Occupy LA: “Let’s OK Property Damage!”



Factions within Occupy LA are calling for the removal of “property” from the Occupy Statement of Principles of Non-Violence or to have the statement non-violence be modified to precisely define and codify what property damage is allowable. The matter is due to be voted on tonight, 12/23 in the General Assembly, the Friday night before a major holiday when many people are unable to attend.

Ruth Fowler who wrote the current revision is a member of the facilitation committee, the group which allows for the (ideally) smooth running of General Assemblies. Here is her logic about the removal of property damage from the Statement of Purpose:

I think my argument will be that mentioning violence and property damage in the same document obfuscates the issue, and that a separate document against property damage should be drafted separately to the non-violence statement and brought to GA.

Others would like “property” removed from the SoP entirely, like Anthony Cristofani who posted December 20 on the OLA listerve regarding property damage (pd):

You know I support getting rid of pd for all the reasons that have been correctly and eloquently argued. I myself don’t believe on it or do it. But guess what Scott and cronies listen hard: this proposal gets blocked and I will gonto every one of your permitted pansy events and fuck property up to punish you and the 1% you serve. Then I’ll frame your ass for for it.

Wow. So basically if the clause to remove property damage from the statement of non-violence is not passed, Anthony Cristofani, a PhD candidate at UC Riverside with a very interesting background (use teh Googles) will commit property damage and frame OLA members. And says so, which is is just so brilliant. Wow. Just wow.

The debate about non-violence and property damage has been raging in recent weeks on listserv and on the OLA website, though it was pointed out that the inclusion of property damage had been in place since September 23, and that it had passed the GA three times since then. There is hair splitting (graffiti and tearing down fences is okay, for example), and calls for no property damage or property damage to make a point:

A proper statement of nonviolence assumes that should we commit property damage (and we inevitably will), and the police react with violence, that we will remain true to our principle.

Seriously, Occupy LA, WTF?

49 Responses to "Occupy LA: “Let’s OK Property Damage!”"
Phoenix Woman | Friday December 23, 2011 03:32 pm 1

The anarchist twits must be around 50% FBI and/or local cop informants. Notice that they never, ever do their own demonstrations, but must always try to hijack other people’s demos?

ThingsComeUndone | Friday December 23, 2011 04:22 pm 2
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 1

How does the vote look just how many FBI plants and their thralls are there enough to pass this?

mzchief | Friday December 23, 2011 04:23 pm 3

Looks to me that Anthony Cristofani, someday-PhD has just declared his non-affiliation with #Occupy.

TomThumb | Friday December 23, 2011 04:26 pm 4

Non-violence as a way of pursuing social change has always been non-destructive, yet there are always informants or agent provocateurs whose job is to agitate, to divide the group solidarity with conflicts over non-violence, to propose illegal actions when spectacle and theatre would be sufficient. Government moles always propose breaking valid laws when breaking unjust laws is the real working principle behind fighting for freedom of speech and civil rights.

TomThumb | Friday December 23, 2011 04:29 pm 5

Real anarchists shower us with our freedoms and with real creativity. Real activists promote human dignity and that includes respect for other peoples’ stuff too.

mzchief | Friday December 23, 2011 04:29 pm 6


Jesus_M_Christ Jesus Christ
I still can’t believe I didn’t get any weird diseases from being born in that manger.
1 minute ago

ThingsComeUndone | Friday December 23, 2011 04:31 pm 7

Oh Lisa I’m in LA Hacienda Heights visiting my sister until the 5th Demi wants to get together some time if she can round up more LA pups.

zapkitty | Friday December 23, 2011 04:33 pm 8

The anarchist twits must be around 50% FBI and/or local cop informants.

… about a 50-50 mix, I think.

realitychecker | Friday December 23, 2011 04:47 pm 9

I’m disturbed that this guy so easily gets labeled as a government agent. Perhaps he has a more realistic view than some. In any case, it’s only fair to read some of his own words before we automatically condemn him. https://post.craigslist.org/manage/2750703939

Lisa Derrick | Friday December 23, 2011 04:54 pm 10

I don’t think anyone in OLA is necessarily a government agent, but I do think people often are short sighted and/or ego driven. And I doubt anyone them would be happy if the KKK spray painted their cars, tents or backpacks.

