Victor originally posted his analysis about Occupy LA’s General Assembly on Facebook, and has been generous enough to allow us to re-post it here in full. Some of his points are unique to OLosA, especially the local organizers’ unilateral decision to work hand-in-hand with the police. But a lot of his points also echo a lot of the sentiments of people of color who have attempted to participate at Occupy Wall Street (OWS), which started two weeks before. OWS’s white organizers and facilitators created a model which is being repeated in cities all around the continent, and continues to marginalize men of color, queers, and women of color in particular.
The General Assembly was rather messy and undemocratic:
1) The “mic check” method that the organizers are copying from the NY Occupiers is a Pavlovian conditioning tool. That is, but having the crowd repeat every last goddamned word that comes out of the speaker’s mouth, it begins to INVALIDATE internal dissent and force the person to accept what is being said and repeated as truth. It is almost like a cult. This is NOT democratic any way.
2) A full 85% of the speakers, at least during the “controlled” portion of the General Assembly, were white. Among comrades last night, there was much discussion how there seems to be a lot of tokenism with people of color, but that decisions are essentially being made by a few white individuals.
3) Even though the movement is being claimed as leaderless, there are “leaders” who have been directing for the last week. None of the local L.A. people have ever seen who these people are, or where they came from. From what we heard, they’re from West L.A.
4) A People of Color/Womyn/Queer Committee was established to address the fact that Occupy L.A. was NOT inclusive of the demographics in L.A. The brother from this committee who spoke was downright amazing, and held it down. He even dispensed with the bullshit “mic check” repeating thing. As the brother was speaking and giving his righteous criticisms and pointing out male, white, class, and hetero privilege, only a handful of us people of color and white allies were clapping. Everyone else looked annoyed and puzzled.
5.) The organizers of Occupy L.A. have been working in cooperation with the LAPD since the beginning.
6.) The permits that Occupy L.A. got were only for camping on the sidewalks, not in the park.
7.) The LAPD told the people from Occupy L.A. that they absolutely had to be out of the park and on the sidewalks by 10:30PM.
8.) At the General Assembly of (September 30), it was decided that the collective vote to decide whether to camp in the park or on the sidewalk would be made the following night, (October 1).
9) At last night’s General Assembly meeting (October 1), the organizers had already made the decision to follow the LAPD’s demands and camp on the sidewalk, WITHOUT the democratic input of everyone at the park!
10) A womyn of color from the audience pointed out that the General Assembly had not followed it’s own procedure and allowed the issue to be analyzed and argued collectively–which resulted a prolonged, messy discussion. She was asked to speak and make her proposal. As she was doing so, she kept being interrupted and “coached” by some of the organizers. A couple of us ran up to her to give her support so she could speak her mind without interference.
11.) There was much frustration over how “occupation” would be handled. The organizers kept stressing that they wanted this movement to last three months and that by disobeying the orders of the LAPD, they would come and shut it down. The other argument was that the movement should have NEVER been negotiating with the cops in the first place, and that by following the city ordinance, it was NOT an occupation at all.
12.) Rather than have the collective present decide if they would stay in the park or on the sidewalks, they used fear mongering tactics to scare people into following what they wanted–to follow the orders of the LAPD.
13.) We argued that if the collective decided to stay in the park, that those who chose not to sleep there had to find a way to demonstrate solidarity to the occupiers in the event that the cops would attack.
14.) The organizers were taking an individualist approach and stated that THEY had decided for everyone that the movement should stay on the sidewalks, and that anyone who stayed in the park was on their own.
15.) The organizers tried to instill fear in the people present by announcing that cops and firefighters were already stationed just a few blocks away. Our own scouts went ahead to check it out and this proved to be FALSE.
16.) As we stayed arguing with the organizers, one of the main dudes (white male) seemed exasperated and kept telling us that we were basically ruining all of HIS hard work he put into the movement. If we stayed in the park and got arrested, it would be HIM that would get the gravest consequences from the cops, because they apparently told him as such.
17.) As people began moving to the sidewalks, a circle of us decided to fuck it and stay in the park past 10:30PM. A few comrades decided to camp inside the park as well. Those who would not be camping stayed to give them support and solidarity.
18.) The organizers tried to instill fear in people saying that the cops were already on their way because they had heard it on their own police scanners. They didn’t have any.
19.) 10:30PM came and passed, and no cops. In fact, people started coming into the park around midnight and laying about, chatting, sleeping, WITHOUT any police interference. By 1AM, everything was chill.
I have much more to say about this event in particular with hierarchy, white privilege, lack of democratic centralism, etc.