Occupy Wall Street Protesters Call for National General Assembly, Put Forward Possible Demands

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Earlier this week, members of the Occupy Wall Street (OWS) movement in New York put forth a call to convene a non-partisan National General Assembly in early 2012 and released a draft of demands.

Now in it’s fifth week, the nature of the movement itself has been the biggest obstacle to the formation of a cohesive list of demands. While Occupy demonstrations have expanded around the globe, many protestors have come out against the idea of presenting demands at all.

“Demands are disempowering since they require someone else to respond,” Gabriel Willow, a protester, told the New York Times. “It’s not like we couldn’t come up with any, but I don’t think people would vote for them.”

The push to bring together a National General Assembly sprang from the Demands Working Group (DWG), a committee of protestors designated at one of the regular General Assembly meetings held in Zuccotti Park in Manhattan. Their plan includes the election of two delegates from each of the 435 Congressional Districts by direct vote. The 870 delegates would then vote on a non-partisan list of grievances at the July 4th, 2012 Assembly in Philadelphia.

Soon after its formation, the DWG launched a website and published the list online. Yet, the demands and national assembly call have not been adopted by the movement as a whole, or even backed completely by the OWS movement in New York.

The list online is cleared marked as a “suggested list of grievances” and not as the platform for the movement that claims to represent “99 percent” of the country. The final list, to be voted on by the National General Assembly, may or may not include 20 proposed reforms.

Travis Young, 20, and Charles Ray Clayton, 59, both of Atlanta stress their grievances at the Occupy Atlanta protests. Oct. 17, 2011

Chief among the list, however, is the role corporations play in the country’s government. The first couple, for example, call for an immediate ban on all monetary and gift contributions to all politicians, implementing a public financing system for political campaigns, and the reversal of the Citizens United case by the Supreme Court, which, the document says, “equates the payment of money by corporations, wealthy individuals and unions to politicians with free speech.”

The list goes on to suggest a complete reformation of the tax code to close loopholes and other methods of avoiding tax collections, the implementation of a single-player healthcare system, the substantial reduction of the national debt to a lower percentage of GDP by 2020, along with a slew of other ideas.

Meanwhile, Occupy protests around the nation have been marching to their own beat without any sort of national unity aside from the “Occupy” label.

Occupy Seattle started a running vote on their website dealing with issues such as the “nationalization of the Federal Reserve” and implementing “universal education,” but the tally will likely be taken down since not everybody has the ability to vote online.

The list of demands out of New York close with a warning:

BE IT FURTHER RESOLVED that IF the PETITION OF GRIEVANCES approved by the 870 Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY in consultation with the PEOPLE, is not acted upon by Congress, the President, and Supreme Court, to the satisfaction of the Delegates of the NATIONAL GENERAL ASSEMBLY, said Delegates shall organize a THIRD, COMPLETELY NON-PARTISAN, INDEPENDENT POLITICAL PARTY to run candidates for every available Congressional seat in the mid-term election of 2014 and again in 2016 until all vestiges of the existing corrupt corporatocracy have been removed by the ballot box.

Here in Atlanta, Occupy members issued a list of their own demands in the past few days. Only three points long, Atlanta occupiers call for the rescinding of a recent fair hike of MARTA (the area’s rapid transit system) an end to the Atlanta Police Department’s “stop and frisk” policies (including roadblocks) and the repeal of House Bill 87, Georgia’s controversial immigration law.

But the want list of many is much longer.

On one of the city’s last warm and sunny days before the onset of a cold snap, dozens of Occupy participants milled around Woodruff Park, a  spot of green space in the business district. A look at the signs being carried by young and old alike (but mostly young) expresse grievances from the power of corporations to the high unemployment. On one white board, Occupiers were encouraged to write their concerns and why they were participating. And they did:  Big Banks – Poisoned Assets, Big Agra – Poisoned Foods, Big Pharm – Poisoned Drugs; More Transparency in Politics and Government; Standing up for Suffering People at Home and Abroad; Immigration Reform and High Unemployment.

One young man who gave his name as Glenn, simply said, “I’m here because I want to be heard.”


Photography: Clay Duda/JJIE.org

12 thoughts on “Occupy Wall Street Protesters Call for National General Assembly, Put Forward Possible Demands

  1. I live in a direct democracy, a small town with one or more Town Meetings a year. But democracy is only a tool, the mob will always rule. The trick is get people out to dilute the mob.


    national general assembly VERY BAD idea. Must be web based and include all citizens/reg voters NO representatives.

    “representative” assembly a BAD structure. National assembly must include all citizens. No representatives speaking for others. We can speak for ourselves.

    Paypal could verify everyone against credit card and tally votes on each agenda item.

    • So what you’re saying is that you wish to throw out the constitution all together? In stead of participating in the federal government to effect change it is your desire to overthrow the government as it stands and create an entirely new one? That is certainly what the actions of Occupy Wall St. indicate, and def. what you have just stated.

      See, the constitution and our founding fathers clearly laid out this country to be governed by a representative system. By your statement you would over throw that system in favor of mob rule?

      And, with thousands of bills and proposals (local state and national) that come before governmental offices to be voted on every year, you believe that the general public is qualified to make informed decisions about each of those? And you believe that the more than weekly elections that would be necessary in order to keep government running would be well attended by the public as a whole, when the general elections are often poorly attended? and if they are not well attended then won’t the popular votes be a poor indicator of “The people speaking for themselves”.

