Occupy Chicago – 7pm GA Minutes
Date/Time: 10/10/11, 7pm – met at Jackson & LaSalle and began march to 500 Congress in front of Horse statue
Location: 500 E Congress in front of Horse Statue
Attendance Count: Roughly 350 heads (no formal head count taken)
Micah gave us a rundown of procedures to follow at GA. Human microphone: the speaker says a short phrase, and the rest repeat it after. Hand signals: spirit fingers up—agreement; spirit fingers level—sort of agree; spirit fingers down—hands down; hands in triangle—off topic. If you would like to start a new topic, raise your hand. Reminder: Occupy Chicago and all Occupy movements are peaceful and nonviolent. We are spreading, now over 1,000 cities around the world with Occupy movements.
Ryan announced a change of GA structure for tonight, opening things up so that we can know why all of these new faces are here. Last night, at the GA, we unanimously passed a resolution, standing in solidarity with our brothers and sisters at Occupy Wall Street. They passed the Declaration of the Occupation of New York City. This is now the Declaration of the Occupation of Chicago. He then read the Declaration. We have three local grievances that we have adopted that pertain to Chicago.
We had an open microphone stack line in which anyone was allowed to speak for two minutes on any topic.
Lisa: I was on Wall Street September 17th, and I have been at many other Occupy movements. Community organizations had a fall campaign to shut down the banks, starting the same week as Occupy Wall Street. Next week: Denver, Honalulu, and St. Louis. We are different groups, we have different tactics, but we have the same enemy. We need real solidarity in the streets. Most of all, it’s our job to make sure that the undocumented workers, and the poor get their voices heard.
Christy: Tonight I formed a human chain with fifteen people, against the CPD, and they pushed off the streets when we were peacefully assembling. It’s very important that we all meet at LaSalle and Jackson frequently to keep this movement going, because in mass numbers, we have more power than the mounted police.
Stack: A lot of people think that what you’re doing won’t make a difference…I’ve lost my home, I’ve lost my job, and I watched Bank of America get their money and my house. Don’t let people think Fox News is telling the truth.
Tony: Me and a couple people were talking earlier that we should march, maybe 100 of us, to Occupy Wall Street, and pick up people at other Occupy movements on the way so that we show we are in solidarity.
Mike: It’s my 14th day at Occupy Chicago. I’d like to remind everybody what our GA is for. Normally we present ideas that have been discussed in committees. Our democratic body exists on the streets of LaSalle and Jackson. This is where we talk to each about where we think we should do that. I encourage you do that, specifically between 6 am and noon. These are the times we don’t have these masses, these times are when we are most vulnerable. So please come out and be a part of history.
Dr. Laura: We could own our bank in Illinois. It would be an Illinois state bank. North Dakota has their own bank, and they only have a 3.3% unemployment rate. They haven’t had a mortgage crisis, and their kids aren’t facing astronomical student loans. I want to talk to you all about a state bank, we could have one right now, funding our own communities.
David: I wanted to express to you all here that we are all a part of the 99%. Some people, like the police, may not currently know that they are also a part of the 99%. It’s our job to educate the police about why we are peacefully gathering so the next time when we have a million people standing up and demanding change, they stand in solidarity with us. The police understand, just as we do, that our political system has been taken over by corporations.
Isaac: I was on Wall Street on the 17th, and was arrested. I am here to talk to you about communications infrastructure. I’ve been traveling and helping Occupations establish secure networks. If you are any form of hacker, meet me over there. I have what is called a “freedom tower.” These are being deployed all over. I’ll show it to you later, find me over there.
Rick: I said earlier how proud I am of all you. I think it’s interesting that if you look up there, there’s a lightbulb. The light has been turned on. It’s time for us to continue to spread. I want each of you to text/facebook/call someone why you are here, why we are, and tell them what we stand for. The time for change is now, and we are making history.
Stack: I’ve been here since day three. I have to stress, because this is very important, WGN asked me if I think we are like the leftist tea party. The answer is clearly no, that’s insulting. We are independent, which doesn’t mean we vote independent. We oppose both big business parties, and the reason we are here, in my opinion, is to mobilize the broad working classes. We will do it better than our brothers and sisters in France and Greece and we’ll win the world!