CTuttle | Friday December 23, 2011 05:01 pm 11

Nonviolence and respect for people’s property is essential to all the Occupies…! It’s a creative movement not a destructive one…! 8-(

Lisa Derrick | Friday December 23, 2011 05:06 pm 12
In response to CTuttle @ 11

Yes. I it was a bit stunning ot me to see that one person on the OLA site said that propert damage was “inevitable”

realitychecker | Friday December 23, 2011 05:15 pm 13

To be clear, I am not advocating any particular course of action. That is because I am not satisfied that I know the best thing to do. But I do think we have reached a point where it is appropriate to consider all possible scenarios, for the purpose of analysis and effective strategic thinking. And I do think that it is obligatory to read about the recent laws being put in place to crush dissent with finality. Here some intro reading, from this very front page: http://my.firedoglake.com/shahidbuttar/2011/12/23/the-ndaa-another-assault-in-the-dead-of-night/

CTuttle | Friday December 23, 2011 05:28 pm 14
In response to realitychecker @ 13

But I do think we have reached a point where it is appropriate to consider all possible scenarios, for the purpose of analysis and effective strategic thinking.

I agree with the need to plan for all contingencies, but, I flatly reject any planning to instigate harm upon anybody or anything…! You certainly don’t want to gift wrap another reason for DHS/FBI/Local PD’s to crack down even harder…! 8-(

realitychecker | Friday December 23, 2011 05:51 pm 15
In response to CTuttle @ 14

No, I don’t, but it’s becoming increasingly clear that the PTB are ready, willing, and able to crush even peaceful, non-destructive dissent. So, that presents a whole new set of possibilities to be considered, doesn’t it? Just trying to be rational about it. Like I said, I don’t know what is the best thing to do next. And I fully appreciate that even such rational discussions entail some risk under the new laws, and must be conducted with care, if at all.

cassiodorus | Friday December 23, 2011 06:11 pm 16

Voting? I don’t see this getting through consensus process.

dcblogger | Friday December 23, 2011 06:11 pm 17

This Anthony Cristofani? hoo boy

applepie | Friday December 23, 2011 06:12 pm 18

Well, my two cents is that (no) property destruction is not the same as non-violence, and so deserves it’s own discussion. I hope OccupyLA does not go into property destruction personally, but there are instances where it is necessary…Sea Shepherds come to mind.

One thing that is clear is that the cops will use any excuse to create mayhem. As it is, they already refuse to obey the laws that they are supposedly sworn to uphold. They have also destroyed much private property, including personal computers and books from the libraries!

waynec | Friday December 23, 2011 06:49 pm 19
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 1

You are correct.
They are chickensh*t to do their own.
They hide behind mommys skirt.
They wear masks to hide their identity.
They can’t stand up for whatever their beliefs are.
We had ‘em in San Francisco, breaking windows, wearing masks.
Not man enough to show their faces
They hide in the shadows pretending to be anarchists.

seaglass | Friday December 23, 2011 07:04 pm 20
In response to waynec @ 19

Back during the 60′s anti -war days the Favorite tactic of the Gov’t was to plant these guys in every radical org. and they all did the same shit as were now seeing. We used to have a saying that you could always pick out the AP’s because they were the ones screaming kill the pigs the loudest. The worst thing for the Gov’t is to be confronted by an actual non-violent movement, they have no real defense against such a force. So they don’t allow it and it’s easy enough to break up movements like #OWS because of it’s non-leadership ethic. The AG’s fill this kind of power vacuum fast and the violence begins.

orionATL | Friday December 23, 2011 07:22 pm 21

oh, for christ’s sake,

you absolutely cannot have political protests involving dozens to thousands of human beings, in any nation in the world, without having some level of property damage and some level of violence. we are animals with a strong emotional system. that’s partly how we got where we are over the last 10k years.

