feasible to ensure that meeting spaces are as accessible as possible to the widest range of people.

8. Foster a spirit of mutual respect: Listen to the wisdom everyone brings to the group.

9. Give each person the time and space to speak. In large groups, or for groups using facilitation: Raise your hand to speak.

10. “Respect the person; challenge their behaviour.”

11. If someone violates these agreements a discussion or mediation process can happen, depending on the wishes of the person who was violated. If a serious violation happens to the extent that someone feels unsafe, they can be asked to leave the space and/or speak with a person or process nominated by those present.

12. Whilst ground rules are collective responsibility everyone is also personally responsible for their own behaviour.

13. Occupy London is an alcohol and drugs free space.


81 Responses to “Occupy London Safer Space Policy”

  1. I’m very pleased to see that discrimination against disabled people is on your list of unacceptables. We so often get overlooked.

    Just a point of pedantry about the language: “Ableism” is an American English word. In the UK we use the word “disablism.”

    • yes and endeavour is correct International English too.

  2. Neurelitism is another social prejudice you may wish to amend to your list of censured social prejudices: http://neurelitism.com/ – according to the UK National Autistic Society, 1 in 100 people are on the autistic spectrum, that is, they have an autistic spectrum condition. The majority of people with ASCs are within the normal range of intelligence, and people with undiagnosed ASCs are probably disproportionately represented in the prison and mental health services.

    Simon Baron-Cohen (2008) Autism and Asperger Syndrome (Oxford University Press)

    (You won’t forget the author’s name once I tell you Professor Simon Baron-Cohen is Sacha Baron-Cohen’s cousin!)

  3. I am already feeling intimidated! I would be very worried to come to visit you in case just standing there, mute, with my hands in my pocket would cause a reason for mediation!… rules, rules, rules! These days, with rules about compulsory work-for-benefits rules now spilling out of my ears… so to speak… I empathise with myself when I’m thinking to myself, without stepping in anybody’s toes, isolated in my own cubic experience, not touching and not being touched by anybody…. I hate rules… they remind me of guards and guarded behaviour… “treat one another like you would like to be treated yoursel”

    • I agree with conchita, surely it boils down to respect? In Cairo, the watch-word ‘peacefully’, chanted by the crowd when violence was breaking out, did much to calm the situation. In the relatively safe environment of London, could ‘respectfully’ be the watchword, with vigilance and human mike to reinforce. Then move on rather than get bogged down in discussions about ‘rules’,

      • In agreement too, I think.

        Morals are what is important, and I believe they are learnt by experience and not by a reading a rule book.

    • On the one hand, I think it’s important to spell out rules of the kind listed above. They are there to see off the bad guys/girls. Sensitive socially aware human beings don’t need ’em. It’s like the “no touch” thing – sounds terribly English, what? But feminists know men use touch as a tool of dominance in social situations. At the same time, people falling in love don’t go asking permission to touch one another. Just as long as these rules aren’t applied dogmatically, and have been agreed by genuine consensus, they’ll serve their purpose.

      • The no touch thing is because almost all camps of the Occupy movement have been found to be harbouring sex offenders. St Paul’s is one of the few places where no rape or sexual assault has come to public attention. I can’t say for sure that none has happened, because in some camps, like Baltimore, victims are being told not to report sexual assaults because of the bad publicity they bring to the movement.

        • Are you a virus implanted by a very scared 1%

          • “4. Avoid assuming the opinions and identifications of other participants.”

          • Promotor, are you talking to me with your comment because if you are I am not sure I understand you ?

          • Ok Promotor just sorted my query out.

            I was not assuming Helens opinion, she does a great job of that herself, and did not want to assume her identification either, hence
            I asked her a question,
            albeit without a question mark at the end but nevertheless it was a question and not an assumption.
            h.o.p.e. this satisfies

    • ‘laws/rules are made………….to be broken’

      my understanding of this ‘saying’ is that you create these rules in order to exclude, which equals power over others.
      This is not the ethos of the ‘occupy’ movement, at least as I want to understand it. Create laws and you create ‘criminals’ ! and the world knows we already have enough of them.

