G.A. Minutes 1-27-15

G.A. Minutes 1-27-15

We’re back at the Amazing Grace Café again. We’ve been off gallivanting for almost three weeks. It feels good to be back.

The café is almost empty; it’s also quiet. We probably won’t have to compete with other conversations in order to hear each other.

An Occupier discovers he still has a bit of cash left a few days before the end of the month. He offers to treat everyone to soup and/or a sandwich. Most take him up on the offer. The Occupiers are in the habit of sharing with each other and with people outside the group as much as possible. We like to practice what we preach.

Someone asks how the flyer for the February 6th Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NdN Taco Sale is coming along. The Occupier charged with making the first draft says he was hoping to be finished before tonight’s meeting so he could pass it to the Occupier in charge of making the final template. Unfortunately he’s not quite finished so will get it to her by tomorrow.

We briefly go over the information that we think should be on the flyer. The taco sale will be held at the Duluth Indian Center and we joke about how things will go. The Dululth Indian Center doesn’t have the proper electrical wiring to support a refrigerator or a stove so the cooking and storing will need to be improvised.

We’re glad we don’t have to figure all that out. The Native members of INM/NWA are pros at this so we’re not worried, just curious as to how it will be done.

Another Occupier reminds us that we still haven’t done anything about getting the film Occupy Love. The Occupier tasked with getting the download says, “Crap! I completely forgot about that. I’ll do it right away”.

The first Occupier responds, “Do you think you might be able to get it downloaded and ready to go by this Saturday? If you could, then we could view it at my house for our next meeting”.

The tasked Occupier answers, “Oh sure, that shouldn’t be a problem”.

An additional Occupier reports that Howling For Wolves will be sponsoring a Wolf Day At The Capital on Thursday February 5th. HFW will have a bus leaving from Duluth going to St. Paul at 7am on that day. She adds, “I can’t remember where the bus is leaving from but if you go on the HFW Facebook page you will find all the information”. A few Occupiers are interested in possibly going on the bus.

She also reports, “I was talking with a couple of HFW’s people last Saturday at the Native Round Dance we attended at UMD. They were agreeing that NWA and HFW should find more ways of working together. I sent them a copy of the NWA wolf/mining timeline”.
The same Occupier also mentions that she sent a copy of the timeline to a well-known local activist who specializes in pushing the Democratic Party toward radical action. The activist was quite intrigued by the timeline saying she had always suspected the connection but until now was unable to prove it.

The Occupier continues, “The activist says she would like to work with us more often. I invited her to the taco sale and to the next INM/NWA meeting. I know we don’t have any interest in working with the Democratic Party but perhaps the activist will eventually realize the so called two party system is really a one party system that is not going to change. She’s pretty smart so may figure it out’.

“The activist was also intrigued with the information we were able to find out about Senator Amy Klobuchar and the strings she pulled with the Department of the Interior in order to get the wolves removed from the Endangered Species List. She had a gut feeling that Klobuchar was up to something but was unable to find the details”.

The Occupier who created the timeline states, “The information wasn’t really that hard to find but some people are just not hard wired for doing research”.

Another Occupier attended the NAACP held last Sunday and tells us, “There were about 30 people in attendance, more black people than white people. It looks like the old president is going to be able to keep his position for a while longer. He found some obscure rule and used it to disqualify the person who the majority of members elected as the new president. It appeared to me that the bulk of the people at the meeting were supporters of the new president and that they weren’t planning on going away anytime soon’.

“I’d never seen the old president in action but I noticed he seemed to use Robert’s Rules when it was to his advantage to do so and to ignore them when it was to his advantage to not use them. An example is that apparently at the last meeting the members had voted to have an outside audit of the books. It was apparent the old president didn’t want this to happen. He said that an inside audit of the books every year was mandated by the national organization so he wanted to pass a resolution for an inside audit. At the end of his speech he quietly added, ‘If we do an inside audit we won’t need to pay to also do an outside audit’. The members caught on and would have none of it. The old president had to amend his resolution and call for an outside audit if the members felt it was really necessary.