to believe otherwise is to refuse to acknowledge human behavior and history.

to profess to support protest and yet refuse to acknowkedge the necessity of various forms of “violence” is to be a sunshine patriot.

it is also to be the kind of femake democratic voter whose support and expectations encourage democratic party candidates totrt to slither into power, rather than stride.

the focus should NEVER be on the “violence” unless it is truly excessive.

tbe focus should be

- on the protesters’ message

- on the fair coverage of issues in the media


- on the violent conduct of police where police are ordered to suppress an occupy site.

the first amendment does NOT require one wash one’s face and brush one’s face or that one never raise one’s voice or never throw a rock thru a window.

John Sherman | Friday December 23, 2011 07:24 pm 22
In response to cassiodorus @ 16

I agree, there must be a sizable faction to get to voting for amendments to Statement of Purpose. Usually the GA process ends up with everything being over-general to the frustration of lots of people, but to the benefit of solidarity. Is it a stretch to say that this might be a nasty consequence of the eviction?–that stuff that is usually contained to online forums and facebook pages (endless philosophical bickering over property damage/non-violence/self-defense, etc.) gets brought to the forefront at GA every night instead of the day-to-day practical issues of the encampment.

papau | Friday December 23, 2011 07:25 pm 23

When “we” “started” SDS ( SDS started in 60 as SDS but I never heard of it in either Chicago or Boston and I was rather active on the left – spring 62 saw Tom Hayden’s Port Huron Statement/manifesto that was the start in my crowd) in 62 in various cities, in my case Boston, it was just college kids getting together to protest the JFK plan to increase Ike’s 2000 advisers in Vietnam to 16,000 by 1963. Later SDS rapidly became run by the kids with money, either from trusts or from allowances – and 5 years later the wealthiest of these broke of and became the violent “weathermen”. In all case, in all those years, my observation was that a large percentage – not more than 30% and not less than 10% – wanted violence – not against the rich that were pushing racism and war – these leadership kids were from the rich – but against police and the military and any that tried to tell them what to do. I concluded later that the draft was their main motivation.

I noted the SDS leadership – and the push for violence – and never looked back as I went to other groups to protest the war and civil rights.

But it looks like OWS needs to watch out for the violence now folks – just like we had to back in the 60′s.

orionATL | Friday December 23, 2011 07:25 pm 24
In response to orionATL @ 21

“brush one’s face”

one for the ages,

or the hirsuite :)

waynec | Friday December 23, 2011 07:27 pm 25
In response to seaglass @ 20

I was there, during the 60′s demonstrations.
We eventually won. The Viet Nam war was shown for what it was, a money machine for the oligarchs.
But, today, demonstrations are too little, too late. The people have been asleep. I think part of the problem is people think, ‘it won’t happen to me because I keep my nose clean.’ My son, who is 20, could care less. My daughter, 16, doesn’t care because she thinks she can live in a bubble and avoid the crash.
It’s like you say, “The worst thing for the Gov’t is to be confronted by an actual non-violent movement, they have no real defense against such a force. So they don’t allow it and it’s easy enough to break up movements like #OWS because of it’s non-leadership ethic. The AG’s fill this kind of power vacuum fast and the violence begins. ”

I have a feeling Kent State type violence will be coming. Don’t know when. But voting certainly hasn’t helped any…

realitychecker | Friday December 23, 2011 09:12 pm 26

There is a huge difference between damaging stuff, and harming human beings. I can’t believe I even have to make that point. When you conflate the two, as many here automatically do, you simply buy into the meme of those who own the stuff. Just as a hypothetical, if destroying the Wall Street bull would bring about the changes we all want, is there any sane person who would be so pure as to say, “leave the bull alone”? Everybody needs to think a little more before they type about this issue, IMO.

Kelly Canfield | Friday December 23, 2011 09:24 pm 27
In response to realitychecker @ 26

Straw man argument, because destroying the bull wouldn’t change the system we have.

