Occupy Austin at City Hall


Occupy Austin, a set on Flickr.

I arrived about 11am at Austin City Hall for the #OccupyAustin event. The occupiers numbered about 300. There were about 5 news trucks from local Austin media who were browsing the crowd for interesting looking characters to interview. The APD was also out in force. After exchanging several emails last night with “organizers” (my word) I was most curious to see how organized this group actually was.  I spoke to “Ronny” after watching him address the crowd about the 3pm General Assembly. He said they are still working on an actual structure but they have formed committees that cover increasingly specific issues conducted by moderators and all decisions are reached by consensus. He handed me a print out of what had come of the first General Assembly held just a few days ago. It described the procedures, the structure of “facilliation teams”, hand signals for communications and an introduction to their purpose. It begins:

As a group we have decided to take n the form of Occupy Wall Street movement to have all planning and activities (from the logistics of the operation of the occupation to the planning of activities) take place through committees. The General Assembly is a gathering for these committees to report back to the group as a whole on their progress and receive consensus approval to move forward with activities that affect the occupation as a whole.

I asked about the trouble of “representing” a group that claims no leader and he acknowledged the obvious problem. Just minutes before a young woman with an Occupy Austin media pass addressed the crowd over a document being circulated that was not “approved” by the general assembly. You could immediately since her frustration as she was met with grumbles and comments from people who wanted to make it clear no one spoke for them.

My main issue with any protest movement is a lack of, whats referred to in the organizing world as, “action items”. Ronny assured me that each assembly ends with action items drawn from consensus. Tomorrow Oct. 7th they will march to Bank of America and ask customers to switch to a local credit union instead of supporting corporate banks. Another speaker suggested shopping at farmers’ markets and keeping money within the community. I think as long as the group stays flexible and organic enough to absorb the general discontent of Wall Street it can maintain successful less they fall in the trap of alienation by affiliation.


One thought on “Occupy Austin at City Hall

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  1. That document being circulated is shortsighted, uninformed and dangerous. It is based on hysteria and lack of fundamental understanding of the situation.

    To prove how shortsighted this document is, here is a graphic that a layperson can understand about how the tax burden is spread in our society: http://visualizingeconomics.com/2010/02/12/how-much-taxes-are-paid-by-the-poor-middle-class-and-rich/

    20% of the American population make 55% of the income and pay 69% of all taxes. The “rich”, as that document clearly shows, are already paying their fair share of taxes. Perhaps we can debate whether or not someone making $10,000,000 per year is truly paying a fair share, but the increase in revenue would be trivial if we collected more in taxes from that class of Americans.

    The reality is that the Occupy Austin (along with all occupy movements) movement is a front for sloth and entitlement. These people expect benefits without cost to them. They want to live off of hard working Americans the same way that they have lived off of their parents the last 30 years. They are jealous of the achievements of others and feel like they have been gypped. They see themselves as intelligent and wonder why that hasn’t gotten them further in life. In reality they are the exact opposite. They are cancer. In terms of evolution, they are the dodo; doomed to walk off a cliff.

    Has corporate America and government screwed us? Yes. Do we need reform? Yes. But, the reform that this movement stands for isn’t reform at all. It seeks to brand the status quo so deep into the body of America that our soul is burned from within.

    If you want meaningful reform, empower people to take control of their life. Encourage small business and entrepreneurship. Put term limits on all elected offices. Enact a national flat tax. Do things to remove centralized power.

    None of the pseudo-socialist ideas being presented in that document will work. They are short run fixes to a long run problem.

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