Enacting the Impossible

Consensus! Photo: Bogie Harmond

On August 2, at the very first meeting of what was to become Occupy Wall Street, about a dozen people sat in a circle in Bowling Green. The self-appointed “process committee” for a social movement we merely hoped would someday exist, contemplated a momentous decision. Our dream was to create a New York General Assembly: the model for democratic assemblies we hoped to see spring up across America. But how would those assemblies actually operate?

The anarchists in the circle made what seemed, at the time, an insanely ambitious proposal. Why not let them operate exactly like this committee: by consensus.

It was, in the least, a wild gamble, because as far as any of us knew, no one had ever managed to pull off something like this before. Consensus process had been successfully used in spokes-councils  —  groups of activists organized into separate affinity groups, each represented by a single “spoke” — but never in mass assemblies like the one anticipated in New York City. Even the General Assemblies in Greece and Spain had not attempted it. But consensus was the approach that most accorded with our principles. So we took the leap.

Three months later, hundreds of assemblies, big and small, now operate by consensus across America. Decisions are made democratically, without voting, by general assent. According to conventional wisdom this shouldn’t be possible, but it is happening  —  in much the same way that other inexplicable phenomena like love, revolution, or life itself (from the perspective of, say, particle physics) happen.

The direct democratic process adopted by Occupy Wall Street has deep roots in American radical history. It was widely employed in the civil rights movement and by the Students for a Democratic Society. But its current form has developed from within movements like feminism and even spiritual traditions (both Quaker and Native American) as much as from within anarchism itself. The reason direct, consensus-based democracy has been so firmly embraced by and identified with anarchism is because it embodies what is perhaps anarchism’s most fundamental principle: that in the same way human beings treated like children will tend to act like children, the way to encourage human beings to act like mature and responsible adults is to treat them as if they already are.

Consensus is not a unanimous voting system; a “block” is not a No vote, but a veto. Think of it as the intervention of a High Court that declares a proposal to be in violation of fundamental ethical principles — except in this case the judge’s robes belong to anyone with the courage to throw them on. That participants know they can instantly stop a deliberation dead in its tracks if they feel it a matter of principle, not only means they rarely do it. It also means that a compromise on minor points becomes easier; the process toward creative synthesis is really the essence of the thing. In the end, it matters less how a final decision is reached—by a call for blocks or a majority show hands—provided everyone was able to play a part in helping to shape and reshape it.

We may never be able to prove, through logic, that direct democracy, freedom and a society based on principles of human solidarity are possible. We can only demonstrate it through action. In parks and squares across America, people have begun to witness it as they have started to participate. Americans grow up being taught that freedom and democracy are our ultimate values, and that our love of freedom and democracy is what defines us as a people—even as, in subtle but constant ways, we’re taught that genuine freedom and democracy can never truly exist.

The moment we realize the fallacy of this teaching, we begin to ask: how many other “impossible” things might we pull off? And it is there, it is here, that we begin enacting the impossible.


This article first published in our third print issue on October 22, 2011.

This post is also available in: Spanish, Greek, Turkish

  • sarah

    i think you need a copy editor. many grammatical and definition errors. just so you know.

    • admin

      Want to share the corrections with us? Happy to fix.

  • Anonymous

    If the occupy crowd can’t even run a bongo camp, how in the hell would they run a country?

    • TheBobVila

      wow, low blow to the balls man. Those Bongo’s sound damn good to me man. I even seen that Crazy African guy, ummm Hermin Cain, yeah he was down there beatn on those drums. He told me it reminded him of his ancestors… Dick

    • Sunniva26

      In advance I want to say please excuse my bad English and also I want to emphasize that I have nothing, absolutely nothing against American people nor any other people out there in our big wonderful world. The opposite is the truth. I wish for you all in America and elsewhere to continue your/our struggle. It is a very, very important struggle! It is our struggle. It is a struggle for all the people in all the countries in the whole wide world. America you are a very big country, millions of people, and for better and for worse you have a big impact on other countries, so please, please continue your fight for the benefit of America and for the benefit of the world.

