DAWG Meeting Minutes – 05/30/12

Brainstorming session for Black Monday

We should talk about Autonomous Actions.

Sept. 17th’s day of action is being called with Black Monday. Do we want to use that term?

I think its genius. Black Friday is the shopping day, this is the opposite, sentiment: shut this down.

Black Monday is synonymous with three of the largest stock market crashes in history.

Black Monday, I don’t particularly like that name.

Until September, we have the opportunity to mobilize people.

Black Monday – can it work for mass mobilizations? I’d like to see us overshadow May Day in turnout and with a big broad mobilization. Sept. 17th has less baggage than May Day and we should build upon our relationships and ability to bring others into the fold if we want to have a massive impact.

There can be this connotation that’s broader. The day has a mystique that doesn’t have to be only negative.

I’m not a fan of the name. I feel like it’s isolating. It has a scary foreboding feeling. I would like something approachable.

We’ll have days leading up to it that may be festive and it is a serious day, not a celebration. This is not a day for self-celebration. If the name doesn’t start with Sept. 17 th , or anniversary, or if its just Black Monday in isolation.

I don’t care too much about the name or what we want to call this day. What’s more important is what we do, rather than what we call it. I’m brainstorming here but what about breakout assemblies that are themselves disruptive? Held in the middle of the street and what if we used things like the Black Bloc as a buffer between police and the GA. The Black Bloc has been about protecting protestors. We could build on that.

What if we used it as a day where we ushered in a New Year? Something ceremonial? Like a ball drop? Year 1.

An action suggestion: People on the street, showering the police with flowers as they baton or come out surrounding us.

I really like the idea of a tactical assembly. There are instances where protestors use assemblies in Argentina that way. They use it as a tactic against the police. Maybe we should go to midtown instead of locking down the financial district? We can and should avoid being so self-referential. Let’s go straight to the heart of capitalism, midtown.

As I see it, recently, all of the work we’ve been doing in actions has been falling into 2 categories, actions and fun. I want to get married to OWS. I was thinking we could have a mass ceremony where people come to Occupy, Rev. Billy would officiate and individuals could get married to Occupy on White Sunday.

What should the day like? Should it big or small? Small AG’s of 10-20 numbering 25-50 in total or are we talking May Day? November 17 th ? Mass mobilizations?

What is the purpose of the day beyond the anniversary? What is the point and that should inform what we do. What are we celebrating? If Occupy only remains only a few hundred people, we stay marginal. How do we make this part of a broader mass movement that’s capable of accomplishing something?

I like the phrase Black Monday. Its ominous, its open. It potentially leaves a space for large groups. If and when Occupy makes this call, the issue of mass mobilization may make it out. A dramatic call for Black Monday might open a space.

I want to see a mass mobilization. I go back and forth between Cali and here and you all are an inspiration.

What should it look like? Are we talking 100 or 500 people? It should be bigger. It should be a national day of action. People will want to come. It should be a reaffirmation. We’re reaffirming what we came here to do. “We’re calling for a Black Monday so THEY (motioning to high rises on Wall Street) won’t create another Black Monday.”

We should have statistics and make a more clear and present case about Wall Street instead of the self-celebration.

Black Monday came out of a bunch of people involved in May Day and some who are not involved. One large body shouldn’t se the tone of the day. Call it whatever you want. We should feel free to take the action everywhere. We should be everywhere and feel free to be everywhere.

A day of decentralized action? That only works if we have a coherent tactical framework and structures to coordinate that. There needs to be a much more effective tactical spokesmodel than existed for May Day. No one was willing to offer up info because of paranoia re: security culture and everyone assumed that everyone else was working on something.

Here are some ideas floating around: Have a large move your money day, Shutdown the Stock Exchange, Re-occupation? I’ll put together a survey and send it around.

The desire to have a tactical framework is really powerful. I’d also like to see if we’re going to be doing random things around the city that there’s cohesion so everyone’s story gets told and everyone’s noticed. One action people can do without going to NYC, or into the street is a debt strike. We should be doing outreach, talk about all the gains that OWS has been a part of.

I want it to be a day of resistance. It’s a global movement, we don’t have to rely on existing institutions, and this is our day. I want to make that clear. We don’t have to rely on existing institutions.

I like the idea of midtown, tighten up the centralization, even if we have a 10-block radius that we just took the streets, occupy the streets all day, different streets and activities in them. Every street is filled with people. You can’t past it or through it. We want to shut things down but they get shut down for us. Institutional left, they can come as they are, come as people who are upset but leave everything behind.

