I went to the Oakland General Assembly (GA) today at Mosswood Park (specifically, at the amphitheater there). It was the group’s second meeting, the first for me. There were about 75-125 people there, probably 75 for the whole meeting. I’d say about 85% of the people were white and about 85% were young. The GA started at 5:00, lasted about 2 ¼ hours and then split up into 3 committees. I didn’t stay for the committees. (At that point I was too cold and achy from sitting on the rained-upon amphitheater concrete.)
The meeting began with a brief recap of the first meeting (yesterday) and an explanation of process. At the first meeting it was agreed that the Oakland Occupation will start 4:00 on Monday, Oct. 10 at Frank Ogawa Plaza in downtown Oakland. The group had also agreed to rename the plaza to Oscar Grant Plaza in honor of the unarmed unresisting black man who was killed by a BART cop 2 years ago. Also, three committees had been set up to address things such as outreach, the media, propaganda, events, logistics, security, and food.
A couple of people spoke of other local Occupy activities. Someone from Berkeley said that Occupy Berkeley is about a week behind, schedule wise. Someone from San Francisco talked about last night, when the cops kicked everyone out and confiscated their belongings. The bright side, the person said, is that today the Federal Reserve (downtown SF) started erecting some sort of partitions or barriers, so that’s an indication that the PTB are listening.
There was some general talk along the lines of assume the cops will have the occupation under surveillance and assume there could a cop at the GA itself. A few people declared they weren’t cops :]
There was a core group of facilitators from yesterday’s meeting but it was fairly clear that many or most of the people today were new. It was also clear that the facilitators had hoped today’s GA would be much shorter than it turned out to be, it having gotten dark by the time the group broke up into the 3 committees. One of the biggest communications problem was being able to hear what people were saying.
I wish I could report more on the meat and potatoes and be objective, but frankly I got confused along the way. At first I thought Monday’s event was going to be a protest march. There was even talk about joining up with another group. Then near the end someone read off an agenda for Monday evening through Tuesday morning and so yeah, duh, it is a planned occupation. I obviously missed a lot that happened yesterday, but I was very surprised that so much had been agreed to already. I was not alone on this and many questions were met with “That’s something the Outreach Committee is addressing” or “That’s something the Infrastructure Committee is addressing, so speak with them after the GA breaks up.”
It was reported that there are several web sites that are being consolidated or redirected to OccupyOakland.org. It was also reported that there at least a few fake web sites. People wrote down their email addys and I hope that more information and discussion appears on the web site and is sent to the participants.
One interesting thing I noticed was there was no mention of “we are the 99%” or “get the money out”. There was almost no mention of Occupy Wall Street at all. Someone read a list of things planned for Monday, including music, workshops, and speakers. Finally, one young man got up and said something like “Wait a minute, this is sounding like a touchy-feely good thing. Well, I’m really pissed.” in a Howard Beale kind of way. That resonated with many people and it was agreed that the appropriate committee would look closer at using more of the substance and spirit of the Occupy Wall Street Declaration than what they had prepared so far.
Somebody brought up civil disobedience and non-violence. The initial response was “that’s an individual choice”. That too was met with some raised eyebrows and was referred back to committee. (Personally, I need there to be consensus on this, i.e., no violence.)
My overall take is that the core group is very anxious to get people up and out, occupying ASAP. My preference would be for a little more process, but I can understand the sense of urgency – seize the moment, maintain and accelerate the nationwide occupation, and hello, winter is coming. I also know that if they were to wait for me, it’d be a long time coming, so this old fat disabled dfh is not going to stick my good leg out and trip up anyone.
I intend to go to Monday’s occupation though I will probably last no more than 2 or 3 hours. Someone said they were taking minutes at today’s meeting, so hopefully there will be more information and coverage on the web site in the next few days and beyond. Currently there is almost nothing there, though I just checked again and now see that there has been some content change for the better.