      To shukov: Who said OWS wants to run your country? A protest doesn’t mean that you have to have all the answers. You have to be able to protest without being asked to give all the answers to all the worlds miseries. What answers do you have shukov? Do you know how to solve everything? If you do please let us know!!! Step forward, be an uncorrupted leader who’s interests lies in all the peoples welfare. We´re eager to hear you solve all the problems in the world!!!!

      A country as yours (USA) where you continuously say that you are so free, the most free country in the world and the American dream this and that. These statements is a thing that always amazes me and countless other non American citizens that you actually believe these notions despite your being one of the most monitored and controlled people in the world, with the exception of the UK and Whiterussia, North korea and maybe one or two more, sorry don’t know the English name of whiterussia it is a direct translation from Swedish.

      America where a police state is often ruling it seems like anyway, with often almost like a military rule is what it seems like for an outsider like me at least, with a police department that seems like it is without penalty or liability to the people, a government that can do whatever they want, often in silence, impose what laws they seem fit to control and monitor the people, ruling by fear and a country where it seems like fame and wealth and a very out of control capitalism is the most important thing, damned the cost to the people that doesn’t apply to that fame status otherwise communism will take over the country??? Lot of times I see Americans express their fear of saying that they would like equality for the people, that they would like being able to support their families by having one job, being able to go to the doctor with their child if it becomes sick etc but they fear
      saying these things because they think these wishes equals communism. Weee omg belsebub the communist is on the way!!!! That is not communism!!! Being able to make your living having one job is not communism, being able to take yourself or your child to the doctor in case of sickness is not communism, being able to have a union that protects your rights at a workplace or having rights
      like, paid leave when pregnant for more than a couple of weeks, I don’t know how many weeks you have the right to, and without fear of loosing your job during pregnancy leave is not communism. Being able to influence your government and have a voice that is listened to, being able to support various for example green environments groups or whatever without being monitored etc and being able to protest when you feel something is going all to way wrong with your government is not communism!!! Not being attacked by police and arrested for bogus crimes or not getting pepper sprayed in your face when not doing anything wrong or not being hostile is not communism!! Freedom is not being able to have guns in your house but not being able to sell unpasteurized milk from your diary farm. Etc etc etc you have soooo many micromanaging laws its unimaginable… You are so very, very micromanaged by your government that it is unreal and unfortunately it is rubbing of on other countries.

      But still even though you say these statements that America is such a free country and that the supposedly existence of the American dream is the best life possible you Americans don’t even have basic education and health care for everyone?? You have millions of people living under the poverty line??? Is that ok?? Is that freedom?? I might be stupid or idealistic or whatever but that is not freedom to me, that is not humanism to me. That is not a country that is supporting and taking care of its citizens. That is not a free country. If freedom only exists for the wealthy it is not a freedom for the people. You have a judicial system that benefits the ones that can afford the best lawyers that can put up the best show for the jury etc etc? You have children not being able to have health assistance because their family don’t have health insurance???? You have hardworking adults not being able to treat their illnesses because they cant afford health insurance or their health insurance doesn’t cover that particular illness or what ever??? You have millions of people on food stamps, young people not being able to attend college, which is so important, why is that not important??? How can your peoples education not be important?? Millions of children not having a home to call their own. Millions of people homeless or having jobs but not able to support their families, having two jobs, three jobs but not being able to support their children, that is not freedom. And you call this the greatest country in the world, I´m sorry to tell you this but you are being mislead, it simply isn’t. A countries living standards is equal to how your taking care of the ones that are in most need of help in your country not how you take care of the ones that have it the best.