      Keep it simple please. Peaceful and Respectful and Fair are the only words we need to know.

      • Yes, in theory. But when people are being highly disruptive there has to be a procedure to sanction them. ‘Freedom of expression’ is not ‘freedom to do and say whatever you want’, other people’s freedom to express themselves must also be taken into account. If ‘Occupy’ is to get anywhere as a global movement we will need (democratically/consensus agreed) policy, guidelines, procedures etc (PROCESS). Otherwise we’re just a bunch of people with lots of good ideas. We need co-ordination, collaboration, structure and organisation and unfortunately that’s not possible without ‘rules’. That said, our procedures must not follow the same misguided and hierarchical ways of old but must find a better way. In my view language like; ‘management’ and ‘rules’ should be replaced with the likes of ‘process’ ‘guidelines’ and ‘organisational structure’, for starters. Disagree? Look into the myriad internal problems GA’s and occupation’s around the world have suffered and give us your solution! ‘no process’ = ‘no progress’.

    • I have several strong reservations and very much agree with Conchita. Can not this list be condensed into two or three short, all-embracing principles?

      Take 1, for example – any list outlawing prejudices against ‘isms’ and groups does, de facto, suggest that unlisted prejudices are acceptable (or have simply been thus-far overlooked).

      Surely Occupy does not wish to promote prejudice against: how people dress; where they reside; their mathematical ability; their employment status; their height; their weight; their dental or facial appearance … etc etc. The list could become endless and, ulitmately, meaningless.

      Prejudice is wrong full stop. We don’t need all of this to know how to behave as upright citizens.

      Take 2. Those who silently joined hands at 11am yesterday at St Paul’s did not “get explicit verbal consent before touching someone” and therefore contravened Occupy London policy.

      I strongly object to being told how to engage socially and consider any such ‘rule’ against physical contact with strangers as a denial of my human rights to embrace, comfort and console.

      I know I know what is appropritate behaviour, but I’m damned if I’m going to respond to an elderly person falling down the steps of St Paul’s by showing them my CRB Certificate or asking for their permission to touch them before helping them to their feet, or taking their pulse, or attempting to staunch what might be life-threatening bleeding.

      Come on, folks. This is Occupy, not some NHS Strategy, Policy and Accountability Committee.

      • Here here !

      • Trust in the positive energy of the group to deal appropriately with any negative energy that manifests. Respect is the key word.

  4. What’s that guy’s name again?.. F… Frankie?.. Frankie something?..

    Scottish guy.

  5. Good way to make the space safer would be to pack up your tents, and go home!

    • Good idea, Billy. They don’t seem to grasp that yet, but doubtless when the smoke clears from their weed, they’ll get back to rational thought eventually.

      • Rational thought is………….


        • Rational thought is….not taking anything posted on Youtube seriously!!!!

          • No need to take you or Helens posts seriously either then. or do you want others to take you seriously ?

            stop whinging yourselves about a ‘few insignificant campers’ and talk seriously about what is wrong….what do you fear really ?

            I ask this in hope of a genuine answer.

      • More defamation from Helen. There is a plethora of rational debate on here. Do you have anything sensible to say?

  6. I applaud your belated attempt to make improvements, but isn’t your very “protest” in itself oppressive and threatening? You are, after all, camped outside a church, bullying the clergy into letting you stay and being generally threatening to anyone who comes near. My cousin, who lives abroad, had to cancel a visit to St Paul’s because of the intimidating nature of your camp. It may be some years before she gets another chance to go there.

    Also, dividing people into the 99%, who are special little snowflakes (until they disagree with you, as most of us do, when they become targets for insult and accusation) or the 1%, who are evil incarnate, is both discriminatory and offensive. Any chance we’ll see a change there? Or is this just a PR exercise because your movement is associated with antisemitism, racism, religious bigotry and sexual assaults?

    • Is your current state of happiness ( in my opinion, barely in existence ) because you see your future in the same light ?

    • Helen you seem to be providing most of the insults and accusations at the moment.