In fact, there are not 5 physical things or 10 physical things you could destroy that would change the system. Physical objects are not the problem – destroying physical objects that aren’t yours solves nothing.

orionATL | Friday December 23, 2011 10:01 pm 28
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 27

you are completely missing a crucial point:

individual humans, without money and lawyers, have only themselves and each other, acting collectively, to express their anger – anger that lies at the heart of their protests and thatnthey have a constitutional right to express.

the notion that protesters, with respect to anger, violence, and property destruction, should/could behave like patent-leather-shoed corporate board members is nonsense.

a certain level of violence should be expected, and tolerance of such should be built into policing social/political protest.

non-wealthy protesters are not like cesear’s wife.

holding them to any such standard is asking them to fight with one arm tied behind, but that is precisely the corporate media view, and apparently the view of a majority of contributors here.

anyone who understands how politics works understands the power that threats of violence have over a political system.

it is for that reason those threats are suppressed by the authorities;

not for any reason of any genuine concern for public order, safety, or health.

Lisa Derrick | Friday December 23, 2011 11:25 pm 29


Michael Cavlan RN | Friday December 23, 2011 11:26 pm 30
In response to orionATL @ 28

I hear ya. My God, the craven cowardice of some of those on the “left” amazes me.

As for the great “hero” mentioned earlier, Tom Hayden and his great principles. Well who is Tom Hayden pimping for now? He is on the “Progressives for Obama” group and is very very silent on his presidents (and his party’s) complicity in, well take a pick these days.

Pannochka | Friday December 23, 2011 11:39 pm 31

Yeah…I have met cool people at OLA, but the noisiest ones on the listserv are full of fail. Nothing makes them happy and anyone that wants to help out is a potential co-opter rather than a fellow 99%er.

They also are mad that members were recently kicked out of the SEIU property the union had allowed some campers to stay at, because some campers were not obeying basic rules (drug use including meth, and a potential knife fight were what caused them to be kicked out) Most of the campers were fine, but they are against calling the police for ANYTHING and are not good at self police-ing , so stuff like this will happen. People like Anthony were blaming SEIU, like it was their fault they even require civil behavior from people they are lending a space a sleep to. Even though the SEIU would be liable for what people do on their property, the SEIU were being capitalist oppressors but requiring even minimal demands from OLA campers. But to people like Anthony, they don’t see a double standard where they want to be treated a certain way, but won’t extend the courtesy to others. Just comes off as selfish and doctrinaire as Ayn Rand followers.

In conclusion, I have met great people at OLA, but any great people that try to express their POV on the listserv are beaten down by the drama llamas to the point where they either leave the OLA movement or participate in a reduced capacity.

mzchief | Saturday December 24, 2011 12:34 am 32

Occupy is Outing the Ringers” | October2011.org | by Kevin Zeese, Posted on 19 December 2011

kimsarah | Saturday December 24, 2011 01:20 am 33
In response to Phoenix Woman @ 1

Very good point.

Rocio | Saturday December 24, 2011 02:30 am 34

I am disgusted by your *absolute* mischaracterization of the entire discussion.

I am a member of OccupyLA and as a rape survivor I was *very* uncomfortable with the way property destruction was included in the non-violence statement. It equated or at least put on the same level things like rape and the police beating people with breaking a store’s window.

I spoke out in favor of this proposal last time it came up on this basis that my body is not a window.

Your title in particular is disgustingly misleading. Pretty much everyone who spoke in favor of the proposal is not in favor of engaging in property destruction myself included.

This post is a major case of missing the entire point. [While we're at it, a random post from the mailing list is NOT representative of OccupyLA, it's like taking the worst comment from any given site and saying that is what the community thinks.]

You insult victims of actual violence like survivors of rape, domestic violence, police brutality, and any other forms of real violence that caused them physical harm by conflating the two issues and ignoring our voices that just want people to acknowledge the difference between assault and destroying a newspaper box. I do remember that one of the proposers of the proposal noted that she had been a victim of violence herself and that was part of why it mattered to her.

