It was a delight to have so many people attende the First People’s Convention in New Orleans on Saturday, October 27. Groups and individuals from across the Gulf Coast met and formed a network of activists to focus on our united grievances and the many issues our Gulf Coast faces.
The Gulf Coast People’s Convention tentatively approved the following motions with no objections from those in attendance:
1. To change the name of this group to The Gulf Coast People’s Convention.
2. Acceptance of the all the below stated reports, objectives, meetings and actions of all the listed groups
3. To sponsor and organize action in protest of the budget austerity measures slated for 2013 in December- December 15 Fiscal Cliff Austerity Protest (Jan 2 is when they are meeting).
4. Gulf Coast People’s Conventions to take place quarterly (that means the next one will be in February, which is when Mardi Gras (Feb 12) and the Superbowl (Feb 3) are in New Orleans, so that could be an issue).
Here is the link to the livestream recording of the Convention.
We heard from a few speakers about the following immediate concerns:
- Mike Howells discussed the Budget Act of 2011 and the Fiscal Cliff.
- Mental Healthcare Activist Shana Sears discussed crisis regarding the lack of Mental Health resources in New Orleans She can be reached at 504-344-4010
- Speaker discussed Tar Sands Blockade and educational teach-in scheduled for Nov. 11 at The Fairgrinds Coffee shop in New Orleans
- Speaker from Socialist Alternative made a plea for solidarity regarding the Striking miners in South Africa http://www.socialistworld.net/doc/5996
- Convention organizer spoke about the need for volunteers to work together on any digital media (email lists, newsletters, announcements from groups, websites, social-networking sites, updating of contact information and actions) needs that arise after the October 27 Convention in New Orleans. Occupy NOLA digital media has not volunteered for this.
We then broke into working groups focusing on the following issues:
- Student Debt
- Corexit toxic dispersants used in the Gulf of Mexico
- Military Industrial Complex
- Political Reform
- Workers’ Rights
- Tar Sands Event
See the schedule for details about how this was arranged.
Groups each filled out two copies of a worksheet with the group’s theme, the potential group rep, member contact info, future meeting times and locations, objectives and demands, and potential dates for a protest.
Not all possible groups had a leader to chair the group. Here are the groups and their chairs from The October 27 First People’s Convention (FPC) in NOLA.
Political Reform Working Group
Rep: Andy Washington
Objectives/Demands: Reform of voting law(s) and others To Be Announced
Meetings : 1st and 3rd Mondays of month at 2735 c Toulouse New Orleans, LA 70119
Actions : setting aside January 2013 for an action
Housing Working Group
1.Stop demolition of Iberville Housing Development
2.Government(HUD) must use section 8 to place people in housing
3.Government (HUD) must provide section 8 vouchers to everyone currently on section 8 waiting list
4.HUD replace public housing (unit for unit) demolished since Hurricane Katrina by constructing an equal number of public housing units in the same areas.
5.No cuts, fiscal cliff or otherwise, to the current HUD budget. Instead we demand that Congress raise the HUD budget HUD by 50% over the current one (2011-2012).
Meetings: Third Thursday of every month at 7pm. St Jude Center, New Orleans
Actions: Nov. 30th – Action planned! Press conference and protest at office of David Gilmore, 4100 Touro St. NOLA
BP Disaster Aftermath Concerns Working Group
Group Rep: Kimberly
1. True longintudal studies on chemicals to detect toxins.
2. No use of dispersants if they are toxic
3. Transparent communication about what is being used
4. Cease spraying of toxic dispersants (TDs)
5. Cleaning up oil/tarballs/tarmats (that now contain high levels of Vibrio
Meetings: TBA (in January)
Planning another summit to stop TDs to take place in January in Mississippi
PAST flyering public places on threat of touching tarballs
CURRENT promoting (signing petition) HR 3562 moratorium on use COREXIT
Student Debt Working Group
Reps: Tara Jill and Mark (since group members live along the coast there is a AL rep. and a LA rep).
1. Student Debt Forgiveness
2. Free well-funded quality “emancipatory” public education
3. Repeal bankruptcy law which prevents those with student loans from declaring legal bankruptcy
TBA – group will join InterOcc and International Student Movement debt conference calls
TBA after conference call meetings show the best strategies to take but also to likely coincide with global action days. Since there are members from Alabama and Louisiana in this group, there could be actions with state-specific demands
Tar Sands Event Working Group
In seeking to shut down the KXL pipeline to work with other groups against it (i.e. Sierra Club, etc.) and promote alternative energy and energy saving devices.
Teach-in Nov. 11th 5 pm Fair Grinds Coffee shop
Actions: to take part in demonstrations such as are occurring in Texas.
Health Care Working Group
Rep: Brad Ott
He is allied with Committee to Save Southeast Louisiana Hospital http://www.saveselh.org and Advocates for Louisiana Public Health Care
1.Single Payer health care
2.restore recent health care funding cuts
3.address defunding of public health care
5.support special legislative session to reverse budget
Post-Election round table; Gillespie Breakfast 2nd Sat. of Nov. 10-12 noon
Actions : Demonstration Nov. 1st at South East LA hospital in Mandeville 4:30
Workers’ Rights Working Group
Rep – Needs a rep! (Mike Chenier has agreed to be a rep).
Could not agree to objectives and which actions to sponsor/take part in. Our table comprised two people from Socialist Alternative, one person promoting workers’ cooperatives, an unaffiliated restaurant worker looking for work, an unemployed worker still retaining his Teamster membership and myself a civil servant also a member of SEIU. The varying narratives each brought to the table needed more time for each to put it out on the table in order to craft a broader point of departure for the Convention and thus we could find little consensus in order to choose actions. Mike has declined to chair this group out of the People’s Convention as he already is obliged to work with the Socialist Alternative group. This group still needs a rep.
Objectives/demands: (We had to start with a declarative statement):
1. All gains for workers have come/come through struggle and the struggle must be organized
2.Organization must occur independent of the current establishments (i. e. established unions, employers, etc.)
3.The Workers Rights group of the People’s Convention respects the initiative(s) and integrity of all workers
Military Industrial Complex Working Group
Rep: Ben Gordon
Pax Christi New Orleans meets monthly. Details at http://www.paxchristino.org/ for details.
Phone: Pax Christi 504-522-3757
2.End wars in Afghanistan, Iraq and Pakistan with ongoing peace vigil in NOLA
3. Avoid war in Iran
Current Action already planned: Close SOA (School of the Americas) protest Fort Benning, Columbus GA Nov. 16th – 18th
Meetings: Usually monthly but will not be held in Nov due to SOA protest.
Next meeting is December 13 6:30 pm 7750 Walmsley NOLA
Actions: TBD post SOA protest
We are excited to unite over so many issues and support one another in solidarity.
Finally, if you and your group would like to host one of the quarterly conventions, please let us all know! Occupy NOLA would be happy to travel to future conventions!
If you would like to contact any of the group reps or convention organizers, please get in touch with us a firstname.lastname@example.org or contact Mike Howells at email@example.com 504-587-0800 OR Justin and Occupy The Stage at firstname.lastname@example.org 504-400-2284
Thank you so much!
~ Occupy NOLA and Occupy The Stage