      Doesn’t the other American citizen that can´t pay for their medical bill count???? All the people that are working so hard, so many hours but still cant make ends meet, are they lazy, stupid or worth less than the vice president of a company???
      I don’t think so. I very much hope that those people that are in that dire
      situation don’t think so. Are not most of them working really hard? Trying their best??? Of course they are but a system that doesn’t allow them to flourish a system that doesn’t allow them to use their guts and honest labor and geist brings both them and the country they live in down. They are being crippled by a system that allows minimum wages to be too low to be able to support yourself on. That is not a country taking care of its peoples ingenuity. That is a country seeing its citizens as a replaceable labor. No security and no health care and a system that says if you think you’ve got the brains to be educated you have to pay, a lot, with interest, to be educated isn’t valuing or taking care of its peoples possibilities for excellence neither its peoples common sense. Are money and insanely stupefying commercials, shady deals within companies and government and looks, whiter then white teeth, hairstyles, being on television shows and movies and having an expensive cars, houses, gadgets, things etc the most important things?? Sorry to disappoint you again but these things are simply not the most important things in a persons life no matter how much you as a person, individual, might want them because you think they will give you an accomplished life!!

      I love all you struggling, honest, nonjudgmental and hardworking and dreaming people of the USA, please take a stand for a world where everyone matters!! I love all you hardworking, honest, nonjudgmental people all over the world. Please say no to out of control capitalism. Education for one is a basic!!!!! It is a fundamental basic right for people everywhere!!! Correction, it should be a fundamental right for people everywhere.You have the right to be educated. Everyone should have the right to education and also to health care!!! That is not communism witch you fear so very, very much. Communism is a whole other thing, but you are raised to fear communism to the extent that you fear simple togetherness, simple humanist thoughts that you are actually all equal, no matter who you are. Fear is a powerful tool to those in power, let people fear communism, socialism, equality, people of other color, people of other religions, lets use drug wars, raises in crime rates increase terrorism alert rates or just – what – ever – as – long – as – people forget about the governments that are closing down our world, our opportunities, our rights to free speech and just about everything they can.

      Who in their right minds think that freedom of speech is being put in a speech corner behind fences three miles from the event that you want to protest about? Is that free speech? Nope. Do we accept it? Yes. Governments are putting up more and more micromanaging rules, laws and regulations for “our” own safety, transparency on the Internet, logging data, personal information data banks everywhere, searching babies diapers on the airport etc etc etc in all eternity amen and it will work as long as people don’t actually try to remember what is actually happening and why all these rules and micromanaging directions in your normal everyday life is actually happening. It is for your own good you know remember that, you are being monitored everywhere, all the time all for your own safety, all for your own good. It is keeping you so much safer. All that the worlds governments care about is your safety… Not.

      Too few countries have the peoples rights as a basic right unfortunately. But it is, if you are a citizen, pay your taxes and so on you are supposed to have voice, a right as a human being to be cared for on a basic level, right to education, right to vote, a right to be heard and not ignored etc. A country that doesn’t take care of its most needy is not free. A country that doesn’t see the possibilities and value of their lower middle classes or poorer peoples dreams and intelligence is not free. I don’t think that the bigger percentage of people in the world think it´s horrible that some people are richer and some are poorer but there has to be some kind of balance. A country doesn’t benefit to have a large percentage of their people uneducated etc. Their rulers might benefit from this but not the country as a whole.

      Sweden is in a lot of trouble right now also, since 2006 we have a government who wants all these things to happen in Sweden, no health insurance for everyone just for the ones who can pay for the insurance, lower minimum wages, preferably no unions, private health care for the ones who can pay, private schools etc. Why the Swedish people has voted for it is beyond my imagination, they probably think that hey I got 100 kronors more per month coming from lower taxes and hey what do I care that I now suddenly also have to pay for health insurance for 200 kronors per month I´m not sick, yet. That they actually now are paying more kronors per month doesn’t seem to register. Yet.

      You as a person have the same right, poor or rich, no matter what color, what gender, what religion or what ever else that might be dreamed up. You are equals! You have the right to education, to health care, to hmm do you say judiciousness rights? In short you are equal. It is as easy as that. Nope you don’t have the right to everything, you have to fight just as everyone else but you have a basic right
      as a human being and a citizen of your country and from the government who is supposedly there to look out for you.

