GA Minutes Thu Apr 05 2012

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Minutes for 05 April 2012


Location: Camp Charlie, in front of the Mass. State House
Time: 7pm - 9:40pm
Note taker: Steve


There was one main proposal, dealing with Camp Charlie -- Occupy MBTA's ten-day occupation of the state house steps.

Working Group Announcements

Radio. (I missed the radio announcement. Sorry, radio).

Ideas. Our next meeting is Wednesday, April 11th at 7pm. We're meeting in Room 505, 38 Ash St., Chinatown. We haven't chosen a discussion topic yet, but I'm sure it will be awesome.

FAWG. We'd like to have a big conversation at Next Tuesday's GA (April 10th). This GA will be held indoors, at the Arlington street church.

Non-Violence. Welcome back to Boston, Jorge.

Occupy MBTA. Friday night's Occupy MBTA WG meeting will be held here, at Camp Charlie, at 6:00pm. We'll also ride the rails at 4:30. Join us if you can.

Queer DA. Friday night's meeting will be held here at Camp Charlie, instead of city place. We'll meet at 8:30 pm.

Individual Announcements

Casey. I'm promoting the NLG gala on May 11th. NLG has done a lot for us, and this is a big fundraising event for them.

(?). MFA guards are being laid off, and their positions outsourced to a private company. The private company will pay less, offer fewer benefits, and provide less job security. There will be a rally for the guards on Saturday, 3:30 - 5:00pm, in front of the MFA. Please come, and show your support for the guards.

Jorge. It's great to be back in front of GA. I'm calling for a summit to address horizontal democracy, transparency, and openness; especially within Occupy Boston. I don't want to see back room deals here; that is not what I got arrested for.

Adam. When OB came to Dewey, I came to Dewey. The police sent me down to tent city, three times in one night.

Occupy MBTA. We invite you to participate in an assembly, which will take place after tonight's GA. We'll focus on MBTA solutions, and actions we'll take going forward. We'd also like to discuss the issues that Jorge brought up.

Eli. I'm back. I've been away in Vermont on an awesome farm. After that, I spent some time in NYC, and I saw a lot of police brutality. In Union Square, people are beaten and harassed every day. It's gotten so bad that some are thinking about applying for refugee status. You should visit Union Square. Let me know if you're interested in doing this.

Patty. Last Tuesday, we started a discussion with the churches we use for GA. We have to decide whether to move GAs outside (and how to deal with the challenges of holding GAs outside), whether to move strategic action assemblies outside, and whether to move community gatherings to the Community Church of Boston. We don't want to ruin our relationships with the churches, because it will get cold again. Think about these issues. We'll need to make some decisions in the coming week.

Linda. I must mention something. We're here because of the autonomous action of an affinity group. I'm grateful for their actions. Is this an occupy action, or an autonomous action? I propose we call it an Occupy Action, even though there are things that need to be worked out. (The assembly decides that this is a proposal, and not an announcement. Linda is asked to bring it up during the proposal section of the GA.)

Drisk. Last fall, I was a resident of Vermont, and didn't get to see a lot of you. But I'm here now, and I wanted to say `hi'.

Alex. I just found something out. My mom's been trying to open a restaurant. She's finally got a space, and she's going to do it! Now, about suicide and depression. We're not happy about everything, but there are beautiful things happening each and every day.

Eli. If you've witnessed the NYPD throwing out library books, then please talk to me. OWS's lawyers are desperate to hear from you.

Rene. Tactical has supplies, but we're hesitant to distribute them (to camp charlie) without the GA's approval.


Abbreviations used in this section:

  • POP: point of process
  • CQ: Clarifying question
  • SOC: Statement of Concern
  • SOS: Statement of Support
  • POI: Point of Information

Linda decides to table her proposal until Saturday's general assembly.

Ali offers the following proposal: Occupy Boston endorses Camp Charlie.

POP: Occupy MBTA wanted to have an action planning session at 8:00 pm. Do we have time to hear this proposal and do the action assembly?

Noah: Our facilitator isn't here yet, so I'd like to go forward with this proposal.

CQ: Will this become an Occupy Boston action for the purposes of funding?

This was an action by Occupy MBTA. I want to expand the endorsement. There are finicky issues about this action. This is not the final word, but I think the GA should endorse it.

POI: So far, all funding has come from Occupy MBTA, out of pocket, but with the expectation of being reimbursed.

CQ: Are you suggesting a shift where GA will be held?

No, I'm not suggesting we change the location of GA.

POI: This camp is very different from Dewey. We've adopted similar statements for this occupation, as an action. It's only 10 days. All costs have come from Occupy MBTA, out of pocket, with some use of Occupy Boston materials. We hope that the General Assembly fully considers this an Occupy Boston action.

CQ: Why didn't Occupy MBTA make this proposal?

(The proposer is not a member of the Occupy MBTA working group, but working group member answers the question.) We haven't had a meeting since this morning, and we didn't understand the urgency of this discussion. We intended to bring the proposal to GA on Saturday.

CQ: Can't we just have good faith in each other, and not worry about money and supplies?

This proposal is not intended to be about money. It's just about solidarity.

SOC: A new occupation means new conflicts. We should iron this out quickly.

(Breakout session to discuss the proposal.)

Let's hear statements of support.

SOS: When I talk about Camp Charlie on Twitter, I don't want to get reamed out for confusing Occupy MBTA and Occupy Boston.

SOS: As a member of Occupy Boston, I fully support Camp Charlie, and everything it stands for.

