Formulating proposal re: nonviolence and diversity of tactics

Categories: Discussion, Open Mic

We are currently at a difficult point in our existence as a movement.  As we simultaneously face threats of police violence, we must ourselves understand how we see violence, and that we come to Occupy Oakland from a wide range of histories.  I do not think that a single proposal can address “violence by occupiers”, nor do I think it should.  I think that consensus is a challenging process that we are learning how to use as we live it.  A proposal should be something that the body of the GA can agree to, and give us places to move from.  As such, I have been tossing around a simple proposal to help shape our community discussion around tactics.

Proposed:  The General Assembly of Occupy Oakland does not condone property damage against small, local, or supportive businesses.

That’s it.  No theory, no consequences.  Just what we believe, so that we can all work from that place to determine the next steps.  I’m kicking around the idea before I formally propose it, and I would love thoughts and feedback at this point.  I Would especially love to hear from folks involved with the proposal which was withdrawn on Wednesday and which those who engage in or support the destruction of corporate property.  Can you join in to support this proposal?


10 Responses to “Formulating proposal re: nonviolence and diversity of tactics”

  1. Tlahtolli

    It’s tough:

    Is Tully’s considered local?
    What about franchises?
    Foreign businesses?
    Are art studios businesses?
    What about restaurants?
    Law firms?

    You basically have to define what ‘business’ and what ‘local’ is.

  2. drwxrxrx

    “I do not believe that you need to (or should) define small, local business in your proposal”

    Seems to me that it would be necessary to define; otherwise individuals could (and would, I think) have differing ideas of what the proposal means.

  3. Nemo

    Honestly, I think that any statement against vandalism will serve as a rebuke against the reckless use of the “tactic,” but to further make the point, perhaps you could include a preamble that isn’t part of the proposal itself.

    Something to the effect of, “Whether or not you agree with the actions that took place after the General Strike on Wednesday, November 2, there is no denying that our various reactions to the evening’s vandalism created a rift in this occupation. In an effort to mend that rift, I propose the following:”

    In this way you highlight what I hope will be obvious to everyone, that wanton destruction of property will most likely create a new rift. At the same time, you avoid putting words like “wanton” or “reckless” into the proposal, so you will not be called upon to define them during clarifying questions.

    I do not believe that you need to (or should) define small, local business in your proposal – but do have a definition ready, as it almost certainly will come up as a question at some point during the process.

  4. Nemo

    Manda, support and failure to condemn are two different things. Alex’s draft does not support any violence or vandalism. It is a rather clear (if narrowly tailored) call against vandalism.

    Even if it does not go as far as you would like, it will formally insert principles of non-violence into the movements official stance. This will attract the involvement of more non-violent protesters, ensuring more non-violent protests, and eventually changing the culture to the point where a more sweeping non-violence position can be issued (or better still, become unnecessary).

    Alex, I like it, but I will agree with Tlahtolli that “supportive” could be taken as a form of extortion or racketeering. I’d like to suggest that you add something about mindfulness – but that has shown itself to be a contentious area of discussion, so small, clear, and simple may be the best bet.

  5. manda

    Your proposal of not condoning property damage against small, local, or supportive businesses shows that you support property damage of other businesses. How do you determine which business is small? Every business starts out small and someone poured their sweat blood and tears into making what it is today so because it has became a success and is not considered small it is alright to damage it? Should you be proposing that you protect the rights of every citizen of the United States of America to own a business and not have it damaged by protesters?

  6. Tlahtolli

    A heads-up: including language about “supportive businesses” could be construed as the following:

    “Hey, that’s a real nice business you got there. It would be a shame if something happened to it.”

  7. AbouBenAdhem

    I agree with limiting it to “small local businesses.” We should try to help “supportive” businesses in other ways, but specifically associating lack of support with property damage would make it very easy for opponents to portray Occupy Oakland as a protection racket.

  8. Alex

    ILBB – Thanks for your thoughts. I put supportive in there as a response to someone who mentioned that Tully’s might not fit into the categories of small or local, but, as far as I can tell, most people would include in the realm of businesses not to target. I agree with language that is as concrete and simple as possible. If anyone have thoughts on appropriately inclusive language, I would love to hear it.

  9. ILBB

    Supporting businesses that support the movement is a great idea. Perhaps limit to “small local businesses.” I find the supportive language compromises things as it is vague. Whole Foods could easily put up signs saying “we support the 99%” when the truth of their actions is anything but. So how does one deal with that? I could see a lot of pushback there. Specifically targeting support for small and local business avoids that point of contention. I would imagine a wide range of support for such a proposal that specifies small local business.