"Renaissance Thinking About the Issues of Our Day"
As a person that has been arrested for the Occupy movement five times including for the first Turk Street building occupation, lived typically five days a week at the OccupySF encampment before it was destroyed by the police, wrote some ten articles for the OccupySF website, and has been one of the strongest supporters of the revival of the 24 hour encampment, I want to clarify some of the misconceptions posted by the blogger Nimblecivet regarding the OccupySF division. Normally Nimblecivet's writing is well-researched, educational, and insightful, but he got this one wrong. In his blog, he claimed that, "According to them [the supporters of the new group], if someone breaks a padlock in order to gain access to a place and occupy it, they are committing a grave moral crime which betrays supreme moral values which Occupy must adhere to." The "split" was based on a strategic and philosophical disagreement on how to re-build the movement that could not be bridged within the current structure of a 100% consensus process, and was not about any moral stance regarding breaking the padlock of an empty building.
I can assure you that nobody within the new group called Occupy Bay Area United (OBAU) would claim or believes "that breaking a padlock is the moral equivalent of wars based on lies, ecological devastation or the dismantling of the Constitution", as you also stated. In fact, I was part of the first Turk Street building occupation and was one of the writers of the press release that pointed out that it is a crime against humanity that ten thousand people are homeless within San Francisco while there are over 30,000 vacant but inhabitable units. In fact, most people in OBAU MORALLY support the idea of occupying a vacant building and turning it into a community center. However, many believe that announcing to the press and police that a large group is about to occupy a building ends up being a trap where active participants within the movement end up facing potentially extended jail time, and that it ultimately acts as a deterrent to building support from the public during a time when our numbers and support have drastically waned. Four of OccupySF's most active protestors are now potentially facing jail time, and two of them spent a week in jail already due to the building takeover. But that was not the reason for the split.
Ultimately, a very tiny faction within OccupySF support a more militant philosophy than the rest of the group. This tiny faction sometimes uses the 100% consensus process to foist their unpopular philosophy upon the rest. The philosophy goes something like this: galvanize the poorest most disenfranchised people in the country into militant action to take down the whole system immediately. Oppose any government social safety net programs that feed or house the poor or the elderly because once the poor are hungry, homeless and desperate enough, they will rise up and bring on the revolution. Oppose any action that does not support an instant revolution. For example, do not waste any time or resources on ending corporate personhood because that is a "reformist" idea. Oppose a tax on speculators or millionares because that is "reformist" and will give more money to the government, even if it means more budget cuts that cause the elderly to be thrown out into the streets to die without housing or healthcare, or causes a single mother to lose her child care.
Most of the participants in OBAU believe that this system needs to be replaced. We have anarchists in OBAU, and we have a diversity of views. However, we all believe that we need to build a mass movement and gain the support of the larger public if we are ever going to be able to replace the system. Many of us believe that militant action by a small group of people before we have a mass movement will lead to those people being targeted for indefinite NDAA detention, will turn public support against us, and will give the repressive state excuses to pass more unconstitutional laws. We also believe that until we have alternative structures in place, people should not be thrown out into the street hungry and homeless, and without healthcare or childcare, based on an ideal.
While many within OccupySF have not moved to OBAU, it is because they are against the idea of a division, or "mitosis" as we prefer to call it. Most adhere to the OBAU philosophy of a strategic nonviolence stance and some form of modified consensus, and do not adhere to the philosophy that instant revolution is obtainable. The strategic nonviolence statement that OBAU is currently editing does not rule out self-defense, defense of others, or civil disobedience. It makes a distinction between indiscriminate property destruction against the 99% versus consensed upon strategy that may include such things as breaking a lock to an empty building or dismantling a weapon.
The failure of the OccupySF General Assembly to support a strong statement clarifying that OccupySF was not involved, and did not endorse the destruction of a block of small businesses in a working class neighborhood, after the press attributed it to Occupy, was the proverbial straw that broke the camel's back. Ultimately, the revised statement was blocked by one individual amongst some forty to fifty people. The OBAU "faction" certainly does not "support the system which is run by the people that have betrayed them", as you stated. We simply support developing a strategy to build a people's movement that will not lead to unnecessary suffering. And lastly, we did not "leave the movement", we formed a group within the movement that is bringing people back who have left in frustration, and will hopefully bring new people in who would not be comfortable with the current procedures at OccupySF. One of the first things that OBAU consensed to was a "re-merge" provision that if OccupySF consenses to some form of modified consensus and a strategic nonviolence statement, we will consider re-merging. Unfortunately, this is not likely because the 100% consensus process allows a tiny faction to foist their philosophy upon the rest of the group.