An open letter to Occupy Los Angeles,
As we move into the second month of our occupation here in Los Angeles it is of the utmost importance that we begin to address security concerns within our camp. The actions we have taken are being taken seriously by the intelligence and law enforcement community. It is high time that The Occupation begin to do the same. While constructive acts of dissent are important to the growth and success of the Worldwide Occupation we must be wary of those who would utilize our all-inclusive methodologies in order to divide, disenfranchise, and disable us. We must identify suspect trends within the movement and take decisive action to ensure that we are not sabotaged, co-opted, or distracted.
Hostile agents are already in play at The Occupation, this much is certain. Accusing every dissenter as an agent provocateur would be harmful to our solidarity, and would ultimately be a fruitless endeavor, as there would be no effective means to completely rout those agents who have successfully assimilated themselves into our community. That being said I believe that we must begin to lay out the groundwork for reducing our vulnerability to provocateurs and other, more insidious forms of sabotage.
I have seen the following divisive and diversionary elements at work within the occupation:
1. The Drum Circle. It seems an alarming coincidence that drum circles have become an internal source of division within occupation camps on a national scale. The cliche of drum circles alone makes their sudden appearance suspect. Furthermore I find there to be many inherent similarities between current Drum Circle activities at the camp and law enforcement psychological warfare methods, specifically when dealing with the resulting sleep deprivation and noise pollution/inundation elements at work in the camp population. Individuals who profess an interest in the creation of new forms of community without hierarchical rules should be able to self-regulate their behavior in the interests of the larger community. Drum circles at the occupation have not self-regulated, choosing their right to drum as an all-important concern which trumps the interests of the movement at large.
2. The Tarp City on the West Lawn. This segment of the camp population has successfully isolated itself, using intimidation and blockade to achieve autonomy and exclusivity within its boundaries. Occupiers believe that this is the the main source of illegal substances, including heroin and cocaine, within the Occupation. All attempts to interact with this group have been met with violent outbursts, intimidation, and outright threat. Anecdotal evidence has suggested that illegal substances have been distributed from this location free of charge, giving rise to the question: Who exactly started the “Tarp City?” Government agencies have been known to release drugs into dissident populations. Is the “Tarp City” an unwitting participant in this sort of operation?
3. The “Tribes.” Originally several different groups. These organizations were unified by individuals who opposed the use of the General Assembly. They took advantage of the Oakland Solidarity March and the subsequent lack of representation at the General Assembly, to stage a coup, temporarily dissolving the General Assembly and creating the separate entity calling itself “the people's assembly.” The core message of this new people’s assembly was that the General Assembly had too many leaders. Leaders who were not allowing alternate points of view. In truth the problem was that these accidental “leaders” were trying too hard to give disruptive speakers representation. Those disruptive elements eventually engineered a take over which effectively broke the back of the General Assembly. They have, through their actions, made it more difficult for people with opposing viewpoints to openly discuss their differences and come to a constructive plan of action. This has prevented the Los Angeles Occupation from being able to flourish and take part in decisive action.
4. The manipulation and stalling of the General Assembly using tactics of disinformation and distraction. I have witnessed the creation of a core vocabulary utilizing key words and phrases including but not limited to:
◦ “we must only use positive thinking”
◦ “leaderless society”
◦ “individual sovereignty”
◦ “_________ do not have a voice”
◦ “building utopia”
◦ “we are creating a new society”
◦ “The G.A. is just a new bureaucracy”
These words and phrases began within the occupation honestly, but have now been co-opted by the opposition. Anarchist and Anti Police Brutality groups are being unjustly scapegoated and co-opted as well. In Oakland men wearing black clothing and masks quickly self-identified as "Anarchists " before taking violent action, discrediting both the Occupation and Anarchists, while bringing about a decisive end to the general strike. In Los Angeles a large group claiming to represent an "End Police Brutality" faction managed to co-opt general strike actions as well, inundating the march with "stop racism" signage and pamphleting - An interestingly specific choice of language, seeing as the main casualty from the Oakland Occupation was a white man, injured by a white police officer. This use of race as a divisive element has created unnecessary friction between the General Assembly and groups representing the very real issues of racism and police brutality in America, decreasing their ability to contribute fully within the movement. This accumulation of appropriated vocabulary is being used to shield individual and collective agencies from our scrutiny. Let me be clear - these keywords and groups are dealing with profoundly important issues. They are, however, serving as highly effective cover for those who, for whatever purpose, are actively pursuing a campaign to discredit, misinform, and eventually dissolve the movement.
I realize that by publishing this, I myself am contributing to the divisive climate at the Los Angeles Occupation. I have come to believe that this fear of division itself has been used to silence safety and security concerns within the camp.
The above mentioned elements pose a direct threat to the effectiveness and the safety of this Occupation. If these elements are not employed by law enforcement, then they are doing the work of law enforcement by proxy accidentally, and still pose the same threat.
The General Assembly has become a defining characteristic of the Occupation movement throughout the United States. It has effectively allowed occupiers to discuss issues, debate values, plan actions, and collaborate towards constructive goals. Any attempt to shift the conversation away from our stated goals, stifle constructive discourse, or otherwise disrupt the progress of the General Assembly must be confronted decisively by the collective. Suspect parties should be asked to reevaluate and defend the relevance and benefit of their disruptive actions immediately. Repeated acts of disruption by these individuals and groups should be addressed as the acts of an agent provocateur.
Remember the Principles of Solidarity laid out by Occupy Wall Street:
“Through a direct democratic process, we have come together as individuals and crafted these principles of solidarity, which are points of unity that include but are not limited to:
• Engaging in direct and transparent participatory democracy;
• Exercising personal and collective responsibility;
• Recognizing individuals’ inherent privilege and the influence it has on all interactions;
• Empowering one another against all forms of oppression;
• Redefining how labor is valued;
• The sanctity of individual privacy;
• The belief that education is human right; and
• Endeavoring to practice and support wide application of open source.
We are daring to imagine a new socio-political and economic alternative that offers greater possibility of equality. We are consolidating the other proposed principles of solidarity, after which demands will follow.”
We are here because our government is not. We are here because corporations, banks, and other facets of the 1% have stolen our future from us. We are here because we were no longer able to ignore the injustices we saw being committed in our name, here in the U.S. and throughout the world. I am not worried about the Worldwide Occupation - I believe it will succeed. I believe it is already succeeding. I am, however, worried about Los Angeles. We need to get our house in order and support the movement at large. We must identify and reject provocateurs as they appear and return to the task at hand.
I'll see you on the steps of city hall.