Occupy MN cuts ties with Occupy Homes MN, calls the group "commercial" and "classist"

Categories: Protest News
OccupyMN_vs_OHMN.jpg
via Facebook
Occupy MN has disassociated itself from Occupy Homes MN.
At its regular Wednesday night potluck and meeting last week, Occupy MN announced that it was cutting ties with its high-profile spin-off group, Occupy Homes MN. The decision, which was made by the protest organization's seven-person media arm, came with an explanation.

"While it is laudable to work on housing issues, we cannot reconcile a working process with this commercialized group any further," the leaders said, taking turns reading. "Many of us helped create, volunteered with, and were arrested with Occupy Homes, until unethical tactics serving the goal of evolution into a profitable Non-Governmental Organization achieved dominance."

Following the meeting, Occupy shared the statement and a video of the discussion on its Facebook page. Though Occupy organizers say they had previously suggested separating the two voices, OHMN activists say that, when they first saw the post, they were blindsided.

See Also:
- 13 Occupy Homes protestors arrested at "Week of Action" rally on I-35 bridge [VIDEO]
- Occupy MN dwindles but lives on
- Dan Feidt, producer of DRE drug scandal video, talks about Occupy, police, and the war on drugs
- Occupy Homes celebrates new victories with party and conference



Two hours after the posting, Nick Espinosa, one of six stipended OHMN activists, wrote in a comment, "This was never brought up with any member of Occupy Homes and was done in a completely undemocratic and non transparent way. This is unacceptable."

He continued in a second, lengthy comment, "Every reason you give for this decision is based upon falsehoods that would have been easily clarified had any attempt at communication been made."

The discussion on Facebook has now spiraled to over 300 comments, and turned ugly, including comments reported to Facebook and at least six users getting their accounts suspended.

As supporters on both sides continue to weigh in, OHMN faces a dilemma more immediate than bruised feelings. The most concrete part of the split is that Occupy MN separated its social media accounts -- Twitter and Facebook -- from OHMN. The accounts, which reach approximately 22,000 people, serve as OHMN's primary megaphone to reach its supporters.

OHMN issued a response statement on Sunday afternoon. "Resources, especially our social media tools critical to our campaigns, which we have built in collaboration since the planning stages of the local Occupy movement, must be shared in a fair, equal, and democratic way," the statement argues. "One section of the movement cannot purport to speak for the whole without any attempt at dialogue."

Dissent between the two groups, ostensibly part of the same nationwide protest movement, first heated up over the summer, when OHMN hosted a national conference in Minneapolis and limited the number of "delegates" who could attend. The group argued that the attendance cap was necessary to facilitate a productive discussion; certain members of Occupy MN, however, saw the move as antithetical to a movement founded on transparency.

"It was very difficult when, kind of on the sly, they made the official national convention not really open access," explains Dan Feidt, a member of the Occupy MN media team that made the decision to separate. "There was an ideological split then. I believe that Occupy works best as an open network, versus a vertical movement."

For similar reasons, members of Occupy MN have grown increasingly uncomfortable with OHMN's publicity campaigns, decision-making structure, and above all, fundraising, which includes a voluntary $10 monthly membership fee. Portions of the revenue go to pay an $800 monthly stipend to six of OHMN's lead organizers.

Feidt doesn't flatly oppose OHMN raising funds, but "the financial data is not publicly available," he says. "They're less transparent than Monsanto."

Since Occupy MN posted the statement, "Other people who have had negative experiences have felt more open to sharing what has happened to them," Feidt explains. "We've been hearing, 'That needed to happen' from a wide spectrum of people."

One of those people is Anita Reyes, a woman who has been fighting to save her Longfellow-neighborhood home from foreclosure since 2011. She reached out to OHMN before her first court date, in May 2011, but quickly grew "disillusioned," she says, with what she describes as a lack of communication and transparency.
AnitaReyes.jpg
courtesy Reyes. Click to enlarge.
Anita Reyes, here outside her bank, says that OHMN left her feeling "exploited."

"I hate to say that they didn't help me at all, but I felt exploited," says Reyes. "I felt like what they had going was more important than what I had going, and they left me out in the cold."

Reyes describes difficulty getting hold of the people who had been designated to help her, and frustration that her house and story were used to fundraise for OHMN. "I don't have a problem with them receiving money," she says. "But I have a problem with how they're doing it."

"They did this video of people working on my house, and I'm thinking, 'This is a joke,'" Reyes says. "They had people come out for 20 minutes, and after that I did all the work. It promotes Occupy, and to me it was propaganda."

