General Assembly Minutes 2012-03-20

Agenda

RRAD – 5
Welcome, consensus review – 5
Announcements, news – 10
Groups – 10
Discussion: racism – 15 (+15)
Open floor – 10
General proposals – 5
Announcements, appreciation – 5

Roles

Facilitator – Lars
Stack – Karin
Vibes, time – John B
Greeter/guide – Gary
Notes – Walton

Lars gave our respect check

We welcomed Morgan

Karin gave our consensus review

Announcements, news

There was a physical altercation between a pair of residents last night. Today, the police picked up the aggressor for sleeping on the bricks.

The SERCO affinity group will meet Wednesday at 6:30 in front of city hall.

Working and affinity group reports and proposals

Resident Occupiers affinity group – Chris

The group convened its first GA on Sunday, and Chris introduced them to the consensus process. They discussed security and plaza responsibilities. They’re now using the buddy system for anyone leaving the plaza overnight. They’re also discussing the bathroom issue with the city; there are volunteers to clean and maintain the bathrooms in exchange for 24/7 public access. Chris will advocate for lockers and 24/7 bathrooms at the citizen comment portion of the next council meeting. Some residents also plan to start attending OG GAs.

Open discussion

The tragic case of Trayvon Martin inspired this evening’s discussion of racism. Trayvon, a 17-year-old black male, was killed while walking home from the convenience store in Sanford, FL. His killer is a self-proclaimed neighborhood watchperson, unsanctioned by the national organization, with a history of alarmism, prejudice, and violence. Until recently, and despite incriminating 911 recordings, there has been no investigation into the murder, under the cover of Florida’s “stand your ground” law (which allows lethal action against an aggressor without first trying to flee). Our local congressperson met today with Trayvon’s mother and Eric Holder, from the justice department, and the FBI is investigating on the grounds that Trayvon was robbed of his civil rights. There is a demonstration planned in Sanford to support the efforts toward justice.

Community response

Lars: racism is often scapegoated onto the police, the justice system, etc., instead of being seen as a consequence of a sick culture. A healthy community is one wherein members hold each other accountable for their words and actions.

Tony shared some of his personal experience with conditioned racism, and encouraged us to encourage equality by setting the example.

John B: be open about discrimination, and disrupt quiet acceptance of racist/sexist/etc. language and attitudes. Re-educate by taking responsibility for your situation. The big question is how individuals can come to inner decisions.

Chris: Occupy is about helping people see in a new way, but racism is a heft issue, and we’re fighting an uphill battle against social and familial conditioning.

Karrie: change starts small, like calling out unconscious prejudiced attitudes. These come as much from the mainstream media and their style of “reporting”, which contains an overt bias that people unconsciously pick up. The bottom line is education, and starting early.

Gary: also a matter of institutional racism. The best course of action is to prevent similar tragedies at home; don’t let Sanford sheriffs set a precedent for dealing (or not, in this case) with people like Zimmerman.

John B: be friendly to people; they’ll be friendly back.

Chris: prejudice doesn’t end with racism; discrimination based on financial standing, sex, gender, education, etc. Public attitude toward the residents is a prime example.

Lars: community issues like discrimination need community responses, which begin with individual responses to social problems. Stereotypes like the rural sheriff make us feel comfortable because they seem far away and not part of our commonplace lives. But the 2010 shooting of Kofi Adu-Brempong and GPD resistance against a public review of their practices suggests otherwise.

Some suggested actions

- Draft a group statement to circulate to our government officials and representatives

- Draw up a commitment statement for citizens to sign, dedicating themselves to change and education
- Hold a signing ceremony, make it a big OG event
- Invite GPD to come speak on its own commitments, policies, and practices, and to sign the commitment

- Gather local religious leaders to interact, host a “pray your way” event welcoming everyone to come exercise their religion in a show of solidarity against prejudice and discrimination

Open floor

Tony’s dream is to have his own faith-based, people-focused corporation. Tonight, he read his mission statement: “We at ERY are a faith-based organization. We strive to create stronger and more stable individuals and families locally, nationally, and worldwide; encourage multicultural studies and a dialogue of our life’s triumphs and trials. We operate in the spirit of love, which enables us to overcome all matters of race, spiritual orientation, and monetary status. We seek common ground in the fatherhood of God and brotherhood of man. We are seekers of truth through vision, through established fact, through trials and improvisation.”

Karin said a few words about dedication and community that transcription can’t really do justice to. You should ask her about it the next time you see her.

Announcements, appreciation

Happy vernal equinox

The press response affinity group will meet after this GA

SERCO is this weekend; Karin appreciates all the hard work everyone’s put in to make it happen.
Bobby Billy and Shannon Larson will be at SERCO on Saturday afternoon. On Saturday morning, 3 NLG members will give a workshop on activists’ rights. For more confirmed workshops, check out http://occupysoutheast.org