Chad Deal 9:17 p.m., May 25
Occupy San Diego Remains at Civic Center, Modifies Consensus Process - At Least 26 Tijuana Occupiers Arrested
The official reason for Friday morning’s police raid, a “World of Dance Tour” expo at the Civic Theatre, took up a negligible amount of space near the coffee cart on the Civic concourse, only solidifying in some protesters' minds the suspicion that the police order issued last Thursday to vacate all personal property before midnight in order to make way for the permitted event was little more than a pretext to discourage occupiers from remaining at the Civic Center.
Regardless, over a hundred occupiers remained at the concourse Monday night, where a pile of pepper sprayed clothing was laundered and returned Monday evening, still smelling slightly of spice and vinegar.
One symbolic tent has been allowed to remain.
A sign taped to the ground nearby reads:
Denis Pavlov, 27, a Russian traveler and one of the half-dozen or so pepper sprayed on Friday afternoon, painted protest signs at the Civic Center under a watchful police presence.
The occupation intends to remain at the site indefinitely, offering regular, free teach-ins and distributing food from a storage location near the World Beat Center in Balboa Park.
“For now, we are being allowed to stay as long as we don’t bring any more tents and have our sleeping bags rolled up by 5:30 or 6 in the morning,” the woman at the information table says cheerily. “We’re basically being treated as homeless.”
Delegates from Occupy San Diego visited City College yesterday afternoon to spread awareness of the Occupy/99% movement, which has garnered the support of over 1500 cities worldwide and netted at least 1600 arrests in the U.S. alone. Occupy San Diego’s education committee plans to visit several more campuses countywide this Thursday.
Monday’s consensus-based general assembly meeting, as often is the case, focused more on the general assembly process than using the process to arrive at solutions. The evening's topic of contention was “blocking,” the act of stopping a motion or proposal from achieving 100% consensus by raising two crossed fists.
Read about how Rachel uses the consensus process in a co-operative house here.
One obvious weakness of a 100% consensus-based system is that, while it strives to be a pure expression of democracy, it is effortlessly paralyzed by a single blocker, be they a law enforcement plant, a member of an uncompromising special interest group, or simply an inherently negating personality.
Furthermore, what about the uninformed, or the mentally unstable? Who decides if a block is legitimate? And why?
“We’re getting nothing done,” said a middle-aged woman over a general assembly megaphone. “Anyone who blocks needs to have a clear, cogent discussion. We have a tyranny of the minority. We are fighting the tyranny of the 1%, but here we are capitulating to the 1%.”
“Consensus does not allow for ignoring the minority,” responded Michael, an organizer, “otherwise we would have resorted to majority rule, which keeps the minority from voicing their opinion.”
“In fact, 100% consensus was never agreed upon by this group,” noted an organizer who has been with the San Diego movement since its inception. “It was agreed upon by a few people when we began meeting on October 7.”
This paradox has haunted many a late night discussion at Occupy San Diego. Why use 100% consensus? Who decided on that? How did they decide on it? Was the decision to use 100% consensus a 100% consensus and, if so, who decided on that?
And so on.
In order to streamline the decision making process, the general assembly held a vote Monday night to alter the 100% consensus model in cases of blocking by following suit with the process used by occupiers in New York, San Francisco, Oakland, and Los Angeles.
When a person blocks, they step aside from the general assembly for ten or fifteen minutes with the appropriate committee, formulate an alternate proposal, and then bring both proposals back to the general assembly to be passed at a 90% consensus.
Two of the maybe 80 people at Monday’s general assembly blocked this proposal, but after some discussion, both rescinded their blocks and the proposal was passed with 100% consensus, a landmark moment for San Diego’s typically at-odds assembly.
Voicing the common sentiment, Forrest, a bearded man in glasses who had recently returned from Occupy Tijuana, said, “I would like to come here and start talking about solutions. Occupy Tijuana is watching us closely.”
At 2:30 this morning, an estimated 50 municipal, state, and federal police officers arrested 26 occupiers (though some sources place the arrest count as high as 40), at the Zona Rio occupation in Tijuana, which began on Saturday.
Arrestees were transported to the Zona Norte Police Station and all female protesters were released. The occupiers’ personal possessions were removed by police to an unknown location.
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Note: I did not take these videos
This morning, representatives of Occupy San Diego appeared at the city council meeting to elucidate issues pertinent to the local incarnation of the Occupy Wall Street movement.
“We’re living a fascinating experiment in democracy downstairs,” one Occupy San Diego participant said.
Though numbering far less than the initial 1500 who took part of the Occupy San Diego march on October 7, Occupy groups have since sprung up in Mira Mesa, Encinitas, and Rancho Santa Fe.
Cars were sent to the Civic Center this morning at 9 a.m. to recruit occupiers to protest in front of the Rancho Santa Fe law offices of Luce Forwarad.
"Rancho Santa Fe is considered one of the wealthiest communities in the country," writes Occupy Santa Fe organizer and attorney Michael Pines. "However, many in the 1% are on the side of the 99%."