Sunday, October 09, 2011

Occupy Dame Street Day 2

At least 50 people camped overnight last night on Dame Street. Around 100 were participating or watching the General Assembly meeting today at 3p.m. About a dozen large and small tents in situ plus a central sheltered area.


Wasn't too worried we'd be late for the General Assembly meeting at Occupy Dame Street, scheduled to start at 12 noon. We arrived about 1pm and 20 minutes later realised the meeting we were in was an organisational one that had clearly been going on for some time, and the GA had not yet started. Various sub-groups had been set up for food, construction, media, security, health and coordination. Yes kids, protest does involve a lot of meetings.

A number of those most involved had not slept at all during the night though things had been fairly quiet given it was a Saturday night in town. In other words, when we left past 4a.m. there were still hundreds of drunk confused people stopping at the camp who needed to be talked to or fended off. Many of them very positive and supportive and indeed a number of passersby had stayed to support the protest. A couple of minor incidents during the early morning hours apparently but nothing at all serious and Gardai (the Irish police) who had called by in the morning were also happy. In fact they had said that the protestors should call them if they had problems with someone causing trouble. Whether or not the police should be involved at any stage became a subject of (at this stage solely theoretical) debate later in the day, though friendly relations are being maintained from both sides. Gardai have been saying they don't have a problem with the occupation as long as it stays non-violent and doesn't obstruct access to the Central Bank or the pavement.

Meetings were going well if with the usual slowness that consensus decision-making requires to ensure everyone who needs to be heard is heard and that decisions are truly agreed. It was heartening to see dozens of people learning to use non-verbal consensus hand signals and everyone, in the main, quietly listening to one another. During the general assembly there were discussions that began with the immortal line "we need to decide how we make decisions." But in fact that is an early and important decision that has to be made in a free form, non-hierarchical group. The discussion centred on whether every decision would have to be unanimous (by which was probably meant consensual, they're not quite the same in terms of process) or whether some could be by majority. Those who seemed impatient to sort it out by a show of hands seemed not to realise that a show of hands in itself would be a decision by majority, and thus answering its own question. Ultimately it seemed that the group would aim for consensus, and possibly leave issues where a decision couldn't be reached as 'pending', though there was no definite outcome of this discussion. It did appear that most people wanted a fairly unanimous approach if possible to major issues, and if necessary organisational issues or day to day minutiae could be answered by majority or by those more directly involved. A Garda stopped by at one point and seemed bemused to see the protestors deep into a highly bureaucratic meeting. Perhaps not the threat or the hippies he was expecting.


Had a good time helping put up tie ropes to anchor tents to and a canvas 'wall' that marks one edge of the camp and also marks the pathway to the gate of the Central Bank. It's important that no-one is obstructed getting into or out of work there, which could be cause to shut down the camp. Though they don't really need a reason to shut it down, happily so far the police have said they're ok with it continuing, apparently. The issue of whether the square where the camp is located is on public or private land - it has been mentioned it may be private land - may be relevant. Another test may come tomorrow morning as people head into work on Monday.

A key issue is tents blowing away, last night's marquee blew apart early this morning. Guy ropes are snapping and tents billowing in quite high winds, and there are only a few points on the square to anchor it to. More heavy weights, bricks and the like are needed.

The policy of strictly no drugs or alcohol anywhere in the camp was reiterated to general acclaim, and everyone there seems completely committed to that. So far the policy has gone well and hopefully will continue. Likewise the non-violent nature of the protest is also clear. While it is not affiliated to any political party, another aspect that participants are keen to maintain, there was discussion about whether the action is political, many feeling it definitely is a political act. It was agreed that it is political but not to be hijacked by any organisation or party, which also means no banners or material from such groups. Perhaps the difference is that it is political with a small p, of people taking action and democracy, rather than the capital P Political of established parties and campaigns.


Image of Big P Political presidential candidate overlooking small p politics in action

Unexpectedly met many friends during the course of the afternoon, and it it's also great to see so many people there who are new to protesting. Come along, bring a tent, or just lend your support by showing up for a while. By showing up, express your dissent to what is currently being down politically and economically in our name. Start a conversation. There are alternatives, and we can create them.




Anonymous Danseizure said...

Great to see you guys there today, so good to see things like this happening in Dublin! Respect and solidarity!

Sunday, 9 October 2011 at 22:35:00 GMT+1  
Blogger Felicity Ford said...

Fantastic being kept up to date with your posts and I love "come and Speak" as a message.

Monday, 10 October 2011 at 09:47:00 GMT+1  

Post a Comment

<< Home