Contrary to what many may believe about where I stand on #May1, I was very excited for AdBusters’ call for #OccupyChicago. I was just pointing out that they could have used a little forethought before acting. However, AdBusters released yesterday (February 6, 2012) a new post on their blog, the same blog that called for #OccupyChicago a little over a week ago. This time signed by Micah White, Senior Editor of AdBusters. I was going to post an article about the lovable Rahm Emanuel today, but I’ll save that for the next post, I need to vent.
Occupy Chicago clearly and vocally expressed concerns over Adbusters’ methods when they called for an encampment in May to protest the upcoming #G8NATO demonstrations. Regardless, we incorporated the May 1 call to action within our own, larger #ChicagoSpring actions beginning on April 7, with a lot of excitement I may add. AdBusters has agreed to not meddle in our planning or direction, and said they were leaving the planning and interpretation up to the Chicago General Assembly.
So why the article? Recently, occupations have become beaten down, frustrated, and angry. Yesterday’s blog post was an analysis of the fractionalization that have plagued occupations across the United States, the overall structure of that came out of OWS, and their relationship with AdBusters. The post continues to point out that autonomy within the larger #Occupy umbrella is the best way to organize, including autonomous actions. In short, this means that the best way for occupy to be organized is to allow demonstrators to behave as they feel is necessary for the movement. But there is a fatal error in AdBusters’ understanding of Occupy. Not all occupations modeled after the NYCGA. Occupy Chicago (and many others) from a very early stage behaved completely autonomous. We knew what they were doing, however we understood that the social, economic, political,environments are incredible different between our home cities and Zuccotti Park. Not to mention NYPD is in no way like CPD. We knew we needed to do things differently to adapt to Chicago.
AdBusters also included an image of the recent violence at Occupy Oakland complete with praise for their use of autonomous actions in protests. The picture is complete with makeshift shields, fireball, helmets, smoke, and barricades. This is where I draw the line. Clearly they are meddling, a post like this leaves a limited number of assumptions to be made. What should we expect in Chicago? Leave that to Chicagoans and all those who join us in Chicago during the planning stages. The General Assembly does not have a residency requirement, but does have a physical presence requirement. If anyone in the world would like to participate in our decision making process, come to Chicago early, join a committee, and vote at a GA (we don’t have housing though). The entire purpose and mission of AdBusters was to counter the influence of corporate media and advertising on our behavior and world views. Guess what AdBusters, you are using your readership to turn us into your drones.
We at Occupy Chicago are non-violent. Violence is the tool of the state for control. And as our brothers and sister in Egypt, we will stand up in the face of violence peacefully. Occupy Chicago is not nonviolent by any arbitrary means, it was voted that way by the GA (check out the website) above a 90% threshold. No acts of violence can be committed under the #OccupyChicago name. Period. If you don’t like that, bring it up to a vote. The problem with not working with Occupy Chicago is you end up with a situation similar to Occupy Portland last night. While some were marching peacefully, some thugs came out dressed in all black destroying property, leading to the arrests of those marching peacefully, but not those who perpetrated the violence. We need to ensure those who wish to express and find their voices can do so. I have received e-mails and tweets from many who want to bring their children, the 99% means that all who are part of us can participate according to their own capacity.
Finally, occupy wasn’t started by AdBusters, it was those who felt disenfranchised, forgotten, and frustrated. Sure, their call is what got the ball rolling, but it’s us here in America that really fought to organize and survive. My solution, is that Chicago adopt the Chicago Principles:
• Our solidarity will be based on respect for a political diversity within the struggle for social, economic and environmental justice. As individuals and groups, we may choose to engage in a diversity of tactics and plans of
action but are committed to treating each other with respect and working towards a common goal of peace and justice.
• As we plan our actions and tactics, we will take care to maintain appropriate separations of time and space between divergent tactics.
• We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption, limiting our action to “free speech zones,” and violence, or attempts to divide our movement through the conscious creation of divisions regarding tactics, organization, strategies, and alliances.
• Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.”
I’m cutting myself off here. 83 days until #May1, see you all then