      As always when I write on the Internet I know beforehand that I have to write that: No I´m not a communist. Nope, I´m not even a social democratic voter. I believe in equality, progress and humanity and basic human goodness. Even though I admit to not ever having had any longing for a really fancy car or a jacuzzi or brand name handbag or whatever I do confess to liking an occasional feast or maybe even buying an occasional xbox game for my enjoyment. Bless you all even though I´m not religious either :) Love to you all from Sweden/ Sunniva

      • Justindignant

        “Why the Swedish people has voted for it is beyond my imagination”

        Do you have electronic voting machines or tabulators? Even if you are voting with paper in the US, the ballots are tabulated through electronic tabulators that are easily manipulated by anyone with a computer and five minutes.

  • Stephen

    Great article, Thanks!!

  • Fleecem, Skippe, and Runne

    At what point will people stand up and take responsibilty for their actions. Control what you can control…yourself!

  • C Revo

    down with AIPAC! they are stealing all our tax money! we are the 99%, they are 0%!

  • http://twitter.com/hamslaai Hilton
  • 77

    Occupied Wall Street Journal

    I hope you live forever

    What a great idea!

  • http://pulse.yahoo.com/_5CRT3TUBEUS2CQJOOXWVOODN3Y waking Wisconsin

    At my local General Assembly, it was a good discussion however impossible to agree on concrete action to take. I am finding it difficult to convince people of the necessity to occupy the media. The lack of a free press is the main reason we are seeing this brazen corruption. None of this would be possible without the compliant corporate entertainment only news readers of today.

    We need get on the airwaves with concrete demands. We cannot wait for them to fix anything(look at stimulus(tax cuts)), foreclosure ‘help’($$ went to bank fees-most home owners screwed over)…we need to figure out what needs to be done and stay in the streets until they do it.

    Many people know about the foreclosure crisis, the robosigners, the very illegal stealing of people’s homes. We need to demand the banks be held accountable for this right now. They are currently in the process of settlements for a pittance of the amount they stole.

    Besides outrageous bank fees and credit card interest payments, the corporations are stealing from your pocketbook every day.

    Koch and Goldman Sachs are gaming the oil and commodities markets, driving up the cost of your gas and food and everything else…just to benefit…themselves. This isn’t inflation we are looking at folks, it is called looting the nation!

    This has not always been possible, until Koch and Goldman Sachs made it possible.

    October 6, 1986: First oil derivative is introduced to Wall Street by traders at Koch. Koch Industries executive Lawrence Kitchen devised the “first ever oil-indexed price swap between Koch Industries and Chase Manhattan Bank. “Documents reveal that Koch is also participating in the unregulated derivatives markets as a financial player, buying and selling speculative products that are increasingly contributing to the skyrocketing price of oil.

    In 1991, Goldman bankers came up with a new kind of investment product, a derivative that tracked 24 raw materials, from precious metals and energy to coffee, cocoa, cattle, corn, hogs, soy, and wheat to be known henceforth as the Goldman Sachs Commodity Index (GSCI). For just under a decade, the GSCI remained a relatively static investment vehicle.

    A few deregulations here and there, and the last few years have been a gravy train for them. Imagine how much this inflates the cost of everything across the board.

    Food, gas, heating costs are a very large part of why so many American are hurting right now.

    We need to demand they end the speculating on our food, gas and heating prices. There are people having to decide between food and medicine, people dying from lack of food,no heat,no health care. There are people living on the streets because they cannot afford rent, heat AND food. Who can argue that prices are out of control and to find out it is just because these jackasses are driving the cost up for their own benefit! There are people dying out here!! These greedy evil doers need to be stopped.

    The other major out of control expense and inhumane inequality that needs to be addressed is health care. We need to demand universal not for profit health care from our politicians and not give up until we get it.