  7. Pure dictatorship, has nothing with solidarity

  8. Associated with religious bigotry? Are you serious? Please keep from showing too much of your right-wing ignorance there, Helen Wood. You might want to actually read a bit more on what the Occupy protest is about before you start with your trolling. May I suggest this little snippet to start with… Then come back and we’ll address the rest of your absurd claims. Thank you.

  9. I traveled from Liverpool to participate and support Occupy London. I left the camp feeling rather upset and alienated. I found myself feeling almost apologetic for my intentions and embarrassed to speak because of the ‘unfortunate’ dialect I have.

    Most disappointing.

    • I am saddened to read that.

      • That is sad Melissa. Proof that even members of Occupy aren’t by any means perfect, inclusive, without prejudice – just flawed human beings like all of us. Hopefully as this revolution evolves people will be learning from the experiences they have had and the people they have met during the occupations and take some time for self-reflection and recognise what it is that they need to change about themselves before they can change the world.

    • Melissa,

      that is unfortunate to hear, however don’t be disheartened the occupy movement is coming to Liverpool and you will be welcome to join us 🙂

      • Its really great news to hear that Occupy is coming to Liverpool, it is however unfortunate that me and my partner were ridiculed and were victims of dated, derogatory stereotype.

        How would I be able to get involved in the new Liverpool camp?

  10. I understand that Occupy LSX now have a bank account with the Co-op with around £10k in it. That’s quite significant for an organisation not even a month old and if you are trying to tackle other organisations on transparency, you need be completely transparent yourselves so I call for Occupy to publish the following on this website:

    1. A list of every monetary donation made to date, whether it was made by an individual or organisation and if the latter, the name of the organisation. The same for all future donations.
    2. A list of all expenditure to date backed up by receipts for each item. Provide an explanation for missing receipts. The same for all future expenses.
    3. The amount of money lost to theft or otherwise cannot be accounted for.
    4. A list of all donated items where the value of an item is £10 or greater.
    5. The names of every signatory to the Co-op bank account, their occupation, qualifications, and a brief sentence on each person as to why they got involved in Occupy.
    6. Whether single, joint, or multiple signatures are required for cheques and over the counter withdrawals.
    7. The number of debits cards linked to the Co-op account and who has responsibility for them.
    8. If you have internet banking, the number of user IDs, ActivIDentity tokens, and who has responsibility for them.
    9. Weekly bank transaction and balance reports. Very easy to download in PDF format – I have a Co-op business account so know how this works.
    10. Weekly petty cash transaction and balance reports.
    11. All GA minutes in order to show consensus on spending decisions.

    I don’t believe that to be unfair – does anyone disagree? Perhaps someone could respond on behalf of Occupy?

    • I disagree, Jim.

      As far as I know, all financial donations made to Occupy London have been made “in good faith”, thus showing trust in the recipients to use the donation in an appropriate manner.

      I would neither wish nor expect donations made to, say, a national charity or a village fete, to be bound by all the restrictions you suggest.

      Have you asked the Co-op to do the same?

      If I donate to what I believe

      • Since this is neither a charity, or a village fete, but does seem to want to be some kind of a political party, it is absolutely essential that the financial arrangements are transparent, and the real world knows who is supporting you financially.

        • So, Billy, are you wishing to deny individuals the right to donate anonymously to anything?

      • Hello Interested by-stander

        I’m sure all donations were made in good faith, and wouldn’t be great for the people who made those donations to see exactly how there money is helping? I would not ask for individual donors names to be disclosed, only that of organisations.
        Everything I have suggested above is not a restriction as you put it, but either mandatory record keeping or a sensible financial control. Why argue against this and why the secrecy? It comes across as hypocritical when Occupy are demanding transparency from others.

        • I guess if those donating want such mandatory record-keeping they’ll ask for it, Jim. It is, as you rightly point out, their money after all.

          I can’t imagine that an organisation has been able to make a donation without disclosing to the members of that organisation that any donation has been made.

          Sorry to sound repetitive, but – being ignorant of how their system works – can I again ask if you have made the same enquiries of the Co-op?