“Many African American young people were in attendance and they said several times that it was of utmost importance that the needs of African American youth be addressed. I agree with them and hope they can hang in there and keep pushing.

“Another cool thing that happened was when the new treasurer, who is also a member of the Clayton Jackson McGhie BOD, was telling everyone about the CJM annual fundraiser at the Northland Country Club.

“People were discussing who was going to sit at the NAACP table at the event. The new treasurer said, ‘Please keep in mind that this is our only fundraiser. People sitting at the tables will be expected to donate at least $100 from their personal funds’.

“A middle aged black man said, ‘Hey, wait a minute. The men up on that wall sure didn’t have $100 to donate. CJM is for everybody!’

“The new treasurer quickly backtracked saying, ‘Oh yes, everyone is welcome…..blah,blah,blah’.

“I couldn’t help but smile and nod my head in agreement. I didn’t say anything during the whole meeting though. I just observed. I knew my place”.

We all get a kick out of the Occupier’s last story.

We notice the staff is quietly closing up shop so we pack up too. We say goodnight to the very pleasant workers and head out into temps in the high 20s with not much wind. Sweet.

So the plan is that if we are able to get the download we will meet next Saturday at the Occupier couple’s house and screen the film. If not, we’ll be back at the Grace.

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Saturday 24 January 2015……GA will attend Round Dance at UMD, ride with us leaving at 5pm, or come to Ward Wells Field House at or after 5pm. thx, richard

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G.A. Minutes 1-13-15

G.A. Minutes 1-13-15

Tonight is the first time the Occupiers have held an official meeting in this New Year 2015.

The last several weeks have been so busy we haven’t had the time to meet. We’ve attended the Public Utilities Commission hearing on the Sandpiper pipeline, the annual Marxmas Party of Socialist Action and an Ethiopian dinner at Jefferson People’s House.

We think all the events were good uses of our time. The Marxmas Party was tons of fun.

This evening we’ve decided to try something different. We’re at a new little café called Toasty’s up in the neighborhood of what was the old Chester Creek Café.

Toasty’s has opened quite recently. It’s completely empty when we arrive. The lighting is bright but not offensive. The place is small with little wooden tables and plastic chairs; one gets the feeling that everything is yellow even though it’s not.

The café specializes in a wide menu of organic, free range etc. types of grilled cheese sandwiches and various drinks. Several of us place food orders.

As we are getting seated someone says, “So what do you think is really going on with oil prices crashing?”

Nobody has a firm idea.

Someone else answers, “Well a lot of oil has been pumped over the last year or so. It’s possible there’s just too much on the market right now”.

Another speculates, “The recent budget bill passed by Congress has a provision that states something like if the fracking and tar sands industries crash the American taxpayer will be mandated to bail out the big banks and investors again.

Still another responds, “Yeah, I’ve read predictions by several non-mainstream economists saying we can expect another 2008 type economic crash starting at the beginning of 2015.”

The original questioner remarks, “Oh great, just what the common person needs, more insecurity and suffering than they’ve already had. I hope it brings even more people out into the streets”.

An Occupier changes the subject saying “Does anybody know how the hastily arranged anti-Keystone rally went today?”

No one knows so he continues, “I was talking to our friend who organized today’s rally. He told me that he’s been asked to form a Duluth chapter of 350.org. He asked what I thought about it and I said I’d ask everyone at tonight’s meeting”.

Another Occupier responds, “I think it would be a good idea. As far as I can tell, 350 has been the main group taking on Enbridge. I’ve been saying for over a year that we need to get busy here in Duluth and educate the general public on what the Enbridge Alberta Clipper is all about”.

The first Occupier adds, “Yeah, if the Keystone XL is denied and it looks like it might be, they will certainly try to sneak the Clipper on us with as little fanfare as possible’.