SOS: I support this proposal. I've been involved with Occupy MBTA since the beginning, but not the camp. I want to bring Occupy Boston ideas onto the train, and reach tens of thousands of people on the train every day.

SOS: If we don't support this action, it's a slap in the face to part of our group.

SOS: Occupy MBTA has wonderfully illustrated Occupy Boston's diversity of tactics statement, an they've been remarkably effective.

SOS: Occupy MBTA is Occupy Boston. (Missed the first part of this.)

SOS: I support the intent of this proposal, in terms of increasing unity within Occupy Boston.

SOS: Awesome action.

SOS: I have mixed feelings about occupation as a long-term tactic, but I support this short term occupation.

SOS: Blah Blah Blah, word. Blah blah blah, Yeah! I support this proposal.

SOS: Public transit in Boston is truly an issue for the 99%.

SOS: With the understanding that this proposal does not address allocation of resources, I think it's a kick-ass proposal, within Ali's narrow definition of the word "endorse".

Next, let's hear statements of concern.

SOC: Everything about this action was fantastic, but I felt disillusioned and disenfranchised. The media has already reported on this as an Occupy Boston event. A few people made this decision without talking to others, then sought approval after the fact. There's nothing wrong with this action, but it was not transparent, and not horizontal. It was vertical as hell. I oppose saying that this action is okay, because that would mean saying that the way it happened was okay. I don't support this.

SOC: This is an amazing action, but the last statement was right. If we endorse it, we also endorse the process. It looks weird to provide endorsement without resources. This is really screwing with my personal integrity. You're making me have to make a really hard choice about myself.

SOC: My biggest concern is over a clash of cultures between this new occupation and our old occupation. I don't want us to see infighting. I want us to move forward.

SOC: This process reflects things I see outside of Occupy Boston, and didn't want to see inside Occupy Boston. It's a slap in the face if you endorse this action, and a slap in the face if you don't.

SOC: I knew about this for about a week, and even had a rant about it. I might let this slide, but never again.

SOC: Early on, we approved diversity of tactics as a community. I'm concerned that we're going back on our decision about diversity of tactics, without ever having discussed it. Actions don't happen at General Assemblies.

POI: The diversity of tactics resolution says something different. It doesn't endorse autonomous actions. (note-taker: the diversity of tactics statement can be found here:

POP: This is not the time for a back and fourth proposal.

SOC: I'm concerned that the proposal was worded ambiguously. We should address this with amendments.

POI: The media views this an an Occupy Boston action. They don't recognize individual working groups.

SOC: I'm concerned that we're talking about Occupy Boston and Occupy MBTA as if they were separate things. This was an Occupy MBTA event that's turned into an Occupy Boston thing. Why didn't Occupy MBTA do this as a separate group?

SOC: I'm concerned that Occupy Boston doesn't know what to do if a working group starts an occupation. Affinity groups and working groups have done actions in the past, and there's never been this kind of response.

SOC: I'm concerned about how this will affect our security culture.

SOC: I feel that the majority of people support this action, but not the way it turned out. I'd love to see less bickering. Don't pull the plug on direct action.

POI: I'd like to provide some context on the way this action happened. The MBTA campaign has been huge, all across the city. This isn't an Occupy MBTA campaign, or an Occupy Boston campaign. It's a broader campaign about transit justice. It brought a lot of people together.

It's been a great opportunity to go out and engage with lots of community groups. We're building connections and trust. This occupation emerged from an affinity group, and that short term action was a big leap. We wanted to move forward in a way that was very positive. It's tricky to think about how Occupy Boston relates to other groups. In a perfect world, everyone would have known about this action. But we had time conflicts, which forced us to make a choice between our outward commitments, and our inward commitments. My first priority is keeping Occupy Boston afloat. This didn't happen the way I wanted, but we tried, and I hope this helps move the ship forward.

We hear amendments next. (note-taker: my hands are really really cold, and I need to stop writing for a little while.)

The proposer clarifies that they are not part of the Occupy MBTA working group.

The proposer rewrites the amended proposal. The amended proposal consists of two parts; the first part is written (an expanded version of the five-word proposal), and the second part is not written. The second part is a statement that we need to have a discussion about how we make decisions as a community, so we don't get into this situation again.

CQ: (Asks question on language in first section). Is there are reason why the second part isn't written?

The second part isn't written because I want us to look at each other as human beings and make decisions. The second part involves a change in culture, and affects how we treat each other as human beings. I don't want to change the GA process. I just want us to treat each other as fucking humans.

CQ: Why do we have the anti-oppression statement, and the second part of your proposal?

POP: Our proposals are written. We can't have a proposal that requires a change in policy without agreeing to change the policy first.

The proposer strikes the second (unwritten) part of the proposal.

There is a call for quorum. We have quorum.

The proposer re-reads the proposal.

There are no further statements of support.

SOC: The second half of this proposal was struck, and I'd like to have it back.

SOC: I'm concerned that the first half is too wordy.

SOC: I'm concerned that we're making this decision without having a much bigger conversation first.

SOC: I'm concerned about the spirit of this discussion. Why does GA need to endorse an action? We've never done that. It would tie our hands. It was announced several times, at different GAs, that this would be a "Wisconsin-style event". I thought everyone knew what that meant. This is an Occupy Boston event, because it was done by members of Occupy Boston.

SOC: I'm concerned that working groups will have to come before GA when doing an action.

That's not the precedent we're setting. This is an extended, 10 day action. Because it's so long, I think we should have a specific agreement.

We re-read the proposal. The facilitator reads the definition of a block.

There are no blocks.

The proposal passes. The text of the proposal can be found here:

GA ends at approx 9:40 pm.