Second General Assembly



First off, I want to thank y’all for the generous and humbling contributions to the support of your local public nuisance. I will do all I can to be worthy of your trust. Because you were so kind, in addition to bolstering my transport and communications, I was able to purchase a cheapo ($39.99) vidcam on clearance (it’s a Flip, and they’re out of business). I know your contributions were for minutes and bus fare, but this will allow me to improve my coverage with uploaded video and a YouTube channel. So again, thank you, and I hope you don’t mind the slight deviation from the original intent.

The second General Assembly took place last night on the Common. It started relatively small and quiet (by “small” I mean more than a hundred people) because we were there to work; people who came looking for a show quickly became bored and moved on. We started by splitting into our working groups (subcommittees) so reports could be presented at the general assembly.

I’ve decided not to work with the media group unless they need more people. They’re concerned with coordinating the outgoing media presence so we present a united message. That’s cool, but since I’m blogging my personal experience and expressing my own opinions and impressions, I think it’s best that my work remains unassociated with the “official” media outreach.

So back to legal it is, because seriously, they need someone to act as secretary. Look at it this way: you’re putting half a dozen lawyers in a group and expecting them to come to a consensus? About ANYTHING? Um…. yeah, that’ll work. *rolls eyes* So I took notes and whenever they started arguing around in circles about some infinitesimal point I piped up with “Let me read this back to you. This is what we have so far.” Ultimately we were able to hammer out specific points to present to the assembly.

By the time everyone gathered for the general meeting, there were several hundred people in attendance.

(photo courtesy @RWwatchMA)

After a reminder on how to manage a non-hierarchical assembly of a group this size (people’s mike so everyone can hear, hand signals instead of shouting out at random), the working groups reported. My note-taking skills are still rusty so I wasn’t able to get as much detail as I will going forward, but here are the pertinent points.

Food group: Will provide one meal a day at 3pm. After a general straw poll couldn’t produce a majority in favor of either lunch or dinner, the consensus was to split the difference. Water will be provided 24/7. Please bring your own reusable food kit – dishes, utensils and water bottle. Please pick up after yourself and clean your own dishes. Donations of coffee are greatly appreciated! (*general applause*)

Community outreach: has subgroups by location who will post and distribute flyers. It is also important to maintain tables on all the campuses in the area. If your location isn’t listed, contact outreach to start a group. (I couldn’t get the list of location groups because the representative talked too fast; if you’re interested, comment and I’ll get the information.)

Arts and culture: Split into internal and external, although there is much overlap. People in the movement will get bored just sitting around, and passersby need to be drawn in, so there are several projects planned: musical performances, puppet shows, a drag show (WHEE!). There will be supplies provided for people to make posters, signs and art. There will be public theatricals and effigies to beat with sticks! The arts group will coordinate with other working group such as tactical and media. There will be childcare and a preschool. The “Occupation University” will offer skills workshops, classes on the history of labor and civil rights movements, as well as other classes on subjects of general and specific interests.

Medical: First aid, emotional care and hygiene are the of the greatest immediate import for everyone to learn. “Better movements than ours have been brought down by food poisoning!” Skilled EMTs and medical professionals are encouraged to join the group. There will be a presentation on basic protest first aid today one half-hour before the general assembly.

Legal: The National Lawyers Guild will provide legal observers to document the occupation, and workshops on legal aspects of protest, including what to do when you get arrested. These will have to be formal workshops at the NLG because of Boston Bar Association regulations. The ACLU will also provide information regarding your rights. Please go to this document (pdf) for a basic overview of legal guidelines regarding demonstrations and protests. Bail and jail support systems are being developed.

Message group: developing talking points, NOT specific demands, which will develop through consensus. Coordinating with tactical and media.

Tactical: has been arranged into three subgroups: logistical, security, and research/targeting. The tactical group as a whole will coordinate with other working groups. Logistics will work to develop provisions for basic needs such as trash disposal, cleaning and toilets. Security will provide security (duh) both for internal interpersonal mediation and against external problems from the public.

Media: Technology subgroup provides the infrastructure of things like wifi, computers, camera and sound equipment. Public relations provides a hub for communications with the public and the media. If the media asks to speak with you, please feel free to do so but don’t neglect to mention that you’re speaking for yourself; general info questions should be directed to public relations. People with experience in PR, video/audio production and editing are encouraged to contact the group.

More than two dozen people wanted to speak to the genral assembly on the subject of getting a city permit for the occupation, pro and con. Personally, I agree with the guy who said, “If we get a permit, that’s not an occupation. That’s called ‘camping’.” One of the speakers was an obvious undercover agitator who urged us to get a permit so that “if one or two people decide to act illegally the rest of us won’t be arrested.” He was greeted with laughter, calls of “Solidarity!”, and was hand-signal-booed off the stage.

Legal spoke regarding the difficulty, time involved and unlikelihood of obtaining a permit, as well as the consequences of doing such, including but not limited to the fact that a permit would allow the police and the city to have power over us because the city would determine where and for how long we could protest, and could revoke that permit at any time. In addition, we pointed out that the police were going to do whatever they wanted whether or not we had a permit.

After many many people who obviously just wanted to hear themselves speak made many repetitious statements in favor of not getting a permit, consensus was reached. No permit.

That, dear readers, is what I did last night. Tonight, I’ll be at Encuentro.

Bella ciao!

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One Response to Second General Assembly

  1. Gypsy says:

    Who says your note-taking skills are ru
    sty? That was clear, succinct, and seems (granted, I wasn’t there) comprehensive.

    It sounds like everything is planned. Now you just need anti-Murphy spray!

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