“If the Clipper is allowed to proceed it will be as bad, if not worse, than the Keystone. Our sacred Lake Superior, a major remaining supplier of fresh water will be destroyed’.

“I think a lot of local people who are strict environmentalists and some of the Fond du Lac Band people would get on board with a Duluth 350.org chapter. Getting the word out is essential. I’m going to tell him we think he should go for it, o.k.?”

We all say, “O.K.”.

An Occupier asks, “Have you noticed the latest developments within our local NAACP?” Some of us have not so she explains, “Well you know a new president was chosen a few weeks ago and the former president challenged that election. Last Saturday the former president called and held another election. I’m told not all of the NAACP members were invited. At that election the former president was reelected’.

“The new president is refusing to accept the second election. She states she is the official president and will be calling NAACP meetings. Basically, it looks like the younger more progressive members are challenging the older establishment members for the direction of NAACP. One result of this split is that I have absolutely no idea what will be going on for Martin Luther King Day next Monday the 19th.”

Another Occupier says, “I may be old but I’m going to throw my support to the young folks. I think it may be a good idea for us to sit this MLK day out. We should probably just wait for the dust to settle before we publicly come out in support of the new progressives”.

“The African Americans need to get their own house in order before we put our two cents in. I’ll try and contact our friend the government official and see what he suggests”.

Everyone thinks this is a good plan.

One more Occupier reminds us that the next Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance meeting we be held on this upcoming Friday at 1pm.

She also reminds us that we have been invited to spend another evening with an elder at the Cloquet Community Club on Tuesday, January 20th.

As we have been talking, a few people have come in and ordered things. They all took seats at the other end of the room, leaving us undisturbed. In fact, we’ve been so undisturbed we’ve almost forgotten we were in new surroundings.

Now we notice that the workers appear to be closing up. As we get ready to leave, an Occupier asks, “So what do you think of this place? Should we come back?”

Another Occupier replies, “This place is o.k. but I feel more comfortable at the Amazing Grace.” Everyone else thinks so too.

We’ll meet next Saturday at the Amazing Grace.

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G.A. Minutes 12-30-14

G.A. Minutes 12-30-14

Quite a few Occupiers are present for tonight’s meeting at the Amazing Grace. This is surprising as it’s the coldest night we’ve had so far this winter. Temperatures were barely above zero during the day and this evening at 6pm it’s a little below zero with wind chill of -20 or so.

Most have arrived so bundled up that only their eyes are visible. We take up the biggest table and add some extra chairs.

One Occupier, who we haven’t seen in a while, has just come from a meeting with the president of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Board of Directors. He and the president are personal friends.

We question the Occupier to see if there have been any new developments. He says, “No, I don’t think so. The president personally appears to support what you are doing at CJM but the BOD does not. I guess he thinks he has to go along with what the BOD says even if he doesn’t agree with their assessment. He’s actually a really nice guy, you know”.

We agree that the president is a nice person but we say our position hasn’t changed either. We know we are within our legal right to be at CJM and we believe we are doing good work there. Once spring comes around again, we plan on going back.

An Occupier says, “Maybe we should have a press conference or something and get this issue out in the open”.

Another Occupier responds, “No, if we make a big public deal out of this we will give the CJM BOD more power than they’re actually entitled to have. Also, the general public is not very supportive of homeless people or homeless outreach. We could end up shooting ourselves in the foot”.

The first Occupier replies, “Yeah, I guess that’s true.

The Occupier who has been working on a MN mining permit/delisting of MN wolves from the Endangered Species List timeline for the Northwoods Wolf Alliance has a first draft ready. He passes it around and asks for additions, corrections, comments etc.

Everyone is impressed with the timeline. It has a good look to it and is easy to read and understand. Many are amazed at the obviousness of the correlation between delisting of wolves and applications for mining permits.

