Detroit held its first General Assembly for #OccupyDetroit tonight. From a rough eyeball estimate, I’d say about 250-300 people turned out. The meeting was impressively multiracial and intergenerational. The assembly had gathered everyone from college students in backwards Tigers caps, to middle-aged black men, to young punk girls with dyed hair. I’ve been to few gatherings like this. And I’d say all things considered it was a huge success.
Albeit hectic at times (attempting consensus in a group of 300 is bound to be hectic, if not some people’s personal version of Hell) the goals of the meeting were accomplished. The Assembly set out to pick a date, time and location to begin #OccupyDetroit and that all got taken care of. Volunteers before hand had taken a lot of time and care to bring this all together and did their best to facilitate a difficult meeting in the most participatory way possible. The General Assembly decided to start #OccupyDetroit on Friday, October 14th (this Friday!) at 4PM at the Spirit of Detroit. From there the group will march to Grand Circus Park to start setting up camp. After accomplishing these two goals (the only two goals of the Assembly) we broke out to select our committees which include committees to handle food; security; art and culture; general outreach, as well as specific committees to reach out to students and the community; the possibility of a name change; racial justice, etc.
There was one particular moment that really shook me to the core and, I think, made crystal clear the importance and the potential of this moment. The meeting had gotten a little out of hand. It appeared as if everybody who had a thought about Occupy Detroit wanted to speak up (sorry, but when 300 people are in a meeting not everybody is going to get a chance to speak, and not every thought is a relevant one, not even yours). A woman had asked what she should tell people back in her community when they ask why they should get involved in the movement. The megaphone eventually found its way to a veteran activist of the welfare rights movement, Maureen Taylor. “Because,” she announced, “this is the first moment in our lifetime where we can build real class unity!” Her statement cut through the din like a sharp blade. People’s hand shot into the air as they screamed out in wild approval. Working-class unity in our lifetime! The power of the idea seemed to not spare anyone. Never did I think, at least not anytime soon, (and I’m known to be a fairly optimistic kinda ) that I would be in a meeting of hundreds of people all whooping-and-hollering for working-class unity. I’ve literally had dreams about this sort of thing. On my worst days I thought maybe that’s all they’d ever be. But not any more!
Be there at #OccupyDetroit Friday, October 14th at 4:00 starting at the Spirit of Hope Statue!
We struggle for better days; it shall rise from the ashes!