          • I’m not sure what you want me to ask the Co-op – if you would care to elaborate?

            I’m also not sure if you or anyone else in Occupy realise how serious not keeping records is. In the space of less than a month, Occupy has around £10k in a bank account after expenses. That’s a lot of money to have without any documentation backing it up. Assuming Occupy is meant to be a unincorporated, non-profit making organisation, it will have to convince HMRC that is the case if questioned. Now if you have nothing to back up cash inflows and outflows and/or prove that an official organisation (i.e. formally constituted) exists, then HMRC will have a field day and go after those financially connected with Occupy (i.e. the bank account signatories) and possibly the owner of this website, since his name is out there for all to see and would be an easy target. There would likely be investigations into the tax affairs of these people, which even if completely innocent, would be stressful, intrusive, and time-consuming.

    • Online Block! 🙂
      Point of Process:
      Get down to the next GA and raise these urgent issues! You can you know! IFAIK All expenditure is accounted for and major items approved by the GA.

      On the other hand how about applying the above transparency to the Corporation of London’s finances or those of MPs FIRST!

      Proportionality! Matthew 7:3 etc.

      • not everyone can get to the assemblies and it is ridiculous to suggest that they can. For many people this site is their only way of interacting

        • Have to agree with sarah here brobof,

          would be good to know how much impact this site influences occupylsx or is it a totally seperate entity ?

          would be great to have direct participation at some point somehow, soon.

          • That is a very interesting point, how much of what is posted on here is brought back to the GA, does it hold any weight at all?
            I think it would be unfair to exclude the people who cannot get down to the movement from decision making, especially as big decisions often take more than one GA to work through.
            I think more transparency with regards to finances is a good idea, especially as we are asking that of the LSX itself and in general governance.

        • Sarah most GAs are live streamed now. You obviously have internet access so if you do want to participate you’ll find the live stream at this address:


          You can join in by loving into the chat room there.

          TA TA!

      • Sorry, Jim, I didn’t make my question about the Co-op clear. Does every organisation signing up for an account with the Co-op have to observe the measures you listed above? If not, why not? And if so, should Occupy not have been told this when opening the account?

        And I thank you for your point about the seriousness of having to convince HMR – it’s unlikely that David Hartnett would go for dinner in the Occupy London kitchen and then waive their tax bill.

  11. I have set up a manual typewriter in the library of Occupy London. I am keeping an archive of what people have written. Without exception people describe how positive their experience of the occupation has been. In some instances the people concerned had come to see the Lord Mayors Show, or St. Paul’s, and had walked about the camp in curiosity rather than conviction.
    As far as the guidelines are concerned – this is an ongoing project, of necessity we are responding on a day by day basis. No tribe or community has, or can, function without a consensus agreement about behaviour. All of the areas which have been covered are just common sense in a gathering with the stated purpose of working for an equal and just society.

  12. Point: 7. “The group endeavors as much as is feasible to ensure that meeting spaces are as accessible as possible to the widest range of people.” As we know this is simply not true! Working groups are still being held during working hours and therefore exclude the biggest proportion of the 99%. I noticed that this was raised briefly last week at one your GA’s with someone pointing out that both Madrid and Occupy Wall St accommodate the workforce by alternating Working groups with General Assemblies every other evening. This proposal was dropped because people within the Occupy LSX camp blocked it. Clearly Occupy LSX does not follow the global Occupy movement’s concern with inclusivity – something that entitles Madrid and Occupy Wall St to say they represent the 99%. Occupy LSX cannot make this claim under the current schedule with any legitimitacy. Your lack of concern on this issue is becoming offensive and is likely to provoke anger. Anger which gets taken to the GA’s – the ‘safe space’ you are so concerned about. You might like to consider how the current structure of Occupy LSX itself generates lack of respect – as a two-way symptom.

    • http://wp.me/pt95c-78 just a couple more concerns

      • Do you really expect people to open that link?

        • Honestly! People go on about Orwell’s 1984 … it’s actually Animal Farm that’s not so far off the mark right now!

