Global Story

Occupy Las Vegas Splits over Corporate NPO Co-Opt [original version]

This is long, but the history is complicated. We apologize in advance for the length. Peace.

Citing peculiarities of Las Vegas law, OCCUPY Las Vegas (OLV) obtained a lease from the County Commission for a parking lot in which to hold its encampment. That site is known as Area 99. Three members of OLV signed the lease, which was renegotiated last week some time. The membership of OCCUPY Las Vegas was told that when the contract was renegotiated, the Board of Directors of the 501(c)3, "Opportunities Las Vegas" were all signatories. However, on the night of November 8th, OLV member Kristal Glass stated that she is also on the lease, although hers is not one of the three names the General Assembly was given as a signatory to the renegotiated lease.

Opportunities Las Vegas is a non-profit corporation set up allegedly to protect the personal assets of the leaseholders in the event of a lawsuit; non-profit status also allows Opportunities Las Vegas to receive tax-deductible donations. Board member Sebring Frehner says that he can “pretty much guarantee” that “those three” individuals would “end up spending all that money to help OCCUPY Las Vegas.” Of course, “pretty much guarantee” and “guarantee” are not the same thing. The video is available here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML0fbjYbPvY

The Board of Directors of Opportunities Las Vegas is comprised of three people, if what the General Assembly has been told is true. On the self-recording already referred to, Frehner asserted that Opportunities and OCCUPY are “two completely separate things.” Because Opportunities Las Vegas holds the lease, its Board of Directors has the legal authority to keep anyone out of Area 99 for any reason they choose. According to Frehner’s video remarks, the General Assembly (GA) of OCCUPY Las Vegas has no legal right to input into who sits on the board.

Since October 21, 2011, the General Assembly of OCCUPY Las Vegas has met at Area 99. The GA is the decision-making, procedural, and policy arm of OCCUPY Las Vegas. Because General Assemblies are held at Area 99, being barred from the site also means being barred from the GA. According to Frehner and attorney Robert Kern, another board member and agent for Opportunities Las Vegas, the three board members need not consult anyone or follow any procedure or policy if they wish to evict someone from Area 99. And that is legally true.

Because GAs are held at Area 99, those who have the power to decide who is allowed into Area 99 also have the power to decide who is allowed to have a voice in the GA, and by extension, who is allowed to vote. In effect, they have the power to unilaterally disenfranchise any member, for any reason, without consulting anyone, including the GA. At last night's GA, for example, Glass said that the topics of trespass and banishment were closed: “If you don’t like what I have to say or what Sebring is doing, you can walk your ass right off this property. It's that simple. ” A video link is here: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=upkRNVOfmSI&feature=youtu.be

This power has been exercised more than once, and the silencing has not stopped at the gates to Area 99.

Members who question actions and demand transparency from Frehner, including me, former OLV Media Team manager Gina M. Sully, have been unilaterally blocked from the group’s Facebook pages. Frehner has also barred me from Area 99 via a Facebook notification. I haven’t earned ejection according to any OCCUPY Las Vegas policy; although I did disrupt a GA by yelling at Frehner to demand that he explain why people were being ejected, the policy in place at the time required that a member disrupt proceedings four times before s/he would face mandatory ejection. Moreover, Frehner told me at the time that he wouldn’t eject me for yelling at him, and I facilitated a GA meeting at Area 99 two days later. I have publicly apologized to Frehner and the GA three times since the incident. Nor did I violate the Facebook “A$$hole Policy” created by Frehner, contrary to his claims I did, and I have the screen shots to prove it. The “A$$hole Policy” may be found at the Facebook page #occupylasvegas #occupytogether. I cannot provide a link because I am blocked from the page.

On Tuesday November 1, an OLV photographer informed me that he had been photographing demonstrators for the Metro Police liaison at the behest of Mercedes Haefer. Ms. Haefer is a member of the Board of Directors of Opportunities Las Vegas (according to information given to the GA on Saturday, November 5 by Kristal Glass), even though she faces felony charges for conspiracy and intentional damage to a protected computer. The photographer said he had been instructed not to tell me of his work for Metro, and he had decided to refuse to continue doing it. I have been unable to independently verify his report at this time.

At midnight on November 3, an "Emergency Security Team Meeting" was held at Area 99. The meeting was announced at 11:35PM, giving any interested parties no more than 25 minutes to get there. Several Security Team members who were on site were not informed of this "Security" meeting at all. Some of the Team Managers were invited; others were not. No one has yet revealed who made the decision about whom to invite and whom to exclude, despite repeated request for a direct response by members of the group. And, although the bylaws produced at that meeting were ostensibly to protect members from what was described as an "imminent threat," Frehner said on the self-recorded video that the bylaws “put into place for Opportunities Las Vegas do not apply to Occupation Las Vegas—two completely separate things.” That "imminent and credible threat" has yet to be revealed to the GA, also despite repeated requests. The video of this meeting has been stolen.

On November 3, 2011 Opportunities Las Vegas filed paperwork with the Nevada Secretary of State reserving the name “OCCUPY Las Vegas.” As far as has been determined, the so-called core members of Opportunities Las Vegas have maintained to the other members of OCCUPY Las Vegas that “OCCUPY Las Vegas” exists as a dba of Opportunities Las Vegas with all the rights and privileges afforded such a legal entity. However, a name reservation falls far short of creating a legal entity and affording legal protections. A search of the records revealed no dba filing.

