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This week, the League of Women Voters announced an event featuring Mario Brito speaking as the ‘leader’ of Occupy:
Mario Brito, a leader of Occupy L.A., will discuss what’s next on the Occupy front at a forum and lunch sponsored by the League of Women Voters of Pasadena Area. 11:15a.m. Women’s City Club, 160 N. Oakland Ave., Pasadena. $20. 626-798-0965. Read more: http://www.pasadenastarnews.com/news/ci_20305139/social-calendar-april-2#ixzz1qxHG21d
A group of OLA members immediately took autonomous action and wrote to the League of Women Voters correcting them and alerting them to the fact that Mario is not a member of our leaderless movement, much less a “leader”. Here are extracts from several of the emails sent:
Dear League of Women Voters,
First off, thank you for taking an interest in the future of our society. Your dedication to informing and involving individuals to be proactive within their communities, their local and national Government, and to one another is an inspiration to community activists, protesters, and revolutionaries everywhere. I would like to extend this gratitude with further information based upon my own experience. I am a community organizer from the rapidly growing grassroots movement Occupy Los Angeles. The history we have all shared together from the steps of city hall to the end of the police baton has been an eye opening experience for everyone deeply involved in this movement. That being said, it has come to my attention that there is an individual representing himself to be a leader of Occupy Los Angeles: Mario Brito. May I assure you that Mario Brito has not been involved with Occupy Los Angeles since November 30th, 2011. Here is a statement he made to NBC after not getting arrested for what he didn’t believe in.
"Mario Brito joined other supporters at an impromptu rally and noted, “the eviction was only of tents, not of our ideas and definitely not of our movement.” -
Wednesday, Nov 30, 2011 http://www.nbclosangeles.com/news/local/Ousted-Los-Angeles-Occupiers-Vow-to-Continue-Their-Movement-134797023.html
Mario Brito was a great asset to exploring the beginning stages of the Occupy Los Angeles. I will be the first to acknowledge his participation and willingness to aid and educate others, further committing and involving new individuals to the definition of community responsibility. His history of Union involvement and protesting had prepared him to be a leader. However, the Occupation was not looking for one. The Occupation operates on a different social structure, you see, whereas individuals are responsible for one another and are dependent to one another. A horizontal democracy attempts a difficult yet achievable end: to listen and respect a majority of individuals rather than funneling decision making to the voices of a few. The 99% was an action plan to involve and respect as many individuals as we possibly could, attempting on a daily basis to become stronger with and for one another. Mario Brito did not believe in this cause. For all accountable reasoning, his intention of creating leaders were originally the best of intentions. However, his execution was disgraceful. Because of his inability or unwillingness to wish to adapt to the needs of a horizontal movement, he took divisive measures to ensure his own personal goals would be achievable.
He abandoned the organizing committee (Facilitation Committee) to become a police liaison, never revealing the meeting minutes with even the most active organizers. His secret plans alongside SEIU organized, without discussing with the Occupation, operated the failed attempted November 17th action to take Wally Park, resulting in more than a dozen Occupy Los Angeles arrests, not once aided by SEIU for bail, court representation, or even offering traumatic recovery. The reason that we have become aware of SEIU’s actions was due to the Washington rally, where Occupiers met and discovered that all of their own actions, from Seattle to Chicago, were all organized by SEIU representatives without giving knowledge to the Occupiers beforehand. SEIU, alongside their lapdog Mario Brito, organized Occupiers to take the fall, and never helped them up. The night after the raid on November 30th, misplaced homeless individuals were offered to stay in the SEIU parking lot. SEIU gave them space, made them sign a contract declaring that Occupiers, not misplaced homeless individuals, were taken in by SEIU, had a quick photo shoot, and then after the actions of one homeless individual named Shadow getting into a physical altercation with Mario Brito, were all shoved out. They were there less than a week, which, by the way, were demanding the volunteer Medics of the Occupation to take care of the people within the parking lots. This after a majority of them were locked in jail or defending City Hall.
Here is the last nugget. Occupy Los Angeles could have taken the low road, organizing and elaborating on the horrible actions of Mario Brito among others who have acted selfishly for their own goals. However, Occupy Los Angeles has continued on. If you want complete evidence to how much of a fraud Mario Brito has been, allow him to loftily discuss the actions of May 1st, allow him to tell of his tales at the Camps at City Hall, and then when he is done promoting himself, ask him first if he believes in a Horizontal movement. Ask him if he knows the status of Blanca Cardenas, (http://newamericamedia.org/2012/03/protesters-hold-vigil-for-deported-la-mom.php) ask him if he went to the funeral of Alex Weinshenker, or donated to his wepay account, (tinyurl.com/occupyalex) or if he has ever even participated in a Occupy Los Angeles General Assembly ever since November 30th, 2011. Look in his eyes and ask him if he is an Occupier or an opportunist.
