Eva Knott 10:44 a.m., May 18
Tragedy and Consensus at Occupy San Diego
The celebratory mood of Occupy San Diego turned somber when a man fell to his death around 3:15 p.m. yesterday from a parking structure directly adjacent to the hundreds of demonstrators gathered on the Civic Center concourse. The 42-year-old man’s death was deemed a suicide with no known connection to Occupy San Diego, according to San Diego police spokesman/detective Gary Hassen.
While riot police geared up to raid and arrest 100 peaceful protestors occupying a park in Boston (including several Veterans for Peace who were reportedly beaten by police), San Diego occupiers held a candlelight vigil in the man’s honor, cutting short the daily general assembly.
The general assembly takes place at 7 p.m. after the group’s multiple committees meet. As protests attract an assortment of personalities inherently bent on voicing their opinions (anarchists, socialists, aspiring politicians, medical marijuana activists, libertarians, crust punks, conspiracy theorists, LGBT rights activists, and everyone in between), the 100% consensus-based meeting tends to be a tedious, chaotic, and emotional process which often implodes several times over the course of an evening. However, once a decision is solidified, it represents the will of every person involved.
In other words, it’s the purest expression of democracy possible.
Read about how Rachel uses the consensus process in a co-operative house here.
And while this process has not gotten the five-day-old Occupy San Diego movement much closer to formulating an official list of demands (though a committee has just been formed to address this objective), the consensus process has resulted in an impromptu village of about 100 tents (the police have banned any more tents for safety and emergency-access reasons) complete with a free kitchen run on donated food, a medical tent, an independent media outlet, a library, a comfort tent with clothing and blankets, a safety patrol, a legal team, police liaisons (so far, the San Diego Police Department have been cordial and permissive of the occupation), and an Arts and Entertainment group, which schedules live bands and is working on an Occupy San Diego compilation album.
The operation is powered by a small solar array and generators run in six-hour intervals, which results in periods of no electricity in the early-morning hours. While the general assembly has discussed asking the city to turn on power outlets around the plaza (as of yet, no formal request has been made), one member of the media team expressed in the livestream that she would be resistant to the idea, as the power could be cut off at any time.
Like many, I’m still not sure what will become of this movement, but one thing is clear. Failure is impossible. Already the feverish conversation and connections made have empowered and educated the pan-demographic group occupying the Civic Center, and have been more valuable to me personally than my five long years at a state university.
The Occupy/99% movement is sitting on a mountain of gunpowder. If consensus on this scale truly is possible, the movement will ultimately devise a direction to point their cannon which represents the desires of everyone involved. If you’d like to get involved, you are invited to work with any of the number of committees that meet at 6 p.m. daily and take part in the general assembly discussions.
After all, you are the 99%.
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