Forum topic

History of the Split: Update

This is long, but the history is complicated. I’ve revised the original to incorporate new information. Peace.

On Monday November 7, PatRiot and two other members of Occupy Las Vegas visited the office of the Secretary of State of Nevada, where they met with Robert (Bob) Walsh, Deputy for Southern Nevada, Secretary of State Corporate Ownership Fraud Task Force. After explaining to Mr. Walsh the sequence of events leading up to their visit and presenting evidence in the form of online posts and a video, Mr. Walsh said that in his opinion, Sebring Frehner and the other so-called core members of Occupy Las Vegas 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. Here is a chronicle of the events that led up to the visit with Walsh.

Citing peculiarities of Las Vegas law, three members of Occupy Las Vegas (OLV) leased a county-owned parking lot for its encampment after lengthy negotiations with the county commission. That site is known as Area 99. The lease was renegotiated last week some time and at that time, the Board of Directors of the 501(c)3 non-profit corporation Opportunities Las Vegas signed it, the GA has been told.

Opportunities Las Vegas filed papers of incorporation with the Nevada Secretary of State’s office on October 20, 2011. At the time the GA was informed that OLV had gained non-profit status, sometime near the end of October, it was told that the name “Opportunities Las Vegas” was chosen because the name “Occupy Las Vegas” already belonged to another entity. The justification for establishing a non-profit offered to the GA was that it would protect the personal assets of the membership of OLV in the event of a lawsuit.

But unless Opportunities incorporates OLV as a dba, its status as a non-profit doesn’t protect the membership of OLV from anything; it only protects Opportunities Las Vegas from tort actions. At the time of this writing, no record of dba registration can be found, and name registration alone doesn’t provide the protections the membership was told it would enjoy. Moreover, the claim on the name "Occupy Las Vegas" was not registered with the Secretary of State until November 3, 2011. The name on that registration is that of Robert Kern, a member of the Board of Directors of Opportunities Las Vegas.

A link to the Secretary of State business entity search may be found here: http://nvsos.gov/sosentitysearch/corpsearch.aspx. The SoS office does not allow hyperlinks, so to see filing records, you must copy and paste the URL into the address bar and then type "Opportunities Las Vegas" and / or "Occupy Las Vegas" (without quotes) into the search box.

Non-profit status also allows Opportunities Las Vegas to receive tax-deductible donations. Board member Sebring Frehner recorded a video on which he 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. On that video, Frehner admits that Opportunities Las Vegas and Occupy Las Vegas are two “completely separate” entities.

The video is available here.

The Board of Directors of Opportunities Las Vegas is comprised of three people; if what the General Assembly has been told is true, those people are now Robert Kern, Kristal Glass, and Sebring Frehner (Glass reportedly replaces Mercedes Haefer). 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, the Board of Directors of Opportunities Las Vegas has the power to unilaterally disenfranchise any member of OLV, for any reason, without consulting anyone, including the GA. At the November 8th 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. ” The video of Glass asserting this may be found here.

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 have been unilaterally blocked from the group’s Facebook pages and banished from Area 99 when they weren’t even in Area 99. Full disclosure: I am one of those people.

Frehner barred me from Area 99 via a Facebook conversation. I hadn’t earned ejection according to any Occupy Las Vegas policy in place at the time; although I did yell at Frehner during a break in a GA meeting to demand that he explain why people were being ejected, the policy in place at the time required that a member disrupt the GA four times before s/he would face mandatory ejection. When I yelled at Frehner, the GA was taking a break. 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 “Asshole Policy” created by Frehner, contrary to his claims I did, and I have the screen shots to prove it. In fact, the policy was put into place while I was having a conversation with Frehner and others on the OLV page. It was unilaterally created, put into effect, and enforced without consulting the GA. Additionally, although the matter of who should administer the Facebook page was on the GA’s agenda for the next meeting, someone unilaterally removed administrative privileges from everyone except three people, one of whom was Frehner.

The “Asshole 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, who was then a member of Opportunities Las Vegas’s Board of Directors. The photographer said he had been told not to tell me of his work for Metro and that he had decided to refuse to continue it. I have been unable to independently verify his report at this time. It’s a noteworthy aside here that when I asked Haefer who comprised the Board in my capacity as facilitator of the Tuesday November 1st GA, she said that that hadn’t been decided, yet she herself was identified as a member of that Board on November 5 and the paperwork identifying the Board was filed on October 20.

OLV has had a long-standing policy of honoring the no-camera zone, a space in which those who did not wish to be recorded or photographs would sit during events and meetings. GAs always began by identifying where that zone was, and the LiveStream camera was situated so as to respect the privacy of those who chose to sit there. However, one volunteer photographer, Robert Paisola, chose not to honor that space, despite repeated requests that he stop filming and photographing there. In the end, he was stopped only by someone physically blocking his camera’s lens with their hand. Additionally, Paisola stamped some of the photographs he took at meetings with a legend declaring them copyrighted by Western Capital (his corporation) for NBC, and published them on his private / corporate Facebook page.

