the news of various occupations keeps tumbling in (#OO forcibly dismantled again yesterday, #OWS forcibly dismantled this morning, but now back), and the longer this goes on the more it seems that the value in the movement is less about getting big banks to change (it’s still unclear to me whether the big banks give two shakes about #OWS) and more about 1. fighting City Hall and showing how much they fail to protect your civil liberties when push comes to shove (particularly for Oakland, where this has been a problem forever) and 2. the revival of participatory democracy. both of these things are important, and despite the hiccups and ugly media, i think no matter how you cut it progress has been made, at least for those who have cared enough to be involved, in whatever way. but now i am just repeating myself.
last night after work we walked from home to City Hall (1.5 miles each way through West Oakland) and took in some of the General Assembly that was happening following the early morning raid/deconstruction of the encampment. as we approached, the streets were calm and people coming from that direction seemed enlivened and animated in a good way.
we arrived as the final proposal for whether to support Community Assemblies was up for vote. one of the Qs during open Q&A, presented by a young woman who self-identified as Mexican, was how #OO was going to avoid this being patronizing to these communities, coming in there and telling them how to participate. the response was that they didn’t mean for it to seem like it was any kind of “weird top-down thing”, where #OO would tell the assemblies what to do, it was just to support the creation of the assemblies, so that people in the various cultural neighborhoods could have their own space to talk about how they, as communities, wanted participate in the movement/solve their own problems, and maybe get support from others.
this sounded like a great idea to me – looking around i noted that the large majority of people at the GA where white. and the GA is in English. which does not represent large parts of Oakland. if communities can get support from #OO to have GAs in their own languages about how to participate in their own ways i thought that would be GREAT, so i voted thumbs up/yes. but apparently some people didn’t like this idea for reasons i don’t understand (the patronizing angle? unclear) and voted No. it passed with 86% in favor.
and then there were some announcements and the next item on the agenda was to discuss whether or not to try to camp in the plaza again. and even before the discussion groups were established someone got on the mic and said “Why do we need to talk about this more? There are too many intellectual conversations about this stuff. We are all here. Why can’t we just vote? Are we gonna do this or not??” to which there were some cheers. While I was interested in the conversation about whether or not to physically re-occupy with tent city (instead of just meeting there every day, or whatever, to hold public discussions and demonstrations, as the city has said again will be allowed), it was also cold and damp and it seemed that this conversation could take a long time and we decided to walk away. right now, i can’t find anything about what was decided as a group (anyone?)
as i stood there on the lawn – now downtrodden but clean, and watched the large group of people circled in the ampitheatre in front of city hall, discussing things in a peaceful way, i thought how nice it would be if this kept on – public forums on the steps of city hall in a safe, welcoming space. every day, every week, whenever. it seemed so provincial and positively democratic and pleasantly productive to me. i feel like the issues with the camp, and constant fights over it, detract from this vision.
Occupy Oakland, November 14, 2011
(via In Focus, which has 40 amazing photos from recent Occupy activities across the globe)
i still can’t sort out how i feel about the “right to camp”. to me, i don’t see that as part of the 1st amendment. i just don’t. obviously some people disagree and feel that the physical occupation and the tent city is a) a 1st amendment right and b) important to sustaining the movement and c) important because more revolutionary things without too many “intellectual conversations” need to happen otherwise the whole thing just ends up embroiled in bureaucracy like everything else. it’s been interesting, sorting my feelings on this out amongst my peers, who have proven to be much more radical and revolutionary than i, some of whom are out in the streets in the middle of the night fighting for the right to camp. i am perhaps too pacifist. i keep having to remind myself of the Red Ink story.Filed in politics and news | Tagged with #occupyoakand, #occupywallstreet, #ows, capitalism, NaBloPoMo | Comment (0)