    This is the number one reason that Americans file bankruptcy and that is people WITH insurance. Insurance has gone up 30% this year, with them continuing to make record profits every year. Every public employee that has health insurance, you are paying for that through taxes etc. People complain about salaries of union employees…but for every teacher that is paid, the insurance gets almost the equivalent amount every month. The insurance companies pull a salary from every public employee. UA has already said that the health care plans are unsustainable, so they will just continue to raise tuition? Who will stop the insurance companies from gouging us? Who will stop the hospitals from their outrageous costs charging $5,000 for an MRI when in Japan it cost $100? Greed has caused our health ‘care’ system to spiral out of control and the only way to fix it is to remove the greedy middle man and regulate the for profit hospitals that are an insult to humanity.
    Profit has no place in health care.

    We can save money and take care of everyone if we remove the middleman from health care, less paperwork,CEO salaries, people hired to reject your claim etc. When this was brought up in Congress, polls showed a clear majority support universal not for profit health care, but our ‘socialist’ (ha!) president would not even consider it once in office even though he spoke positively of it on the campaign trail.

    The current legislation that they passed is a further handout to insurance companies, a blatant violation of our US Constitution and an insult to our intelligence. No one is happy with it, why are we accepting this? They may be stupid but we are not. They have been insulting our intelligence for far too long.

    This movement will go nowhere if we wait around for Congress to offer solutions. They don’t even think in those terms. They think ‘how can I make/do/get more for myself’…they live in a bubble and cannot understand the rest of us. We have to start telling them how it is, what we want, and how it’s going to be. WE THE PEOPLE..

    One more little demand….Bring back Tariffs! We have had Tariffs since the American Revolution for a reason! Anyone caught trying to avoid paying them was sentenced as a pirate. Who are the pirates now?

    Every since the ‘free’ trade agreements, Corporations have been making record profits shipping jobs overseas meanwhile America is experiencing record job losses. Now in the face of worldwide protests, Obama signs three new ‘free’ trade agreements last week.

    We need to demand an end to all ‘free’ trade agreements. How much revenue has the government lost due to lack of tariffs? And because of the lost jobs, government paying out record unemployment, record food stamps. Of course the food stamp program is administered by JP Morgan who makes all kinds of money on fees, and who has outsourced the work to India. Nice gig if you can get it, but as you can see, the corporations have absolutely no incentive to change.

    We need to demand the exact change that we want, loud and clear, as often as possible so that even the slow minds at the corporate media can get it.

    • TheBobVila

      Right on man

  • The 99%

    To this cause I pledge my life, my fortune, and my sacred honor.

    • wp1488

      retard

  • http://www.facebook.com/wynn.shepard Wynn T Shepard

    Im wondering with this young, creative, tech savvy crowd why we haven’t enlisted app developers to built smartphone/tablet apps to help with the general assemblies. It would be an easier way to spread information to each participant, take polling data, etc. You could make it a universal app that could be used at any cities occupy movement. When you log in you pick your city, or it could use gps data to match you with the nearest protest. When you make a proposal to the general assembly every protester will immediately have the details “on paper” in their hand. If you wanted you could go as far as to submit proposals in the app, or even vote on them. It would be a good way to organize as well. Each action committee could have their own section in the app. The sanitation committee needs trash-bags! Anyone thats interested could get a notification saying we need trash-bags. Something like this would hardly make a dent in that $300,000 war chest. In my opinion technology like this will be a key component to a new system of direct democracy.

    • Bdfallah

      This is a beautiful idea Wynn, and while I hope it is heard by someone who can enact it, I also want to caution against our politics becoming too reliant on our devices. For those in the occupation who do not have access to these technologies this could actual disenfranchise them. We must be careful to strike a balance between efficiency and equality.

