Sign the 99% Declaration

 

History

On October 1, 2011, the New York City Police arrested about 700 #OWS protestors on the Brooklyn Bridge.  Among these arrestees were about 20 students from a small liberal arts college. A criminal defense attorney who lives and works near the college, was called by the students and administration of the college to counsel the students pro bono.  On October 7th, the attorney visited the college and gave a talk and powerpoint presentation about how to avoid getting arrested and what to do if you happen to get arrested.  He also discussed the students’ individual cases and the options they had in court to resolve their cases.

After the presentation and discussion, the attorney asked some of the students what they were seeking by protesting. Not knowing much about the #OWS movement, the attorney took some notes.  After this discussion, the lawyer took the notes he made, did some research and drafted the 99% Declaration. The declaration was posted on the internet on a free Googlesite and he requested comments, edits and suggestions. Hundreds and then thousands of emails started to come in with suggestions for improvement.

On October 15, 2011, the attorney took about 400 copies of the declaration to Occupy Wall Street in Zuccotti Park where he and others passed out the copies, answered questions and took down emails of people interested in helping implement the plan called for in the document.  The people who joined the group at Occupy Wall Street formed the core of the original 99% Declaration working group. That same evening, the group announced itself to the New York City General Assembly and called its first meeting.  See video.

The reception by The New York City General Assembly to the idea of an election and National General Assembly was positive and it was the Working Group’s intention to "report back" in two weeks and introduce the 99% Declaration to the NYC General Assembly for a consensus opinion. Three days later, however, on October 18, 2011, the Huffington Post and Russell Simmons’ Global Grind found the online draft version of the 99% Declaration that was posted for edits and erroneously reported that the 99% Declaration was an official #OWS document sanctioned by the New York City General Assembly. See Huffington Post and Global Grind

Other media outlets jumped on the story and reported it: CBS Local and Fox News. These various stories were reported without contacting any member of the Working Group which at that time numbered around seven people. After the Huffington Post story came out, despite being inaccurate, the web hits on the Googlesite went from about 3,000 to over 150,000 in a couple of days. The members of #OWS and the NYCGA were understandably angry and accused us of co-opting them even though that was the furthest thing from our minds.

On November 12, 2011, the Demands Working Group of the NYCGA invited the 99% Working Group to attend a meeting at the 60 Wall Street Atrium. The plan was to discuss a possible merger of the two groups so that their resources could be combined to come up with a more complete list of grievances and solutions. Unfortunately, Mayor Bloomberg ordered Zuccotti Park cleared the same day of the meeting and the attorney, who specializes in criminal defense, was unable to attend because of commitments he made to help obtain the release of new arrestees without posting bail.

On November 17, 2011, The 99% Declaration Working Group filed as a NYS not-for-profit organization called The 99% Working Group, Ltd.  We engage in discussions about the 99% movement and our plans to hold an election of 878 delegates in June 2012 and provide a venue in Philadelphia for the National General Assembly in July. While we are a not-for-profit, because we are organized to effectuate political change, contributions made to us are not tax deductible.

The National General Assembly plan is set forth in detail the Declaration itself here and is summarized here: http://www.the99declaration.org/plan. We have raised enough money to pay for the venue in Philadelphia and the costs. We are still raising the money needed to pay for the election which will take place online. Depending on the availability of funds, voting will also take place at polling stations in all of the 435 voting districts so people who do not have access to the internet will be able to vote in person.  We have also made two television commercials that aired on MSNBC and Current Television.  We are also raising money to pay for insurance and if possible obtain discounted transportation and hotel costs for the delegates. If you can help by donating money, please click here. No one involved with the 99% Declaration is paid except for the third party vendors we hire.

Volunteers have designed the website where Delegate Candidates can register and create a public profile with their picture, bio, and reasons why the voters should elect that person. See http://www.thenationalgeneralassembly.org/.  People must also register to vote on our webpage to participate in the election. See http://www.the99declaration.org/vote.

 

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