19 October, 2011
WASHINGTON -- While an estimated 15,000 to 20,000 Occupy Wall Street protesters flooded into Times Square on Saturday, there was still a regular New York general assembly at 7 p.m. During that meeting, according to sources who contacted The Huffington Post, the Zuccotti Park General Assembly -- though at a reduced presence due to the Times Square march -- saw the formation of a new working group.
This “Demands Working Group” then immediately “established a website and fairly educated/articulated list of solutions.” A separate group out of Zuccotti Park has also been working on a list of possible proposals, but a member of the Education and Empowerment Working Group said he suspects the Demands Working Group’s list might become the national platform.
They’ve posted the list online but they’ve also made this announcement under the radar -- a national convention to be held July 4, 2012:
WE, THE NINETY-NINE PERCENT OF THE PEOPLE of the UNITED STATES OF AMERICA, in order to form a more perfect Union, by, for and of the PEOPLE, shall elect and convene a NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY beginning on July 4, 2012 in the City Of Philadelphia.
Their plan includes to elect delegates by direct vote, one male and one female per each of the 435 Congressional Districts. The office would be open to any United States citizen over the age of 18. The 870 delegates would then compose a petition of grievances that would be non-partisan.
The posted “demands” are only a working list of “suggestions,” however. Number one and two are a ban on private contributions to politicians seeking or holding federal office and instead public financing for campaigns, and a constitutional amendment to reverse the Citizens United decision by the Supreme Court.
The list then goes on to suggest single-payer national health care, immediate passage of the DREAM Act, a jobs plan, a deficit reduction plan and recalling military personnel at all non-essential bases.
The movement would also reinstate the Glass-Steagall Act, increase regulation and increase taxes by way of eliminating corporate tax loopholes.
The idea of coming up with a list of demands has been controversial among protesters.
David Sauvage, who directs videos for the Occupy Wall Street protests and supports the movement, said he viewed demands as being too similar to talking points.
But Daniel Lerner, a physicist and member of the Demands Working Group, argued to Mother Jones that their demands would have wide appeal.
In their list, however, they close with one last warning: if Congress, the President and the Supreme Court do not act on the settled grievances the movement eventually comes up with, its members are prepared to form a third, independent political party to run in every Congressional seat in 2014 and 2016.
Update at 10:50 a.m.: As mentioned above, the working group's suggestions and website have not been adopted by the movement as a whole, or approved by the NYC General Assembly as a whole. The debate over whether or not to even have "demands" within the Occupy Wall Street movement has continued.
One person involved, Andy Stepanian, told HuffPost that this particular declaration has not been approved by the General Assembly in New York and so it can't be said this reflects the movement's feelings as a whole.
"Everyone is entitled to make their own blog or website to post their opinions about how OWS should operate or what they think the OWS demands should be, this 99% group is no different," Stepanian said in an email. "However, all of OWS's official statements are agreed upon by way of consensus-based general assemblies. This matter was not submitted or agreed upon by the NYC general assembly, and therefore by-passed the process all OWS plans have been made through."
So far, the General Assembly has accepted a "Declaration of the Occupation" back on Sept. 29.
"Demands have come up before," wrote Ryan Hoffman in another email to HuffPost. "They were shot down vociferously under the argument that demands are for terrorists and that is not who we are. From that debate however, another proposal was passed: that we table all talk of demands until future notice! Therefore, any talk about demands, posts of demands, etc. are null and void. We already tabled those discussions using consensus."
Hoffman said the Declaration took a while to edit and revise with everyone putting in their own contributions and ideas before they could arrive at a final product the group agreed on. He explained that the General Assemblies have set up an entire process by which something like these "demands" could be agreed to, but the way this working group bypassed the process has caused some frustration.
"There is a 'demands working group' out there right now," Hoffman said, adding that the way they met in secret with The New York Times infuriated many members of the General Assembly. "There is a lot of internal dissent due to the manner in which this group was created and conducted its meetings."
