Who Speaks for Occupy?

by John Wood

I’m on some of the planning lists and was involved in the December 12th port shutdown planning and in the EGT protest planning. Usually, whether or not an action had the approval of the General Assembly came up, implying that if it did not, it wasn’t a legitimate Occupy action.

I went to my first GA meeting Sunday night. Counting me, less than 25 people showed, some of them seeking approval from the GA for an action. We had as many as 200 people at some of our planning sessions. Weren’t we Occupy, whether or not we had the approval of a handful of people that brave the cold to show up at Director Park on Sunday nights? Do the few showing up for a General Assembly speak for all of us? Are they Occupy, or is Occupy more than that?

When Occupy actually occupied the parks, perhaps the General Assembly did speak for us, since the GA was made up of those that had their asses on the line, those that occupied the parks. That’s no longer true.

I think we realize that, while the occupation of parks served a purpose, got us noticed, and established a physical presence for Occupy, physical occupation of parks is no longer viable. If anything, toward the end of the occupation of the parks in Portland, such occupation was costing us support in the community. Without an occupation, I think the GA is no longer relevant.

As we’ve moved beyond occupations, we need to move beyond the idea that the GA speaks for Occupy, or perhaps the GA needs to take on a different form, on the Internet maybe. It makes no sense for 20 people gathered in a circle at Director Park to speak for all of Occupy Portland.

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