Though Reyes is still fighting for her home, OHMN has helped eight other homeowners renegotiate with their bank to stay in their homes.

The group acknowledges "grains of truth to the concerns that they're raising," Espinosa told City Pages. "It's our duty to always be open to  critique and we should try to improve our process of being democratic. But I was really surprised that [Occupy MN] went about this without any dialogue."

Espinosa explains that Occupy MN and OHMN have grown increasingly separate. "Folks in leadership on both are really committed to their issues," he says. "Since the plaza has been evicted it made it difficult for us to share physical space, and not having that shared space makes it more difficult to collaborate."

He admits that "hurt feelings and differences of opinion have been growing over the last six months," but is quick to defend OHMN's positions.

The stipend for OHMN organizers is "just enough to support people's basic needs," Espinosa says. "I live at home. This isn't a way for me to make money off the movement, but it's a way for me to sustain my basic needs while committing 60 to 80 hours a week to this work."

"It's important for us to build a stable financial base that doesn't rely on corporate donors or institutions," Espinosa continues. "We do share that critique that funding sources often have the potential to co-opt movements, but we believe the way to combat that is to have a member-led and member-funded organization."

"All we're asking for is the ability to continue sharing resources," says Espinosa. "There are relationships here between people who care about each other and care about the work we're trying to do together."

Espinosa continues to hope that the groups will be able to discuss their issues, but says he hasn't yet heard back on requests for mediation.

Despite the decision to split, Feidt takes pains to note that he wishes OHMN well. "We just have to work separately," he says. Meanwhile, Occupy MN continues to support a variety of issues, like the Idle No More movement, immigration reform, climate change initiatives, and the Enbridge Blockade up on the Red Lake Reservation.

"What defines a movement?" Feidt asks. "I think that when different projects can go in their separate ways, that can work well, and they each continue to strive independently."

Click over to page two for the full video and statement from Occupy MN, as well as the response letter from Occupy Homes MN.


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41 comments
AnnerChist
AnnerChist

Nick Espinosa Gained a little respect back from me at least tonight when he came clean about lying to and manipulating people.  I don't hate him and actually admire the work that was good that he has done. I hope tonight was a wake up call.  And I don't mean that in a harsh way, I mean that I hope we all Can Move Passed this now and continue to do the work that is in front of us and take a look back and reflect on everything that was done right and wrong by both sides and move forward as better people. We Are All Human, All Growing at an Infinite rate heading to a finite end, at least in this plane. Its when we acknowledge our mistakes and work to correct and move passed them that we become more attuned and enlightened. We Are all Fighting the same struggle, the struggle to live in a unrepressed world. I hope that both "sides" strengthen in many ways and can continue to work together in the future.

I wish you all the best.

Positive Vibes

Love you All.


P.S. Thank you City Pages For Bringing this into The Light

gynnady
gynnady

it's painful to read nasty comments back and forth among people anxious to help others.  transparency is good but sniping at one another in a forum like this is not doing anyone good and it's certainly not helping people keep their homes.  

blainegarrett
blainegarrett

This smells too similar to the dispute between Sisters Camelot and their canvassing union to be a coincidence.

AnnerChist
AnnerChist

I tried Posting this on the Occupy Homes Website Under The Comment Section of their "Open letter to the media team."  They decided to delete it. Kind of like they did with the face book comments they didn't like, or when they would Make Events the Same day as OccupyMN and then Bump down occupymn's events till people had to search for them.

I think occupy homes got what it deserved. Nick Espinosa tried to Sabotage The Peoples Plaza SEVERAL TIMES IN SEVERAL WAYS. He Never Even Wanted the Plaza To Exist.  Homes Said they weren't going to take donations and they did, never once willing to share with the rest of the occupation. They have closed door meetings in an open movement. Also Why Doesn't Occupy Homes tell people about the "Inner Circle?"  They have encouraged others to break the law and then make them stay silent. HOMES Has Violated COUNTLESS Rules Put Forth By The Media Team. SOME OF THEM IN WHICH THE "HEAD ORGANIZER OF THE MINNEAPOLIS OCCUPATION" Also KNOWN AS THE "HEAD ORGANIZER OF OCCUPY HOMES"  aka Nick Espinosa PUT FORTH HIMSELF. YOU CENSOR PEOPLE CONSTANTLY and you Victimized other people that tried helping AND DROVE THEM AWAY FROM THE OCCUPATION BY BEING RUED SO THAT HOMES COULD CONTINUE TO BE SELF SERVING TO A FEW. YOU CAN'T USE PEOPLE AND LIE AND THINK ITS GOING TO TURN OUT FOR THE BEST. Occupy Homes Even Stated That If they were going to start their own movement they would get their own resources. Well, I guess you better take that $15,000 that your paperwork says you have set aside, maybe take back the $13,000 In STIPEINS , buy a website, get a FaceBook (Freeeeee) quit buying beer and paying for parties, and get your own resources. OCCUPY IS AN OPEN MOVEMENT IT DOESN'T WELCOME CLOSED DOOR POLITICS . YOU VIOLATED THE RULES. YOU VIOLATED MASS AMOUNTS OF TRUST. THE PEOPLE OF THE MOVEMENT SPOKE. 

