General Assembly Notes: October 12, 2011
((**Please edit and fill out full names – first and last, spelling corrections, or any other detail that I missed while taking minutes. Also, please add links to the specific Working Group documents as they pertain to events happening within the structure of the meeting, if possible.
Document now complete as per my (Brian’s) notes. Thank you!**))
Third General Assembly
1st Unitarian Church, 605 Morewood Ave, Shadyside
October 12th, 2011
At roughly 4:45pm, the Facilitators group met outside the church (in the rain) and began to discuss how best to approach running the 3rd General Assembly. They were allowed to enter the church itself around 5:20pm, where they took themselves into a small anteroom and settled on this theme:
1. Bottomliners would make their statements first, trying to keep under two minutes, of what the individual Working Groups had come up with since the 2nd General Assembly.
2. Proposals would then be heard, discussed, clarified, friendly amended, and/or blocked by the General Assembly.
3. Once blocks were resolved and nullified (if any blocks existed), the General Assembly would take a consensus on the proposal at hand, requiring a 75% (three quarters) approval motion to pass and be taken up by the General Assembly as a proposal set in motion and ratified by the group.
4. All proposals, documents, and other works in progress were clarified as such – “living” documents that would – by necessity – be amended, clarified, edited, revised, and otherwise revised to be more clear and accurate of what our true message needs to be. Nothing, document wise, is set in “stone” yet… please keep this in mind.
Attendance: roughly 200, more or less… I did not take an accurate count. Also in attendance were various newspapers and TV news crews.
Official Event Start – roughly 6:15pm
After the facilitators took up their various roles and stations, the Bottom-Liners were called up to the microphone to present their statements, in under two minutes. No proposals were taken at this time.
A brief announcement was made regarding our firm and resolute contention that we will be a purely non-violent group, tactically.
Statement Working Group – Tayfun Gol reporting
- Reported three face-to-face meetings since last GA
- Have worked out a Declaration of Occupancy
- Handed out the Declaration as a worksheet in hard-copy to the GA for later to reach consensus on.
Medical Working Group – Jonathan Smeck (?) reporting
- Requesting a long-term medical person(s) to help keep watch over the official Occupation point(s).
Action Working Group – Sylas (?) reporting
- Group intends for the Occupiers to perform several actions during the week – at specific targets around the city, and during “business hours” for maximum exposure and possible media coverage as an ongoing Occupancy/presence.
- Announced that the Action Working Group and the Education Working Group were trying to work together to facilitate a mutually beneficial list of documents to keep people informed as to our talking points.
- Announced an intention to set up a public calendar on one of the websites for other non-Occupy groups who stand with us in Solidarity to advertise their concurrent events that may take place around the city.
Media Outreach Working Group – Nathanial reporting
- Announced plans set in motion to keep all apprised of the movements doings through websites, video, podcasts, print editorials, and radio spots.
- Asked for spokespeople who are not camera shy to volunteer.
Government Relations Working Group – Nathanial reporting
- Permit filed and under consideration by City officials
- Rally would not be held at Point State Park due to a conflict of scheduled events
- A meeting with city officials would probably happen soon to discuss logistics and permits
Veterans Working Group – Brett reporting
- Openly invited more veterans and military personnel to join their group
- Mentioned that the OathKeepers were contacted to help our cause
- Mentioned that their group would act as a safety buffer between the police and military that may be deployed around us, and we civilians trying to peacefully exercise our rights.
Legal Working Group – Janet reporting
- Coordinating legal observers department heads
- Look for bright green or bright orange hats ((**did not catch the meanings of the colors**))
- Legal is coordinating ongoing workshops
- Working to set up tables and distribute pamphlets, leaflets, and other brief informational media hardcopy.
Security Working Group – Bob reporting
- Requesting volunteers to help act as demonstration stewards
Non-Violence Working Group – Steve reporting
- Distributed a proposal for how to observe our Tactical Non-Violence commitment to the GA
Food Working Group – Dan Lipton reporting
- Food donations will be accepted on Friday, October 14th from noon to midnight at 258 39th Street, Lawrenceville PA.
- Group intends to provide as many food choices as possible, including Vegan, Kosher, Vegetarian, etc.
- Need tables to distribute/set up food on.
- Need rags and towels for cleaning.
- Have posted a list online of what all is needed to make the Food Preparation a success – please check it out and donate if you can.
- Requested that, if possible, each person donate 1 gallon of water, both for cleaning, cooking, and emergency hydration purposes.
- Need utensils – plastic or metal.
- Need at least two portable gas burners to cook on.
- Requesting volunteers to help cook and distribute food.
