Thursday, November 17, 2011

An Open letter to Anonymous and others who organize the Occupy Movement

Dear Occupy organizers and Anonymous,

I wholeheartedly support your movement, but there are serious mistakes being made, and I wish to address them here. There is a big difference between successful non-violent protesting, and what is going on around America. Successful non-violent protesting has traditionally been when a bunch of people simply show up and (mostly) silently, POLITELY, and passively make their presence and minds known. Classic non-violent protests, such as those done by Martin Luther King and Ghandi, did not involve drumming, partying, yelling, smoking pot, and behaving like... a bunch of teenagers on a wild rampage.

What I see the Occupy movements in Boston, New York, Oakland, and elsewhere, is that there are plenty of people in the group who clearly have a different idea of what non-violent peaceful protest is about. Some young kids think it's party-time. They play loud music, and frolic like drunken ninnies. Many people take the opportunity to protest as though it's some big celebration of themselves. They lack the discepline, knowledge, and character to conduct themselves in an appropriate and proper way. They are loud, boisterous, and sometimes appear dirty and angry.

Of course, it doesn't help that too many of the other people are so passive and so laid back, that they just let unrully individuals get away with rude, noisy behavior and drug use. This is the biggest problem -- those who want to be involved with the group and it's goals, but who don't want to get involved with keeping up appearances and ousting people who don't play well with others. This is what delegitimized the Tea party movement -- there were only small amounts of openly racist, crazy people at the rallies, and the majority of Tea Partiers POLITELY IGNORED THEM. They should have ousted them, and told them they were not welcome. If they did, they would not have appeared to be harboring racism.

In Martin Luther King's era, Civil Rights marchers dressed in their interview suits and Sunday best clothing, and marched with dignity. They were well-dressed, well-behaved, and well-spoken. This meant that when police took nefarious action against them, it would appear, and rightly so, that well-mannered ladies and gentlemen were attacked and bloodied by thugs.

By contrast, the less-organized rabble that seems to make up the occupy movement is made up of dirty hippies, hippie-wannabes, grungers, and stoners. Even some of the organizers of the Occupy movement admit that these people are not wanted, or at least, less appreciated.

Please organize yourselves better. Have a code of conduct that all participants must follow, OR ELSE. The "Or Else" should be understood as "Or Else we will kick you out and/or report you to the police if you don't behave."

I have read that the Occupy Wall Street organizers have raised millions of dollars. What is this money being used for? Why not use the money to rent or purchase a building near the event, which can be used as a base-camp to feed, shelter, and provide sanitary facilities to the participants, hence no need for an unsightly shanty-town? This would be a great way of avoiding the use of partially private, partially public land, as well as allegations of unhealthy, unsanitary conditions.

Perhaps the money can be used to hire some internal security personnel, who will police the group from within, and ensure that undesireable people or badly-behaved people are dealt with, and that people follow the rules laid down by the organizers. The most important thing for a non-violent peaceful protest to succeed is for the entire group to be unified in their conduct and appearance. If you look like a bunch of hippies and scalliwags, you will not have the impact or the sympathy when the cops get ugly.

Which leads me to my final point -- when the cops get ugly. If you can be made to run away when the cops intimidate you, and it's easy to arrest you and throw you into the police van, you will not succeed. In foreign countries, the protestors actively fight back against the police, use improvised armor and weapons, and many times indimidate the police to the point that the police run away.

Why not invest some of the money made in a basic riot survival kit for participants? Give out gas masks, protective sports padding (Football helmets, shoulder pads, shin pads), and non-lethal weapons (a boxing-glove on the end of a pole is humorous and effective) to the people who face the cops on the front lines. Have them make and use full-body shields. Teach them basic Phalanx, wedge, and flanking tactics to make it difficult for the cops to single out and hurt individuals. The idea is defense. If the cops think it will be easy to rush the crowd and beat people up, they will. If they try, and are effectively held back, they will think twice about it. The key here is to make it hard for cops to bust up the group, while giving those protestors who are not in for a fight, the chance to escape and avoid being victims. A wall of well-padded, well-trained individuals, committed to holding back violence until it is no longer possible, will make a bolder statement than any cops with tear gas can.