Now Lets Think Of The First GA when occupying homes was first brought up. When  we split into small groups to "Discuss winter Survival" THE "ORGANIZERS" Blew Right Passed All the Other Options that were "Brought up" And went right to the Idea of Occupying Homes.  Then Someone  Stepped Forward  Next to Nick and Stated how they had already been talking to home owners about occupying their homes.  IT WAS ALL PREARRANGED. THE PEOPLE "IN CHARGE" OF OCCUPY HOMES ARE LYING TO THE PEOPLE CONSTANTLY. THEY ARE TELLING YOU ONE THING AND DOING ANOTHER. YOU REAP THE SEEDS YOU SOW.

wagonburner1020
wagonburner1020

Anthony Newby asked me to do 'victory' speech for Cruz send-off, BUT I was told not to give details. Guess being offered  to rent the home the bank swindled me out of wasn't really a victory,huh?

April Streich
April Streich

To clarify an important point, the separation was not between OccupyMN/Occupy Minneapolis and Occupy Homes MN as entities. It was members of the media committee making a decision about who had access to shared media resources. The group of people who made this decision in no way intended to speak for all people considering themselves supporters or active participants of/within OccupyMN/Occupy Minneapolis with this decision.

April Streich
April Streich

"Right Wing Libertarian Anarchist party boys" lol, whatever you say.

hongpong
hongpong

It's understated in the article, but there is the largest censorship campaign i've ever seen in the Twin Cities or in Occupy since it started, going on right now.
It's a loaded way to put it but technically true, Monsanto has to file 10Ks so its basic 
financials are available, and part of the stuff OHMN has been directly censoring for months have been respectful questions and critiques about the secret financial arrangements. They are trying to destroy freedom of speech & chill dissent, that is something that has to be resisted.
Ideas about mass inviting people from the OccupyMN to OHMN page have been shared, other ideas for independent volunteer editorial process separated from the commercialized OHMN process for ethical reasons, yet the statement from OHMN denied ideas like this had been sent around. People that they addressed in their statement are STILL banned from responding on OHMN's Facebook page - another instance of the censorship that made a joint process impossible to keep operating.

OccupyPowerGrab
OccupyPowerGrab

The small segment of the media committee that made the unilateral decision also failed to follow their own consensed upon protocol for removing admins: an open meeting with at least two weeks notice given and notification to the affected parties. Then they go on to claim that Occupy Homes is undemocratic while refusing to have any sort of dialogue or mediation with them, while putting volunteers and a homeless mother of four at risk by denying them access to shared resources critical for emergency mobilization and eviction defense while they go to the media with the story. Utterly shameful.

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

This is a very typical kind of problem that springs up with grassroots movements.  At a certain point, the organizational structure takes on a life of its own, with its own needs and imperatives that may or may not have anything to do with the actual purpose of the movement.  Then the battles and disagreements start in; largely brought on by the organizational stuff rather than any real philosophical conflict (other than what was brought on by the organizational stuff).  It's a real Catch-22.

I don't know any of these people myself, so I find the comments by "watsondoor," "nolanmorice" and "Tymoore" very interesting indeed.  Without personal knowledge of the situation, it's clear that a lot of really committed people are hurting pretty badly about this right now.

kellybellin
kellybellin

I have way more concern with a small media committee unilaterally deciding to split these two groups than I have about Occupy Homes MN democratically deciding to give (small!) stipends to activists so that they can survive while dedicating their lives to this work. 

The fact that attacks from Occupy MN media committee have focused on "censorship" is outrageous considering that they're using that platform to throw hate slurs and use honestly horrific language. Is that really a representation of Occupy values?