The Occupier who hasn’t been around in a while asks for an explanation about what we are up to. He knows we are allied with NWA and Idle No More but is unaware as to the reasoning for creating this timeline.

We explain that during an NWA meeting a while back someone mentioned the theory that the wolves (called Maii’gan in Anishinaabemowin) are being used as a smoke screen issue in order to secure endangered species habitat for mining company projects.

Many people said they had heard that theory in passing but were unaware of any serious discussion of the issue. We all looked around a bit but didn’t come across any person or group who was doing that work. We decided to do it ourselves.

An Occupier offered to do the research and create a timeline to start the undertaking. He states, “I’m going to present this timeline at the next NWA meeting but I wanted to show it to you guys first to see what you thought. If NWA is satisfied with the timeline, the next plan is to get the information out to as many wolf advocate groups, educators, legislators and others who are interested.

We think that what this wolf delisting is really about should become general knowledge. The argument that wolves are evil killing machines and a danger to mankind vs the wolves are deeply spiritual animals very necessary to the balance of nature is a false flag.

The fact of the matter is that mining corporations want endangered species land for (mostly) sulphide mining projects. We go on talking about how indigenous people all over the world are on the front lines, defending their lands and our Mother Earth. We know we have much to learn from them.

An Occupier asks, “Well what about nation sovereignty? Why don’t they just use that?”

Another Occupier answers, “They do but they are just ignored. The highest courts always rule that sovereignty trumps everything else but the majority of world governments just ignore those rulings and keep on taking over Native lands or paying off corrupt tribal governments.’

“That’s why so many are making blockades, going on fasts, having protests, long marches, water ceremonies and all that stuff’.

“Part of our job is to get the rest of the people to see that Native folks are not ignorant troublemakers but the first and strongest line of defense in the battle for the survival of the planet.”

One Occupier asks to be able to read something to us. He reads a statement from an Occupy Wall Street group about not hating white people, cops, rich people, soldiers etc., but about hating the systems that empower them to do abominable things.

When he is finished, we notice some of the people at surrounding tables looking at us with puzzlement and/or curiosity.

A man comes over and asks us what group we are from. We tell him we are Occupy Duluth. He gives us a friendly look that seems to say, “Oh that explains it”.

Another man gets up on the stage, goes to the piano and plays a bluesy honkytonk piece. He’s pretty good and we all clap when he’s done.

We’re about to start another topic of conversation when we notice the lead server turning off the outdoor signs and cleaning off the counters. Previous experience tells us the staff would like to go home.

As we all pile on layers of clothing someone says, “Hey, did you know that on this upcoming Saturday the Jefferson People’s House is having a vegan Ethiopian dinner? Do you want to go?”

Most of us were unaware of the dinner but we all want to go. It looks like that’s where we’ll be on Saturday. Actually, it’s a good thing we’re closing tonight’s meeting early because most of us will be running around all day tomorrow helping our friends setup for the Indigenous Commission’s New Year’s Eve dinner at the Washington Center.

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G.A. Minutes 12-27-14

G.A. Minutes 12-27-14

There are hardly any Occupiers tonight at the Amazing Grace Café. Some have sent messages saying they won’t be attending the meeting. The few who are in attendance commiserate concerning the exhaustion they feel from holiday obligations.

Oh well…. It’s almost over, then we’ll just try to survive the winter while dreaming of spring. Most of us are not fans of winter outdoor activities. We endure the frigid months in order to experience proximity to nature the rest of the year.

An Occupier has brought copies of the Indigenous Environmental Network grant application for those who were not present at Northwoods Wolf Alliance/Idle No More meeting last week. NWA has asked all involved to fill out their version of what they think should be written on the application.

The Occupier comments, “I’m not so sure that applying for grants is actually worth all the trouble required. I mean, we’re going to do what we’re going to do whether we get a grant or not. Sometimes the amount of work required just to get a grant takes away from the time that can be spent on making the proposed event actually happen”.

