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#OccupySTL Statements/Policies

In the early days of Occupy St. Louis, general assemblies were chaotic, passionate, relatively large, and directionless. It was in this time, that various people began to bring proposals to the assemblies… to give the movement teeth, to spread the movement beyond Kiener Plaza, and to shape the physical occupation itself. (The precedent of bringing proposals to the assemblies later backfired and undoubtedly contributed to the ultimate bureaucratization and shrinking of the assemblies.)

Here is a run-down on the first few statements that the general assemblies heatedly discussed, sometimes edited, and, in the end, endorsed.

October 8:

  • Occupy St. Louis is made up of many different people with many different beliefs. We support a free and open space that promotes dialogue. All flyers and language are welcome but do not represent any official language or statement from Occupy St. Louis.

October 10:

  • We demand all charges brought against the occupation so far be dropped immediately. Public space should be public space 24 hours a day.

October 10:

  • Statement of Full-Support for Those Who Go on Strike
    1. From this point forward, we offer our support for all strikes taking place in the St. Louis Metropolitan Area.
    2. We commit to offer practical and creative support to those who walk out from union or non-union work places, with or without union leadership.
    3. This statement also applies to student strikes.

By issuing this statement, we wish to send a message to everyone in this city, that if you are fighting back, then we got your back.

Talk to your co-workers and fellow students. Every grievance against this system is worthy of a collective response.

We encourage everyone, ourselves included, to no longer let our discontent boil beneath the surface. We believe the time to act is now.

October 11:

  • There are various forms of oppression embedded within the dominant culture and in the socio-political and economic systems of this country. As a community which seeks to build power and gain momentum through consensus-based decision-making and respectful social relations, we stand in opposition to the way in which our society privileges some people over others. We want to create an inclusive atmosphere of ideas in which we do not police each other’s thoughts, but we have absolutely no tolerance for oppressive or intimidating words or actions. Though our aim is to encourage and foster creative debate, we do not tolerate any form of discrimination based on actual or perceived race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, education, nationality, religion, ethnicity or abilities within our occupied space.

October 12:

  • Occupy St. Louis issues the following statement of solidarity in response to the police actions taken against various Occupy Movements in the last 48 hours:
    1. We specifically condemn all attacks and arrests made by the Boston police force against the persons of Occupy Boston, as well as all attacks and arrests made by any police force against any Occupy Movement.
    2. We specifically condemn the destruction of the property of the Boston Occupiers.
    3. We stand by our brothers and sisters as they assert their right to assemble peacefully and create a space in which their voices can be heard.
    4. We support all occupations within the Occupy Movement in their efforts to maintain and occupy their chosen spaces.
    5. We condemn all coordinated actions made against any occupation within the Occupy Movement.
    6. We condemn all media bans of Occupy Movements worldwide.
    7. We specifically support the cooperative spirit of the Mayor of Seattle in his requests to the Seattle police force to pull back from its actions against the Seattle Occupiers.
    8. We specifically condemn the breakdown in cooperation between the Mayor of Seattle and the Seattle police force, primarily because of its potential to facilitate violent police action.
    9. We wish to express our support for the continued, collaborative efforts of all Occupy Movements to disseminate information and updates about police actions taken against any Occupy Movement.
    10. We wish to express our support for the continuation of every city’s Occupy Movement, no matter the opposition it has faced.
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Discussion

3 thoughts on “#OccupySTL Statements/Policies

  1. Interesting that you state the above and also state this:

    “Though our aim is to encourage and foster creative debate, we do not tolerate any form of discrimination based on actual or perceived race, class, gender identity, sexual orientation, education, nationality, religion, ethnicity or abilities within our occupied space.”

    This appears contradictory and in line with the free speech doctrines of many authoritative regimes: “You are free to speak as you will, so long as you speak within the confines of what we deem socially acceptable.” I am also confused because many religions and ethnic groups (read: voluntary associations) advocate preferential treatment of one class, caste, or people. From Hobbes to Marx to Nietzsche to Aquinas, individuals have shown that most religion is, at its most basic level, an assertion of a hierarchy of ontological status among humans.

    Furthermore, isn’t a free space one in which individuals are free to express their disdain for others? Perhaps I cannot strike you for it, but I may find your racism offensive and your existence worthy of contempt when you uphold your racism in the face of rational discourse. Would you have me hold me tongue to criticize perceived evil or injustice according to my normative positions? If so, I see no difference in the dogma of the state and the dogma of this group.

