Demands Update 10/2/2011: Directly below, is the first list of demands, as presented on September 22, 2011 by Occupation Wall Street. There is a new document. The link for a new document, agreed to on September 29, 2011 and published on September 30, 2011 is available at the NYC General Assembly website HERE, and in full text in the middle of this post.
KW writes: My goodness. In a wise, creative, and mischievous response to the nasty rhetoric of the press, the Occupy Wall Street folks have answered propaganda with poetry. What a graceful maneuver in the struggle for social change. Beautiful and heartwarming!
For a discussion on the media’s quest for one, clear demand from the Wall Street protesters, the group created the following consensus document:
A Message From Occupied Wall Street (Day Five)
Published 2011-09-22 07:51:42 UTC by OccupyWallSt
This is the fifth communiqué from the 99 percent. We are occupying Wall Street.
On September 21st, 2011, Troy Davis, an innocent man, was murdered by the state of Georgia. Troy Davis was one of the 99 percent.
Ending capital punishment is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, four of our members were arrested on baseless charges.
Ending police intimidation is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, the richest 400 Americans owned more than half of the country’s population.
Ending wealth inequality is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, we determined that Yahoo lied about occupywallst.org being in spam filters.
Ending corporate censorship is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly eighty percent of Americans thought the country was on the wrong track.
Ending the modern gilded age is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly 15% of Americans approved of the job Congress was doing.
Ending political corruption is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of Americans did not have work.
Ending joblessness is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly one sixth of America lived in poverty.
Ending poverty is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, roughly fifty million Americans were without health insurance.
Ending health-profiteering is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, America had military bases in around one hundred and thirty out of one hundred and sixty-five countries.
Ending American imperialism is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, America was at war with the world.
Ending war is our one demand.
On September 21st, 2011, we stood in solidarity with Madrid, San Francisco, Los Angeles, Madison, Toronto, London, Athens, Sydney, Stuttgart, Tokyo, Milan, Amsterdam, Algiers, Tel Aviv, Portland and Chicago. Soon we will stand with Phoenix, Montreal, Cleveland and Atlanta. We’re still here. We are growing. We intend to stay until we see movements toward real change in our country and the world.
You have fought all the wars. You have worked for all the bosses. You have wandered over all the countries. Have you harvested the fruits of your labors, the price of your victories? Does the past comfort you? Does the present smile on you? Does the future promise you anything? Have you found a piece of land where you can live like a human being and die like a human being? On these questions, on this argument, and on this theme, the struggle for existence, the people will speak. Join us.
We speak as one. All of our decisions, from our choice to march on Wall Street to our decision to continue occupying Liberty Square, were decided through a consensus based process by the group, for the group.
END OF 9/22/2011 DOCUMENT
BEGINNING OF NEWEST DOCUMENT, AGREED TO ON 9/29/2011
NYC General Assembly
The Official Website of the GA at #OccupyWallStreet
Declaration of the Occupation of New York City
Posted on September 30, 2011 by NYCGA
This document was accepted by the NYC General Assembly on september 29, 2011
As we gather together in solidarity to express a feeling of mass injustice, we must not lose sight of what brought us together. We write so that all people who feel wronged by the corporate forces of the world can know that we are your allies.
As one people, united, we acknowledge the reality: that the future of the human race requires the cooperation of its members; that our system must protect our rights, and upon corruption of that system, it is up to the individuals to protect their own rights, and those of their neighbors; that a democratic government derives its just power from the people, but corporations do not seek consent to extract wealth from the people and the Earth; and that no true democracy is attainable when the process is determined by economic power. We come to you at a time when corporations, which place profit over people, self-interest over justice, and oppression over equality, run our governments. We have peaceably assembled here, as is our right, to let these facts be known.
They have taken our houses through an illegal foreclosure process, despite not having the original mortgage.
They have taken bailouts from taxpayers with impunity, and continue to give Executives exorbitant bonuses.