I personally believed in Mario Brito, and he had betrayed me. I defended him until I saw him outside looking in on November 30th. He spoke of Cesar Chavez and for the people. I shared my stories and beliefs with him, even learning that he has a son that his mother rarely wishes him to see. I don’t blame Mario Brito for wishing to take a paycheck to help out what family he has. I support his commitment to wanting to establish a more fair and balanced social guideline with which we could understand and aid one another. However, shortly after the homeless were shoved out from the SEIU parking lot, I ran into Mario Brito. I attempted to explain how his involvement is necessary and how the Occupation has brought a renewed faith into the minds and hearts of all of our generations, all wishing to belong to a better fiscal, social, eco, and moral world. I believed this existed within the Occupation. Believe me or do not, but the words from Mario Brito on December 11th, 2011 were, “I want nothing to do with Occupy Los Angeles”.
I’d like to reiterate our movement’s concerns, being careful to specify that I am not speaking on behalf of the movement, but as someone who has been with OLA since Day 1, is familiar with the various concerns surrounding Mario Brito, and has a sense of how his perpetual reappearance as a self-styled ‘leader’ has provoked a great deal of hostility from the horizontal members of OLA. Mario has not been a part of the Occupy movement since November. When he was a part of the Occupy movement, he came under a huge amount of criticism for his hierarchical, secretive behavior, which directly transgressed our principles of solidarity:
and the way in which we make decisions - through participatory democracy, through open, transparent, consensus. His liaisons with the LAPD and the City, which were carried out without the approval of the General Assembly and the people of OLA, actually resulted in him being organically ostracized from our movement. To add fuel to the fire, Mario courted publicity constantly, claiming to be a spokesperson, or a leader, on a continual basis. Even when directly confronted about these issues, Mario has continued to take the title of ‘leader’ or ‘spokesperson’. As a journalist and writer myself, and someone who has given many interviews to the mainstream media about OLA as an individual, I have never been called a ‘leader’ or ‘spokesperson’ - because I made clear we do not have a leader. This leads me, and others, to come to the natural conclusion that Mario has been calling himself this, over and over again, despite repeated requests to refrain. Given that he has accepted an invitation from yourselves to talk about a movement he was only involved in for approximately eight weeks, and was ostracized from five months ago, it is apparent Mr Brito has not yet understood that he has no grounds for communication about us, for us, or regarding us. Given that Mario does not represent the movement, has not been involved since early November, has never taken the time to understand our movement’s principles and the manner in which we make decisions, there is a considerable amount of anger and mistrust that once again he has resurfaced claiming to speak for our movement. I’d like to ask the Pasadena League of Women Voters to cancel Mario’s appearance, because we cannot, in good faith, allow someone to take the OLA name, talk about us, represent us and / or benefit from our movement, given the amount of heartache he has brought to Occupiers.
This matter will be brought to the General Assembly tomorrow evening. Given the amount of bad feeling Mario’s past behavior has generated, should he insist on talking at this event, I’m pretty sure there will be members of OLA present to loudly ensure that he cannot lie or misrepresent our movement, as he has done in the past.
For the future, please refer to this document to understand how to communicate directly with the movement:
Mario Brito cannot speak for Occupy LA since he is not part of Occupy LA. Would you allow any institution to invite a person who is not part of the League of Women Voters to speak on behalf of the League of Women Voters? We at OLA cannot allow this to happen. Mario knows he cannot represent nor speak on behalf of a movement from which he has been ostracized. He (and LWV) ignore this glaring ethical contradiction. For Mario ethics has never been an issue, but the fact that your well-respected organization chooses a person who is not part of OLA to speak as a “participant” in OLA is a travesty that we cannot accept. We cannot allow a “fifth column” like Mario to speak for our movement in a public event. It simply is not right. There are tens of occupiers who are active participants in the movement, good speakers, and most important, have the support of everybody in OLA. I write to you to I appeal to your ethical honesty. Mario cannot speak for OLA. He is not one of us. Every occupier know this. Talk to us. Find out who Mario Brito is to us, occupiers. If Mario will try to spread his lies on your audience - he will be interrupted.
Strangely, the LWV responded in a particularly aggressive way:
The League of Women Voters believes in civil discourse. We think people should be able to discuss controversial issues without being subjected to abusive or disruptive behavior. That is why your assertion that representatives of OLA will be present to “loudly” disrupt our meeting seems very antithetical to your stated values of individual privilege and participatory democracy. How can you square those beliefs with the intention to interrupt and interfere with an individual’s right to describe his own impressions, and our right to hear those impressions?