    Posted by Thrasymachus | February 27, 2012, 7:08 pm
  2. @Thrasymachus: are you arguing on behalf of the right of racists, sexists, and religious dogmatists to discriminate against others (i.e., deny them resources or use hostile language to silence their voice or dismiss their opinion deny them resources based on some such factor)? Or are you arguing that you should have the right to call such people out when you see it happening? Your complaint seems to blur the two issues. If the former, then the line you are calling into question clearly is not in your favor, since it says such discrimination won’t be tolerated. If the latter, then the line is clearly in support of your doing so, for the same reason. Plainly: if you see something [like someone silencing another person based on their race, gender, etc.], then say something [i.e., stick up for that person allow their voice to be heard].

    On the other hand, maybe your point that you would like to be able to tell Christians or whomever to shut up within a conversation, because they subscribe to a set of beliefs that you think is inherently hierarchical? I’m sympathetic, but I would add this: framing conversations in terms of wholesale metaphysics can be helpful sometimes (in personal reflection and in dialogue with friends), but it tends to draw artificially clear battle lines in the context of practical interactions. In other words, practice, including the practice of conversation, can be given a primacy in situations ideological conflict, because it is only from such practice that novel ideas and interpretations of old ideas can arise. For instance, one of the most profound things I witnessed in the early weeks of the occupation was that people were having their standard political categories dismantled before my very eyes. Because they were engaged in the practice of figuring out how to live, a lot of their previously held dogmas ceased — if only for a moment — to be of much value. I think that leads to an important lesson about how ideas function: argument is only so helpful, but real changes in beliefs happen from actually engaging in a different kind of social experience.

    Unlike the authoritarian “free speech” formula that you summarize, the proposed ethos could better be stated, “you are free to speak as you like, so long as your speech doesn’t reinforce the systematic silencing of those in our society who have been marginalized.”

    Again: if you perceive evil or injustice, criticize it. But, be careful that you are reducing another person to a charicatured “position” in a debate. The way to do this, I think, is to keep your judgment specific, calling into question individual acts. It may very well be that such an act is symptomatic of a wider, authoritarian orientation toward the world. If thats the case, I think the best way for that point to become clear to them is to drive the point home with regard to one specific act, and to allow them to reflect on its implications for what they believe.

    Regarding the freedom to show disdain: again, if your judgment is real and true, then I think it needs to be expressed. But my point above could I guess be reformulated like this: sometimes we are importing disdain for a “position” and misrecognize the person before us, approaching them as, for example, a “Christian” with a priori disdain before finding out just what kind of Christian they are. I know at least a few Christians that are down for more or less the same revolution I’m down for, couched in different terms. Its in practical activity that you discover that you can discover that you are after the same freedom by a different name.

    What do you think?

    Posted by Diogenes | February 27, 2012, 8:41 pm
  3. Just to give some context to the anti-oppression policy:

    It was based on occupyboston’s statement (that they wrote after neo-nazis had come down to recruit at their occupation) and people proposed it after “no niggers” was found written on a column down at kiener plaza. Anyone could have written it – an occupier, someone wonder through the park, someone intentionally trying to fuck with the occupation, who knows? but it wasn’t something we were going to ignore. When people were talking about how to respond to it, it was also mentioned that increasingly more and more women weren’t staying the night or coming down after dark because of how they were being catcalled, talked over, and in a few cases physically attacked.

    I’ll allow for you to consider your comments in light of these possibly unknown factors.

    Posted by antistatestl | February 28, 2012, 12:16 pm

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General Occupy STL Links

Thoughtful Perspectives on other North American #Occupy Movements

Albany, NY: Ben Brucato
Atlanta: ATL IMC / Little Advances
Baltimore: bmorewomentrans
Bloomington, IN: Rififi
Boston: Boston Indymedia
Carbondale: Occupy SIUC
Chicago: selfactivity
Chapel Hill: triANARCHY
Davis, CA: Bicycle Barricade
Denver: Ignite!
Detroit: Third Coast Conspiracy
Gulf Coast: The Raging Pelican
Iowa City: Smooth Spaces
Los Angeles: UnpermittedLA
Miami: Autonomy & Solidarity
New York City: Malcolm Harris
Oakland: Bay of Rage / Hyphy
Philadelphia: radoccupyphilly
Phoenix: Fires never extinguished
Portland, OR: Grey Coast @ News
Richmond, VA: The Wingnut
Seattle: Puget Sound Anarchists
St. Louis: STL FTP
Toronto: ...To the Roots of Capital
Vancouver: Van. Media Co-op
Washington DC: BroadSnark

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