A working group of Occupy protesters is planning a conference in Philadelphia during the week of July 4 when elected delegates from across the country will gather to draft and sign a petition for a redress of grievances against Congress.
"We feel that following the footsteps of our Founding Fathers is the right way to go." - Michael Pollok, 99% Declaration Working GroupA secure online election will elect one man and one woman from each of the 435 congressional voting districts in early June, according to a Feb. 22 NBC New York article. Any U.S. citizen who is 18 years old or older may run as a nonpartisan candidate for delegate, according to Pollok.
“This model of concentrating people power to influence politics rather than concentrating wealth will hopefully result in dramatic positive changes in the United States over the next two years,” the group says on its website. “It cannot be overemphasized that ‘The 99% Declaration Working Group’ is purely a facilitation group.”
The group stresses that its function is to organize the delegates’ democratic election and to provide a venue for them to meet and produce the Petition for a Redress of Grievances.
In consultation with their constituents, the 867 delegates will draft and ratify the petition. The group will then deliver copies to President Barack Obama, the 535 members of Congress, the nine Supreme Court justices, and all political candidates seeking office in the 2012 general election, according to the group’s website.
The petition will be modeled after the American founders’ 1776 Declaration of Independence and will address issues like corporate influence in politics, student loan debt and the ongoing foreclosure crisis.
The original declaration, sent by the First Continental Congress, asked King George III to address colonial grievances such as taxation without representation and other acts of oppression upon the colonies by the British Parliament.
"The National General Assembly gives the 113th Congress, President and the Supreme Court reasonable time to act upon and redress the grievances listed in the petition." - 99% Declaration Working Group
"We feel it's appropriate to go back to what our Founding Fathers did and have another petition Congress," Pollok said in a Feb. 22 Associated Press article. "We feel that following the footsteps of our Founding Fathers is the right way to go."
The group demands that Congress takes action to address the petition’s content within the first 100 days of taking office next year, according to the AP.
“The National General Assembly gives the 113th Congress, President and the Supreme Court reasonable time to act upon and redress the grievances listed in the petition,” the group says in its plan. “If the grievances are not redressed to the satisfaction of the NGA, delegates reconvene to organize a new grassroots campaign for political candidates who publicly pledge to redress the grievances.”
If the petition’s content is not addressed properly, political candidates affiliated with the 99% Declaration Working Group will seek election for any open Congressional seats in the mid-term election of 2014, as well as in the 2016 and 2018 elections.
Occupy Wall Street (OWS) isn’t endorsing the Philadelphia conference. While OWS may support some of the conference’s ideas, the gathering was mainly Pollok’s idea, according to a Feb. 23 AP article.
Philadelphia city authorities have been in touch with conference organizers to discuss event concerns, according to Philadelphia Managing Director Richard Negrin.
“It's mostly a police and traffic control concern," he said in the Feb. 22 NBC New York article. “We think that as the cradle of liberty we have to be careful and hold our constitutional rights especially reverent here. ... We're not going to be heavy handed."
Diana Petrova can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.