Another Occupier says, “I know what you mean. I think grants are just another way rich people try to make sure that nothing that will make real change actually happens. I notice they rarely fund any ongoing expenses of an organization. They only want new projects. If the project is successful and begins to look like it will make a difference, the grant money then dries up and the project is stopped because its success was tied to the grant money. Another group has to be formed and another grant applied for. Seems like a racket to me”.

The first Occupier responds, “Yeah, but the indigenous members of NWA want to apply for the grant so we’ll need to provide assistance. Maybe they will see the futility of grant writing as time goes by or maybe we’ll be in for a shock and things will work out fine. I’ll think we should just go with the flow on this”.

The centerpiece of the project that is planned, grant or no grant, is the MN proposed mining projects/delisting of MN wolves from the Endangered Species List timeline. The Occupier who is doing a large part of the preparation for the timeline reports, “I’ve completed the first draft. I envision it looking like this”.

He draws a rough sketch and another Occupier exclaims, “That’s exactly how I envisioned it would look. This is gonna be good!”

We discuss printing in terms of types of paper, sizes, use of color, placement of text etc. The excited Occupier says, “As soon as the final version is approved by the entire NWA group, I will hook you and the NWA member who is living outside the Duluth area and will be doing the printing. The two of you can make the final decisions about these things”.

An Occupier states, “I wonder what we will do about a copyright or whatever it’s called. In previous conversations we had thought it would become the property of NWA with permission for others to use it for purposes related to saving our planet”.

The Occupier creating the timeline explains, “With the prevalence of the Internet, copy rights are pretty much a thing of the past. An author can write a request at the bottom of the work that anyone using the work should please attribute the work to NWA or whatever but the person using the work can pretty much do what they want. The authors’ only recourse is to file a lawsuit. I don’t have any interest in doing anything like that”.

The first Occupier replies, “Oh. I guess I’m still thinking in old school terms”.

Another Occupier says, “Man, up in Canada there are places that were wolf habitats but now the wolves are completely gone. I think it’s because of the pollution of mining and tar sands projects. The wolves just can’t live there anymore. Also, the earth destroying companies demand the right to shoot any wolf that even comes near their site. They also demand the government send people to shoot any wolves that can be found and the government actually sends in wolf killers”.

One more Occupier says, “I don’t think Canada has the same type of environmental laws that we have. I’m not sure it makes any difference though. The corporations pretty much do what they want in the US too.’

“I don’t hear much about anyone except First Nations people fighting for Mother Earth. One can’t really be sure what’s going on. We don’t get much from Canadian media. There may be all sorts of Canadian people going to jail”. A discussion about going to jail in defense of our Mother ensues.

An Occupier comments, “I was just reading some serious advice about going to jail. It said anyone who is mandated to take lifesaving medications on a regular schedule should not go try to go to jail as they will not be given their medications for at least several days”.

Someone says, “It’s later than we think. We need to review the events coming up in the next few weeks.

“The Public Utilities Commission will be holding a public hearing on the proposed Sandpiper pipeline on Tuesday, January 6th 2pm , Room 200 of the downtown Holiday Inn.

“Those things go on forever and they’re very tiring. If we go, I propose we do it in lieu of the G.A. that evening.

“On Saturday January 10th, Socialist Action is holding their annual ‘Marximus’ party at 5pm in Superior, WI. I attended a few years ago and it was quite fun. Our area’s official socialists are a really good bunch of people.

“The next NWA/INM meeting will be January 16th, 1pm at the Duluth Indian Center. Also, on Tuesday, January 20th our friend and fellow NWA/INM member will be feasting another Anishinaabe elder. The event will be at the Cloquet Community Center at 5pm”.

We all agree that we would like to attend all of these events.

The one thing we really don’t want to do is to go out into the frigid night air. However, being the hearty revolutionaries that we are, we do it anyway.

