Solidarity in Action
Occupy Wall Street NYC
"The People, United, Will Never be Defeated"
Occupy Wall Street is a diverse group encompassing many viewpoints. As stated in our founding documents we come together under a unified purpose: to bring about a change in the world. Our movement is built on a diversity of perspectives and experiences. Each of us brings forth notions as to what strategic choices get the best results, therefore a diversity of tactics can and will be employed to effect this change. Solidarity is the way in which our diversity remains our strength.
We have much common ground to stand upon. We believe that global corporate, political, military, prison, media, food supply, medical, and educational institutions are serving only the interests of the richest 1% of people. We all agree that it's time for fundamental and radical change to take place. We are committed to putting what resources we have available towards making this change a reality. We all want to dismantle systems of corporate greed and inequity in a way that protects our bodies, lives, rights and the planet.
As we take to the streets, airwaves and Internet together, let’s prioritize solidarity, and agree to disagree with respect. Keep in mind that the following are not rules, but rather guidelines we can agree to utilize to build real solidarity with one another despite our differences.
- BE AWARE OF YOUR BODY AND LANGUAGE
- Never attack another person with physical violence.
- Refrain from verbally abusive language at all times. (see below for definition)
- Refrain from personal attacks, gossip and slander. This includes in person, online, on livestream, twitter, facebook or in the media
- If you take issue with a comrade, speak about it to them directly with hope of resolution. If none can be had, seek mediation. If mediation doesn't work, keep your distance & refrain from malicious gossip.
- ASSUME POSITIVE INTENT WITHIN OWS:
- Begin each interaction with fellow activists with the assumption of mutual good intentions. Remember that each of us come to our own beliefs and priorities through thoughtful consideration of our life experiences.
- Don't let disagreements lay the ground for resentment. Engaging respectfully about disagreement deepens all of our understanding of the problems we face.
- Avoid perpetuating gossip and hearsay. If someone tells you something you don't think is founded, lovingly challenge them to cite their sources, or go to the source yourself.
- Critique our movement in a spirit of respect. Avoid bad mouthing groups - we are all acting within our best intentions. If you think a group could do better, consider joining the group and adding your viewpoint.
- Listen without getting defensive. Be open in thinking, not rigid in positions.
- Never accuse a person of being an undercover cop, infiltrator or paid agitator without solid proof to back it up.
- KEEP YOUR OWN POWER IN CHECK
- The system we live in sets some of us up to be gatekeepers- it’s each of our responsibility to keep this in check within ourselves. When you are an arbiter of resources offered to OWS, work to distribute them fairly and horizontally. Be accountable & rotate out of positions of perceived power often. Share the keys to the Gate.
- Do not make assumptions based on another’s appearance, ethnicity, race, gender, age, sexual preference, dis/ability, economic position or housing status. None of these are qualifications to determine whether someone is a ‘real occupier’.
- ENCOURAGE A PEACEFUL ATMOSPHERE
- Respect the principles of nonviolence unless the action is advertised to be a "wildcat" march
- Do not attack other protesters, members of the media, bystanders or police officers.
- Do not turn people over to the police.
- EMPLOY ARREST STRATEGICALLY
- If participants of an action will be making themselves vulnerable to arrest, make sure that all participants are aware of that intent and know how and when to act to either be part or separate from this group.
- Do not intentionally put people at risk who have not chosen it. Protect those who may not be ‘eligible’ for arrest, due to immigration status, prior convictions, parenting responsibilities etc.
- Don't use arrest as a measure of how "radical" a person is. Don't use arrest to elevate a person's status. Many people live with the fear of arrest on a daily basis. Glorifying civil disobedience arrests is disrespectful of what people in poor communities suffer every day of their lives.
- RESPECT ALLIES
- Respect the work of all medics, legal observers and independent media people.
- Practice mutual aid: Share food, water and medical supplies. Assist those who are hurt, gassed, shot or beaten. Help carry banners & signs. Participate in clean up & child care.
- Respect a group’s right to choose the time, place and tone of their action. Because some tactics overrun the space of others, if you choose to participate in an action, do so within the strategies set. If you do not agree, do not participate.
- Be respectful of members of the community that live & work in the community around the action (individuals, local businesses, schools, etc.)
- REITERATE AUTONOMY
- Always begin interviews by stating that the views you are sharing are yours alone and do not represent Occupy Wall Street as a whole.
- Talk about your strategy, not the strategy of others to the press.
- ACKNOWLEDGE OTHERS
- Mention the existence of other groups and the role they play in creating change.
- Do not denounce other activists to the press.
- Share media contacts with others, do not monopolize the media’s attention.
- If you find yourself getting offered speaking engagements often, suggest other people to take your place.
- When talking about any disagreement about strategy and tactics, state that we honor a diverse approach
- SPEAK STRATEGICALLY
- Condemn police repression and brutality.
- Use the words ‘violence’ and ‘nonviolence’ with care. Terminology can be turned against us easily.
- If you are asked about illegal activities by the press, refrain from providing incriminating evidence. “no comment” is one suggested answer.
- Everyone is Jail Support. If you participated or helped to organize an action, it's your responsibility to support those arrested.
- No one is free until all of us are free.
Definition of Verbally Abusive Language in the context of this conversation:
Verbal Abuse is speech that is intended to intimidate, insult, demoralize, manipulate or mentally abuse another person. Abusive language includes name calling, unfounded accusations, threats of violence, threats of destroying social capital, malicious gossip, demeaning or belittling statements, and language that a recipient interprets as perpetuating structural oppression (racism, sexism, ableism, size-ism, ageism etc.)
*****This document was written collectively by a small group of OWS activists in New York City. It represents their perspectives and values. It does not claim to speak for the whole of NYC OWS or Occupy Wall Street. It is merely a list of recommendations on how to build and maintain real solidarity within a diverse community of activists.