For article with links GO HERE
Wall St protesters divided over movement's demands
Comments from Mike Ruppert:
“The media cannot help but stoke controversy within the movement. It has always been inevitable that OWS would experience "growing pains". Nothing in nature, especially anything growing this fast, can escape them. The task of the movement is to refrain from a concrete list of demands for as long as possible. Because events in the outer world will do more to simplify those debates that endless hours of political jockeying ever could. Bottom line: There are those in the movement who understand that infinite growth is the ONLY issue, the issue from which all other demands originate. They also understand that until the way money works is changed, not a single one of the protesters' wish lists will be satisfied. All that will be accomplished is to prioritize which demands are addressed first, and in so doing, create unnecessary division and competition.
OWS can still fail. It's our last-best chance at conscious evolution before the window to do that closes altogether.” -- MCR
Protesters to decide on whether Occupy Wall Street should officially call for US to adopt massive public works programme
19 October, 2011
To critics of Occupy Wall Street, one of its most glaring weakness is the lack of specific demands. To many supporters, that ambiguity is one of the main foundations of the movement's success. But now an attempt to agree just one demand is creating new tensions between the protesters in lower Manhattan.
On Tuesday night they will hold what could be one of the most controversial mass meetings at Zuccotti Park so far when the general assembly discusses whether the movement should officially call for a massive public works programme with government employment, paid for by ending all of America's overseas military operations.
The substance of the demand is not the subject of the controversy. Rather, it is the principle of adopting a demand, and the process for doing so, that have opened a rift between "purists", who favour consensus-building, and those now arguing for majority rule on some decisions.
Kenneth Lipp, an activist who has been with Occupy Wall Street since day one, accuses those in the working group set up to develop the demand of bypassing the system set up to give everyone a voice.
The group has proposed that issues discussed in the general assembly are taken up if two-thirds agree, rather than a consensus. "What they are talking about in the demands group is circumventing the consensus process that has been built up," said Lipp. "We strongly disagree with that. We strongly disagree with any demands being made. If they are going to be done, then they have to be reached by consensus."
He is among several protesters who disagree with the methods used by the demands group.
An anonymous message, posted on the website Pastebin above email exchanges between individuals in the demands group, accuses them of ignoring "serious moral objections" of others in the group to put forward their views. The message states: "This email is from a group attempting to circumvent the system we have created at Occupy Wall Street."
Other issues have emerged that have divided activists in the movement. A suggestion, for instance, that the Occupy Wall Street wall be used to sell advertising to fund the movement and that the "war-chest" or donations be used to fund an office with six full-time campaigners have horrified some protesters.
"There are bigger and bigger schisms. Not at the general assembly, but around," said Lipp. "I hate to say I'm a purist, but I don't want Obama's endorsement, I don't want his word. Some people wanted to sell ads on the Occupy Wall Street wall. They wanted to use the war chest to fund an apartment for six full-time activists."
One of the members of the demands working group, identified as Shawn Redden, writes: "Our first struggle is a struggle against those in the movement who have no understanding of history and think demands are a bad idea."
It continues: "Let 'them' oppose the people's demands. Let Ketchup Soros and the others join up with the 0.1% in opposing our demands and we'll see how long they'll be able to strangle the GA."
Han Shan, a media spokesman from OWS, said: "I understand why people would want demands. It's just a personal opinion, but I think it is a strategic error. I might agree with every one of their demands but it is a separate issue."
"We've been here for a month. Because of that, we have lost a certain amount of patience. We have to start the hard work of movement-building. We haven't begun the process of working with the people who feel that this movement has given voice to their outrage about economic injustice. This has been a flashpoint. But we don't have a real economic justice movement that can get real change. We need to do the work of movement building first."
However, Jay Arena, a member of the Demands Working Group, shrugged off the disagreement in the OWS camp. He said: "It's one email, there's no big uproar. This is an open movement. Is everybody on board? No, but that's what debate is all about."
"I'm a Katrina survivor. We've been clamouring for this. A mass public works government employment, like they had in the 1930s. The group has agreed to this. We democratically voted for it. This is the one demand we could get behind."
"We are inspired by the uprisings in the Middle East. They had one demand: that the regime must go. Not everybody is behind them but that's what debate is."