There won’t be any live music next Tuesday so we’ll meet here at “The Grace” again.

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G.A. Minutes 12-20-14

G.A. Minutes 12-20-14
It’s back to the Amazing Grace again for the homeless Occupiers. That comment is intended to be a joke. Our situation in no way compares to the situation of a real homeless person.

Our last meeting consisted of a lot of bad news. Tonight’s meeting will be different as we have several items of good news.

A Black Lives Matter coalition held a rally today at the Mall of America down in the Twin Cities. The event was publicized for at least a week beforehand and the mall owners responded in the way they always do whenever an event that challenges the status quo is announced.

The capitalists response was something like, “The MOA is private property. Your BLM event will not be authorized. If you attempt to hold a rally, you will be arrested”.

MOA management has no problem allowing church choirs, cheerleaders, promotional sporting events and other meaningless drivel but when something that is actually of great importance comes along……. Not so much.

Anyway, thousands of people showed up for the BLM rally. They sat-in and completely filled the large downstairs rotunda. Both second and third floors were also covered by folks standing and chanting.

Among the chants were, “Black Lives Matter”, “Hands Up Don’t Shoot” and “While you’re on your shopping spree, black people can’t breathe”.

The rally crowd consisted mainly of young black and white people. The sound was deafening, the sight exhilarating. Every once in a while MOA stooges would turn off all the lights and flash on a big screen a paragraph of words which basically said, “What you’re doing is illegal. If you don’t stop and leave, you will be arrested”. Each time the crowd greeted this tactic with massive boos and the resumption of chanting.

The police were present well before the rally started. They had riot gear and bunches of zip ties. After a while they lined themselves up in tight rows and marched toward the crowd. They herded the people in the rotunda through hallways and outside. Then they started on the people on the upper floors.

Apparently, the BLM people had decided in advance that they would not physically resist the police. There were many reporters filming and it appeared there was no violence from either side.

As things began to wind down, a group was cornered in the parking lot and the police began randomly grabbing and arresting people. It was at this point that Sam Wagner’s Live Feed cut out.

The BLM people held the MOA for at least an hour and a half, parts of the mall were closed down, shoppers were very sparse in the rest of the mall and the event was definitely covered by the media.

An Occupier says “I saw a few Twitter comments that said, ‘how come the protesters had to inconvenience shoppers?’ Well big f’ing deal. Are innocent black youth a little inconvenienced when they are wrongfully arrested, imprisoned and/or murdered by police? Doyathink?”

A favorite sign we saw was “White Silence=Black Death”. Some of us didn’t get much work done today as we spent most of the afternoon watching our comrade, Sam Wagner and his live feed production.

Then yesterday, a U.S. Appeals Court judge ordered that all the wolves in MN, WI and MI be placed back on the Endangered Species List. She called the decision to remove them “arbitrary and capricious”.

This means as of now, no wolves in the Great Lakes states can be legally killed.

Of course, all wolf advocates in the country were elated at this news. At first, the talk was of relief and the desire to relax.

Others quickly admonished that the wolf and earth destroyers will certainly challenge the decision. They will try every trick they have to get rid of wolves and endangered species in general.

Therefore we must not let up in our fight. However, the court’s ruling does lift our spirits and give us a small amount of additional time.

An Occupier reports he received another email from the Chairperson of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial BOD. The email stated we were not allowed to hold any more fires at CJM.

Another Occupier adds that she sent the Chairperson a return email asking for the date and venue of the next CJMM BOD meeting.

She received a response that said BOD meetings were closed and one had to be invited to attend. He asked what it was that she wished to speak to the BOD about.

The Occupier continues, “So just forget about them. I told him I doubted the BOD would be interested in what I had to say and that I found it strange that the BOD felt it could just issue pronouncements without any input from the general public. I also said I would be happy to assist him in any of his endeavors outside of the CJM BOD and thanked him for all the other work he is doing for our community”.