Nancy: I’ve been a Moveon volunteer for two years. You are the hope and change we have been waiting for! I’m a part of the baby boomer generation. Nothing this exciting has happened since Viet Nam, or since the civil rights marches. I bow to you. Also, I’m doing more than that. Myself and my council have organized a rally on Friday, October 14th at the Federal Plaza, Adams and Dearborn, Jobs not Cuts, we are also going with the American Dream movement. I went a conference this last week, it was awesome. So, the other thing we’re doing is walking to LaSalle and Jackson and supporting Occupy Chicago. Noon to 1 pm.
Christina: I’m a community organizer from Cleveland helping people who have had homes foreclosed. I want to encourage you to have face to face conversations with the people you know. It’s difficult to talk about, so it will take each and every one of you to start these conversations and bring people to our movement.
Mike: I’m a 3rd generation union family member and I want to remind everyone here that everything I’ve ever had I had because my father and his father, and all their brothers and sisters, fought for what I have, fought for equal pay, fought for fair pensions. So we should support all our local unions here in Chicago. In the interest of making these protests equal and fair, that we get people who can translate to ASL, so that all people can come and listen and participate.
Kristin: I’m a student. I was working for Blockbuster, and lost my job, and was denied unemployment because I was a student. I’m here for two things: I believe affordable healthcare should be a right to every citizen. The second reason is, I’m furious about what happened with the bailouts. They took our money, and they are giving their CEOs bonuses that are larger than any amount of money I’ll ever see in my life.
Mike: I want to talk about strategy. The Republican and Democratic parties are both corporate parties. The United States has become a corporate oligarchy. We have a problem. With Citizens United, corporations can spend lots of money to keep buying all the politicians. We must remember that we cannot rely on the promises of charismatic politicians. What we need to stand behind, and for, is a social program that builds the country that we all want to live in. This program, I’m guessing, would include: peace, single payer health care, jobs creation programs, a living wage, fair trade, clean energy, and lots of other things that we’ve all wanted for a very long time, and have been unable to get because of the Catch 22 in Washington DC. So let’s get together and build a program.
Martin: This is my second day of Occupy Chicago. I’m fifty years old, I’m a real estate broker, a broke one, and I’m also a pastor at a church. When I was a child, I marched these streets with Martin Luther King. I’m not here to complain. I’m here to offer solutions. The other day I spoke about things we can do with the mortgage industry, with national nonprofit health care insurance. We’re not just citizens, we’re not just voters, we’re consumers, therefore we have the power to take away from Wall St. what they want most. We need to boycott the largest ones with the largest donations to political parties.
Patrick: If one party gets 10% of the votes, then they get 10%. This will end the two-party stranglehold on our government. Also, I want to talk about the legalization of drugs, not just marijuana, but the hard stuff too, because those people need help, not to be put in jail.
Todd: I’m here because I don’t want my children to suffer. Giant multinational corporations that have no loyalty to any country, care not about their workers or their consumers, wish to rule the lives of my children. We must change the constitutions. We must make corporations not be people. We can do this.
David: I have two announcements. If you are an artist, or if you know one: we have a great venue in the city to show art. It’s called Occupy Chicago! Anyone who wishes to make any art, do so at Occupy Chicago. Follow one rule: if the cops tell you to move your stuff, then you move your stuff. Also, don’t vandalize other people’s art. After the GA, anyone who’s a really cool person, look around for cigarette butts and throw them away.
Austin: The Zeitgeist Movement supports Occupy Chicago, adding more than 500 people to the support. Until there is an evolution of our consciousness across the planet. Our home is the Earth, and it must be shared by everyone on it. All resources must be seen as common heritage to all people.
Stack: What the cops did down the street, it’s what they did in the Jim Crowe South, at Kent State, etc, and we are part of a tradition that they will not tell you in classroom, a tradition of resistance at the systematic level. I think it’s important to have demands, and reforms, but in pursuit of a revolution. Don’t take your eyes off the prize: revolution. I am a revolutionary.
