by Clayton (cneums1@gmail.com)

   Friday stared out a little slow. Shortly before the 1:00pm General Assembly, it was suggested that maybe we should just wait until 7:00pm, given the small turnout. But we held to what was scheduled and a group of close to 100 eventually assembled for the meeting. The minutes from this meeting should be posted online soon if they aren’t already.

   One of the most significant developments from this meeting was a motion to lay a groundwork for the Finance Committee to allocate sums under $50 to committee magnets without first seeking the approval of the GA (if it met the rules/regulations that were pre-approved) in order to save time. A draft of these regulations is yet to surface though is presumably being worked on. Contact Lucian with Finance to get in on that process.

   After the 1:00 GA, which ran smoothly, people began to mass and get pumped up for the BoA march scheduled for 4:00 and arrange by Dave Cortez and others. Over 600 people stretched for more than two blocks and played drums, waved signs and chanted slogans against corporate greed. Chants of “We are the 99%. You are the 99%” encouraged a number of people from the street to join in the march, which withdrew over $57,000 from the bailout bank to be put into local credit unions.

   The day continued with an open mic at City Hall until 7:00 when the second GA began. The facilitation team was comprised of a number of new faces, which would have been great had circumstances not gotten so heated. At the very beginning of the Assembly, a group of individuals erected a tent near the sidewalk along Caesar Chavez. This was concerning to many, as APD had asked us not to erect any more structures in the plaza. The consensus opinion of the GA was to take down the tent ourselves before the police did so by force and possibly issued citations. Most in attendance wished to avoid direct confrontation with peace officers.

   But the counter-argument, that civil disobedience and direct occupation was a core part of the Occupy movement, also found a number of supporters, especially among those who wished to be in solidarity with the Tent City across the river. This escalated nearly to violence as some Occupiers tried to take the tent down by force. Negotiations broke down the procedural GA process for nearly 20 minutes and continued to disrupt even after business got underway.

   Much of the meeting seemed to focus on the purpose of the GA and the place of monologue/dialogue in our discussions. The process broke down as the stack was essentially abandoned and people walked directly up to the mic and started talking. The facilitation team was not prepared to handle such disorder, the welcome committee completely overwhelmed trying to calmly settle at least four simultaneous disputes. The minutes from this meeting are therefore very convoluted and will be posted once they can be sorted through to find some kind of sensible narrative thread.

   We decided to have a facilitation meeting immediately after the GA. A couple dozen or so attended and expressed interest in aiding the process. I believe this larger pool of people will be able to develop the process and staff the facilitation team in order to handle tense situations that may arise in the future. Anyone who wishes to contribute to this effort is welcome to join the meetings that take place after every 7:00 GA outside Austin Java on the northeast corner of the City Hall building.

   What this meeting highlighted was the need for clarity in where we stand on civil disobedience, a discussion that began in brief but was far from concluded. It also raised questions about the process to form new committees and sub-magnets. Some suggested requiring three people or more to propose the formation of a committee.

   There were some things we reached consensus on:

  • A committee/sub-group of Local Action was created to address the re-working of the city’s contract with Austin Energy.
  • An OccupyCapMetro sub-group was created.
  • We agreed to, in the future, set a limit on the extent to which APD’s requests will be heeded.

 

   But that’s about it. The most positive thing, arguably, that came of the meeting was the discussion it created in the Facilitation Committee meeting. It is important that we occasionally have holes shot through our Assembly process so that we can talk about how to repair them and strengthen the ability of the GA to be a productive and inclusive body.

    On the whole, I believe the day was a success. A blog from California bought us 25 pizzas that were very much appreciated by those of us who hadn’t eaten all day. The march on BoA was awesome, so many passionate people coming together and staying peaceful…I will be resting to regain my voice and let the bruises on my hands heal from pounding on hand drums. Hopefully we can do another march Tuesday as tentatively planned.

   The vast majority of people attending have been amazing; intelligent conversations are definitely not in short supply, and one person I spoke to left a pack of cigarettes on a rock for several hours. When he returned, two cigarettes were missing and someone had stuffed money in their place. There is so much genuine concern for everyone’s well-being, it’s a very powerful thing we’ve got going here.

   The occupation shows no sign of slowing.

 

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