They have perpetuated inequality and discrimination in the workplace based on age, the color of one’s skin, sex, gender identity and sexual orientation.
They have poisoned the food supply through negligence, and undermined the farming system through monopolization.
They have profited off of the torture, confinement, and cruel treatment of countless animals, and actively hide these practices.
They have continuously sought to strip employees of the right to negotiate for better pay and safer working conditions.
They have held students hostage with tens of thousands of dollars of debt on education, which is itself a human right.
They have consistently outsourced labor and used that outsourcing as leverage to cut workers’ healthcare and pay.
They have influenced the courts to achieve the same rights as people, with none of the culpability or responsibility.
They have spent millions of dollars on legal teams that look for ways to get them out of contracts in regards to health insurance.
They have sold our privacy as a commodity.
They have used the military and police force to prevent freedom of the press. They have deliberately declined to recall faulty products endangering lives in pursuit of profit.
They determine economic policy, despite the catastrophic failures their policies have produced and continue to produce.
They have donated large sums of money to politicians, who are responsible for regulating them.
They continue to block alternate forms of energy to keep us dependent on oil.
They continue to block generic forms of medicine that could save people’s lives or provide relief in order to protect investments that have already turned a substantial profit.
They have purposely covered up oil spills, accidents, faulty bookkeeping, and inactive ingredients in pursuit of profit.
They purposefully keep people misinformed and fearful through their control of the media.
They have accepted private contracts to murder prisoners even when presented with serious doubts about their guilt.
They have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas.
They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts. *
To the people of the world,
We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power.
Exercise your right to peaceably assemble; occupy public space; create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone.
To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal.
Join us and make your voices heard!
*These grievances are not all-inclusive.
END OF 9/29/2011 DOCUMENT
Comparison of the two sets of demands/grievances
published by Occupy Wall Street
An opinion piece by Kimberly Wilder 10/4/2011
-The first document I will refer to as the
“One Demand Document” or “First Document”
-The second document I will refer to as the
“Grievances Document” or “Second Document”
Up front, I would like to say, that I am offering my thoughts as support and analysis, not as critique. Even where my words seem critical or harsh, I would like to underscore the fact that the work Occupy Wall Street is doing is wonderful, effective, and maybe even miraculous. Since I am currently participating only in the virtual world, I am trying to offer the input of reflection and more tedious analysis, which is easier to do here, from the comfort of my home. Though, on the ground, at Liberty Square/Zucotti Park, is where the most difficult work is happening. And, I hope to visit there at some time, or at least offer material support.
The whole world seems to be asking the Occupy Wall Street demonstrators for their “one demand”. And, much of the world is asking for it in a bossy and condescending way. So, I was so happy when, on Day Five of the occupation, the General Assembly created a list that claimed, poetically, to be “one demand”, but was, in fact a list of at least 11 demands. Later, on September 29th, the NYC General Assembly, which speaks for Occupy Wall Street, agreed to another document which answers the question, “What is it they want?” or “What is their one demand?”. This document turned the question around again. Instead of demands, it was a list of grievances which hinted at solutions. Instead of one demand, or even eleven demands, there were over twenty demands (people are saying 22 demands), presented in the form of pointed grievances.
And, there is another point which should not be lost. The NYC General Assembly has gathered together hundreds of people to these deliberations. And, yet, they are able to created a long list of items agreed to in a consensus manner. It would appear doable for a group of angry, disenfranchised students, workers, residents, and citizens to come up with one issue or demand to agree on. Though, for all of them to find over twenty points of agreement, and all come together to endorse and publish the document, it is an accomplishment of monumental proportions. It’s a consensus miracle!
When I looked at the first “one demand” document and compared it to the second “grievances” document, I came up with three lost items. The items that were stated more clearly in the first document were: putting an end to war; putting an end to poverty; and stating the injustice of arrested colleagues. I hope that in future documents, those items will be re-inserted in unequivocal terms.