      • Anon … I’m guessing that’s a word press link but I just don’t know so won’t be opening it. Please post contents in a comment. Thanks

  13. In GA last week I suggested ‘Ten Commitments’ that the camp as a whole and individuals within it might like to debate/amend/sign up to. The idea being to commit to behaving well ourselves so that we have a solid footing on which to stand while asking other people/wider society/businesses/governments/the world to behave well.

    The Commitments overlap in some respects with the Safer Space policy but are wider-ranging… I will bring them to GA again this week if I get chance. Check them out http://hazelhedge.wordpress.com/2011/11/12/ten-commitments/

  14. Human of the Planet Earth(?). re your posting at 1.20 p.m. today. Sorry for the delay, but I had to go to that corporate monster called Tesco, to do some shopping, and I was not alone! Would you really like me to tell you what problems I have with the occupy movement?? I’m happy to, but you won’t like what I have to say!

    • Billy,
      No need to apologise to me, and no need to tell me what your problems are with the occupy movement, I think I understand where you are coming from quite well already.
      In my comment to you at 1.20pm I did in fact ask what it was you feared really which I would still enjoy your answer to.
      You make a big deal about something you regard as irrelevant, why ?
      Why do you focus on the ‘camp’ and not on the issues as to what they are about ?
      Do you even know what they are about ? (Your honest answer to this question in particular would be well received)

      • h.o.p.e.

        Interesting that you do not want to here what my problems are with the movement, but then I did say that I didn’t think you would want to hear it! Equally interesting, is your use of the word ‘fear’. Not for the first time, I see someone who opposes the views of the movement referred to as being in fear of it, or ‘running scared’.

        Do I fear the movement? At present, as it represents only a very small proportion of the 99%, absolutely not. Should it ever become more representative, I might fear it, as it’s views and ideas could well lead us all into oblivion, that’s somewhere I don’t want to go.

        Do I know what they are about, oh yes, most definitely! (There, honest answer as requested!).

        • Billy, Thanks for your reply.

          In case you are interested in my views on matters, here they are.
          You say we might be lead into oblivion,
          I say we already are, and a lot of people are oblivious to it.
          The plate spinning money men are running around like lunatics trying to keep their world spinning by creating more debt on a plate,
          you may feel in control of your life, but you are deluding yourself
          honestly !

          • h.o.p.e.

            I never said the world is not in a mess, well, the European bit of it anyway. I’m not going to go into details about my personal situation, other than I had to retire early, for health reasons. I don’t claim benefits, I live on the savings I accrued over 40 years of employment, and living within my means. I’m not one of the 1% by a million miles, but there are thousands like me, who, if occupy had it’s way, would have their lives destroyed.

          • I do appreciate what you say about lives being destroyed, so this is your fear, and mine too, and others.
            The world is technically already bankrupt, there is not enough ‘money’ to pay off the debts, there is now not enough income to pay the interest on the debts,
            The best thing for all is if we just all accept bankruptcy, clear the decks and start again, just like the real world does.
            However, the money men dont want this to happen, because they then lose their power. Hence ireland, portugal, greece and italy, next is probably spain and so on. Money is not created, debt is !
            I do not fear for myself, but I do fear for my childrens future. Its hell out there and never going to get better than it is. My preferred solution is for short term pain, over a long drawn out lifetime of suffering. If you have a crumbling tooth there is a limit to how ofen you can fill it before having it pulled out, for good.

          • If I had kids and they where in debt I wouldn’t encourage them to get into more debt to pay off the original debt. Its just lunacy can’t you see? We have to end the circle of debt.

        • Billy, do you think Occupy is a waste of time?

          • Yes, at the moment I do, and I also think it’s a major irritation to a lot of people. Personally, I don’t have a problem with them being there, as I have not set foot in central London for at least 20 years, and I’m more than happy to keep it that way.

            If I dare to make a constructive suggestion, it would be that the movement abandons it campsites in London, (they are a source of irritation to many), goes away, but maintains and developes the website, encourages sensible debate, and, most importantly, comes up with well thought out and meaningful proposals of how it would like to see the country run. That’s the way forward, I would stil not support you, but I , and many more, would respect you!