David Moisan said...

I've wanted to comment on the Occupy movement, but I haven't had a good handle to my town, though Salem does or did have a movement of its own.

If I were asked to join, this is what I would tell them:

1) I'm not a Communist. I hate Che Guevara; he was a thug (and incompetent, too: Fidel fired him!)
I do not want to see Che shirts or flyers from the People's Republic or speeches about the oppressed nature of minority-hispanic-lesbian-transgendered-disabled-person of color. Same for drum circles, pagan chants, etc.

2) To borrow a phrase I heard elsewhere, double-entry bookkeeping is not fascist. The financial officers of the Occupy movement have a very critical role; they owe it to their donors and their supporters, and not the least to the participants, to see that the money is well spent and the details disclosed where possible in the spirit of transparency.

3) I said "officers". Yes, there is a structure to OWS. There has to be. I note that they call their meetings "General Assemblies", which reminds me too much of communism and point #1 above.

I've been on various deliberative bodies, including a commission in my own town. The best feeling you can have is when your board accomplishes something, when your board sees an idea through from an informal comment through a formal proposal to reality. And hopefully success.

The worst part of being on a board is not failure, though it's discouraging when your idea doesn't carry the day.

It's inaction. It's spending endless meetings going in circles because one guy has to have his drum circle, or some woman wants to discuss Gaia and the uncenteredness of Humanity. Every single meeting.

"Robert's Rules of Order" has a reputation for being bureaucratic and for perhaps not scaling well to small meetings. But I will repeat, it isn't fascism to want to run the board to get your business done, to use Robert's Rules of Order or any other parliamentary procedure to do so.

The 60's Left much loved the idea of "consensus" and not making decisions until everyone, Che and Gaia approved. It's a great way not to get something done if you're a prick.

The Occupy movement will have a lot of volunteers from the white-collar industries with a lot of talent to offer the movement. Don't waste it on preaching.

Don't waste it on recreating the 60's.

Don't waste time on anything that is not your mission. (I'm looking at those people who want Occupy to get an investigation on 9/11, in other words, Truthers. If you're going to be a Truther, you just gave permission for the Birther, too, in all his racist form. And I so don't care about Palestine, don't ask.)

David W. Irish said...

Basically, when you have a movement and you want to be inclusive of everyone, you need to avoid "letting everyone just do their own thing". This is the problem with most modern protest movements. They invite everyone, and some of the people who show up have their own separate agendas, and rather than try to set them straight, the organizers tend to ignore them, because they don't want to waste time arguing.

This is why these protests end up being hippies and pot smoking kids making noise and behaving like idiots.

People who show up with their own agendas need to have a talking to, and if they don't listen, they need to be kept away from the rest of the group, so as not to spoil the message.

It isn't a sin for an all-inclusive group to have exceptions -- to tell some people that we accept everyone, except you. When rowdy people show up, or the kooks with their vegan and vegetarian agendas, they need to be told that they are not part of the message -- the message is about re-regulating Wall St, making the banks give back the bailout money, preventing financial fraud, and protecting consumers from corporate greed -- veganism, 911 truth, and drum circles do not have anything to do with this. If you want to do that, GO START A DIFFERENT PROTEST GROUP SOMEWHERE ELSE.

I've seen way too many potentially good movements spoiled by organizers politely ignoring the weirdos who show up with their own agendas that aren't part of the main group's. It's like liberals having a pro-Obama rally, and some 911-truthers show up. You can either be nice and politely ignore them, or you can protect your group's integrity by asking that they put away their 911 signs and hold up signs that reflect the rest of the group.

All you need is one camera interview from the media to walk up to the wrong people and start interviewing them, and the whole movement is defamed on national television by someone who isn't even part of the agenda.

Emanuel Goldstein said...

Internal "security".

To police from within.

Say they win. So what?

Nothing will change.

Read Jack Chick's THE POOR REVOLUTIONIST, available on his site, and you will see how it all turns out.

David W. Irish said...

I'd hardly give any creedence to Jack Chick, since he's bat-shit insane.