Clearly you were not at the first discussion of this proposal and if you went to this one, you completely mischaracterized.

And just to note the kind of ideology you promote legitimizes physical violence against people for perceived property destruction. I want you to note how seriously this society takes property vs. people’s lives. Should a hooligan break a window, the police will arrest and detain them and possibly beat them. Think about the resources that are spent defending the property of the well to do vs. actually catching rapists [hint most rapists never suffer for their crimes].

realitychecker | Saturday December 24, 2011 07:53 am 35
In response to Kelly Canfield @ 27

Kelly, you are smarter than to pretend that attacking the artificial premise of a HYPOTHETICAL removes the point of the hypothetical. I understand that you are uncomfortable about having the discussion, but to dodge the discussion the way you try to do here is beneath you.

realitychecker | Saturday December 24, 2011 08:03 am 36

Rocio states the issue honestly. I am disappointed, but, sadly, not surprised by the timidity and avoidance exhibited by the majority on this thread. Nobody respects sheep that insist on continuing to act like sheep. You expect to win any fight against PTB that believe in assassination, disappearing people, and killing people with unmanned machinery? You think you will shame them into doing the right thing? You think we are still living in the Gandhi days, or even the Martin Luther King days? I know you people have brains. I wish you would use them.

orionATL | Saturday December 24, 2011 09:17 am 37


so damn many burghers here.

who knew that there were so many burghers at firey, firey, firedoglake?

burgh·er (bûrgr)
1. A citizen of a town or borough.
2. A comfortable or complacent member of the middle class.
a. A member of the mercantile class of a medieval European city.
b. A citizen of a medieval European city.


Lisa Derrick | Saturday December 24, 2011 10:05 am 38
In response to Rocio @ 34

I used three posts from three different people on both the listserve and the OLA website, including Ruth Fowler who is on the facilitation committee and wrote the proposed changes–not as you “mischaracterized” it as “a” post. Many people involved with OLA spoke with me about this issue and were concerned, distraught and fed up.

The idea that “property damage is “inevitable” is ridiculous. How was Project Chanology able to stage public demonstrations for over a year globally, with some protests being over 500 people, and not damage property if property damage is “inevitable?” How were the Prop 8 demonstrations and marches able to to avoid the inevitable property damage?

Breaking windows is not job creation.

realitychecker | Saturday December 24, 2011 10:44 am 39
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 38

I have the greatest respect for you, Lisa, but I feel we are missing the actual issues here, which are, is it morally acceptable to destroy non-living property as a revolutionary tactic, AND would it be effective and/or necessary to use such a tactic to have any hope of winning the struggle that was initiated by the Occupy movement. These are both complex and uncomfortably difficult issues to address, much less resolve, but if we are serious about replacing the corporate oligarchy with a real democracy, these issues must be addressed sooner or later.

orionATL | Saturday December 24, 2011 11:26 am 40
In response to Lisa Derrick @ 38

“The idea that “property damage is “inevitable” is ridiculous”

hmmm, that sentence tells a lot.

property damage is not essential to protest, but it is a highly likely consequence of public protest.

the larger issue is that potential damage to property or putative damage to property are both used as justifications for police intervention intended to stifle protest, not preserve property.

a related issue is that there is a certain expectation of and tolerance for property damage in other public protests that have been legally sanctioned, e.g., strikes. while the individuals responsible for property damage maybe punished, these legally permitted activities are rarely halted due to individual acts.

orionATL | Saturday December 24, 2011 11:31 am 41

“breaking windows is not job creation”

actually, it is. somebody has to fix the windows :)

John Sherman | Saturday December 24, 2011 11:37 am 42

I think most people involved with Occupy realize that property damage can happen, especially under certain circumstances. I think the issue is whether occupations should be allocating time and energy into actually codifying property damage into statements of purpose. I mean, who does that benefit? It alienates individuals inside and outside the movement, and for what? A macho cred pose? If you wanna go break some windows, go break some windows. Act autonomously, but consider the consequences in the short and long-term.

applepie | Saturday December 24, 2011 11:41 am 43

There is also the issue of destroying property for a greater good. For example, would it be wrong to destroy sonic anti-personnel weapon directed at a crowd with children? How about a surveillance camera? How about dumping a load of manure on the front lawn of the CEO that profits off of war?

