There were 15 people at the first meeting, and 16 at the second meeting, and of those 16, 9 were present at the first meeting.
Our next meeting will be on November 30, from 5-7 at the Bangs Center in the lower level meeting room. After that, we plan to continue holding regular weekly meetings at the same time.
We would really like it if you could join us and help us create this movement here in Amherst.
Next Note Taker
People who can take notes, have come to a few Occupy Amherst Meetings, and are willing to commit some time to writing up notes are encouraged to become note takers for future meetings.
Building Links Between Students and Residents
We began with a report from Occupy UMass, which needs tents and materials and people to support the encampment on campus that they have initiated. Some UMass students went to Wall Street for the action on November 17, others stayed to help create the local action in Amherst (more below).
One person not involved with a college remarked that she was surprised that some of the material that went out from the Occupy Hampshire group seemed addressed only to other students and not to the community as a whole. She felt that the whole community should be in support of these actions initiated by students — not only students.
State Repression at National and Local Levels
One person said he sees that there is coordinated action being orchestrated by municipal police forces all over the country, and this means that the movement needs to elevate its own level of concern about this. Another person said that this ties in with the increased militarization of local police forces. Although UMass administration hasn’t yet shown any effort to evict the encampment at UMass, one idea was to ask Chancellor Hollub if the University has any plans to do so in the future and if the university will agree to specifically refuse executing such an eviction. Similar questions could be posed to the police as well.
Making local Amherst Connections about the Crimes of Banks and Concerns of the 99%
One person said she knows someone personally who lives in Amherst and is currently being foreclosed upon. The group encouraged this person to talk to the other individual and find out if she wanted there to be people from the community to come and publicly support her in her struggle with the bank.
Tom Roeper <firstname.lastname@example.org> said he was specifically interested in researching what are the local banking practices of for example Bank of America in Amherst? How many homes has BoA forcelosed on in Amherst in the last 5 years? (Notices of these kinds of things do get published in the paper). Is it true that in Amherst and surrounding towns that BoA has made no loan adjustments in recent years? We don’t yet have the answers to these questions about our own local situation although we do know the national trends.
Another connection of the 99% movement to local issues is some of the zoning articles before town meeting. One person brought up one article of particular concern at Amherst Town Meeting (article 17), which was to be discussed and voted on later that night at town meeting. (Note: it was defeated). This person said that the effect of the article would have been to benefit the interests of developers at the expense of most people in town.
Another local issue is disaster preparedness. The town has inadequate plans for assisting residents in the face of the next major weather disaster. All we got during the last one was robocalls, but the town wasn’t more organized.
Organization for Occupy Amherst
It was said, and not for the first time, that it is really important for Occupy Amherst to start forming working groups. It was also said that we can’t form working groups without clearly stated work to do. Obviously, there’s no shortage of work, but there is a challenge in making the work seem worthwhile and understandable. Jared <email@example.com>
will put out a message to the Occupy List to gather interest in discussing a very basic organizational structure for Occupy Amherst to be presented at the next large group meeting on November 30.
A meeting has been called for Monday (11/21) at 7:15pm in Amherst to discuss this. To RSVP and get directions, please contact Jared <firstname.lastname@example.org>.
It was agreed to create a very simple flier listing the website of our group and our next meeting time. The flier was passed out to people attending the demonstration on November 17 as well as sympathetic passersby.
Supplemental Action Report
On November 17 (the day after the meeting reported above), people from Hampshire College, Amherst College, UMass, and living throughout Amherst gathered for a large un-permitted rally and march centered on the Bank of America in the center of Amherst. There was a spirited rally outside the Bank of America and then protesters walked into the bank in mass and delivered (via the people’s mic) a powerful message condemning the banks practices while clearly stating that the employees at this specific branch were not the target of the protest.
Then the group took a trip up to Amherst College and then back to the Encampment of Occupy UMass where further discussions were held. Finally, many people went to go see a lecture of Judith Butler at Bowker Auditorium. She has been an outspoken public intellectual on the side of the Occupy movement. She spoke about political theories of how people make public space public, and how the thoroughly disposessed in a a society can still have a political role to play even despite the dispossession they suffer.
Video of protest is here: http://www.masslive.com/news/index.ssf/2011/11/video_occupy_demonstrators_sto.html
Some of the chants that were heard:
Banks got bailed out, we got sold out!
We are unstoppable, another world is possible!
Money Last people first; occupy Amherst!
People First, money last; occupy UMass!
Class war can be won, 99 is more than one.
We are the 99 percent! (so are you!)