Practical Activism in 2013: One Occupier’s View

Below is a presentation one of OCV’s occupiers gave regarding his view of the current practice of activism and the Occupy Movement at a recent VFP Memorial Day luncheon.

“I am happy to report that, despite non-stop media coverage to the contrary, Occupy is alive and kicking and more effective than ever.  And, despite nationwide coverage of five people in funny hats in front of the IRS building, the Tea Party isn’t.”

“As activists, we must also be pragmatists.  We have to step back and ask ourselves, from time to time:  “Are we being effective?  Is our message being heard?  Are we making the positive changes that we want?  If we are honest with ourselves, the answer is often no.  Times have changed but many us have not.  Many of us are still stuck in the 60s.  We assume that marching and carrying signs is enough.  If we are honest, however, we must admit that we need to go back to the drawing board and update our tactics.”

“A little background.  I am one of those 60s activists.  I helped to organize the first Wall St. demonstration to protest the bombing of Cambodia during the Vietnam War. The NY Times called it the “Wall St Massacre”.   Was it a successful action?  By 60s standards, maybe so. We broadcast our message through major media. Would it work now?  Probably not.  Bloomberg would have the area in front of Treasury kettled off and protestors would be forced to a “free speech zone”. If they resisted, NYPD would wait until midnight and, then with the coordination of Homeland Security, would arrest the protestors with media denied access to the arrests.  There would be little mention of the arrests on the corporate media and America would tune out to watch reality shows and Dancing with the Stars.” 

“Can’t happen here? It did happen here. These same tactics were used to falsely arrest 7,000 Occupy activists nationwide, with little outrage; ninety five % of the charges were later dropped, but it didn’t matter.  The Constitution had been shredded, the activists demoralized, and the American public remained largely unaware of the erosion of their civil rights. Police response to activism has changed since the 60s.  The Patriot Act and the NDAA have created the possibility of a paramilitarized police presence.” 

“So how do activists respond in 2013?” 

1) “Always accept the precepts of Gene Sharp* (handout) and base all direct action on non-violence. The only sensible behavior against overwhelming force is non-violence.  Your rock is meaningless against an Apache helicopter or a drone and will be used as justification for violence on the part of the State.”

2) “Make sure that your direct actions are meaningful, by targeting a social, political, economic or environmental injustice that has local relevance.”

3)  “Become more of an expert on the subject than the groups causing the injustice.”

4) “Have a practical solution that can be presented to the public in direct action.”

5) “Use local media and the Internet to magnify your message.  Prepare professional press releases, videotape, blog, get creative and dramatize, write/perform songs, post on social media and YouTube, but frame the narrative, have a well-prepared message and spokespeople to give interviews.”

“As illustration of these 5 rules of effective activism, I offer you the Direct Action Committee Report presented at yesterday’s General Assembly:”

             DIRECT ACTION COMMITTEE REPORT 5/26/13

1)   Prior consent: 

a) Co-sponsor David Cobb speech on “Creating Democracy and Challenging Corporate Rule” at Crystal Fantasy 6/12 with Move-to-Amend.

b) Pass out brochures DHS Saturday, ABC, Kmart, Vons & Staters. 

c) Financial support for VFP luncheon.

2)   VFP luncheon. Noon, Monday, May 27

3)   A Better City for DHS.  Brochuring.  (Report Chuck, Bob, Rosie)

4)   Stonewall Democratic meeting (report Tracy)

5)   Occupy Dept. of Justice, D. C. mortgage action (report Deb)

6)   Drones (report Steve F.)

7)   Food not Bombs Monsanto action.  (Report from Carolyn, Tracy?)

8)   DSUSD work action (report Gabrielle)

9)   OurWalmart action.  La Quinta, Thursday 5/30 at 5 pm.

*For Gene Sharp’s precepts on non-violence, click on this link: 198 Methods of Non-Violent Action

For more information on Gene Sharp, see his book, “From Dictatorship to Democracy, A Conceptual Framework for Liberation,” widely disseminated and used during the Arab Spring, pdf available at this link: From Dictatorship to Democracy  or go to http://www.aeinstein.org/organizations9173.html

OCV Addresses Rancho Mirage City Council re NDAA and Drones

Steve Finger, with Occupy Coachella Valley (OCV) and representing CV v NDAA, opened Public Comments at the Rancho Mirage City Council on Thursday, April 4th with a presentation on why the council should be aware and wary of the National Defense Authorization Act (NDAA) passed by Congress.

Specifically, he mentioned that the NDAA provisions of arrest without due process and for indefinite detention could both be without charge. In fact, the arrest could be triggered by little more than suspicion that a person’s protest against ‘government’ was equivalent to an act of “terrorism” or based on the vague term of a “belligerent act.” This was counter, he said, to our Bill of Rights, as well as to the rights granted by the California Constitution, even counter to the purpose and intention of the Rancho Mirage City Council.

These concerns are shared by people and legislative bodies all across the nation; the California State Assembly is so concerned about the unconstitutional provisions of the NDAA and the harm it might do to its residents, that it has introduced Assembly Bill 351 – the California Liberty Preservation Act. AB 351 not only calls for not complying with the NDAA, it provides for a misdemeanor charge for those who assist in its implementation, as well as stipulating a fine or imprisonment, or both.

Steve made the remarks in order to garner the support of the council for AB 351 and for a city resolution against the NDAA. He also asked that the council keep the NDAA in mind when considering the anti-drone ordinance scheduled later on that day’s agenda. The proposed ordinance currently makes an exception for ‘lawful purpose,’ which he suggested might provide an open door to the draconian NDAA provisions, indicating that he would address how that door might best be shut when the council had the item before them.

For more information on the NDAA and drones, see:

http://www.kmir6.com/news/toprotator/201563271.html

http://www.ranchomirageca.gov/departments/city_clerk/meeting_agendas-minutes.php

http://www.mydesert.com/article/20130404/NEWS01/304040012/Rancho-Mirage-delays-vote-aerial-drones