On Saturday November 5, the GA met at 3:00 PM. The GA passed a motion that required the names of the Board of Directors and the source and amount of the filing fee to be revealed before the GA could vote on bylaws. The motion also called for copies of the forms filed with the Secretary of State’s office to be posted on the group’s website; for the GA to elect Opportunities Las Vegas’s Board of Directors; for the GA to decide whether or not the non-profit should have paid employees, if any employees or Board members were to be paid, and how much paid employees should be paid. It passed. There were jokes that the Board’s pay should be limited to $1.00. Since no representative of the Board was on site, the meeting adjourned for five minutes until Kristal Glass could get the information by phone.

Saturday night, Frehner recorded the video in which he said that nothing the GA says or does is binding on Opportunities Las Vegas. A link to the video is again provided for your convenience: http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=ML0fbjYbPvY

Late Saturday night or early Sunday morning (November 5/6), the minutes from Saturday’s GA were stolen and the LiveStream recording of the meeting disappeared, although a record of the motions passed exists in the form of facilitator notes, which I provided to the “core group” on Monday. The passwords for the Internet hotspot were changed—not for the first time—and the video of the midnight meeting also disappeared. Other equipment and information were compromised because the safe was left unlocked. Frehner’s self-recorded video was also pulled from where it was posted, but it had already been copied, transcribed, and posted to YouTube, so it still exists.

Sunday morning, the domain for the website that had been the official site for OLV from day one was redirected, and those coming to the address found themselves at what seemed to be a cheesy-looking anti-Zionist site. However, within minutes, techies realized that the DNS switch had been re-pointed, and they got the new domain to point at the original website within a couple of hours. The original website is now located at http://occupylv.org.

A new website is being built at the old domain/address, which Frehner allegedly owns and controls. Frehner has admitted that someone got his password and re-pointed the original domain name. However, when he regained control of the domain, Frehner chose not to point it to the original site, but to create a new site and to have the domain point there.

On Sunday night, Frehner announced in the Examiner that because the original website had moved, the group had split, even though he had himself chosen not to re-point the domain to the original site. Contrary to the report given to the Examiner, the website was not hacked. Here’s a link to the story:
http://www.examiner.com/2010-elections-in-las-vegas/hacked-site-causes-o...

On Sunday, OLV members became aware that a group photographer had posted their photographs on his Facebook page. The photographs are copyrighted by his media corporation for NBC, according to a legend on the photos. A member of OLV, angered by the photographer’s violation of OLV’s “no-camera zone,” ran an Internet search on the photographer on Monday. The member discovered that the photographer had a criminal background, including a conviction for possession of child pornography and another for financial fraud. I consulted an attorney, and then immediately emailed the Board and other “core group” members to inform them of the photographer’s background; I asked that they refuse him access to Area 99 until the parents who stayed and visited the site were informed that he was there. I believe that they did so, and I have complete documentation of our correspondence as well.

I deeply regret that I didn’t run Internet searches on the photographers who were placed on the Media Team. I’ll know better in the future.

On Sunday November 6, a group of OLV members held a circle Gathering at UNLV in an attempt to iron out some of the issues that had been causing friction in OLV. Attendees’ statements were videotaped. One of the most significant gains was that two men to revise their signs to bring them more in line with the group’s goals as outlined in the Mission Statement. Their signs had created a great deal of dissent and had led to the first ejections, so this was quite a step forward. The meeting was not a GA; no motions were made and no actions recommended other meeting again on Wednesday to keep the dialogue going.

On Monday November 7, after multiple vain attempts to get satisfactory answers regarding the actions of the core group led by Frehner, PatRiot and two other members of OLV visited the office of the Secretary of State of Nevada. After explaining the situation to the desk clerk, they were introduced to Robert (Bob) Walsh, Deputy for Southern Nevada, Secretary of State Corporate Ownership Fraud Task Force. After they explained to Mr. Walsh the sequence of events leading up to their visit, with posts on the website as evidence of the veracity of their story, Walsh watched Frehner’s self-recorded video. Mr. Walsh said that in his opinion, Sebring Frehner and the other core members had “co-opted the movement.” Walsh said the actions of those involved were “cynical” and, ironically, violated the very tenets that form the basis of the OCCUPY Movement.

However, despite the best efforts of a small number of people, Opportunities Las Vegas does not and certainly never will control the spirit of those who comprise the future of the OCCUPY Movement, which survives at UNLV Circle Gatherings.

Tonight (Nov 9) at 7:00 PM, another Circle Gathering will take place at UNLV, in the amphitheater between the Student Union and the bookstore, behind Greenspun Hall. Some of us who have been labeled “renegades” hope to discuss making the Circle Gatherings the new GAs for OCCUPY LV. The name change, of course, is because the non-profit corporation Opportunities Las Vegas now effectively controls the future of the name “OCCUPY Las Vegas.” As long as the corporate GAs are held at Area 99, three people have the right to silence and disenfranchise the rest of the group.

That is not what democracy looks like.
That is what politics as usual looks like.


Note: This post is a copy of a topic from one of our forums. To comment on this story, please see the original version, located here.

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