So, my harshest comment follows: Could there be a chance, that because the second document did not as specifically demand “ending police intimidation” and did not list the fact that members were arrested, that it affected outcomes on the Brooklyn Bridge? Could it be that groundwork was laid for the arrest of the 700 protesters on October 1st, because the document published on September 30th only referred to the police in terms of freedom of the press, and because it did not refer to colleagues arrested? I am not sure if there is any connection. Though, perhaps there is a connection in the world of background pressure on the system, or with the Karma. So, I think in the future, in the interest of strategy, luck, and/or karma, all lists of demands should specifically support those colleagues previously arrested.
The first document and the second document also have different approaches to the issue of ending wars. I do acknowledge that both documents have assertions that support peace, and would generally support an end to war. Though, the first document says it simply and forcefully. It says, “Ending war is our one demand”. The second document does not say so clearly that war must be ended. Instead, it points to some of the injustices and background reasons for the current wars. The second document could be read as only being opposed to weapons of mass destruction, and to corporate exploitation of war, not to war itself. Here is the wording:
“They [the corporations] have perpetuated colonialism at home and abroad. They have participated in the torture and murder of innocent civilians overseas. They continue to create weapons of mass destruction in order to receive government contracts.”
In the interest of comparison, I would also like to note a vocabulary choice. The first document refers to American “imperialism”, while the second document refers to “colonialism”. I wonder if the word choice presents any reflection on trends in the movement, a change in focus, or the people who wrote the two drafts.
Another difference between document one and document two is the use of the word “poverty”. Document one boldly asserts “Ending poverty is our one demand”. Document two does not contain the word poverty. A careful examination shows that document two focuses less on issues of the poor and the most unfortunate, and more on issues of the middle class. The first document demands an end to poverty and joblessness. The second document starts with illegal foreclosures (which happen to people who own homes to begin with), and lists problems such as education debt, cutting workers’ healthcare and pay, and unfair implementation of health insurance. These are important issues. These should be in there. Though, it is of note that between the two versions, they are listed instead of ending poverty.
My guess is that the second document is opening up the door to wider coalitions, with labor unions and the middle class. And, I understand the need to do that in order to create a bigger movement. And, it follows the idea that it is the 99% verses the 1%. Though, I hope that Occupy Wall Street remembers to feature demands for the most poor into their lists of grievances.
When I first heard about the release of another document, I automatically assumed that it was an update to the first document. And, I considered it, in some manner, as a replacement document. Though, I believe that the two documents are very different on a fundamental level. Document one ends with a list of questions to the readers. It is trying to activate regular Americans to think and act. It says,
“You have fought all the wars. You have worked for all the bosses…Have you harvested the fruits of your labor?…Does the future promise you anything?”
Document two is different. It is framed with assertions that the writers and readers must work as individuals to protect their rights. And, it ends with an invitation to join, and an offer of help. It says,
“We, the New York City General Assembly occupying Wall Street in Liberty Square, urge you to assert your power…To all communities that take action and form groups in the spirit of direct democracy, we offer support, documentation, and all of the resources at our disposal. Join us and make your voices heard!”
I wonder if the writers and approvers of the two documents have shifted from activating through anger as a prime message, to inviting to action as a prime message? I believe that there is a need for both angles, because different people are at different places in their activist awakening. I hope (and believe) that some of the people on the ground are still committed to the lofty demands of document one, and to using idealism and anger to motivate those in the public who are sleeping. And, I look forward to the overall Occupy Wall Street movement inviting new people in, and supporting them with knowledge and resources.
I also look forward to more declarations from the New York City General Assembly. And, I hope that each declaration is better than the one before, and, that they never boil it down to only one demand.
Filed under: News, Occupy Wall Street, progressive politics Tagged: | 22 demands, Declaration of the Occupation, Financial District, NYC General Assembly, Occupy Wall Street, Occupy Wall Street General Assembly, Occupy Wall Street message, our one demand, wall street, Wall Street protest, Wall Street protesters, What do the Wall Street protesters demand?