Attack on a Community Organizing Organization: Protecting Movements From the Inside and the Outside

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ACORN makes a sobering case study for the goal of a large organized base of people including the excluded and disadvantaged.

Quoting from http://www.metrotimes.com/news/story.asp?id=14767

Lansing organizer Guzman says she first learned about the group the way most people did back in the 1980s.

"Someone came and knocked on my door and asked me to become involved," she recalls. The issue then was an effort to keep a neighborhood school from being closed.

Lesson number one from ACORN, the overarching positive one: person-to-person, physical, local contact works.

During the summer of 2009, twentysomething conservative activists James O'Keefe and Hannah Giles visited at least eight ACORN offices in five different cities. Giles pretended to be a prostitute. O'Keefe either posed as a pimp or claimed to be Giles' protector. Various illegal schemes were proposed. According to news reports, two ACORN staffers were fired for their seeming willingness to assist the two activists in their feigned plans to break the law.

After the videotaped sting in September, ACORN commissioned former Massachusetts Attorney General Scott Harshbarger to conduct an inquiry into both the incident and the effectiveness of reforms instituted following disclosure of the embezzlement.

One of the things Harshbarger concluded in a report released in December 2009, was that the "serious management challenges" facing the organization are the "fault of ACORN's founder and a cadre of leaders who, in their drive for growth, failed to commit the organization to the basic, appropriate standards of governance and accountability. As a result, ACORN not only fell short of living its principles but also left itself vulnerable to public embarrassment.

"The hidden camera controversy is an apt example. While some of the advice and counsel given by ACORN employees and volunteers was clearly inappropriate and unprofessional, we did not find a pattern of intentional, illegal conduct by ACORN staff; in fact, there is no evidence that action, illegal or otherwise, was taken by any ACORN employee on behalf of the videographers. Instead, the videos represent the byproduct of ACORN's longstanding management weaknesses, including lack of training, lack of procedures, and lack of on-site supervision."

The lessons learned by negative example are the need for the enforcement of transparency, the need to have a network or structure outside that of an organization that can be targeted, and the need to have a powerful communications network.

Visions Unite can provide all of that.

By strict standards of transparency, where for an organization of any size people are discouraged from having anything to do with it if it is not transparent, would bring many organizations in line before internal or external ramifications of corruption or a cover-up bring them down.

By providing the communications environment within which organizers operate, they have a credible chance of rebuilding a new organization if that is necessary.

Most important in this case, by providing a communications network that has always been geared toward saturation, that is, greater reach than any media entity, facts can be rolled out to compete with the lies.

Not saying its easy to get there, but that's the vision and promise of Visions Unite.

UPDATE on just how effectively right-wing and establishment media repeated the lies produced to destroy ACORN, without stopping to check for facts.