Direct Action long-term strategy/vision notes, 11/9

Direct Action Working Group, Long Term Strategy/Vision Conversation
Wednesday, 11/9

Framing the conversation

  • What is direct action?
    • Meeting your issues in person, in a public way
    • Showing solidarity
    • Taking collective action to further our goals (without relying on a third party)
    • Applying direct pressure to a decision maker (target) by disrupting business as usual and demanding a solution
      • “Create such a crisis and foster such a tension as to demand a response”
    • Action taken outside of official channels, often confrontational, public, disruptive 
    • NOT individual, random acts of disruption- collective, strategic action, usually taken as part of a long-term campaign, movement building
    • NOT asking someone else (often in a position of power) to make change for you
      • Ex: Protests, rallies, marches, strike, sit-in, picket, street theater
      • Vs. Negotiation, petition, lobbying, elections
  • How is direct action from other tactics?
    • Direct action is taken with other “traditional” or “official” channels have been exhausted- when we have been excluded from the process (they won’t make change for us, so we will force them to make change ourselves)
    • It does not rely on working within the existing system
    • We take action ourselves, don’t rely on others
    • It is extremely conspicuous, public, and open
    • Presence of other people enhances your appeal and broadens it
    • Other people can refine your message and make you less crazy sounding
  • Why do we use direct action?
    • To push our concerned into the public discourse
    • To pressure those in power
    • To deliver your message in the first person and not alone
    • Because nothing else seems to work
    • It acts as a megaphone for those “less vocal”
    • Crystallizes participation, commitment to movement
    • It’s transformative and empowering for participants. Allows us to take control, take collective action ourselves rather than asking others to make decisions for us.
    • It builds our movement. Helps us to build our base, strengthen our relationships, grow skills and leadership, and develop our analysis of social problems
    • It’s awareness-raising. Draws attention to problems and solutions, builds public support.

Goals of Direct Action Working Group:

What are our goals as a working group?

What are we hoping to accomplish through direct action?

  • Put the most vulnerable of the 99% at the forefront of the movement
  • Challenge the existing system and the notion of U.S exceptionalism
  • Develop concrete methods to dismantle the system and concrete alternatives to the system
  • Show the interconnectedness of the systems of power and institutions we are fighting against- show how various issues connect
  • Draw connections between struggles for liberation, connect the Occupy movement to existing struggles, learn from those who have been fighting for a long time, figure out how to support each other
  • Take back the power
  • Use the media to educate people
  • Identify points of unity that will mobilize many
  • Raise public awareness, change consciousness
  • Teach people to fight back
  • Draw attention to specific goals of our movement, not just our encampment in Burnside Park
  • Turn the excitement and energy we have for direct actions towards our communities, challenge of living together day to day
  • Get in the face of wrongdoers
  • Show that big change is possible (while recognizing the limits of direct action and our movement)
  • Make systemic change
  • Inspire and motivate others to take action
  • Keep important issues in the forefront
  • Improve ourselvek
  • Clarify our message
  • Pressure institutions to change
  • Wake people up

Coalition building:

What role will coalition building play in our strategy?

How will we balance organizing our own actions and supporting the actions of allied groups?

  • Cosponsored actions are covered as “Occupy” actions, Occupy dominates press coverage
  • Community organizations don’t trust Occupy, are skeptical
  • Concerned that others will ask a lot of us
  • Need for mutual support, reciprocity
  • Working with others can make us more representative of the 99%, broaden our movement
  • We should work with others when we share vision, goals, message
  • Be mindful of our capacity, don’t spread ourselves thin
  • Build with international Occupy movement, be mindful of national calls to action, don’t always put local needs before broader movement priorities
  • Personal autonomy- we can an endorse an action but not everyone has to participate

Issues: What issues will we focus on?

