Saturday Open Forum GA
Meeting start: 1415 hr
Defense of protestors at the National Gathering.
We met with Rev. Livingston on Wednesday at the Mother African Union Church, to discuss the August Quarterly, to participate in a positive way. Rev. Livingston would like us to vacate the plaza so they could use it. Maybe move in front of a bank. We told him we’re in the middle of a legal situation with the city which constrains what we can do. The case isn’t until Aug. 21 and we would bring his concerns back to the GA. He is not necessarily concerned about the occupation causing problems for the August Quarterly. It used to be held all along French St., which used to be the “Harlem of Wilmington,”
Spencer Plaza was the site of the church, forced out in 1970. So the August Quarterly is held in Tubman Park. Our presence on the site is a problem, a distraction, detraction from the memory of Peter Spencer. We told him we respect and appreciate that and we also have an emotional attachment to the site and there’s a national importance to our First Amendment efforts. His congregation wants us gone and if we leave we forfeit our lawsuit against the city. There is a source of conflict with Peter Spencer’s church. We left agreeing to have another meeting, so the dialog is not closed. It was presented as a racial problem, as Occupy being the white man’s intellectual argument, that blacks have been down for a long time and we’re suddenly caring because now white people are being oppressed. While this is true, the movement is largely a white male movement, and that’s how they’re perceiving it. So there seems to be a certain amount of being on the same page but not really.
The letter the Reverend has written and submitted to the NJ. “You have worshiped with us and we…” “aligned with Spencer’s principals…” “majority interest …” In the meeting he told us that it’s not that we’re in the way of the celebration or renovation, it’s our mere presence that’s a problem, detracting/distracting from Spencer’s memory and his congregation’s goals for it.
Rev. Livingston does not speak for everybody. Personally, I felt very much that we were being blackmailed in the meeting, he was holding out the participation of the black community contingent on vacating the site. I respect that they have an emotional attachment to the site, it doesn’t help to dwell on this as a racial issue.
Livingston had just left the city-county building when I talked to him. I told him we couldn’t go anywhere until the court hearing. He was sympathetic, but after he sent his letter it looks like he’s being pressured by the mayor.
Plans to renovate the plaza have been on hold for 2 years, so if anything we’re helping move the renovation along. And before we were here I’m sure very few people were even aware of Peter Spencer and his burial site. So if anything we’re helping each other’s causes by raising awareness.
This goes back to the mayor’s April 21 press release, that was a call out to the community to see who would respond. They’re obviously in the more conservative sector of the community. That was the mayor’s goal.
It’s just as likely we’d be having the same kind of problem if we were on a plaza with the burial site of a Catholic hero. I can respect that, we shouldn’t change what we’re doing, but it helps put it in perspective. They have a true, reasonable sense of ownership of this site. This is important to them because it is a locus of their faith.
It is a conservative church.
Question about the letter, it’s been sent to the NJ? Yes, but it hasn’t been published and they haven’t communicated if/when it would be. We need to be ready with a response.
I don’t like the idea that just because one major important thing happened here then nothing else of importance can happen here.
I was up front with Rev. Livingston from the beginning, we’re not moving. And we’re offering to work with them but apparently they don’t want that. We can continue to help celebrate the August Quarterly in this public space, as “white people.”
City sent another letter telling us to remove the command tent and secure our signs to something besides city property. We’ll discuss this more Wednesday. Why do they want the command tent taken down? They’re saying it’s unsafe, based on the 300 page document we sent them. (Their unpaid intern earned every penny they paid her to read through it.) I asked Rich what he thought, if anything in the letter is true then we’d have to remove the tent. If we don’t take the tent down then the city would go to the court and say we’re being unreasonable and the judge would side with the city. We have dealt satisfactorily with every other issue the city has thrown at us. The letter came from L&I.
National Gathering wants to use the tent, VVAW want to use it as a way to engage people at the NG event.
As long as we do the hand-off, and we have a contact, that’d be a good way to use this tent best. They’re knocking us down bit by bit, nitpicking us to death, we have to draw a line somewhere. We might have to replace the tent with something that works better for us. If we give the tent away we’ll make a big proactive deal about it. We should wait until June 29 and take down the tent and immediately replace it with something that meets their specifications. If we don’t take the tent down the city will go to the judge, and possibly we’d forfeit the lawsuit. This is not the line to draw. The public does not know that they want us to take the tent down, I see this as a huge opportunity to make a big deal about giving it to VVAW, we can make this really work in our favor.
I would support the corporatocracy if it weren’t so stupid.
Pretty soon we have this NG coming up. In the history of the movement when we have a large gathering of people we get attacked by the police. I thought of a strategy to rebel against that, it’s be awesome if we had a quantity of paint grenades only to be used when we’re attacked. The paint would be blood red. It would leave red marks on the street where the confrontation happens to leave the message behind that we were attacked, again. It’s like a water balloon. It’s not dangerous at all. $50 for 25 of them.
It’s an interesting concept and at a really scary level it intrigues me, as well as the marks it would leave behind. It could cause confrontation because of mob mentality. You throw anything at the police and they may react defensively. The person shot at would be just as dead, or crippled. Dangerous situation, tempers flaring, they may shoot.
NG is coordinating security for the event.
Are going to discuss carpools for NG? We’re going to be bringing up for discussion at the Wednesday GA the top issues we’re working on to take to NG. NG stuff happening at the next 2 Wednesday GAs.
We’re having the Wilmington Rally 4:30 to 5:30 at Del. Ave I-95 overpass, every Wednesday. We’ll have a sign inviting people to the GAs and we’ll pass out flyers.
There have been some people interested in putting up a tent here. Conditions are they have to participate in the protest movement. In the past we have voted that to stay at the plaza you have to come to at least one GA a week. In addition to the rules about drugs and alcohol, etc. Guidelines for Effective Occupation. We’ll refresh the on-site copy.
Meeting adjourned: 1551 hr