I'm so saddened by this disaster and that it has to take even a second away from fighting for justice and building a powerful movement against the 1%

TyMoore
TyMoore

FACT CHECK: The author of this article didn't do his homework or else has intentionally spun this story.
First, there was no vote or decision at the Occupy MN meeting to split off or sever ties with Occupy Homes. The specific decision that was taken by a few members of the Occupy MN media committee, with no pretense of democratic debate or input, was to cut Occupy Homes off from access to tens of thousands of social media supporters. These social media tools, and the supporters on them, had been built jointly by the activists within Occupy Homes and Occupy MN, and neither group had any right to unilaterally ban the other from access to those vital resources.
Second, the quotes from Dan regarding transparency and openness were also clearly not fact-checked by doing some simple homework of asking Occupy Homes about their internal structures and decision-making. Anyone who goes to Occupy Homes membership meetings will tell you that we get regular financial updates, questions are generally answered clearly, etc. Similarly, the quotes from Anita are very misleading and reveal a lack of serious reporting by the articles author. Many many hours were dedicated by OH activists to cleaning up Anita's house, to organize demonstrations on her behalf, etc. There were frustrations and disagreements that developed, which I can't speak to due to lack of knowledge, but the picture painted in this article defies reality and reveals either bias or disregard for basic tasks of the journalist to fact-check assertions. There are other examples but hopefully the point is made.

MicheleBachmann
MicheleBachmann topcommenter

Occupy should learn from the Tea Party.  Get a Senator or 10 elected and you will change some shit.  Until then you ain't doing shit. 

nolanmorice
nolanmorice

No matter - Occupy Homes is truly a part of our community, beyond those who identify themselves as "activists". They will keep fighting alongside the people of this city, and it won't take long for any bystander to see which group has legitimacy in needlessly public spats like this. Occupy Homes has saved several homes in MY neighborhood, and I'll continue to stand by them.

Bambi Watson
Bambi Watson

Occupy Homes is way better off without OccupyMN ~ OccupyMN was co-opted by Right Wing Libertarian Anarchist party boys a long time ago & no longer even represents what the Occupy Movement is actually about... OccupyMN is just an excuse for a bunch of guys to get drunk, high & party, and they give real activists a bad name with all of their bizarre troubles with drugs & the Mpls police. I think it is in Occupy Homes best interest to separate themselves as far away from OccupyMN as possible, because Occupy Homes is actually doing real activism that is really helping real people...and that is what it's all about!

watsonsdoor
watsonsdoor

Occupy MN has been co-opted by Right Wing Libertarian Anarchists for a long time now...not at all surprised they Occupy MN is dissing one of the few offshoots of Occupy MN that is actually doing good work and trying to make the world a better place...Most real Activists left Occupy MN a long time ago and are ashamed they even claim to be a part of the Occupy movement when in reality they are just a bunch of Libertarians using Occupy as an excuse to get drunk, high & party...they are a disgrace to real activism & Occupy Homes is way better off without them.

SmartGuy1
SmartGuy1

Occupy is an international movement, not just national.

Hmmm
Hmmm

@AnnerChist Didn't you steal $500 from OccupyMN Liz "Dahl"? Why have you used a fake name from the time you first got involved with the movement?

AnnerChist
AnnerChist

And Just an FYI, I Fully Support Saving Peoples Houses from the Banks.

OccupyPowerGrab
OccupyPowerGrab

@hongpong The censorship has included racist, sexist, and homophobic language, personal attacks including threats of going to police as well as posting home addresses of organizers and encouraging people to send hate mail. Do you really believe those comments should be allowed to stay public while putting committed organizers at real risk?

This is not about censorship, it's about your Ron Paul flag waving, Alex Jones chemtrail conspiracy theory bull and an attempt to undemocratically grab power away from a part of the movement that you politically disagree with. 

How is it that you ignored the media commitee's own agreed upon process for removing admins and claim that the decision was made democratically?

AnnerChist
AnnerChist

@TyMoore See there is a problem right there Occupy Homes Membership Meetings


Membership?  Alright well if you have a "membership" then you have your own movement. 
You shouldn't have to be a "member" to see financial statements.

U Mad bro?


wagonburner1020
wagonburner1020

@TyMoore How much does that 'membership' cost??? Last I heard it was  $10.00

IS IT ABOUT THE PEOPLE OR NOT?!!!