Stack: I’m going to ask you a favor, because I’m not that clever. A lot of people end up on the street because they thought it was good to do what they love. I lost my job, my apartment, all because nobody running the economy cared about me, because they only cared about the profit. I used to be a militant activist, and I hope that all of you continue doing this and don’t fall into the circle of apathy that I did.
Stack: I want to know how many of our brothers and sisters need to be arrested, beaten and maced because of their voice. What we are learning is that our voice strong. My voice is my weapon. Our voice is our weapon, and it’s the only thing we need. And we are going to take this world back!
Stack: I love seeing the same faces I’ve been seeing the past few weeks, and the new faces I’ve been seeing the past few days. I just want to remind everyone that October 15th is worldwide revolution. Here in Chicago, we will be protesting in solidarity with cities across the globe. I want this era to be known as The Era of Awakening, not the Era of Letting Corporations Fuck Them In The Ass.
Sprite: What I’ve been doing to help the occupation, is to get organized. What a lot of people have been saying to outreach by speaking face to face. We made an Outreach Proposal to reach out to local business. Spreadsheet on occupychi.org, I’d love to have two people in each neighborhood to go out and talk to local businesses and put up fliers, etc. Sign up on the website!
Alec: I just wanted to read something that one of our founding fathers said: I believe that the banking institutions are more dangerous to our liberties than standing armies. …. The banks and the corporations will grow up around these private banks … The issue of power and currency should be taken from the banks and restored to the people, where it belongs. (Jefferson)
Stack: I just want to say something about the march today. We were on Monroe, and one of field marshals said (though many kept us safe today), “This is not a confrontation.” This is absolutely a confrontation, and batons and horses, and jails, and all you have is your fists and your voices and hearts and your rights. It is not a fair fight, but that doesn’t mean we’re going to stop, because that is the whole movement. We are up against impossible odds, but we aren’t going to stop, because there are more of us.
Carol: I have a newspaper I want all of you to read. My sister Terry is somewhere in the audience, and she has a paper that says “capitalism must be destroyed.” And here we are, near the Congress Hotel, where workers have been on strike for more than six years. This is symbolic of what capitalism is all about. We see signs that say “People Before Profits,” and signs that say “End the War.” These things won’t happen as long as capitalism continues to exist, and that’s why, 40 years, I became a Communist. Because communism to capitalism.
Stack: I’m a laid off union worker, and a student, and this is the most empowering movement I’ve seen in a while. Keep working to make it better. I’ve been disgusted that we can find money for war, for bailouts, for weapons development, and there’s something on the table right now, to make 1.2 trillion dollars in cuts, and a committee will approve that by Thanksgiving. Senator Paul Douglas will be speaking out this on October 18th, 2011. I don’t know your plans, that might be a place to show up, or at the Federal Reserve Bank, whatever floats your boat.
Colleen: I’m an amputee, my leg cost a hundred thousand dollars. That’s not something I should have to worry about. I don’t have to until I’m 26, but let’s make sure that that’s something I never have to worry about.
Stack: I’d like to address the leaderless movement, Occupy Chicago. However, our website, money etc are in the hands of individuals. I believe that in order to protect these individuals, and to preserve the democratic nature of Occupy Chicago, to create a nonprofit organization, with a staff that serves the Occupy Chicago movement.
Agnes: I want to let you know that when I was 9, I came from Poland, which used to be a communist country, and my parents came here to find freedom and democracy. You should believe in what this country stands for and not what was happened in the past. Although capitalism is wrong, communism is wrong too, we should find something in the middle, and I hope you guys can do that.
Stack: I come here for those who cannot. For those who are homeless, for those hungry, for those who undocumented, for those who are queer. We have to stop being so passive with these cops. There is more of question for you guys to think about. Thank you.