Hard logistical suggestions: White Sunday? I think there should be a weekend of concerts and trainings, get people into NY from all over the country. Prospect Park is a possibility. Central Park is not likely. Town Square concerts, no speeches, all music, all trainings. I worry that we will find ourselves struggling in our autonomous actions vs. large marches and we need to not be reactive. We should not be adversarial but own our own space. The web platform on this is really important. I’d like to build a financial crimes map of NYC; it will take a lot of tech help and photography. If we’re smart, we’re ready to do the research but we need to convey that to get people on board. Also, we should travel to other occupations before hand to build contacts and networks. I called Prospect Park, and asked Michael Kink on how to expedite the process of potentially putting on a concert.

We have a personal contact with the parks department. Let’s talk after.

Talking about the suggestion for a reoccupation. What about occupying an abandoned building? It’s far away from the ordinary design of the institutional left. It would bring a lot of attention to the day.

We’re talking about this big day. We’re in NYC, America, and the belly of the beast. I ‘m concerned about the people on the front lines in other cities around the world.

My thought would be a worldwide call for action, not just a nationwide convergence. We need to make a call that’s worldwide.

Having a convergence center. If we’re going to have a huge action, a lot of people will come into NYC for this.

If the idea is to draw attention to Occupy, would it not be more effective to be who we are, one large direct action as opposed to several small ones?

I’ve been hearing a lot of people who say they feel distant despite being around OWS, if the AF’s take initiative to do their own actions. We need an on-ramp that allows people to get on board. We need to do a more effective action to link up with people.

Messaging, the power and the messaging will bring people in, may alienate people. Let’s be mindful not to fall into tired rhetoric or dead language, no CPUSA jargon from 1950 about the capitalists and the masses and etc., etc., That stuff alienates people and its tired.

Maybe a slogan like “end corporate control?”

Make sure that there’s enough pamphlets and etc., for everyone to get involved with info, we do mic checks on the Quebec marches. We hand out fliers not only about Canada but the connections to USA in the Montréal action.

A very strong part of when we had a physical occupation was the actual mutual aid and it’s now mis-used as “someone provides services for me please”. We need to rethink the way the term is used so that its not compartmentalized and if we’re working in small groups, we are self-sufficient. We should rotate through those nodes of support services, not that its one separate group.

Efforts are not best to focus on the day right now. With May Day, the planning was 2x a week for 4 months but that seemed inaccessible to a lot of people and took away some of our decentralized philosophies. Days of action aren’t dual power. They’re shots in the dark. Making things happen are important. Dual power brings people out in the long run and actually grows your movement. This day should try to build towards dual power.

I think a lot of people are leery of it being dark terminology. That being said, I liked the structure of May Day, with autonomous groups, we could create scheduling, color phases or various times, each group can slide in and out to do CD.

The action should be used to amplify the messaging. An action that I heard people talk about, jailhouse solidarity. Assembly creates work, direct democracy.

We need to take on issues, like racism – that will destroy “their power” to divide “us”. You’re not going to find an issue more important than racism. They rely on our division. We need to take on these issues. If we really want to get rid of this capitalist system, we need to build fights against racism, against what’s happening in Pakistan and Afghanistan.

I don’t think we should have one centralized center as in F29, Bryant Park; we should have different parks, convergence centers with the same info, downtown area. There needs to be a tiered place of comfort.

Autonomous actions and affinity groups should plan openly. Get 200 people arrested not 5, lets be open about it. We don’t need to organize in secret. We should use that day as an opportunity to articulate what we failed to articulate what we want. We want the end of very specific things; we should come back to that.

Shutting down Wall Street is a good idea but we need to think big picture.

Why are we so afraid to say end corporate control?

One of our strongest suits was having the broadest common denominator, maybe some people want specific changes, and I’m not trying to restrict that too much. This call needs to be a floating signifier like how “Occupy Wall Street” was so people could take their own slice of it and make it their own. It’s meaningful and broad and vague but also specific enough for people to attach to.

What kind of actions? What is the one thing we’d change if we could do? Repeal Citizens United?

Announcement: tomorrow night – at the Alshultz Unitarian church, on Lexington there will be a campaign finance meeting.

How do we make the day a big fucking deal? If we don’t come out in large, bold numbers, we’ll be missing an opportunity to make a very big impact.