- Would like to request the possibility that people have to sign a waiver to eat donated food items, regardless of the “Good Samaritan” existing food rule (?).
People of Color Working Group – Camile reporting
- Have had one meeting since last GA
- have started working on the P.O.C. list of issues – not yet compiled
- Are actually having another meeting on the same night (10/12/11 at 7pm at Presbyterian Church ((**I did not catch location**)))
- Are going to have their own march/rally on October 15th, at Freedom Corner at 9am.
- Are going to stand in solidarity with both the OccupyPittsburgh and the OccupyTheHood groups.
- Are calling for People of Color who would like to undertake leadership roles within the community to step up – you are needed!
Media Working Group – Brett reporting
- There is one website to rule them all ((**kidding**)) – www.occupypittsburgh.org . This site is supposedly much more secure than FaceBook.
- They are creating (re-creating) the workgroups in this site… please go there and make a note and/or update who the Bottomliners are for each group.
- Their email is: email@example.com if you need more information.
- Are asking for volunteers to administrate, blog, write in the forums, act as online reporters, etc.
Marginalized Communities and Allies Working Group – Becka reporting
- Are working closely with the P.O.C. working group.
- Have adopted solidarity statements from both the OccupyBoston, and the OccupyWallStreet groups.
- Are developing fliers and posters.
- Are in active contact with communities around the city.
- Are looking for more volunteers to get involved in the working group.
- Are forming an internal “Grievance Committee” to deal with any possible internal issues that may arise from so complex and diverse a group.
Community Working Group – Tayfun Gol reporting
- Are reporting that they are receiving tremendous support from surrounding communities in our efforts. Handed out fliers in various neighborhoods including East Liberty Area, Hill District, Oakland, Squirrel Hill etc. This has also been a great opportunity to talk to people face to face and tell them what the movement is about.
Arts and Entertainment Working Group – ((**did not catch her name**)) reporting
- Are having a CREATE POSTER party at the United Steel Workers building at 6pm Thursday, October 13th. Please bring extra materials with you – posters, markers, etc.
- Call 412-452-5500 for more information and how to get involved.
- Also call if you are interested in being part of the entertainment groups – singers, poets, talent, musicians, etc.
At this point, the statements were concluded, and the facilitators made some announcements to the General Assembly, as follows.
ANNOUNCEMENTS FROM PREVIOUS GENERAL ASSEMBLIES:
- In the 1st General Assembly (GA), a commitment was established of our resolve to adhere to non-violence in our occupation and protests.
- Also in the 1st GA, we set the date for the first march, rally, and occupation camp set-up – Saturday, October 15th.
- Lastly, in the 1st GA, we set in motion the various Working Groups, noting that a majority of these groups would form and gel online through various internet means, including but not limited to Facebook, Google Docs, and Google Groups.
- In the 2nd GA, a consensus was reached that we would march from 10am to 3pm on Saturday, October 15th. The START POINT would be Freedom Center, the CATCH-UP POINT would be Market Square for those who are disabled, with children, or have some other physically limiting condition as to being prohibitive to walking a long distance, and the END POINT would be Point State Park.
Following the summaries of the first two General Assemblies, the facilitators called for those Bottom-Liners who had proposals ready for the GA to attempt to reach consensus on:
PROPOSALS FOR CONSENSUS:
Location Working Group Proposal – (name?) bottomliner proposing:
- Proposed: For the permanent camp, to occupy without official permission, to carry with it the risk of being ousted, arrested, harassed, and otherwise attempted to be removed or restricted permanently ourselves – MELLON GREEN, located at the corner of 6th Ave and Grant Street, focusing on the 5th Ave side for now. ESTIMATED MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY to be at or around 500 persons ((**judging by overhead maps… this is only a guess**)).
- Proposed: OccupyPittsburgh permanent Camp to be set up and held from roughly 3pm onward, on the day of Saturday, October 15th, 2011.
- Proposed: Concurrently, a “safe” location for a rally point and otherwise “permitted” occupancy camp, authorized with permission of the landholders, is the Monumental Church, located at 2240 Wiley Avenue in Shadyside. ESTIMATED MAXIMUM OCCUPANCY to be at, near, or about 1000 persons – as confirmed by previous demonstrators who participated in the G20 rallies.
- Proposed: Should anything disruptive happen to the Mellon Green camp, the Monumental Church location is proposed to be our official “rally” location to regroup, reorganize, and reassert our right to occupy public spaces downtown.
After the listing of the Location Group’s proposals, Casey (?) [a facilitator] focused the GA and asked for discussion points, clarifications, and/or friendly amendments.