Ocuupy Chicago. My name is Kelvin. Do you all know what happened today? 7500 people took over the streets of Chicago, took over the mortgage bankers conf took over the financial bankers conference, took over the fed. Took over daley plaey plaza. Do you know what sort f people were here today they were the workers of Chicago they were the students of Chicago community members from the south side the west side the north side they were the homeless the queer the 99 percent this means that this movement in Chicago is gonna grow to be at least to be at least 7500 people this week is gonna be a week of action so that means that we all have to support all these guys we’re all fighting for the same thing we need to talk to homeless, workers, teachers, students invite them to join us. Together, we’re going to occupy this country and save it.
James I have been here for about 15 days. I have seen it grow from seven people to this many people that I can’t even count. Today is Columbus day I’m not saying that we should all be cheering, we shouldn’t all be celebrating why is it a national holiday that has taking over a continent and taking over people
Brothers and sisters this is about the 99 percent the 99 percent includes all walks of life white and black red and yellow middle class working class unemployed employed educated uneducated homeless those with homes in order for us to change this world we must stand strongly together first this is the 99 percent against 1 percent not 5 percent against 17 percent… but the 99 percent there’s no room is this movement for prejudice society has done enough of that no room for classism there’s room for everyone in this movement especially the poor the homeless those cast out of society this movement is about love we can only win this thing through solidarity we occupy together we are the 99 percent.
Stack: I have good news for everybody. The media is terrified of us! 7500 people showed up today, but Chicago Tribune and The WSJ say a couple hundred. I say we send them letters saying that we have solidarity. We will make sure that every American knows that they are being lied and that we are here to show them exactly what’s going.
Ryan: Thanks so much for that. Someone made a comment comparing us to the Tea Party. Someone is here to read us that letter.
Stack: I have a letter here from a very early Tea Party member. Some people may not realize this, but in its early stages, there were certain things that they stood for which have common ground with what we stand for now. These people behind me, are letting me take their time to read this.
I don’t expect you to believe me. I want you to read this, take it with a grain of salt, and do the research yourself. You may not believe me, but I want your movement to succeed. From a former tea partier to you, young new rebels, there’s some advice to prevent what happened to our now broken movement from happening to you. I don’t agree with everything your movement does, but I sympathize with your cause and agree on our common enemy. You guys are very intelligent and I trust that you will take this in the spirit it is intended.
I wish I could believe this Occupy Wall Street was still about (r)Evolution, but so far, all I am seeing is a painful rehash of how the corporate-funded government turned the pre-Presidential election tea party movement into the joke it is now. We were anarchists and ultra-libertarians, but above all we were peaceful. So, the media tried painting us as racists. But when that didn’t work they tried to goad us into violence. When that failed, they killed our movement with money and false kindness from the theocratic arm of the Republican party. That killed our popular support.
I am sharing these observations, so you guys know what’s going on and can prevent the media from succeeding in painting you as violent slacker hippies rebelling without a cause, or from having the movement be hijacked by a bunch of corporatists seeking to twist the movement’s original intentions. If you think this can’t happen, it happened to the Independence Party and the tea party movement. Don’t let it happen to your movement as well.
Here’s how they turned our movement into a bunch of pro-corporate Republican Party rebranding astroturf, and this is how I predict they are turning your movement into a bunch of pro-corporate Democratic party rebranding astroturf. I believe many of these things are already happening, so take note.
1- The media will initially and purposely avoid covering your dissenting movement to cause confusion about what your movement is about within mainstream audiences. It might feel like this is to enrage you and make you appear unreasonable. Perhaps you will feel even invisible.