About shutting down Wall Street – the radical leftists that started organizing in the Arab Spring, they didn’t expect that they’d be able to bring down Mubarak. We can expect mobilizations of 100’s of thousands. We need to allow spontaneity, look at Montreal. This could potentially happen here. We need to be able to act right now, from one moment to the next.

Wall Street is everywhere! We don’t need there to be a specific location. If we put out a radical call, we can help set the tone. They will come along. If you call it, they will come. Keep the broad messaging populist but radical. Debt strike/Student Debt/BofA stuff/Populist issue we can be radical on. We have the summer school, leading up to black Monday, what’s a good escalation narrative to bring people to the city that day.

There needs to be an urgency, that’s why people come out into the street. What is the most urgent and connected action? How do we make something like debt that is connecting people? How do we make it visual and accessible? The 99 Spring/ Non Profit Types who are broad based are strong on that sometimes. We should do the loud and visual work and maybe the connecting issue is debt. What debt means to them?

The actions need to be tangible, accessible, and transparent. We need to bring these issues to the streets. This occupy maps thing as a starting point. Education has to be a super continuous part of what they’re doing. Mapping capitalism. Creating a map so that people can orient themselves, that it’s not just a centralized location but “Wall street is everywhere…”

Two things that center around messaging –personally I think symbols are important and I think this area is a very symbolic area and I’d like to see us in this area. There’s this idea that we shouldn’t say shut down Wall Street because we can’t but I say the opposite, I say we should overshoot intentionally. “Come out and shut down Wall Street”, “Come out and we’re going to do it all!” The messaging should push us beyond the moon and will not only show the inability of the state to do anything about it but also to keep in the work over the long haul after the day comes and goes.

Its great to aim high and all that but with May Day the General Strike, I don’t think it was helpful to call for things that can’t happen. I don’t think we should state a specific goal for the day.

As a long-term campaign I think it’s really important. I think the value of these big days of action, being down here but being at the symbolic place. Sept. 17 th , 4 years to the day of when Lehman shut down, zero indictments, it’s so clearly a farce, if in terms of messaging, we can bring them that and call attention to that before the election, there’s potential for that.

Mass citizens arrest?

What about boycotts?

For the most part, it was generalized anger at Wall Street that brought us to the park. It hasn’t gone away. It won’t go away before 9/17. Keep it generally vague, keep it broad but it doesn’t take away from what we’re doing. In terms of messaging, fuck citizens united but that’s not the root of the problem. We need to stay focused on the anger against Wall Street.

The map with the financial crimes is a great idea because it fives people choice and agency.

Every other Wednesday, decisions aren’t being made right now but we have a 2 week window, come back and make proposals, people who want to work on messaging, what can that day mean? We can begin to craft something to work it with people for two weeks and work our way through it. It’s just a day. We can figure out what works for that day.

The story is bigger than what’s happening in NYC, automatically, there will be a beautiful story told. The vague story will be told but I think a lot of the crimes, we can push those ideas out there. How do we tell something so poignant and so clear that its like “they’re still doing the same thing….”

A lot of the messaging sounds pretty negative; there should be something positive that we did.

Debt is linked to everything and participatory democracy links to everything.

I think we’ve done the story about what we’ve done in the year.

Universal debt strike or whatever, starting that day a new wave instead of a day of action. Leading up to 9/17, there should be debtor’s assembly. This day needs to be a global call.

Pluralism instead of vague, OWS is about a plurality of causes.

We need to find a middle ground with specific action or call. How do you feel about Citizens United or Corporate Personhood?


Vague, is over the moon messaging. Make a list of things we cant do. It can be poetic.

I like the idea of a debt strike.

We need to focus on outside of OWS, not just this culture. I didn’t come to Zuccotti Park for Occupy Wall Street, and I think the majority of the people who came to this park came to Occupy Wall Street as an action against Wall Street, not for the community of activists that is left in OWS. We need to focus on the villains, focus on Wall Street, tap into that. When we’re not talking about them or pointing the finger at them, they’re winning and we’re losing.

There are plenty of people that are still gathering, and we need to do it in a way that gets into their hair. So that they realize that they did not conquer, we need visibility,

What about a yearbook, outline, to give to the press? I love the idea of shutting things down with something more inventive than just “fucking shit up.”

In January, they tried to shutdown Wall Street West, and it was overshadowed by the move-in day. An attempt at trying to open a space became a major event. That’s just something to keep in mind going forward.

We changed the conversation. Let’s not forget that.

Two weeks from today, we’ll return to this brainstorming session and in the mean time, let’s all be thinking about this and brainstorming with each other.

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