- Food Group mentioned that they didn’t want to have to shuttle food between two locations, that they hoped we would be able to officially occupy one space, and they would have a clear place to focus their efforts on.
- Someone (name?) offered that a potential alternate 2nd occupation point could be what is known as “FIRST SIDE” aka PNC park? ((**someone please clarify**))
- Someone else (name?) offered that Goodwill, located right across City Hall, may be more than willing to allow us to occupy their parking lot/space, as a token of… Goodwill.
- The bottomliner ((**name please**)) for the Location Group clarified that the reason that MELLON GREEN was selected out of the many initial choices was because we had a city ordinance on our side that states, roughly, that during the day and/or during business hours, Mellon Green was to be considered a public space.
Following the discussions, clarifications, and/or friendly amendments, Casey called for blocks:
- No blocks were displayed.
Casey then called for consensus from the General Assembly, as to accept the Location Groups proposal that we occupy both MELLON GREEN as our attempted permanent camp in Pittsburgh, and concurrently hold as our RALLY POINT the Monumental Church location in Shadyside as a safer alternative for those who wanted to show their support but could not, due to private concerns, afford at this time to possibly be arrested and held for 72 hours:
- An estimated consensus of 90% of those attending inside the church agreed to the proposals.
- Proposal is adopted – Mellon Green and Monumental Church are our initial Occupying Camps, with preference to Mellon Green.
Action Working Group Proposal – Sylas proposing:
- No actionable proposals ready for GA consensus yet.
- Will be further clarified and brought to the next GA.
Statement Working Group Proposal – Tayfun Gol proposing:
- Proposed: OccupyPittsburgh stand in solidarity with OccupyWallStreet’s Declaration of Occupancy. ((**Note: this was passed out to the GA in hardcopy, or read aloud… I do not recall which**))
After the reading of the Statement Working Group’s proposal, Casey (?) [a facilitator] focused the GA and asked for discussion points, clarifications, and/or friendly amendments.
- Someone urged that we adopt this proposal as a sign of solidarity, acknowledging that it is a “Living” document and may, over time, change or adapt to mitigating circumstances as they may arise.
- Someone clarified that we should be careful and distinguish between those corporations who are practicing illegal reform measures, obfuscation, and otherwise duplicitous practices, and those other corporations who are not a part of the problem – that we need to clarify our language in written statements lest we upset those who take offense to being lumped into too broad a category falsely.
- Tayfun Gol clarified that the Statement Working Group sees this document, the Declaration of Occupancy, as a living document, that it is up to those who do have issues with the wording to step up and help perfect the documents, and that the Working Group would continue to work in new statements, edicts, and other issues that face our movement as time goes on.
- A concern was raised that the wording does in fact – in their opinion – need some major overhaul… that there are too many, “THEYS” and not enough “We’s,” or “I’s” in the document.
- Another concern was raised that the document is not universal enough, that more needs to be included so as to grab more people’s attention to it, to be able to stand with what it says and support it personally.
- Another concern was raised that OccupyPittsburgh needs its own, separate, Declaration of Occupancy that specifically addresses local issues specific to our region and needs.
- A concern was heard that we are still lacking a Vision Statement – something that defines what we hope to accomplish, where we stand, what we are about, and what we hope to see happen as a direct result of our upcoming actions of Occupancy.
The concerns being aired and addressed, Casey called for blocks:
- No blocks were displayed.
Casey then called for consensus from the General Assembly, as to stand in solidarity only with OccupyWallStreet’s [OWS] Living Document, the Declaration of Occupancy [of Wall Street]. He further clarified before the vote was cast that this proposal was only to say that we support what OWS is doing as per their Declaration of Occupancy at this time, and that we will be developing our own Living Declarations in due process:
- ((**estimated by sight only**)) 85% of the GA approved this proposal.
- Proposal is adopted – OccupyPittsburgh stands in solidarity with OccupyWallStreets’ Declaration of Occupation as it stands on 10/12/2011.
Non-Violence Working Group Proposal – Steve Proposing:
((**add link here please to the Statement on Tactical Nonviolence (10/12/11 pre-GA version?)**))
- Proposed: to accept the Statement on Tactical Nonviolence as our official stance on how to govern ourselves in behavior during the rallies, protests, camps, walks, and any other official standpoint dealing with the OccupyPittsburgh’s Occupation, as it regards to relations dealing with members of the Police Forces, or general public. ((**a physical handout was passed around to the GA during the statement period at the start of the meeting, to give time to reflect upon its wording, syntax, and meaning**))
After the re-reading of the Non-Violence Working Group’s Statement on Tactical Nonviolence through the microphone to the GA, Casey (?) asked for discussion points, clarifications, and/or friendly amendments:
- A friendly amendment was asked for, to remove the specific words, “in asymmetrical conflict,” as they mean something different to members of the armed forces, and that it may cause us unnecessary aggravation too early in our movement before we are even entrenched and not easily-trans-locatable.
