Occupy Atlanta Day 2: Woodruff Park is now Troy Davis Park

On Saturday (I apologize to my fourteen readers for being late with this) I went to Occupy Atlanta’s General Assembly. I arrived at 7:08 P.M., about an hour into the Assembly. I don’t think I missed much, and here’s what happened while I was there.

The crowd was much smaller than before, probably about seventy-five compared to the 400 people on Friday. There were about a dozen tents set up in Woodruff Park, and the people present were diverse racially, but not culturally. I’m talking far more scruffy beards and dreads than khakis and ties, as only the more radical elements of Atlanta attended this General Assembly. The Old Marxist, unfortunately, was nowhere to be seen. I’d put the median age at twenty-two, and the older people looked like dedicated leftists rather than a sampling of Atlanta’s diverse population.

The moderator of the Assembly was a middle-aged black man, who I thought did a much better job than the moderator on Friday. I didn’t catch his name.

The first order of business I saw was the passing of a proposal to create a “greeting committee,” which passed without much fuss.

At 7:21 the Demands Committee read their list of demands, which was similar (although I don’t think exactly the same) as the demands read yesterday. It was debated for about thirty minutes, before a consensus was reached that the demands were a work in progress and would not be passed on to the media.

At 7:53 the Assembly debated a proposal about a curfew so that people could get some sleep. The sleeping area would be quiet at an agreed upon time, and the drum circle would stop altogether. At 8:06 the Assembly took a food break that lasted until 8:44.

When the Assembly restarted a homeless man stood in front of facilitators and put on a show. After letting him interrupt the assembly for several minutes, someone finally escorted him out of it. The crowd was shouting stuff like “Tactical Unity, do your job.”

At 8:52 a drunk, but probably not homeless, man asked to address the crowd and asked if people believed if there was one or two gods. Now people called on the moderator to do his job. I guess the General Assembly was realizing that full equality in speaking is slightly impracticable.

At 8:57, the General Assembly reached consensus that the drum circle would cease and quiet time in the sleeping area would commence at 1 A.M. The consensus was only reached for the following day, as consensus could not be reached on an indefinite curfew. I think it will become the de facto curfew, and will be an example of consensus reaching legerdemain.

At 8:58 a person proposed that the occupiers change the name of Woodruff Park to Troy Davis park.

At 9:05 the process was interrupted by a man who works at Occupy Atlanta’s “HQ.” He told the General Assembly that the HQ had been robbed, resulting in the theft of several laptops, cameras, and the donation jar (whoops).

This led to about fifteen minutes of pointless drama about the proper process for such a robbery. Apparently, the tactical unity squad had agreed that under no condition would police be allowed into “HQ,” but police were allowed in after the robbery so that they could write a police report on the stolen goods. This culminated in a member of the Tactical Unity Committee (I believe) reading an agitprop prepared statement accusing someone of being a police informer. He was going to out this person, but the facilitators took the bullhorn away from him at this point and told him to be quiet.

I think the facilitators exercised good judgment in silencing him. First, they don’t need to start a witch hunt, and his accusation was simply a “THIS PERSON IS A POLICE INFORMANT,” and the issue at hand was only tangentially related to the police, and I don’t think a person being or not being a police informant had anything to do with the stolen goods. As far as I could tell, this anonymous person being a police informant had, as yet, had no impact on Occupy Atlanta’s day to day operations. I think they have bigger problems than police informants, like reaching a basic level of competency and preventing this movement from being hijacked by drama prone college students who think they are the stars of Occupy Atlanta: The Movie, not Occupy Atlanta: The Political Movement.

At 9:18 a new moderator was appointed, a white woman whose name I also didn’t catch.

At 9:29 consensus was reached to refer to Woodruff Park as Troy Davis Park. It took so long because, theft drama aside, some people wanted to work to get the name officially changed. This suggestion was tabled, to be pursued at a later date.

At 9:31 there was a homeless invasion. They were, for the most part, respectful of the General Assembly and content to watch quietly as they munched on food Occupy Atlanta had provided. Feeding the homeless was probably the best action taken by the General Assembly all night.

At 9:34 there was a proposal for more breaks during the General Assembly. The proposer felt the crowd’s energy flagged, and that more breaks would solve the problem. This annoyed the crowd, because instead of just getting on and finishing the meeting, it was once again derailed with a pointless proposal. “Joe,” called for a counterproposal to adjourn the meeting, and then got huffy when his proposal was blocked (because, as it turned out, the most important proposals/announcements were saved until the end) like a child who didn’t get his way. The proposal was tabled at 9:56, and the meeting was adjourned five minutes later.

At 9:56, “Tim” asked for volunteers for the Outreach Committee (I was excited to hear they had one), and proposed a march on the Bank of America building some time in the near future. I imagine this proposal was debated extensively on Sunday, because there will be a march on the Bank of America building October 11th at 4:00 P.M. On Saturday he merely mentioned that it should be done.

“Marlon,” who is a member of “Copwatch,” an Atlanta Organization that follows around police and documents abuses of their power, said there would be a legal rights workshop following the General Assembly.

And that was what happened during the General Assembly of Day Two, Occupy Atlanta.

Saturday’s General Assembly reinforced my notions from the previous day; the people running Occupy Atlanta need to suppress their egos if they want Occupy Atlanta to amount to anything more than a Hard Left, college student circle jerk. The General Assembly wasted a lot of time listening to people who wanted, most of all, to hear themselves talk. I don’t really have any idea what the behind-the-scenes work looks like, but from the people speaking in the General Assembly it appears that there’s a core of college students really wrapped up in the movement, and they’re acting like this is Summer Camp and they’re Camp Counselors, with all of the drama and pettiness that entails.

I’m not saying they represent the movement, but it looks like they are dominating the conversation (or at least they are in the General Assembly).

I still believe the movement is learning, and will morph into something more politically effective than it is now. I volunteered to work on one of Occupy Atlanta’s committees on Saturday, but have yet to be contacted. We’ll see how that goes. Hopefully when they march on the Bank of America tomorrow, they’ll present an appearance to the media and standers-by of having their shit together.

  1. October 11th, 2011

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