2- While the obsfuscation is happening, stooges will infiltrate and give superficial support, focus and financial backing to the targetted movement. In the tea party movement’s case, it was the religious Republicans and Koch Brothers. In this case, it’s many unions that cozy up to the Democratic Party (the organizations as quasi-human entities, not the members themselves) and Ultra Rich liberals who pretend to care, but frankly do not serve liberators and freedom seekers but rather the interests of some union leaders and the Democratic Party. Democrat, Republican, these parties are all part of the same corporate ruling system. Case in point: http://www.debates.org/
3-The media will cover the movement only after this infiltration succeeds. Once the infiltration is completed the MSM will manufacture public media antipathy towards the movement by using selective focus on the movement’s most repulsive elements or infiltrators on the corporate Conservative media side, while the corporate Liberal media will create a more sympathetic tragic hero image — this is the flip side of the tea party, but same media manipulation tactics. I go into greater detail on this tactic:http://vaslittlecrow.com/blog/2011/09/08/how-the-media-and-ideological-groups-manipulate-your-beliefs/
4- Someone in the Democratic Party will feign sympathy for the movement and falsely “non-partisan” entities provide tons of funding and unwanted organization, just as was done with the tea party movement by Republicans. Once people assume that the pro-corporate government operatives are their friends, they will hijack the movement and the threat of your movement will be neutralized.
If this new Occupy Wall Street movement is to survive, here’s what needs to be done.
1- Loudly denounce violence and disavow the violent rabblerousers of the movement. They do not help the cause.
2- Be image conscious. Present your best face and call out those who act like fools within the movement. People are more likely to pay attention to you in your Sunday dress and bringing homemade food, than when you are drinking a bottle of Snapple and chomping on Big Macs while you are looking like a slacker rich hipster/unwashed hippie stereotype.
3- Accept that you’ve already been infiltrated by the corporate-funded government, and work hard to say, and state what your movement is and is not about. “No, this isn’t about unions or liberals, conservatives or bored spoiled brats. This is about 99% of our population being exploited and manipulated for the sake of profit.” “No we will not resort to violence.” “Yes, all we want is for for the end of government collusion with corporate entities that are illegitimately recognized as people.” And, so forth…
4- Don’t forget who you are as the illusions are thrown at you. Corporatists are masters of illusions. That’s the most powerful weapon they have. That’s how they sell products you don’t need and convince you to justify accepting atrocities for the sake of products Don’t fall for it. Otherwise, your cause will be lost. Be wary of large donations from special interest groups or non-profit corporations that were not involved this movement from the inception. Special interests groups are not your allies. Non-profit corporations are still corporations, and unfortunately, too many of them care more about donations than doing the right thing. Killing a movement with kindness is easy.
5- Remain independent and focused. If you can, pick a face to represent your movement. Rosa Parks wasn’t just a random lady in a bus.http://l3d.cs.colorado.edu/systems/agentsheets/New-Vista/bus-boycott/ – She was chosen. You too can use the power of illusion against those who oppose you.
6- On the web, you can prevent a lot of hijacking simply by checking the small print, or going to the about pages of a group or individual. Non-profits and political action groups are legally obligated to disclose a lot of things, and you need to be aware of this. If the information is nowhere to be found, do a whois page search — if the information has a third-party privacy service or if it belongs someone in a partisan group, be alert. For example, I found one individual who was claiming to be non-partisan, but when I went to his website, I discovered that he wasn’t an individual at all and that his organization was actually funded by the biggest partisan fundraiser organization of its kind in the United States. If someone says something fishy, it probably is.
7- If you hear people who you know are part of the machine saying stuff like, “Progressives need to be more like the tea party,” don’t accept it on face value. Always follow the money, study past statements and groups they claim to be part of. If such people are suddenly telling you to emulate organizations that they once consistently denounced as evil or racist, without any rhyme or reason, they are lying to you.
I wish your movement better luck than we had with the tea party movement before it got hijacked by the theocrats and corporatists. We used to be non-partisan too. We were the older version of you. But, I believe that as the media apparatchik and infiltrators start to twist your cause, you will understand the frustration us early adopter tea partiers felt and that we were not your enemy after all. A fascist oligarchy on the verge of winning is our common enemy. This should be your focus. Don’t be dazzled by the illusion as we were. For the sake of our future, know who you are.
Thank you for reading. I would love to read your ideas on the subject. Correct me where I am wrong. Explain what is going right. This is ultimately your fight.
EDIT: To understand how movements get hijacked, check out this fantastic video that JamesCarlin shared: http://vimeo.com/20355767
tl;dr Hibernator’s excellent and much less paranoid sounding summary below:
“Someone starts a movement. It starts small, and there’s a lot going on in the world, so the mainstream media gives it minimal coverage. Today’s mainstream media is also understaffed, so they don’t investigate and they wait for someone else to slap a label on it.
