19th General Assembly

Saturday 29 November 2011, 4.00-6.00pm, Treasury Gardens

Acknowledgment that we are on Aboriginal land and sovereignty has never been ceded.

It was raining and numbers were low. The Moderators asked the GA whether they thought there were enough people there to be able to pass proposals. A suggestion was made that we don’t pass proposals and just have report-backs, discussion and announcements. Agreed.

Proposed Agenda read out:

1. Working Group Report Backs

2. Discussion: First Draft Declaration

3. Discussion: The events of night of Fri 19/11 (Arrests, Tarp Removal)

4. Announcements

Working Group (WG) report backs

Overnight Occupiers

  • Statement read out on behalf of occupiers requesting greater numbers to stay overnight at occupation.
  • If each of the almost 13,000 Facebook users who ‘liked’ OM were to occupy overnight one night per week, the occupation site would be 1,700 people strong each night.
  • Point stressed that staying overnight does not means you need to be willing to be arrested and there is no pressure to do that. Some people choose to risk arrest and others (a larger group) stand aside to observe and bear witness, which is really important too.
  • Point made that our resistance is getting smarter.

First Aid and Care

  • Reminder to seek support from First Aid and Care if suffering mental distress or trauma, especially in light of constant Police and Council actions. There are professionals counsellors in the First Aid/Care/Wellbeing team.
  • Free first-aid training will hopefully soon be offered through CFMEU.
  • Reminder to look after your own health. Some people are coming down with chest infections. Recommendation for occupiers needing a rest to take a break from occupation site, or at least leave for a few hours to take a warm bath somewhere.

 

Media

  • Coverage – Ch 31 program planning on hosting a special on ‘Occupation’
  • PR – continuing work. Press releases etc.

 

Logistics

  • Call for assistance – we need more volunteers to help and bedding/sleeping supplies please

 

Education

  • Progress – Fact sheets continuing to be worked on. Seeking to have them released soon.
  • From the first week of December, academics will be coming down to City Square on Tuesday evenings so Occupy Melbourne and the general public can keep getting educated!
  • Collaboration with Economic Discussion Group likely.
  • Next meeting – 2PM Sunday (20/11) at Treasury Gardens

 

Direct Action

  • Recap of recent events held (or participated) in by OM (All on Thur 17 – Global Occupy Day of Action)
    • BHP AGM: Large amount of protest actions outside AGM. OM only represented by 3 people – disappointing size. Indigenous elders flown in by some of the biggest environmental groups. Some proxy voters managed to speak out concerns in front of the AGM for almost 3 hrs, much to Chair’s displeasure. Alternative BHP annual report presented outside AGM by 4 large environmental groups.
    • Eviction of Robert Doyle:  Gathered at City Square, protested on Town Hall. Had some guest speakers.
    • Protest on US Embassy – In solidarity with those evicted from Zuccotti Park (Occupy Wall Street).
    • 30,000 people protested in New York City for Occupy Day of Action. Inspiring.
    • Future plans – Launch alternative to White Ribbon (White Ribbon Day, Campaign to stop violence against Women) – our own black and white ribbons. Hold media event. Request White Ribbon Day remove Robert Doyle as an ‘ambassador against violence’ (!)

 

Interval for media guest

Moderators announced that a person from the media was in attendance and wished to record audio-only for an ‘ABC Radio National’ special.

  • Media person explained they had visited Occupy Sydney and intended to visit Occupy Melbourne for the next several days.
  • Radio special would be 1-hr long
  • Radio National is on 621 AM (Melbourne frequency)

Permission sought for GA to be audio-recorded. Individual speakers may say they don’t want to be recorded before they speak. Permission granted by GA.

Legal

De-brief on Police incident on night of Fri 18-Nov:

  • It is believed 8 arrests occurred. Summons expected to arrive in mail if they lay charges.
  • Traffic Light system will be adopted – occupiers/protestors will be asked to indicate their willingness or reluctance to being arrested prior to a specific expected police action
  • Call for assistance – more Legal Observers needed.
  • Thankyou – to Legal Observers who helped on Friday night.

Discussion – First Declaration of Occupy Melbourne

Initial presentation by speaker from Declaration Working Group.

  • First Declaration draft process – Over 6 weeks. Initial WG meetings had 20-30 people, then a small group of 3 then 7 refined the declaration before final revision with the larger working group again.
  • Draft was presented online, with the request people become familiar and think about the document.
  • Lack of mainstream understanding of Occupy Melbourne noted – hopefully having a Declaration will assist with understanding.
  • Providing a 1 page document is very important to engage public, also serves as a media tool.
  • Goal to state in clearest possible terms. Great challenge when reflecting a diverse group.
  • Reminder that when First Declaration is put to the GA, that it’s the first of multiple future statements.
  • First Declaration is deliberately broad to ensure it is substantive and contains content, but remains agreeable to & inclusive of the diversity of the movement.

Discussion of whether to use the human mic to read the Declaration out. Different views. In the end, request for Humans Mic was withdrawn by speaker. Speaker suggested GA recite Declaration together.

Moderators proposed discussion of First Declaration by taking a speakers list. Speakers had 2 minutes each. Speakers were able to request to the GA for an extension of time. 14 speakers were heard by the GA. A large range of views were expressed.

Two speakers from the working group had a ‘right of reply’ / response at the end. A strawpoll was taken to measure current support for the Declaration as it stands.

The plan is for the Declaration to be put to the GA to be passed at Wednesday’s GA.

Discussion: Further report backs on events of night of Fri 19/11

Moderators sought people who were present at the incident to speak.

Information and views raised:

  • New tactic employed by Occupiers – Speaking on personal, non-aggressive terms to the Police Officers enforcing council Notices to Comply. Connect to police on a human level, remind them they are human too. Avoid oppositional language.
  • Police appeared ashamed of their actions – evicting non-violent protestors from a tarp.
  • Pride expressed in occupiers and those who came in response to alert of police action. All assistance welcome.
  • Passion and solidarity expressed by those unable to attend – much online discussion was initiated and continued as the police action occurred.
  • Someone suggested police action occurred after midnight to deter those who would normally come in by Public Transport.
  • Brief discussion regarding suggested Traffic Light Alert system – notifying others where police action is apparently imminent. Police strategy of persistent threats with no action cited as reason for not using Traffic Light System as occupiers don’t want to put call-outs several times a day. Request made that through an sms-tree, people are provided with factual details about what occupiers observe is happening (eg. Spotless trucks around, numbers of police etc) so people can make their own informed decisions about whether to attend the site or not.
  • We are wearing them down. We are winning.

 

Announcements

  • Event – Cannabis Law Reform Rally (non-affiliated event) – Sun 20 Nov, 1pm, Flagstaff Gardens (Lawn 7).
    • Hip-Hop music and speakers from multiple groups including LEAP (Law Enforcement Against Prohibition), Australian Lawyers Alliance, and Australian Sex Party.
    • Call for involvement – Someone has written a script for a play entitled ‘A Christmas Carol for the 99%’. Potential for play to be performed.

 

Discussion – next GA (Wed 23 Nov)

Apparently there is fencing around City Square site for City Of Melbourne Christmas Urban Forest. Suggestion for GA to be held at Treasury Gardens. Moderators sought approval for GA to be able to pass this single proposal. Agreed.

Proposal: That the following GA, to be held Wed 23 Nov, be held at Treasury Gardens instead of City Square. Passed.

GA closed.

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