  • Economic inequality
  • Jobs, unemployment
  • War on drugs
  • Differential policing (police work for the 1%) , racial profiling, police abuse
  • Incarceration
  • Corporate personhood
  • Money out of elections
  • Voter education
  • Homelessness, housing, foreclosure
  • Solidarity economy
  • Powerlessness
  • Institutionalize direct democracy
  • Corporate power
  • Predatory lending, payday loans
  • War, occupation, empire
  • War in capitalism
  • U.S. global corporate power, U.S. corporate terrorism, neoliberalism
  • Reproductive justice
  • Debt (student debt, household debt, national debt)
  • Nationalism, immigrant rights
  • Patriarchy
  • Surveillance system
  • We should show how all of these issues are connected, are part of the same system

Wrongdoers, decision makers, power holders: What will we target?

  • Private prisons (Wyatt)
  • ICE (immigration)
  • Courts
  • Police
  • State government (Kilmartin, Raimondo)
  • Federal government, war hawks (Bush, Obama)
  • Wall St in Rhode Island: Fidelity, Bank of America, Chamber of Commerce
  • Other 1%ers in Rhode Island: Brown University, Textron, Lifespan, GTECH, real estate developers
  • Companies that are outsourcing work
  • Agrobusiness (Monsanto, Purdue)
  • Corporate media (Projo, WPRO)
  • Electoral system

Tactics: Brainstorm for future direct actions!

  • Have actions that put women’s issues/patriarchy at the forefront
    • Rally for access to abortion rights/access at Planned Parenthood
    • Rallies at strip clubs, pornography
  • Move your money campaign- reinvest in a solidarity ecomony
    • Create a MAP of the solidarity economy in Providnce modeled after the map of New York City (stores that sell local/fair trade goods, locally owned businesses, holistic doctors, etc.)
    • March from “1%” economy (stop and shop, Walmart, etc.) to a solidarity economy (local coffee shop, restaurants that use local food, etc.)
  • Community education on saving money, avoiding debt (how to take money from corporations and spend it on the movement)
    • Classes for occupiers and others on saving money, spending elsewhere
  • Eviction blockades
  • Action at a military base/war profiteer about relationship between money/capitalism and war
  • Trash pick up march
  • March between locations to show interconnectedness of issues/institutions
    • March from a (closed) school to a prison to show the “school to prison pipeline” (under-education and over-incarceration of low income youth/youth of color)
    • March from a foreclosed home to a shelter(to a bank?) to show various sides of housing justice
  • Occupy different 1% locations
    • Move occupation to different locations ex. prison lobby, city hall, underfunded/closed down schools
  • Organize boycotts of 1% locations, big corporations

End of Meeting Reflection

Looking “back” on the meeting (what went well, what didn’t, what could change):

  • Good meeting, well facilitated
  • More accurate note-taking
  • Good building block for future actions
  • Feel happy
  • Engaging, broad participation- everyone spoke multiple times
  • Facilitation could have been clearer- distinguish each part of the agenda, clarify questions
  • Excellent facilitation
  • Created an amazing list of issues we wanted to address
  • Need to continue the conversation- should weight/prioritize the issues, targets, and tactics we brainstormed
  • Community building, got to know one another
  • Came up with a good list of tactics
  • Got to learn from one another
  • Try to share responsibility, diffuse leadership- a few people are taking on a lot of the work, should feel comfortable stepping up to facilitate, do other tasks
  • Made me realize there are more problems than I thought
  • Sense that we are moving forward
  • Really good to see new faces in the room, people who have not been to meetings

Looking “forward” to next steps (where to go from here)

  • Share the outcomes of this discussion with everyone- share notes
  • Avoid being labeled, identified with any one ideology- “if you label me you negate me”- keep the space open
  • Action! Action! Action!
  • More people should assume leadership and responsibility, step up
  • Develop the ideas we had for tactics more
  • Keep our messaging “civil”
  • Develop a solidarity economy map for Providence, modeled after New York City solidarity map


  • Come to Direct Action WG meeting: tomorrow (Thursday) at 5:00PM
  • Planning session round 2: next Wednesday (November 16th at 5:30PM)
  • Trainings: “How to plan a direct action!”- this Friday during direct action working group (at 6PM) as well as next week