Updated 12:28 a.m.: After a tough week for protesters both in New York and in Cairo, Occupy Wall Street has stalled in planning their trip to Egypt, citing logistical roadblocks and safety concerns. A group of 20 delegates had already secured funding through a proposal passed by the General Assembly nearly two weeks ago and was excited to leave for Egypt on November 25, just in time for the country's parliamentary elections. But after being evicted from Zuccotti Park and scattered around the city, Kobi Skolnick, a 30-year-old Israeli-American and one of the main organizers of the two-month trip — for which the protest movement had funded with $29,000 — says that they just didn't have time to get a plan together. Also as many as 35 protesters have been killed in clashes with Egyptian security forces in the past four days. The General Assembly voted on a proposal to cancel funding that failed, however another co-organizer of the delegation asserted after the General Assembly that the trip has been postponed.
"For now we are not going on the 25th, but our hope is that our friends from Egypt will tell us where and how we can show solidarity with them and good strategies to do so," Skolnick told The Atlantic Wire. "We're not sending the delegation on the 25th because that is impossible in terms of logistics. As you know right now Egypt is chaotic, and we don't have time to train people."
Skolnick, a supporter of the trip and member of the Movement Building working group that is organizing it, explained that last week's NYPD raid derailed their plan, before violence swept engulfed Tahrir Square. As the Occupiers were in the process of nominating two to three representatives from the movement's six working groups to send to the Egyptian organizers who were to select the final delegation, the forced eviction wasted valuable time that they needed to prepare for the trip, and outstanding proposals needed to make the arrangements couldn't be passed. Over the course of about 30 hours of discussion some organizers in New York suggested delaying the trip, and in the last 24- or 48-hours, protesters on the ground in Cairo weighed in definitively. "A few Egyptian organizers told us, 'Just wait. Don't come yet,'" Skolnick said, who is not one of the original organizers of the delegation and hasn't been in direct contact with the Egyptians. "Personally I'm disappointed, but I know this is just the beginning. We're definitely going to have future delegations not only to Egypt but to other places. This is a global movement."
After Tuesday night's General Assembly meeting, Matthew Cappiello, who identifies himself as a co-organizer of the delegation but says he can't speak for the entire working group, told The Atlantic Wire, "The project has certainly been postponed to a date later than the November 28 stage of the elections. At this point, we are unsure of the rest of the details. The tickets have not been bought. The project has not been cancelled, however, nor has the funding been removed."
The longer term future of the trip and the fate of the funding is unclear. Skolnick says there will be a meeting tomorrow to discuss the next steps, and meanwhile, there's a contentious debate going on within the Movement Building working group over whether or not Tuesday night's vote should count. The Egyptian expedition has been contentious from the start. As The Atlantic Wire's Adam Martin reported after the initial proposal for funding passed, some people who had donated to the Occupy movement weren't happy that their money was going towards a trip to the Middle East. (Of course, with an estimated $500,000 in the bank, they have the finances for such projects.) It certainly didn't help when an Egyptian state television anchor pointed to the Occupy movement as justification for the violence in Tahrir. As prolific Arab Spring tweeter Sultan Al Qassemi recorded it, the anchor said on Saturday, "We saw the firm stance the US took against OWS people & the German govt against green protesters to secure the state." And on Tuesday, three college students were arrested for throwing Molotov cocktails, providing the military-controlled government a propaganda boost as they claimed it was proof of foreign agitaors fomenting the recent unrest.
Whether the NYPD's actions or the Egyptian police's actions are to blame for the postponement of the delegation isn't for us to say. And Skolnick and his fellow organizers say they would like to reschedule their foreign expedition, possibly in January, and perhaps more trips to other places. London and Norway have been mentioned. However, the Occupiers would not be entirely out of place in Egypt. Above, an Egyptian protester clad in a keffiyeh and a Guy Fawkes mask, was photographed showing his support of the Occupy movement. "We're in an open line of communication with them and trying to find a way to show solidarity in a way that's good for them and good for us in a safe way," Skolnick says. "The movement is still kicking beautifully."
This article is from the archive of our partner The Wire.
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