      • http://twitter.com/TommyJacketseed Tommy Jacketseeds

        the open source working group is workin on it

  • TheBobVila

    Things arent going to change until voters get new people in congress. Voting is a joke these days… the news is the worst thing out there, and yet so many voters follow that BS. The 99% need to start coming up with names of people who WE think would fit these positions. Im talking lawmakers, the Senate and the House of Representatives ect. The people in congress right now could be making better laws to protect us, but instead use the system for their own good. And things arent going to change until this changes. We the 99% need to find better leaders for tomorrow. We the 99% need to start finding out who the “goood guys” are, and weed out the bad.

    Who are the people in congress right now suport the 99%? Can anybody list them? …. And if so how do they plan on making change.

    • http://twitter.com/jeffjosephsr Jeffrey Joseph

      Sen Bernie Sanders I VT
      Maybe Rep Fazio & Kucinich

  • http://valencia.democraciarealya.es DRY Valencia

    All our support from the spanish 15M Movement! We are one people! We are one spirit!

  • http://openid.aol.com/sljbook lizzy s

    Enjoy your drums, drugs and twinkle up twinkle down general assembly. This is one New Yorker singularly unimpressed with your bloviation, but keeep talking.Just don’t expect us to love you when you tie up traffic on the Brooklyn Bridge for four hours. Don’t expect that your general assembly speaks for anyone beyond the thirty people sitting in the circle. You have zero creditibility until you take on the corruption in the Obama Administration-Solyndra, Light Squared, Fast and Furious and Baby Gore’s electric car plant in Finland. Open your eyes and live in the real world.

    • Bdfallah

      Lizzy, if you want to discuss this issue, why not start a working group of your own?

  • http://www.facebook.com/bushellrr Rich Bushell

    I am not part of the occupying force, nor someone up in the skyscraper. I am one of many millions that is neither, part of what I see you calling the 99%. I have gone from thinking “my there are a lot of angry people who like to camp.” to wondering what is is you all want. Clearly you don’t like greed and many of you object to the way decisions are made in America. I think most of us 99% would agree that compassion, open thinking and innovation are some of the things that in the past have made America great. I find myself looking for an agenda, a platform, a goal. I think you have now gotten the attention of many of us in the 99% and it seems time to generate some ideas about that to do differently to move America in a corrective direction. There are plenty of ways to use technology for brainstorming and sifting ideas to find a few gems that could really make a difference.

    I’m nobody special and I have been thinking about corporate greed, purportedly just looking out for the shareholders. I’m a shareholder, I have an IRA and here is what I would be willing to sacrifice my earnings for:

    Take the profit, not the net profit most businesses report as zero, but the real profit.
    Give 10% of that profit to a charity or non-profit organization your company believes in backing.
    Take 40% and invest it in the lowest level jobs at your company. Create these jobs even if it seems ‘wasteful’. Employing people is, in itself a benefit to all. Expand the base of the gainfully employed.
    The remaining 50% do whatever it is you would otherwise do.

    I believe in the 1:100 rule of ideas. I takes 100 ideas to generate 1 idea that has merit. There are millions of people in the 99% and most have ideas. If we can find a way to put those ideas out there and sift through for the 1%, then we could get to the ideas that have real merit instead of relying on 100% of the ideas from the 1%.

  • Ahlockee

    occupy wall street journal, brilliant!

    a group of us from occupy san diego started an occupy daily boycott facebook page.
    this is for the people who agree with the movement but are unable to protest everyday…this is a way for them to be counted and remain invested in the daily goings on of the movement.
    spread the word. the more things we have going (protests, meet ups, letter campaings, boycotts etc)
    on more fronts just engages more people and shows our commitment.

    http://www.facebook.com/pages/Occupy-Daily-Boycott/235005926555257

  • DocG

    I’ve been writing for some time on issues that many OWS participants should find relevant, and would like to invite everyone reading here to check out my blog. It’s called Mole in the Ground, after the folk song. (I wish I was a mole in the ground, I wish I was a mole in the ground, I’se a mole in the ground, I’d root that mountain down.) Actually it’s about economics and poetry: http://amoleintheground.blogspot.com/