When Media Team photographic coordinator Donald Rilea informed Paisola that he was no longer welcome to photograph events for OLV, Rilea writes, Paisola “directed me to Sebring Frehner, after telling me that OLV Corporate Counsel [Robert Kern] and Sebring were behind him on this, who relayed the following to me in response to my more copiously worded inquries on this matter, ‘I say we take photos and post them. Document everything,’ and ‘There is no photo authority. We need anyone taking photos to take more photos.’”

One OLV member, angered by Paisola’s violation of his privacy, 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. Both convictions were at least 13 years old. I consulted an attorney because I feared the information might have pertained to another man with the same name. I 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.

At midnight on November 3, an Emergency Security Team Meeting was held at Area 99. The meeting had been announced only 25 minutes earlier. Some Security Team members who were on site were not informed. Some Team Managers were invited by phone and text; 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 an imminent threat, Frehner later admitted that the bylaws haven’t the power to protect OLV from being declared a terrorist organization under the Patriot Act, which was presented as the rationale for their adoption. On the self-recorded video already referred to, Frehner said that the bylaws “put into place for Opportunities Las Vegas do not apply to Occupation Las Vegas.” The imminent and credible threat that would lead OLV to be indentified as a terrorist organization has yet to be revealed to the GA, also despite repeated requests. The video of this meeting has been stolen.

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 the bylaws; the GA did not yet know that the bylaws didn’t actually pertain to them.

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 Glass could get the information by phone.

That night, Frehner recorded the video in which he said that nothing the GA says or does is binding on Opportunities Las Vegas.

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 from the web, although a record of the motions passed exists in the form of facilitator notes, which I provided to the Board on Monday, November 7. 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, techies realized within minutes that the DNS switch had been re-pointed, and they got a 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 November 6, 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; a password was used to repoint the domain. You can read the story here.

Also on Sunday, 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, 2011, surreptitiously taken photographs of those in the no-camera zone at Sunday’s Circle Gathering appeared on the internet. Although we have been able to conclude who took the photos from the angle of the shots, we have no proof, so we will not name her. Also on Monday, the Twitter stream was flooded with slanderous tweets declaring that those of us who’d attended the Circle Gathering were anti-Semitic racists who advocated violence. A complete video of that meeting will be posted as soon as it's posted by the videographer.

Later on Monday, the three members of OLV visited the Secretary of State’s office and met with Mr. Walsh. That is when he declared that Opportunities Las Vegas had “co-opted the 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 Circle Gatherings.

On Wednesday November 9, another Circle Gathering took place. Those of us who attended agreed to formally separate from the 501(3)c-run Opportunities / Occupy Las Vegas, using the Circle Gatherings as our GAs. Meetings have returned to the consensus-based democratic model the GA agreed to in the beginning.

As long as the corporate GAs are held at Area 99, as long as Occupy Las Vegas is subservient to the will of the corporate Board of Directors, 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.

Forums: 


comment by Kinetik
Kinetik on 2011-11-12

The link to the SOS office to do a search didn't work for me.

But the rest is the same hard hitting truth I've been using to punch back on Twitter with. Tell the truth, present your facts, and let the people decide.

The fact that Las Vegas print and TV media picked it up, then it made the AP Wire tells me some of the public has already decided.

comment by ginagrrl
ginagrrl on 2011-11-12

I'll try to fix the link. But the SoS doesn't allow many hyperlinks. Maybe I'll just put the URL in. Thanks again, Kinetik. And you've got some nimble fingers on that there newfangled Twitter technology! We're all grateful.

comment by
Anonymous (not verified) on 2011-11-12

Are you familiar with "Western Capital Media" ? I found copies of Sebring's Video there.

comment by Kinetik
Kinetik on 2011-11-12

No thanks needed or expected. Solid facts and good people deserve to be defended. And since it's to a state agency, adding in the full hyperlink will just add to the transparency we're building, IMHO.

comment by ginagrrl
ginagrrl on 2011-11-12

And URL added. Peace, my friend.

And to Anonymous, yes, we are aware of Paisola's site. Read the chronicle. He's mentioned.

comment by Kinetik
Kinetik on 2011-11-12

Mr. Paisola, if you read these forums I would strongly suggest you quit claiming media relationships where none exist. KSL / Deseret Media knows. And if they act on what they know you have nobody to blame for it but yourself.

comment by Dr. J.
Dr. J. on 2011-11-12

I would like share some reflections with you regarding what has happened to Occupy Las Vegas and our endeavors at Area 99. There is more than one legitimate way to approach this subject. Much of what has happened has been driven by personality and we could talk critically about persons in an effort to make sense of these events. Some valid points could be made along those lines and there may be good times and places for making those points. Here and now, however, I do not want to talk about persons, I want to talk about principles. Such talk may direct our thoughts to deeper issues and give us a clearer sense of who we are and what we are doing as we move forward.