Non-violence is a separate issue. Contrary to the absurdity inherent in the Citizens United ruling, property is not the same as people.

realitychecker | Saturday December 24, 2011 11:54 am 44

The people Occupy is fighting against consider their property to have greater value than our lives and rights. Any of their property, all of our lives and rights. Ponder that one for awhile.

kak1958 | Saturday December 24, 2011 02:35 pm 45
In response to applepie @ 43

Okay, as long as you acknowledge that the “greater good” is in the mind of the property destroyer. Surely pro-lifers think that’s what they’re promoting when they destroy an abortion clinic. Whoever cut the gas line of former Democratic Congressman Tom Perriello’s brother (thinking it was the Congressman’s address) likely thought they were acting on behalf of the greater good because they were trying to stop the government takeover of healthcare (and yes, I know, most FDL posters only wish that were the case).

Property may not be the same as people, but as John Sherman said above, vandalism ultimately just alienates supporters and would-be supporters. Whether, as realitychecker said, it should be considered morally acceptable is a separate argument from its utility in achieving the desired end. It’s too easy to dismiss vandals as hooligans; then the more important message is lost.

realitychecker | Saturday December 24, 2011 02:58 pm 46
In response to kak1958 @ 45

Sometimes the greater good can indeed be difficult to identify. But, ultimately, you must decide whether you would rather live with your determination of what that greater good is, or just remain paralyzed and impotent. Right now, we are living with the PTB’s determination that the greater good is for them to live above the law and act as parasites on regular working people. Are you confused as to whether you agree with that determination? As far as vandalism as a tactic, one might fairly ask whether the goodwill of those determined to never take a stand is the highest value and priority, or whether a successful revolutionary movement should instead focus on what tactics will best defeat the enemy. These are important and difficult questions, with major consequences. I applaud your willingness to honestly engage, but this conversation is just beginning.

applepie | Saturday December 24, 2011 03:36 pm 47
In response to kak1958 @ 45

I do not advocate, and I have never advocated, property destruction. Personally, I feel it is macho-juvenile, self-defeating, and will allow a pushback that might cripple any chance our movement might have to better things.

But, I do not equate the Sea Shepherds with Operation Rescue, or saboteurs that endanger human life by cutting brake lines with a bunch of people who might block a toxic outfall pipe. You are right in asking where is the line between right and wrong. The examples of surveillance camera and sci-fi police weapons I used previously are real and going to become more prevalent. It seems rather bleak to say that the the system is getting more bloodthirsty, and is itching to strike back. It goes almost without saying that the LAPD has a long terrible history of overkill. When the cops and the security apparatus strike back though it will just as likely be over walking in the street rather than on the sidewalk (or vice versa) as if someone destroyed property.

All I wanted to add to this discussion is the idea that having a separate discussion, a separate GA agreement, and a separate vision forward stand on non-violence from one on property destruction might be a good thing. After the posts here, all the passionate statements made, I think it is essential.

realitychecker | Sunday December 25, 2011 07:24 am 48

I would just like to add the observation that the PTB have already demonstrated beyond any doubt whatsoever that they will not fight fair. They will not let this be a contest of principles, values, and rationality. They will insist on making it, from their side, about force, misleading propaganda, and selective law enforcement as well as absolute illegal activities in the service of repression. Just something to keep in mind as we consider how “pure” the resistance must be to get popular support, or can be in order to be effective.

openhope | Tuesday December 27, 2011 02:17 pm 49
In response to orionATL @ 37

Well said, orionATL. thank you.
I agree.

Sorry but the comments are closed on this post