          • Billy
            My how you have matured over the day, you are getting old before your time with that comment. 🙂

          • H.o.p.e., the concept of short term pain for long term gain is fine for the younger generation. Unfortunately, it’s too late for those of us of ‘mature’ years to throw away everything we’ve worked for and start again with nothing.

          • I have children Billy,
            It is for them I want change, not for myself !
            I have been there done that and now not likely to do much more, so what will I be leaving them with I ask ?

  15. I was very depressed to read the list of does and don’ts and agree with those folks who say just keep it simple – respect each other is enough.
    As for those who want a list of donation recipients, well I suspect non of those wanting transparency are likely to give a penny to Occupy. I give in good faith and with a basic record of what comes in and goes out presented that is enough for me.
    Well done to all of you – fantastic effort and don’t let the bastards grind you down

    • Chris, you’re right about one thing, I certainly won’t be donating a penny of my money to them, as I do not believe in what they are doing. However, in view of what they are trying to represent, it is vitally important for them to be transparent with their finances.

      • How long have they been there ?
        Get real.
        I submit my self-employed accounts once a year, not every minute of every day !!
        Try demanding the same from our more established institutions and corporations and see what response you get

        • h.o.p.e. I’m assuming that your self employed business is not trying to impose massive changes on the world’s political and financial systems! The occupy movement is, that’s why 100% transparency, including knowing who is financing them, is essential, and needs to be immediate!

          • I have some concerns about knowing who is donating from the perspective that if you know where ‘donations’ are coming from you are more likely to be biased by that information, divulge the donation details yes but if possible keep bias out.

          • But h.o.p.e., if, for example, certain trade unions, or other leftist organisations were making donations, it’s only right and proper that the people should be aware of that.

          • I would want the movement to stay true and not be obliged by donators. Labour and Cons have this problem and they do not get my vote.

  16. I was devastated to see that Occupy is still not confronting the insidious lookism that ravages the St. Pauls site. Until it does so it cannot hope to challenge the financial elite.

  17. I’m not sure why it happens, but it seems one can’t always reply to somebody who’s replied to you – there’s no Reply option drop-down thing… so I’m sorry if this is in the wrong place.

    Billy, I just want to add something about this being a waste of time, if I may.

    I’ve been talking to a bloke who, like you, has worked hard all his life and is now partially retired. He’s not well off, also living off his savings, but he doesn’t think Occupy is a waste of time.

    He says that’s like saying it’s a waste of time trying to stop a group of thugs mugging a pensioner; or preventing some kids nicking sweets from a shop; or helping somebody knocked down by a speeding car. He says these Occupy people have seen something that’s wrong and want to put it right, that’s all. He may have a point.

    If I was mugged or knocked down in the street, I reckon I’d be more pleased by the person who came to help me than the one who disappeared, pretending they were going to find a phone box, or the one who witnessed the crime but then ran off because they didn’t want to get involved.

    • So true,
      So many of us have become, ‘guilty’, bystanders.
      In many areas of life, not least politics and economics, where we have been force fed just enough crumbs to keep the status quo in place.

    • btw Interested by-stander,
      If you go back to Billys, or any others comments, you should find a reply button immediately below it, use this and your comment will remain within that chat, albeit put to the bottom of the replies to the original comment.
      h.o.p.e. this helps.

      • Thanks h.o.p.e. I’ve tried keeping within the relevant thread/chat, but there is often no Reply button to reply directly to a previous reply and therefore it’s not possible to answer a direct comment directly. Hey ho.

        But I shall try and persevere, having become more and more convinced that the innocent by-stander who claims it’s nothing to with him or her is, by default, countenancing criminal activity.

  18. It seems to me that to treat others as you would like to be treated yourself would suffice.

    And I would say that it would be wise for foriveness to overarch this, as people are going to fail us. It seems to me that forgiveness is the glue that holds society together.

  19. If “Occupy London is an alcohol and drugs free space,” then why we tolerate them?


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