There is room within the Occupy movement for differences of opinion about what lies at the core of the Occupy movement. Perhaps that is one the strengths of our movement. We are each entitled to a view of it; and, in the spirit of our movement, we tolerate views that differ from our own. I see four great pillars to the Occupy movement. Two of these pillars are procedural. They are belief in the power of freedom of thought and expression and devotion to the means and mechanisms of democracy. The other two pillars are substantive. They are anti-corporatism, at least in the sphere of politics, and the endeavor to achieve some measure of economic justice in our society.

A fifth feature of this movement has been an uncompromising endorsement of non-violence. This element is critical, but I do not think it belongs alongside the four great pillars. Non-violence is not reasonable as an end in itself any more than violence is reasonable as an end in itself. Nonetheless, the Occupy movement is a non-violent movement. It seeks political and social change within the framework of the larger system that exists. It is a reform movement, not a revolutionary movement.

I think what happened at Area 99 is that this fifth element of the movement, its commitment to non-violence, came into conflict with the two great procedural pillars of the movement—the commitments to freedom of thought and expression and to democracy. This conflict was horribly mismanaged. It was settled in precisely the wrong way. It was settled in a way that violates the deepest ethos of the Occupy movement. First of all, as I understand it, no one at Area 99 actually advocated violence. Some advocated that the Occupy movement take up arms and prepare to use them defensively. That is different than advocating violence. Second, and more importantly, we have our two great procedural pillars in place to deal with this and any other suggestion. We should have given those advocating that we arm ourselves the megaphone and let them have their say. We should have listened carefully and respectfully to their arguments. If we are right in rejecting taking up arms, then they are wrong in advocating taking up arms. It follows axiomatically that the stronger arguments are on our side. We only need to make them and to trust in our collective capacity for judgment. They speak. Then we speak. That is the freedom of thought and expression in action. After we have all had our say, we vote. That is what democracy looks like.

At Area 99, we saw the commitment to freedom of thought and expression limited such that people who give expression to ideas that we do not like are silenced. That is not how freedom and thought and expression work. That is how oppression works. At Area 99, we saw the few take for themselves the power to decide who should have what rights. That is not how democracy works; that is the way of the totalitarian.

At Area 99, a lack of faith in the power of freedom of thought and expression and the means and mechanisms of democracy caused something of great value to fall apart. There is surely a lesson in this. We must embrace the two great procedural pillars of our movement without compromise, without qualification, without paranoia. To abandon them is to lose ourselves. We must place an absolute faith in our collective capacity for judgment. To abandon that faith is to abandon the very heart of our movement.

We are the 99% and we can think for ourselves. We are the 99% and we can decide for ourselves. We are the 99% and we will not be silenced!

comment by mbourdaa
mbourdaa on 2011-11-12

I see the principle of non-violence as foundational. It is not the pillar, but it is one of the foundations upon which the pillars rest upon.

I think it was so obvious that the principle of non-violence was essential, that we omitted it from the original mission statement because it was obvious - as obvious as the principle that we would protest collectively.

Until a week ago today, there was only one Occupy movement, despite the cracks in the foundation, and one of the two procedural pillars being badly damaged. The collapse came when the other procedural pillar was demolished - a chair with three legs can be stable - one with only two is doomed to fall.

The substantive pillars remain undamaged as far as I can tell, and we've gone a long way towards rebuilding the procedural pillars on this side of the divide, but any collapse is an occasion to ask ourselves what went wrong, what went right, and how can we rebuild in a stronger way. I love the analogy you built, hope you don't mind me taking it further :D

admin's picture
admin on 2011-11-12

This is what me standing up and loudly applauding you looks like.

99percenter's picture
99percenter on 2011-11-13

"...It is a reform movement, not a revolutionary movement...."

“All men recognize the right of revolution; that is, the right to refuse allegiance to, and to resist, the government, when its tyranny or its inefficiency is great and unendurable. And oppression and robbery are organized, I say; let us not have such a machine any longer. I think that it is not too soon for honest men to rebel and revolutionize.”
– Henry David Thoreau, On the Duty of Civil Disobedience

“We have no choice left…. A concealed yes drives us that is stronger than all our no’s. Our strength itself will no longer endure us in the old decaying soil. We venture away, we venture ourselves! We know of a new world.”
– Friedrich Nietzsche

Original A99 Platform...
http://ampedstatus.org/network/original-99platform/

From Mar 12, 2011, Anonymous A99 - “Operation Empire State Rebellion”

"...Above all, we aim to break up the global banking cartel centered at the Federal Reserve, International Monetary Fund, Bank of International Settlements and World Bank.

We demand that the primary dealers within the Federal Reserve banking system be broken up and held accountable for rigging markets and destroying the global economy, effective immediately.

As a first sign of good faith, we demand Ben Bernanke step down as Federal Reserve chairman.

Until our demands are met and a rule of law is restored, we will engage in a relentless campaign of non-violent, peaceful, civil disobedience.”

A99 Operation Empire State Rebellion – Communication #1...
http://ampedstatus.org/a99-operation-empire-state-rebellion-communicatio...

peace

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