Eventually a sound byte X pops up above the noise and the mainstream media uses this to engage viewers and define the movement. This defining characteristic X spreads like a meme.
People in power now notice what’s going on, and think to themselves “Hmm, this new movement is defined by X, and that’s almost in line with my goals, so maybe I can use them to further my ends.”
But people in power are all labelled as Democrats or Republicans, so now the media applies the polarizing filter of American politics to associate movement X with one of the parties.
The original movement has now been labelled X, and associated with a political party, and none of this happened because of any ‘government conspiracy.’ It just happened because that’s what you get as output when you plug something new into the American political system.”
Thanks to Whiskey With My Coffee, Feed the Protest, The Free Patriot Press,OccupyWallSt.org, Don’t Feed the Animals, Politics in Zeros and all the other redditors who have been shared this letter.
Note: While I appreciate speaking and event invitations, I must respectfully decline them all.
Evelyn: We are going to read the Occupy Chicago grievances. There can be more, we have a proposal system.
1) GET GRIEVANCE.
2) GET GRIEVANCE.
3) Equality and Justice: This great nation was founded on liberty, but also on equality. When the balance of justice, is swayed in favor of those in wealth, the very fabric of this nation is torn apart. The decision of a judge should not be based on ….
Kelvin: As I was saying, we should all our opportunities to reach to all the people in this city. So, tomorrow, a bunch of community groups and working people will be having another rally. If you want to join, I’ll be leading a march at 9:30 am from Jackson and LaSalle. This is part of the week of action that we voted to endorse last week. The general week of action is called Taking Back Chicago.
99: We had students and workers and everything everybody saw. Surprisingly, not all of the local universities have been closed to us. In fact, they have been opened to us, and the professors are gathering, no longer in fear, to invite us. The first of these is Wednesday night. We have a flier from Professor Farmer and others at Roosevelt University. They want Occupy Chicago to teach the students what cannot be taught, what can only be shown. If you want to share that opportunity, I need to give you the fliers that Edgar showed us. We can email them to you, you can print them out yourself. As of Wednesday night, Occupy Chicago has a home!
Edgar: Today, we had 7500 marching under the same problems. I have only one problem with this number. We need to think bigger! I along with students and professors at Roosevelt University, will be hosting a multi-university meeting on Wednesday October 12 from 5-6 in room 330. If you feel you want to get involved, and get more people to come out here, we need you to come to this meeting!
Sprite: We are in need of donations: rolls of masking tapes, anyone who can make free copies, and manila folders to organize. If you can donate, drop them off at headquarters.
Stack: I need a few volunteers, right now before you leave, to help me pick up cigarette butts, other trash that would otherwise make us look like bums. We’d like to create a good reputation for everyone! Grab a trash bag!
John: Business Insider published an article that goes by the title “Wall Street Protesters Says He’s Getting Paid $22/hour, plus Overtime, to Protest.” We all know that this is BS, and we need to take on this responsibility, as individuals, to discredit any propaganda that will have a negative outlook on Occupy. Keep it professional.
Stack: The former commissioner John Burghes, who had allowed the torture of over a hundred Black and Latino men in the 1970s, will allow the organizations that…trying to indict former major Daley, who was the state attorney, who was aware of this torture, and allowed it to happen. Please make sure that Mayor Rahm doesn’t take this over. These men deserve justice.
Stack: We need more people for the early morning shift, between 3 and 8 AM. If you know anyone who can be here, tell them to get here!
Stack: Immediately after this GA, our friend Jerry, from the National Lawyers Guild, has offered to do a training session on issues having to do with police confrontation and civil disobedience.
Ryan: Right now, all over America, extremely powerful and rich lobbyists are buying off the people that run this country, and the only way we can take it back for ourselves is if we stick together! I hope to see every one of you back here at Occupy Chicago, night after night, in solidarity, so that together, we can get it back for ourselves!