Occupy Wall Street, a protest which began on September 17, is still ongoing in New York City and has spread to other areas around the country. Protesters are still camped out in Zuccotti Park, with marches a constant occurrence throughout the area. The movement has now hit the national and international news and is still going strong, despite the 700 people who were arrested in New York City on October 1. Many other cities, including Albany, are starting similar movements.
There was a general assembly meeting at the Grand Street Community Arts Center in Albany on Sunday, October 9. Over 100 people gathered to discuss the logistics behind “occupying” Albany. The assembly format, like the general assembly meetings down in New York City, was very democratic, involving the idea of reaching consensus about various plans rather than just a simple majority.
The moderators read the agenda aloud and brought the attendees up-to-date on what had been discussed at the previous meeting. There was a discussion about whether buses should be sent to New York City from Albany. Some people said no; they wanted to focus on Albany, while others thought that it would be a good idea.
The main discussion at the meeting was where people should occupy in Albany. Many different locations were discussed, mainly in terms of legality issues. In New York City, Zuccotti Park (which is the “home base” for OWS) is private property given to the public, meaning that protesters cannot be arrested for trespassing.
One of the RPI students in attendance, Paulina Fink ’13, said, “I thought that there were a lot of good ideas being shared, but that it was off to a slow start.” There were some technical issues at first. Different people had many different ideas. Some want to camp out at the Albany Capitol building. Others wanted to stay at Lafayette Park, which is near the Capitol. People also wondered if it is feasible for people to spend entire days and nights outside once the weather gets cold. Fink pointed out, “You have to be able to take criticism to be able to speak there. There are a lot of conflicting ideas.”
Several ground rules about the movement in Albany were also brought to the stack, such as nonviolence. “If we are perceived as anything other than nonviolent, we are as good as dead,” one of the attendees reminded everyone. After the large meeting, everyone broke up into working groups to help decide on the issues with other people most interested in those issues, rather than with the general group. Working groups included people interested in legal issues, outreach, media and technology, facilities and organizing, bus trips, and food.
The attendees were reminded that Occupy Wall Street itself had required months of planning and seven general assembly meetings, so they should not feel concerned if they thought that little had been accomplished that night. The next general assembly meeting will be held next Sunday at 5 pm in the Grand Street Community Arts Center in Albany.