      While what you have said sounds nice, and is often a popular sentiment, it doesn’t make any practical sense which is why the government was designed the way it was to begin with. It is far from a perfect system, but it is so far the best we have been able to design.

      Your foolishness in this suggestion only makes clear your lack of education, your poor understanding of American government, and your inability to process the consequences of your actions/suggestions. This is why, though you are allowed free speech, no one will listen to you.

      In summary: Read a book!

      • (I apologize, I only got through the first paragraph of your comment Remember 140 characters.)

        Democracy is mob rule. I am asking for direct democracy, not representative. If that calls for a new country, so be it. All power to the people.

      • Ben Franklin called democracy “two wolves and a sheep voting on what to have for dinner”. But that’s binary democracy, straight up-down votes. His vision didn’t give the sheep blocks or stand-asides. Woodrow Wilson wrote: “A great industrial nation is controlled by its system of credit. Our system of credit is privately concentrated. The growth of the nation, therefore, and all our activities are in the hands of a few men … [W]e have come to be one of the worst ruled, one of the most completely controlled and dominated, governments in the civilized world—no longer a government by free opinion, no longer a government by conviction and the vote of the majority, but a government by the opinion and the duress of small groups of dominant men.”

        The Constitution has already been scrapped by those who swore to uphold it. GWB called it “just a goddamn piece of paper”. The “Liberty Tree” in the Boston Commons gave rise to the birth of an actively democratic republic. Occupy is recreating such spaces. http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Liberty_Tree

        We no longer have a representative republic. Our elected leaders represent the industrial interests that donate to their campaigns, not the people. The problem is systemic. The solutions cannot lie within those who create and maintain the problems.

        To quote the Declaration: “We hold these truths to be self-evident, that all men are created equal, that they are endowed by their Creator with certain unalienable Rights, that among these are Life, Liberty and the pursuit of Happiness. — That to secure these rights, Governments are instituted among Men, deriving their just powers from the consent of the governed, — That whenever any Form of Government becomes destructive of these ends, it is the Right of the People to alter or to abolish it, and to institute new Government, laying its foundation on such principles and organizing its powers in such form, as to them shall seem most likely to effect their Safety and Happiness.” This government is no longer concerned with the consent of the governed, and therefore wields UNJUST powers. With unprecedented blowback such as 9/11, created by our foreign entanglements, the government fails to secure our Safety. Likewise, our Happiness is no longer relevant to the political debate.

        I agree the Founding Fathers believed a representative system would be the most conducive to these ends. If our government wishes to re-establish its legitimacy, it will work towards a redress of our grievances. But for any educated person, they must realize that the purpose of the Constitution was to form a government of high-minded principles, one more reflective of the will of the people than any that had come before it. Advocating a return to these principles is in line with the spirit of the Constitution and Bill of Rights, although perhaps out of line with the letters of the Constitution. This is our Ninth Amendment solution. “The enumeration in the Constitution, of certain rights, shall not be construed to deny or disparage others retained by the people.” If WE THE PEOPLE enacted the Constitution through representatives not elected under the Articles of Confederation (and we did), WE THE PEOPLE can alter or replace our government through true representation of our voices and choices. Perhaps the system can be reformed, by undoing the sources of its corruption: The Federal Reserve, and permanent corporate entities that are granted the legal rights of humans. God knows they don’t have the natural rights of humans, the natural mind, voice, and motion. They are creations of paper used to shield the wrongdoing of the people who direct them. To ensure that we do not lose our Vox Populi, the Constitution can be amended through the addition of a direct democracy (similar to the Swiss government). “In God We Trust” represented a real break from the spirit of this country. “E Pluribus Unum” is the true motto – “out of many, one” – and nothing embraces that motto more than the General Assembly’s system of consensus.

        Looks like we got ourselves a reader!

  3. LOL! How idiotic! “A Non-Partisan Political Party” umm… hello…!!!! “Non-Partisan” literally means to not be a part of a party. Maybe we are starting to get to the root of why some of these people don’t have jobs!

  4. Our media, in America, is quick to point out the damage Gadhafi did to Libya—but refuse to demand an apology from the Republicans in Congress, and candidates for president—for the DAMAGE REPUBLICAN POLICY did to the American people, and America—if only to prevent a reoccurrence, if elected! http://www.Inclusivism.org

  5. Clarence Darrow, in the 1920’s, had it on the nose re the “99%” uprising—he observed “Laws should be like clothes, tailored to fit the people who wear them”—Too many of our laws are tailored to fit the 1%, and at the expense of the 99%–and the 99% have finally put their foot down! http://www.Inclusivism.org

  6. We live in a country no longer represented by the people but by the interests of major corporations and the money they use through lobbying to pay off our elected officials. These politicians no longer voice the opinion of the voters who put them in office but instead speak for the special interests which pay them more and more money to turn a blind eye to the destruction of our environment and the extinction of the middle class. How long will the occupations have to last before a SINGLE government official asks what WE the PEOPLE want changed? Visit my artist’s blog athttp://dregstudiosart.blogspot.com/2011/09/occupywallstreet.html to see my art for the movement and also see videos of the protests and police brutality as well as get other sources for coverage of the movement.