  • Pingback: Consensus and Direct Democracy | Occupy Brooklyn General Assembly

  • dlcjr

    The following is a link to a 1 question survey: Would you prefer a pure democracy over a republic? Please take the survey. :
    http://www.surveybuilder.com/s/KiZ3vPmS4AA?source_id=3&source_type=web

    • Anonymous

      Pls post results…

  • Anonymous

    This model was best developed by the Zapatista revolutionaries in Chiapas, Mexico, as they took over 7 cities on January 1, 1994, the first day of NAFTA, which they called “a death sentence for the poor.” They spent weeks to attain consensus on the village level, and later conducted majority votes of 250,000 mostly-Maya inhabitants, and then of 100-million Mexicans. They even had some international “consultas.” It’s important to learn this by doing. It’s also worth looking at the most “shovel-ready” project for direct democracy, the National Initiative for Democracy led by famed former Senator Mike Gravel: http://Vote.org

  • http://www.facebook.com/profile.php?id=1221197619 Shaun Hughes

    Today, Monday, November 28, 2011, representatives from Occupy Baton Rouge spoke at the Baton Rouge Press Club.

    There was a camera from LPB, a second news camera, and several reporters in attendance. I am still searching for the LPB Press Club schedule, but I think their website should have the video up after they air it.

    Below is a transcript of the statement:

    Good afternoon. Thank you for inviting us.

    My name is Sophie Kunen. This is Bryan Perkins. We were chosen by the Occupy Baton Rouge General Assembly to speak at this event.

    As autonomous individuals—unless we explicitly state that what we are saying has been brought before the General Assembly—we can only speak for ourselves—not the movement as a whole. In the same vein, Occupy Baton Rouge cannot speak for Occupy Wall Street or any other solidarity group around the world.

    Occupy Baton Rouge defines itself as a leaderless, non-violent resistance movement. We see that money, not voting, shapes public policy; that the extremely rich are bailed out while the lower and middle classes are forced to bear the brunt of a failing economy; and that the needs of society are placed behind the profiteering of corporations.

    The first Occupy Baton Rouge General Assembly was held on October 22nd. Since then, we’ve held General Assemblies twice a week: Saturdays at noon and Wednesdays at 6. Minutes for the General Assemblies are posted on OccupyBR.com to ensure complete transparency.

    In solidarity with other cities in the Occupy movement, we are organizing an encampment. A permit was applied for, but it was denied on the grounds that, and I quote:

    “The area being requested (and all Capitol Park grounds) are not equipped for overnight camping of any type” and “this activity would require a security presence that our Department of Public Safety is not staffed or equipped to provide the necessary manpower.”

    In addition to the permit being denied, our legal advisors were out of town, there was an obvious police presence, the courts were on holiday, and all of the media attention was directed at LSU’s campus, so the General Assembly decided that the announced date of Black Friday was not the best day to start the encampment.

    Our next direct action event is scheduled for December 10th: The Alternative Day of Action in celebration of International Human Rights Day.

    Some detractors of the movement claim that we do not have a unified goal, but that is only because they refuse to listen. In general, the Occupy Movement feels as though the government and the corporate world have failed us—both morally and economically. However, this only touches on some of the reform we are demanding. The following are 15 points of unity that have been agreed upon by the Occupy Baton Rouge General Assembly. Keep in mind that these points are not in order of importance.

    1. The Collusion Between Government and Corporations Must End: In order to move towards reducing money’s influence on politics, the Supreme Court ruling on Citizens United v. the FEC must be overturned. Money is not speech and corporations are not people.

    2. The Government Must be Transparent and Accountable to the People: Every person should have the right to participate in the decisions which affect their life. All processes of the three branches of government should be accountable to the people, should be transparent, and should follow the rule of law.

    3. Elections Must be Fair and Equitable: We call for massive election reform. The influence of money must be taken out of the election process. All candidates should be mandated equal media time, by law. Voting should shape public policy, not money.