We have asked Mr. Brito to speak about his personal experiences with OLA, not as a spokesperson or representative for the movement. We intend to make that perfectly clear. He was recommended to us by the Rector of All Saints Church here in Pasadena as well as by several members of their Peace and Justice committee. The word “leader” probably should not have appeared in our press release and we regret that. The word “participant” would have been a better choice, because we know that OLA is a leaderless, horizontal organization.
The purpose of the League of Women Voters is to encourage informed and active participation in government. The Occupy movement is a recognized player in the current political scene and we want to be informed about it, at least from one participant’s point of view. It is my sincere hope that your General Assembly will decide, based on your stated values, that it is inappropriate to disrupt our meeting. We also hope that Noemi will be able to recommend an additional individual to speak about his/her impressions of OLA so that we may hear another point of view (without personal attacks).
Robbie Davis, President
LWV Pasadena Area
After approximately 30/40 occupiers called / emailed and made their feelings known, they seemed to have a (begrudging) change of heart:
After consulting with our Executive Committee the League of Women Voters Pasadena Area has decided to accept Mario Brito’s offer to withdraw from our meeting tomorrow. This decision in no way indicates that we are siding with either you or with Mario as we have no way of verifying information on either side. It has to do with the fact that, unfortunately, the meeting has threatened to devolve from what we hoped would be an educational experience into a “he said, she said” situation. We have no interest in acting as a referee in this dispute.
We hope you will convey this message to your General Assembly and to all the OLA participants who have been calling, emailing, and threatening to disrupt the meeting. We are sad that it has come to this because we really wanted to be part of a civil discourse that would better inform us about your movement. You no longer need to worry about providing a speaker.
Robbie Davis, President LWV Pasadena Area
In true Occupier fashion, this rudeness did not go unremarked:
Thank you letting us know. However, certain elements of your hostile communications continue to disturb me. Firstly, if someone who was not from the League of Women Voters spoke publicly about your movement claiming both leadership and intimate knowledge, I hope that your committee and membership would have the initiative to speak out and correct falsities immediately. This situation is no different. I see no reason to lament the loss of any knowledge regarding Occupy. All you have lost is a speaker who is not a member of our movement, who does not participate in this movement and who possesses no knowledge of our movement post November 2011, from misrepresenting himself to your membership. It seems strange to me that you seem intent on trying to make all the Occupiers who spoke out feel guilty for disrupting an event which was, in essence, charging your members $20 to receive false information from an imposter. Stating clearly that we, as a movement, will not allow ourselves to be misrepresented and intend to counter false information in person is not a threat. It’s a statement of fact. And in a hierarchical society which is built upon mainstream media lies and misrepresentation, I think anyone who chastises our movement for having the ovaries to stand up and speak out fearlessly against such misrepresentation, is severely misguided. I’m sorry you feel so confined by false and oppressive social conventions.
This situation has arisen because one individual persistently seeks publicity, and grandiose declarations of leadership. We alerted your organization to the fact he is not a member of our movement. I do not see any need for your blatant rudeness to me or to our movement. Rather, you owe us thanks. I think you should be sending emails expressing your organization’s disappointment not to me, nor the members of Occupy, but to the man who ignorantly accepted an offer to speak on behalf of our movement. I think you should be sending out emails to your membership, apologizing for charging them to hear this charlatan speak. I think you should be apologizing to your organization for the poor job you have done in finding a speaker to talk to them about our wonderful movement and all the houses we have defended from foreclosure, the work we do with Skid Row and the homeless, our plans for the General Strike.
Given that you’re the League of Women Voters, an organization which is intended to help newly enfranchised women exercise their responsibilities as voters, it seems a remarkably short sighted, patriarchal and irresponsible decision to choose a middle-aged male as a speaker, over and above the strong, powerful and enlightened women of all ages and backgrounds, who are strong voices and participants in our movement here in LA.
However, I would like to thank you for reminding me of why I am an anarchist, and why voting is an ineffective tool for the idle middle classes who want the illusion of participatory democracy, without the effort of taking direct action that will effect real social change. It’s small encounters such as this which merely strengthen my personal resolve.
The moral of the story is: don’t fuck with Occupiers. Don’t use the movement as your pay check. Don’t join the LWV, a bunch of passive-aggressive liberal morons. If you want to hear us speak and find out about our movement - follow the link and turn up to a GA. And don’t be fucking rude when we politely correct you, and prevent you from misrepresenting us.