- So noted – the words were struck immediately from the document.
- A concern was raised that we need not nitpick so soon a living document, that there is a strong minority within our group that do wish to see such due notice given to those they plan action against, as a showing of how perturbed they are with the state of affairs in government today.
- A clarification was asked for, as to what the document means by “direct action.” This was raised because historically, “direct action” also included many beneficial and benevolent actions, such as Food-Now drops to the poor and hungry, banners being unfurled in highly-visible public places to gain popular acknowledgement and support, and other such actions.
- A point of process was raised that perhaps many in our group who are unfamiliar with these phrases should take some time to google the words, “Direct Action” in a search engine, as to more fully understand the meaning of the words as they apply in this Statement.
- Steve clarified that no matter what else befalls the statement, we must remain committed to the non-violent part if we want to continue to maintain our moral superiority against those who would seek to unlawfully attempt to deny us our Constitutional rights to free speech, and peaceful demonstration.
- A demonstration point was raised as to how NOT to act in front of the general public, and especially Police or Military forces so as to not provoke an unwanted or unintended physical act of violence against us as protestors. Additionally, calm words were urged to be used by us when speaking to people, to not re-engage and fuel their focused anger with our tactical non-violent protests.
Casey called for blocks, if any:
- No blocks were displayed that were not resolved and clarified.
Casey called for a consensus to adopt the new form ((**words removed – “in asymmetrical conflict”**)) of the Statement on Tactical Nonviolence:
- Estimated 90% consensus of those attending.
- Proposal is adopted – The freshly-modified Statement on Tactical Nonviolence – a living document – will apply to our actions, words, and deeds while OccupyingPittsburgh.
Marginalized Communities and Allies Working Group Proposal – (name?) proposing:
- Proposed – to immediately adopt the MC&A’s Internal Solidarity Statement as part of OccupyPittsburgh’s official stance on how to govern ourselves in accordance to minorities of all instances.
((**can someone please upload or link to the MC&A groups Internal Solidarity Proposal?**))
- A variety of clarifications were called for, to simplify the language, to specify the types of corporations that we oppose, to possibly include the rights of non-human primates and other animals abused by medical testing industries, and advocate a return to social democracies rather than the fascist global repression that seems to be the plan of some governments and businesses.
Casey called for blocks:
- Two blocks, both overturned by the GA – one stating that it was too inclusive, and the other that it should be completely reworked before being released to the general public as a statement reflecting the whole GA.
Three people choose to stand aside from the consensus.
Casey called for a consensus to adopt the Internal Solidarity Statement as a Living Document (meaning, it can and will be adapted and changed over time as the GA sees fit) for OccupyPittsburgh as it stands now, to show how we support each others minds, rights, and liberties regardless of any other differences:
- An estimated 95% consensus of the attending.
- Proposal is adopted – OccupyPittsburgh now has a living document as an Internal Solidarity Statement that will govern our inner workings as a group.
The proposals process being completed for this GA, Casey called for any additional working group announcers or other interested parties to come up and speak:
Anti-War Movement – name unknown
- Announced their intention to stand in solidarity with us during an Anti-War march to be held October 18th.
- The GA decided to defer deciding on this official stance until we had an actual occupancy point in Pittsburgh, and that a decision would be reached no later than October 17th.
Pain in the Ass Gas Company – Alex Lotorto announces:
- Intends to stand in solidarity with OccupyPittsburgh.
- Announces they have a google working group set up.
- Plans on joining us at the camp at Mellon Green.
Live-Streaming Working Group – name unknown
- Needs help and volunteers
Website Working Group – Brett announces:
- Calls for personal submissions for the website – why are YOU (yes, you, the reader of these minutes!) supporting our cause? What story to you have to share as to why you are a part of the 99%? Please submit articles, videos, podcasts, etc., to the webadmins onwww.occupypittsburgh.org
Sign-Language and Multiple Language Translations Working Group – unknown name:
- Requests anyone who knows sign language, or multiple languages to please help in translating our documents to other languages so as best to help the rest of the 99%.
- Mentions that we need buttons, stickers, bumperstickers, flags, posters, and other advertising and promotional materiel in order to reach those who have yet to hear about us and what we’re Occupying for…
THE 4TH GENERAL ASSEMBLY TIME AND PLACE OF MEETING WILL BE DECIDED UPON ONCE WE ARE ENCAMPED DURING THE OFFICIAL OCCUPATION.