Atlanta Protest Prevents Rep. Lewis From Speaking

Monday, 10 Oct 2011 12:24 PM

By Dan Weil

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In a strange sequence of events, an Occupy Atlanta protest, an offshoot of the Occupy Wall Street movement, wouldn’t let civil-rights icon Rep. John Lewis address their gathering over the weekend, reports.
The crowd used a convoluted series of parliamentary tactics to keep Lewis from speaking. A spokeswoman for the Georgia Democrat declined to comment to Fox, but Lewis himself earlier told the Atlanta Journal Constitution: “It’s OK. . . . They didn’t really deny me."
The basic idea of the group is that no one person is more important than anyone else. The group’s leader spoke in choppy bursts, and the crowd then repeated his words. Clapping was forbidden because it could prevent a speaker from being heard. Participants were asked to use hand signals to demonstrate approval instead.
For 10 minutes the crowd argued over whether Lewis should be allowed to speak. The leader asked attendees if there were any “blocks;” indeed there were.
One protestor said he respects Lewis’ accomplishments, but that the point is to implement “a democratic process in which no singular human being is inherently more valuable than any other human being.”
Lewis nodded in agreement and then appeared to begin a hand signal before giving up and keeping his hands at rest as the debate proceeded.
A bit later, the leader took a “temperature check” and the assembly was split about letting Lewis speak. So the leader embarked on a “straw poll.” More hand signals ensued, causing the leader to conclude: “the group is very divided about this issue.”
He said a consensus would be difficult, so the group should move on “with the agenda.” Then Lewis started to leave.
Some protestors shouted, “Let him speak” — another person yelled: “John Lewis is not better than anyone! Democracy won!”
The leader finished by restating the rules.
“This group makes its decisions by consensus — we do not have a consensus,” he said. The assembly then moved on to other issues.

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