The national convention of delegates on July 2nd in Philadelphia, Pennsylvania is a product of the 99% Declaration affinity group and does not have the endorsement of the Occupy Movement. The 99D project employs methods that the Movement has found disconcerting including representative governance, closed meetings, and exclusionary tactics. Our Movement is committed to the principles of direct democracy, transparency, and horizontalism and we cannot endorse a convention that does not adhere to these principles. However, we do have a working group dedicated to conceiving of and planning a National Gathering of the Occupy Movement from the ground up. Early in the Movement a story was published in the Huffington Post which hinted at the idea of a National Gathering on July 4th 2012. However, those of us in Philadelphia were confused. We had not initiated a call for a gathering and we knew that neither had Occupy Wall Street. After doing some research we found that the convention was called for by Michael Pollok’s group: the 99% Declaration (99D). Occupy Philly reached out to Mr. Pollok but he, nor any members of his group, would return our messages. A few months later he visited our Coordinating Committee with his idea after he had met with City officials to discuss logistics. Occupy Philly (OP) was not consulted nor ever had any part in this process.
A few months later, after the project had gone live, the 99D board sent a representative to the Philadelphia General Assembly to try to gain our endorsement. Very real concerns were raised by our community including the 99D’s associations with former Goldman Sachs executives, requiring social security numbers for nomination of delegates, and having closed meetings with the city before even consulting us. There was such an outrage at the group’s disingenuous behavior that there was a motion from the floor for an immediate vote of “No Support.” The vote passed unanimously.
Occupy Wall Street had a similar experience of distrust. The 99D group was listed on the New York City General Assembly website (nycga.net) though it was not posting its meetings, minutes, or reporting back to the General Assembly. When approached about this lack of transparency the group denied any wrong doing. Mr Pollok has been adamant in his lack of cooperation and coordination with this Movement. It is not hard to see why the Movement does not want to be involved with this group. However, we have been working on a National Gathering proposal through adherence to our principles of direct democracy, transparency, and horizontalism. On January 7th 2012, the Occupy Philadelphia General Assembly passed a proposal sanctioning the formation of a national working group dedicated to conceiving of and crafting a proposal for a national Gathering of the Movement if that was the Movement’s will. The Philadelphia Committee of Correspondence, a working group dedicated to Inter-Assembly communication, initiated a series of conference calls through InterOccupy, a communication infrastructure also committed to the principles of the Movement, to ask for participation and input from the rest of the Movement. The National Gathering Working Group has met four times since January 17th with participations from Sacramento, Philadelphia, Minneapolis, Asheville, Missoula, Phoenix, Las Vegas, New York, Houston, LA, San Diego, Santa Cruz, Denver, DC, Oakland, Albany, Delaware, Alabama, Chicago, Tampa, San Francisco, and Kalamazoo in addition to a few international comrades from Scotland and Nova Scotia.
The calls have consisted of discussing the possibilities, difficulties, and logistics of a nationwide convergence of the Movement. So far the group has worked out a time frame, potential goals, and are currently debating location. In the next week we hope to have a clear favorite. We then intend to reach out to the Assembly and ask about their willingness to host a National Gathering. A National Gathering of the Occupy Movement must adhere to the principles of the Movement. Therefore, for any national convergence to have credence in our communities it must be planned openly, transparently, and communally. The 99% Declaration has not adhered to these principles and that is why we do not support them. The National Gathering Working Group on the other hand will very shortly produce a detailed proposal for a gathering this summer which will have had been worked on my participants from all over the Movement.
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