John Steiner: Occupy Meets the US Constitution

John Steiner

A real-life story illuminates the Occupy process (when it works), and the importance of educating everyone on the Constitution and how it is being violated today.

October 29, 2011


Gives The Constitution A Voice

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At 9 AM on Saturday, October 8, I was tuned into CNN, broadcasting from Atlanta. The Host was interviewing three young people who had participated in “Occupy Atlanta” the day before. One was a 26 year old female veteran back from the hostilities in Iraq and Afghanistan and enrolled in College. The other two were males in their 20's who were employed.

The host asked what the Occupy movement was all about. The young people said, “We want to fix the system.”

The host asked how the system could be fixed. The young people struggled to find an answer but had none. Eventually they suggested more people should vote.

I turned to Judy, my wife, saying, “That's it. I'm going down there. These folks need to know about the Constitution and how it can solve their grievances.”  Four hours later, we were in New York City.  I had a thought to find a meeting room somewhere near to the protests so I could talk about Liberty and the Constitution to whomever might come. Research uncovered a new community center two blocks away called Charlotte's Place.”  We were able to make contact with and then meet with the director in between visits to the Park who agreed to give us time to meet there with interested people.

As we walked among the protestors, we observed many who were clean-cut, bright eyed as they moved throughout the crowd open to exchanging ideas with strangers.

I noticed a table with a homemade sign, “INFO.” I approached and asked, “How can I conduct a teach-in on the State and Federal Constitutions? The young man said, “Start a Working Group.” I asked, “How do I do that.”  He said, “Announce it.” I asked, “How.” He said, “Get up on a bench and yell, ‘Mic Check.'” That will get the attention of the People.”

I did just that. The People turned their attention to me and began to repeat, in waves, every few words I said.  I announced I was starting a Constitution Working Group, that the Constitution can be used to control the Bankers, the Corporations and the Politicians, end undeclared wars, end Bailouts, end the Fed and end our debt-based, fiat currency.   Each part of the message was repeated two or three times as the crowds carried the words and energy back to others farther away.  I announced the first meeting of the State and Federal Constitution Working Group would be at 6 PM on the steps at the east end of the Plaza.

Cheers were heard and People raised both hands, pointing all their (wiggling) fingers upwards. I learned later that was a hand signal expressing approval.

Before I could descend from the bench, 20-25 people surrounded me, some asking questions. What became clear to me was they knew little to nothing about the content, history, meaning, effect and significance of any provision of their State and Federal Constitutions. I lectured from the park bench for more than 30 minutes, before someone else from a distance yelled, “Mic Check,” drawing attention to the new speaker.

Before my 6 PM meeting I learned OWS had a General Assembly (GA) meeting every evening about 7 PM, run by a group of “facilitators.”

At the 6 PM meeting people signed up to be on the Constitution Working Group, providing their names and email addresses.

Before the start of the GA, I engaged in a loud conversation with a student from the Rochester Institute of Technology (RIT) in New York about his grievances and the Constitution. He started out expressing his anger at the greed and corruption on Wall Street, Again, dozens of young People, apparently genuinely eager to learn, gathered around to listen to the conversation.

After more mingling, I did another “Mic Check,” announcing there would be a meeting of the State and Federal Constitution Working Group on Wednesday at Charlotte's Place and those who would like to be on the Working Group should meet me on the Steps. More people signed up, bringing the total to 29, including two attorneys (one of whom is a professor of Financial Law at Cornell and under contract to teach Financial Regulations to folks at the New York Federal Reserve (ponder this for a moment), a young veteran combat photographer, another young veteran, a high school math teacher, a full time student at PACE U., and so on.  Again I was impressed at the level of intelligence and sincerity of the people who were there.

On Wednesday, eight of the 29 met (we have since learned it is difficult to schedule meetings when all can meet, given the diversity of everyone's professions and occupations).

A consensus was reached regarding a simple, one or two word definition of the overriding grievances of OWS: Money, Debt, Bailouts, Federal Reserve, Corporate Personhood and the (Undeclared) Wars.

There was a discussion of the five Rights guaranteed by the First Amendment, with emphasis on the meaning of the fifth: the Right to Petition for Redress. Packets of study materials were distributed including copies of the State and Federal Constitutions, the Articles of Freedom, WTP's “Interpretation of the Meaning of the Right to Petition Government for Redress of Grievances,” the lawsuit filed by me in 2008 against the AIG bailout, the lawsuit filed by me in 2008 against the $700 billion bailout of the financial industry, We the People of New York, Inc.'s Certificate of Incorporation and the pamphlet written by Benedict D. LaRosa, “Democracy or Republic, Which Is It?”

Since then, we have had two more meetings in NYC and one Webinar. Judith Whitmore has joined me in this effort. Thus far, an agreement has been reached on the Beliefs of the State and Federal Constitution Working Group as follows:

  •  All People have Natural Rights — Simply Because They Are Alive.
  •  We the People have Instituted Government to Secure our Rights.
  •  According to our Governing Documents, Sovereignty rests with the People.
  •  The Constitution & Declaration of Independence are inextricably intertwined.
  •  Every Principle, Prohibition, Restriction and Mandate of our Governing Documents represents a Guaranteed, Individual Right.
  •  The People are the Source of All Political Power
    (after all no one gets into office unless we put them there).
  •  All Elected Officials are limited by our written Constitutions
    (if not authorized in writing, such acts are unlawful).
  •  The Constitution is not a Menu.
  •  The Constitution cannot Defend Itself.
  • Individuals and Small Groups cannot prevail in attempts to hold government accountable to their State and Federal Constitutions.
  •  A Critical Mass is needed, say 3-5% of population.
  •  Very few in and out of public office can recognize when government is obeying or violating the Constitution.
  •  The way our system of governance is working is in sharp contrast to the way it is designed to work.
  •  We don't change the Constitution by ignoring it; There are provisions within it to make changes.
  •  All that is happening is our fault; the People have allowed it to happen.
  • The People have always had the ultimate power in our society and have always been the final arbiters of constitutionality.
  •  Most of what is causing our National distress NOW can be traced back to violations of the Constitution.

The next step, before next Monday's Webinar is to prepare drafts of Petitions for Redress which will include Instructions to the President and Congress to Remedy the agreed upon Grievances, each involving a violation of the Constitution: Money, Debt, Bailouts, Federal Reserve, Corporate Personhood and Undeclared Wars.

Once a consensus is reached on an Instruction, it will be forwarded to the OWS facilitators and announced at Liberty Plaza following a “Mic Check.”  If there are enough people who support the Petitions/Instructions, this is a peaceful legal way that the “99%” and the Constitution can be heard.

From those I have talked to or heard from, there has been real relief expressed that someone is pointing the way back to the Constitution. However, there are different viewpoints on who is back of OWS; what its real purpose is; what is going to take place because of it.

IMHO, the OWS may morph into a more formal, national organization something like our Constitution Lobby, albeit possibly without incorporating. The danger is it may be co-opted by a person(s) with an agenda contrary to that of the Constitution Lobby. With that in mind it will be interesting to see how much respect the Constitution Working Group actually receives from the powers behind OWS, whoever they are.

I will continue until the Constitution is back as the main-frame for America and our Nation is back on track.

Bob Schulz,
Founder, We The People

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