Occupy demonstrates the messiness of democracy

Protestors affiliated with the Occupy movement participate in a baseball game - involving the "Tax Dodgers" - on Wednesday in Philadelphia. BRYNN ANDERSON / Associated Press
Protestors affiliated with the Occupy movement participate in a baseball game - involving the "Tax Dodgers" - on Wednesday in Philadelphia. BRYNN ANDERSON / Associated Press
Posted: July 06, 2012

At the Occupy National Gathering's information desk, where someone might go to ask why a meeting scheduled for 5 p.m. had not yet started at 7, a sign read, "Whenever it starts is the right time."

Among the roughly 200 protesters who gathered from Occupy sites nationwide, no one seemed bothered by the delay in the final meeting Wednesday, where they were to hear the completed vision list drafted in small groups that day. The protesters spent most of the holiday in Franklin Square debating items to include on the list, leaving them largely out of the sight of tourists traipsing Independence Mall.

Shortly after 7 p.m., Lauren Beller of Philadelphia, one of two protesters appointed to compile the final list, said that she had not yet started, but that she expected it would run about 70 handwritten pages.

About two hours later, organizers speculated the list might not be ready until Thursday morning.

Meanwhile, the protesters, many sunburned after five days camping out in blistering heat, spread out throughout the eastern half of Franklin Square.

In a circle of about 100 people, many complained that even Occupy - known for its lack of a unifying demand or a recognized leader - was not inclusive enough.   In a discussion lasting about two hours, Occupiers stood up to say women, minorities, American Indians, people with disabilities, gays and lesbians, homeless people, and anarchists were all being treated unfairly by the movement.

 As Beller and her team worked to gather visions - insisting that they were not drafting a "declaration" or a "statement," but merely a long list of what those at the National Gathering would like to see achieved - some objected even to that much standardization of objectives.

"It appears that we are setting the name of Occupy on a document without the consent of our binding membership, which is the 99 percent," a protester complained to the circle. "In my opinion as an anarchist, I'm not going to condone any sort of message stapled to the Occupy movement before we have the consensus of all of the 99 percent, if not 100 percent."


Contact Julie Zauzmer at 215-854-2771 or jzauzmer@philly.com.

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