    4. The Financial System Must be Reformed: We must end policies that foster a wealth divide. Speculation and irresponsible banking practices were big contributors to the financial collapse. Much of this stems from a lack of corporate accountability and the erosion of proper financial regulation, such as the Glass-Steagall act.

    5. Labor Rights Must be Protected: All working-age people must have the right to unionize. Workers must be guaranteed the right to safe working conditions, paid leave, and fair, sustainable wages.

    6. Environmental Sustainability Must be a Priority: We must adopt policies which effectively move toward a carbon-free and radioactive-free energy economy. In order to conserve the natural ecosystem and to protect the rights of future generations, we must reduce pollution and deforestation. Those who violate environmental regulations must be held accountable.

    7. The Military-Industrial Complex Must be Dismantled: We must prevent the privatization of our military. We must reduce the national security state, end the weapons export industry, and reduce military spending. War crimes, crimes against humanity, and crimes against peace must be addressed, and those responsible must be held accountable under international law.

    8. Human Rights Must be Protected: To ensure equal rights for all people, exploitation and discrimination of all forms must be eliminated.

    9. The Prison-Industrial Complex Must be Dismantled: Everyone deserves the right to effective representation and due process of the law. And all prisoners deserve the right to humane and just conditions. The focus of the prison system should be on rehabilitation and reintegration into society. We must put an end to private, for-profit prisons.

    10. The Education System Must be Reformed: Financing of education should be a priority. The paltry funding of education is a disservice to our citizens, and it hurts the poorest and most underprivileged members of our society the most. We must prevent the privatization of the public school system. All people deserve the right to a high quality, comprehensive, and publicly-funded education.

    11. Access to Healthcare Must be a Civil Right: Everyone, despite their income or employment status, deserves access to healthcare. Accessible, quality healthcare should be a basic human right.

    12. The Right to Food and Water Must be Ensured: We must end food deserts and advocate for the millions facing famine, thirst, and malnutrition worldwide. We must protect the land and water from pollution and privatization, and create local, sustainable food networks.

    13. Safe and Affordable Housing Must be a Priority: Everyone should have the right to a residence. Homelessness and urban blight should not exist.

    14. Public Transportation Must be Made Available: There should exist safe spaces for pedestrians and non-automobile travel, and we must provide a clean, convenient, and affordable public transit system.

    15. The Airwaves Must be Protected: Freedom of the press should extend to all persons, from corporate media to citizen journalists. The airwaves and the internet are public goods and should be protected from censorship.

    In the simplest of terms, we want to end corporate bribery of our elected politicians and return our democracy back to the people.

    We bring these points of unity before the Baton Rouge Press Club today not only to be heard, but to issue a challenge to local politicians, to the local media, and to the people of Louisiana.

    To the politicians, we ask that you respond to the issues that we have highlighted and let your positions be known.

    To the media, we ask that you use your platform to accurately depict our movement. You have the power to influence the masses. Use that power responsibly. We are not jealous, entitled children looking for handouts; we are a local, national, and international movement dedicated to looking beyond our own selfish needs and fighting for the rights of every human being.

    To the people of Louisiana we ask that you wake up to the false dichotomy between Republican and Democrat. The problems we face are systemic and widespread, and they are not unique to a single party. We cannot expect corporations or the government to act morally on their own. It is the duty and responsibility of every person to be constantly vigilant in ensuring they do so.

    Here now, across the nation, and around the world, history is being made. It only remains to be determined on which side you will stand.

  • Nono

    Barack Obama you are not president you are murderer and criminal and thief
    you are killing – usa – young men and innocents people just for stealing money and oil from arabic countries shame on you

  • Nono

    Barack Obama you are not president you are murderer and criminal and thief
    you are killing – usa – young men and innocents people just for stealing money and oil from arabic countries shame on you

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  • Michael Burton

    HOW IS IT POSSIBLE THAT THE OCCUPY GENERAL STRIKE MAY FIRST DOES NOT SHOW UP ON THIS SITE SONMEWHERE?