At last night’s General Assembly, Occupy Wall Street passed a proposal to set up a $100,000 fund solely for bailing people out of jail. It’s the largest chunk of funds that OWS has allocated for one purpose, and represents nearly a third of the budget. The fund is meant to get protesters out of jail following direct actions, which historically have ended in multiple arrests — or mass arrests, like on the Brooklyn Bridge back in September.
According to OWS media team member Jeff Smith, “we didn’t change any of the stipulations on who gets bail and how much.” Three thousand dollars is still the maximum bail allowed, except for under special circumstances (like with Joshua Fellows, whose bail was set at $25,000. The
movement agreed to pay it. the bail was apparently paid by a third party, not OWS itself).
The new bail budget is effective immediately. Policies are already in place for who gets bail and who doesn’t — according to Smith, any kind of violent offense would require consensus to bail the person out, while smaller offenses that go along with the territory of direct actions (trespassing, disorderly conduct, etc) can dip into the bail fund automatically.
Last night the protesters also voted to send money to Occupy Oakland, in the neighborhood of $25,000.
“The general consensus among OWS is that we want to get rid of the money because it’s more problem than good,” Smith said. “In future, when we have specific financial needs for any specific thing we’ll probably be able to raise the money rather than have this giant pot of gold that everyone fights over.” The pot of gold is about $350,000 at this point.
Update 5:05 p.m.: Just spoke with Accounting working group member Justin Strekal, who clarified some points. According to Strekal, “as of right now the only stipulations on bail are that it’s an occupier or OWS supporter who’s arrested during an OWS event or connected to an OWS activity who’s conducting themselves nonviolently.”
Apart from the $100,000 that is being put aside, Strekal said, the general accounts stand at $230,000.
Of the $100K, Strekal said “right now it’s a buffer. It’s a statement reaffirming our commitment to peaceably assemble.”
This article from the Village Voice Archive was posted on December 30, 2011