 


wagonburner1020
wagonburner1020


@TyMooreWould you like a financial report from OHMN?
Coordination Report: Cat Salonek- Finances and Fundraising In the bank$17,002.04 In cash: $205.00 Earmarked: $14,800 for stipends and national coordination $1761 Expenses over the last week: $1802.92 (Major expenses were $1200 for stipends and $489 for Chicago trip) Income over the last week: $1,368.58

CinBlueland
CinBlueland topcommenter

@watsonsdoorDo you have anything to back that up? The "Right Wing Libertarian Anarchists" comment is confusing Right Wing = Law and Order/Morality types, Libertarian = limited gov't types, Anarchists = anarchy. Not exactly 3 groups that get along.

SmartGuy1
SmartGuy1

@keny1 People who give a fuck about putting an end to the corruption that caused the great wealth divide should give a fuck.

wagonburner1020
wagonburner1020

@SmartGuy1 OccupyMN did the right thing. They're a 'peoples' group. They are not willing to support a group that has ulterior motives. I applaud them for the courage they displayed in breaking away!

LoveLiz
LoveLiz

@Hmmm no I did not steal $500 from OccupyMN or from AIM, just wanted to clear that up.

AnnerChist
AnnerChist

No I didn't. Im not Liz. and She Allegedly Took it From AiM but still works with them so I dont know.                

AprilStreich
AprilStreich

@OccupyPowerGrab Who are you, and why are you hiding behind a vague handle?  What can't you say here with your own name? 

hongpong
hongpong

 @OccupyPowerGrab I can agree with a decision to moderate a home address off a discussion thread. However that address was also published to the entire world as the official DNS domain name postal address for administrator, tech & registrant for OccupyHomesMN.org (you can do a 'whois' lookup to verify this). I encourage mutual respect on internet threads, and a vastly wider array of content that no one could possibly see as "offensive" has been censored, including posts documenting previous censorship operations. The censorship operations, escalated in recent weeks, violated first principles.

wagonburner1020
wagonburner1020

@TyMoore I called Cat at OHMN and when I asked her howmuch money I made them she said she didn't know,I said you don't know and she responded with"well, someone might had seen your video and sent a dollar."  My petition had over 121,000 signatures, not to mention the other video's of me earmarked for donations. I highly doubt OHMN received just a dollar! I am ANGRY that people are intentionally mislead into believing donations are for helping homeowners,instead of lining pockets of 'supposed' activists!

swmnguy
swmnguy topcommenter

@CinBlueland  I found that to be a very interesting comment, as well.  I think I know what "watsondoor" is trying to describe, however, and our political vocabulary doesn't cover it very well.  For instance, how do you describe the GOP "Big Tent," or whatever it is we call the Tea Party?  I'm not sure she's confusing anything; perhaps the problem is with the way we've let our political vocabulary become meaningless.  Anytime people can call President Obama a "socialist," or Rep. Bachmann "Conservative," we've got a problem with the lexicon and we're going to have a hard time communicating.

wagonburner1020
wagonburner1020

@AprilStreich@OccupyPowerGrabI am ANGRY that my campaign was detoured along the parade route rather than  to my home. I am ANGRY that people were intentionally mislead into believing that donations were to help the homeowner instead of lining 'supposed' activists. SEE FINANCIAL REPORT note: homeowner was given $63.91 . Coordination Report: Cat Salonek- Finances and Fundraising 10/18 In the bank: $15,266.55 In cash: $240.38 Checks to Deposit: $120.00 Total Amount of Money: $15,626.93 Earmarked: $1 ($12,400 for stipends, $850 national coordination, $63.91 Rose McGee Forum) Expenses over the last week: $79.45 Income over the last week: $404.78

AprilStreich
AprilStreich

@OccupyPowerGrab @AprilStreich Yes, that much is obvious and will be discussed at the public, livestreamed meeting tomorrow night.  

So, who are you, and why are you hiding behind a vague handle?

OccupyPowerGrab
OccupyPowerGrab

@AprilStreich Did you or did you not ignore the media commitee's own agreed upon process for removing admins? Why was a public media committee not held to make this decision?

OccupyPowerGrab
OccupyPowerGrab

@hongpong Did you or did you not ignore the media commitee's own agreed upon process for removing admins? Why was a public media committee not held to make this decision?

wagonburner1020
wagonburner1020

Heres another financial statement...Note $63.00 for homeowner,

@TyMoore Coordination Report: Cat Salonek- Finances and Fundraising 10/18 In the bank: $15,266.55 In cash: $240.38 Checks to Deposit: $120.00 Total Amount of Money: $15,626.93 Earmarked: $1 ($12,400 for stipends, $850 national coordination, $63.91 Rose McGee Forum) Expenses over the last week: $79.45 Income over the last week: $404.78

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