Occupy Columbus General Assembly
October 30, 2011 § Leave a Comment
Occupy Wall Street is a people-powered movement that began on September 17, 2011 in Liberty Square in Manhattan’s Financial District, and has spread to over 100 cities in the United States and actions in over 1,500 cities globally. #ows is fighting back against the corrosive power of major banks and multinational corporations over the democratic process, and the role of Wall Street in creating an economic collapse that has caused the greatest recession in generations. The movement is inspired by popular uprisings in Egypt and Tunisia, and aims to expose how the richest 1% of people are writing the rules of an unfair global economy that is foreclosing on our future.
The occupations around the world are being organized using a non-binding consensus based collective decision making tool known as a “people’s assembly”.
Today, Shannon and her little 10-year-old brother Christopher and I, went to the General Assembly for Occupy Columbus.
Stephanie from the Arts and Culture Committee
Dressed as Robin Hood in support of the Robin Hood Tax
I’ve seen the Guy Fawkes masks around at protests for many months now, not just at Occupy Columbus. If you’re wondering about the meaning of the mask, here is more information.
The white mask, with an upturned mustache and thin goatee, was worn by V, the faceless leader in the comic book “V for Vendetta,” who overthrows a future totalitarian society.
David Lloyd, a British comic-book artist who illustrated “V for Vendetta,” said he didn’t intend the mask to look sinister, but conceded that “it’s a great symbol of protest for anyone who sees tyranny.”
“The smile on its face is a happy accident,” he said. “It represents inviolable optimism.”
The mask has been spotted at Occupy protests worldwide, including in London, where Julian Assange showed up wearing one but was ordered by police to remove it under British laws banning public anonymity; in Paris, where masked protesters converged; and in Hong Kong, where protesters strung the mask on a bronze bull outside the stock exchange.
The above quoted information in italics is from this article.
I’m personally uncomfortable with the mask because I’m dedicated to non-violence. Non-violent civil disobedience is a light in the darkness, illuminating injustice. It holds transformational power. I believe that peaceful change is not only possible, but history shows that it brings the best long term results. Violent revolution just brings more oppression. The historical figure the mask is based on, Guy Fawkes, tried to blow up the English House of Parliament. You shouldn’t assume however, that people who wear the mask support violent revolution. The Occupy Wall St movement is dedicated to non-violence, and the few protestors who have acted aggressively have been agitators or people who were breaking with the spirit of the movement. I think that most people who wear the mask, wear it because it’s a symbol of standing up to an abusive power structure.
I understand why some people want to cover their faces. Sometimes it’s because they work for people who don’t agree with them politically and will fire them if they see them publicly expressing an opposing opinion. It shouldn’t happen but it does. Additionally, because of the abuses of power that have happened post 911, many people are concerned about how the government might be misusing information about them.
However, as Naomi Wolf points out…
There are, unfortunately, many documented cases of violent provocateurs infiltrating demonstrations in places like Toronto, Pittsburgh, London, and Athens – people whom one Greek described to me as “known unknowns.” Provocateurs, too, need to be photographed and logged, which is why it is important not to cover one’s face while protesting.
I think the Occupy Movement is made up of about 80% or more progressive people. However, there are some people in the movement who aren’t well informed and who have been mislead by people like Ron Paul into bad ideas. One example of an idea that a certain percentage of protesters have latched onto is the “End the Fed” meme.
Progressives traditionally don’t see a problem with the citizens of America democratically controlling the money supply through our Congress, and they want to see the Federal Reserve Bank made federal instead of how it is currently structured. Here’s a great article from economist Dean Baker on how to bring the Fed under the control of the people.
Some people in the Occupy Movement have been mislead by people like Alex Jones to believe in other right wing conspiracy theories as well. So, why are some of the protesters confused? Because the protesters represent a cross section of America. The people who love the current system or are in denial are not at the protests, but the people who are concerned about the way things are going and have been trying their best to figure out how to make things better, are supporting the protests. One of the valuable things about the movement is it gives people a chance to come together and discuss ideas and exchange information.
In societies with great wealth inequality, there is also low trust. So part of the value of the movement is getting people to meet each other, talk about political issues, and come to trust each other more. This kind of process is key to having a healthy democracy.
To learn about the impacts of wealth inequality watch this TED talk with epidemiologist, Richard Wilkinson. If you’re wondering what the Occupy movement is about, I believe this talk illustrates the problem clearly.
The lack of trust is part of why con artists like Alex Jones can have the power they do. He’s making a comfortable living from telling people scary stories that get them to vote and act against their own best interests. People are drawn to Alex Jone’s non-stop conspiracy stories because they sense something is wrong, they are frightened, and they are deeply distrustful of authority. Alex Jones claims to not be right wing, but he advocates for all the same things that right wingers have always advocated for in America- abolishing the federal income tax, abolishing the federal reserve, not trusting democracy, taking away women’s ability to control what happens to their own bodies, abolishing programs that help poor people, abolishing environmental regulations, etc.
They were voting on T-Shirt designs at the general assembly and I took photos of the two that were my favorites. I don’t know which one won yet.
The Legal Team of Occupy Columbus has grown to 10-12 people. They’ve done legal research and have confirmed that if the city of Columbus wants to support the free speech and general assembly rights and responsibilities of Occupy Columbus they can do it. The Director of Recreation and Parks has discretion to designate any area in a city park as a camping site. He also has the authority to issue a camping permit for that camping site. He also has the authority by written approval to alter the hours of operation of any city park under his jurisdiction. Therefore Alan McKnight could provide the kind of permit Occupy Columbus is asking for.
Join the Occupy Knitters! Together we can knit the world back together again.