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General Assemblies are famously plagued by losers. Let’s be honest - every great GA has, in equal amounts, been accompanied by a GA which descended into a shitfest because of someone with an obvious mental problem or personality disorder. From Juan (“You are all fucking idiots!) to Donald (“This is fascism! Facilitation is run by Fascists!” as he plows a small Latina girl over in his wheelchair) Occupy LA has been no different. Despite running an impressive GA - OLA is one of the few assemblies in Occupy which runs on a 100% pure-consensus model, with a beautifully orchestrated and clear website which effortlessly debunks the Liberal myth that anarchists hate organization - OLA GA has yet to come up with an effective way to deal with provocateurs. Had OLA been run by Communists or Panthers, doubtless Juan, Donald and their ilk would have been swiftly disposed of with a bullet in the head, or their penis rammed down their throat. Unfortunately, radical inclusion, coupled with bleeding-heart liberals, means little more than a kerfuffle of dis-ease every time idiots descend on the GA with the intent to garner an audience with a tantrum, a meltdown, and a stream of abuse.
But when does simply being an obnoxious moron become something more insidious? Paranoia abounds in the Occupy movement, from the Phantom Occupier Sue Basko’s (chemically-induced?) rants about Psy-Ops, to Occupy Oakland’s (now disbanded) Media Team’s dangerous episode of snitch-jacketing. What we’re about to say then, is that our most recent provocateur - Billy Yllanes - is probably just an obnoxious moron, like Donald, and like Juan. But unlike Donald and Juan, his attempts to incite OLA into foolish actions have larger consequences than simply disrupting a GA.
The first time we saw Billy Yllanes was when he came to GA to make a proposal to Re-Occupy South Central Farms. His reasons for doing so? He had the support of LAPD and Jan Perry. Yep - that’s right. Billy Yllanes stood in front of Occupy LA and told them he had the support of LAPD and Jan Perry. Not only that - Billy didn’t have the support of the South Central Farmers themselves. In fact, they couldn’t stand the guy, and sent along this letter to GA, which a member of the assembly read out to Billy:
Given the whole assembly tabled the proposal, you might have thought that would have been enough to stop Billy Yllanes, who videotaped everyone at that GA who hardblocked him. But no! The dude came back to GA with exactly the same proposal less than a week later, and defended his decision by saying the Farmer who wrote the above letter was biased and racist, and Billy knew what was best for the community - even if they did not.
Unsurprisingly, the proposal was tabled again and the assembly made its feelings about the return of this BS very clear.
Let’s look at the consequences of Re-Occupying South Central Farms. Given the once-public land is now privately owned, anyone setting foot on that plot will last maybe 15 minutes before LAPD swoop down and beat the crap out of them. Maybe a public display at 41st and Alameda would bring public awareness back to this once-widely known campaign - but only if supported by the Farmers and the local community. Fifty lone Occupiers with cardboard signs bringing police presence into a predominantly Latino low-income area who frequently suffer from racist policing and do not support the Occupiers, would do nothing but say: Hello. We’re Occupy White Privilege. We don’t give a fuck about you and your community. The fact you lost that battle against City Council to get back the land Jan Perry illegally sold to Ralph Horowitz, despite overwhelming local and celebrity support and awareness, is because you’re not Occupy. We’re going to take that land back for fifteen minutes, get everyone in jail on felony charges, bring massive police presence to the neighborhood, and look like White Savior Kony-ass dipshits who don’t have a clue about organizing in the local community. Oh wait! People think we’re that already!
I leave it to you, oh OLAASM fans. Billy Yllanes: total fucking idiot, or tool of Jan Perry? Does it fucking matter? No. The guy’s a tool of the Tim Trepanier Occupicnic calibre. That’s all we need to know. Next!
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It has become commonplace within OLA to toss this word - radical - around as if applying that label to someone, in and of itself, may serve to mitigate their influence or even to dismiss their suggestions altogether. In light of this, it has become imperative that we come to an understanding of what, precisely, it means to be a radical in the United States in 2012.
: of, relating to, or proceeding from a root
Even in 2008, an election many proclaimed to be a watershed moment in American, electoral politics and generally regarded as a fundamentally important “election” for this nation (ed. the are never “important”), voter turnout was a mere 56.8% of eligible voters. While that was the greatest turnout since 1968 - it still represents little more than simple majority of eligible voters.
“We are a minority — the vast majority of our people regard the temporary equilibriums of our society and world as eternally-functional parts. In this is perhaps the outstanding paradox: we ourselves are imbued with urgency, yet the message of our society is that there is no viable alternative to the present. Beneath the reassuring tones of the politicians, beneath the common opinion that America will “muddle through”, beneath the stagnation of those who have closed their minds to the future, is the pervading feeling that there simply are no alternatives, that our times have witnessed the exhaustion not only of Utopias, but of any new departures as well. Feeling the press of complexity upon the emptiness of life, people are fearful of the thought that at any moment things might thrust out of control. They fear change itself, since change might smash whatever invisible framework seems to hold back chaos for them now.”
The truth is: we’re all radicals now. We were radicals the second we closed our laptops and participated in something other than writing a blog. Even if we write reformist piffle when we log back on, we’re radicals because we don’t just write. We occupy. We engage. We resist. We strike. So embrace it. Love it. We’ll all be in the same jail cells and courtrooms (self-described “liberals” and “radicals” alike) - we might as well get to know each other better and understand that - relatively speaking -
OccupyLA is radical. To occupy is fucking radical.