An additional Occupier responds, “Yes, we should just forget about them and go on about our business. We have a lot of important things to do and we don’t have time to play wannabe games”.

Someone tells us the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance meeting last Friday concentrated almost exclusively on the wolf/mining timeline.

Everyone took home a copy of the grant application and will be expected to show up to the next meeting with their version of what they think the application should look like.

The next INM/NWA meeting won’t be until January 16th, 1pm at the Duluth Indian Center.

An Occupier says there are two more events everyone may not know about. The first is a homeless vigil sponsored by CHUM on Wednesday, December 24th, noon at the Civic Center. The second is a New Year’s Eve dinner and dance at the Washington Center 5p-10p. This event is sponsored by the Duluth Indigenous Commission, All Nations and Anishinaabe Ode.

One Occupier remarks, “It will be nice to have somewhere to go on New Year’s Eve. I never go out to the clubs because New Year’s Eve is so ‘amateur night’”.

Many Occupiers will be sharing Christmas dinner at the Occupier couple’s house. The couple asks that our next Tuesday meeting be held at their home because they will be in the midst of preparations. Having to stop and go out would be a big hassle. We say, “No problem”.

The conversation tonight has been lively and time has gone by quickly. It looks like they’re about to close the café.

It’s somewhat chilly with a little wind but it’s not slippery so we run off to our vehicles, go home and rest up for another busy week ahead.

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G.A. Minutes 12-16-14

G.A. Minutes 12-16-14

We meet again tonight at an Occupier’s West End apartment. Everyone is a little late.

We’re into slipping, sliding and getting stuck winter driving rituals for what will seem like an eternity. It’ll take a few days for folks to get used to it again.

Once we are settled in, an Occupier asks if there is any news about the possibility of getting permission to download the movie “Occupy Love”. The Occupier tasked with finding the information states if we promise not to charge money to people viewing the film, we can either pay the film makers $20 or ask for a hardship exemption from the fee.

Once we give them the location and the time of our proposed showing they will give us the download. We decide it would be fair for us to pay $20. We think we should view the film 1st before showing it.

We departed for the Occupier couple’s house after our last meeting. As we were relaxing at their house, someone suggested we try to get permission from Jefferson People’s House to host a free movie night open to the general public.

The tasked Occupier will continue working to get things in place for a possible film event.

An Occupier announces Winona LaDuke and Honor the Earth are sponsoring a dinner at Clyde Iron this upcoming Sunday at 5:30pm. The dinner will be prepared by a famous chef and will consist of original traditional Anishinaabe and Lakota food.

The event is a fundraiser and tickets are $45 apiece. This is well over the means of any of the Occupiers. Fortunately, a well-known local organizer friend of ours is one of those in charge of the event. He has notified Occupy that volunteers are needed. Anyone volunteering will be served the same meal that will be served to those able to pay for tickets. Anyone wishing to volunteer should call him. Several Occupiers take down the organizer’s phone number.

Someone asks if we have heard that a street friend, who we jokingly called Ogiima (Chief), died of a heroin overdose a few days earlier. We had not and we are shocked. An Occupier says, “I know the main homeless outreach worker was looking for information yesterday, concerning a rumor that one of her clients had died. She didn’t give any names”.

Another exclaims, “Oh no! He had a son who he loved very much. Whenever I saw them together, Ogiima was all cleaned up and happy”. We are extremely saddened by this news.

An additional Occupier comments, “So I guess everyone knows that the senate passed the appropriations bill yesterday and that there were a lot of really creepy things in it? Neither Franken, Klobuchar or Nolan voted for it. They occasionally do something right”.

We believe that the next 2 years are going to be pretty rough for the 99%. An Occupier states, “I hope the oppressive antics of the new Congress brings more people out into the streets”.

Someone else says, “I notice that “Black Lives Matter” is really going strong all over the country. I sure hope it lasts. I know we are all down with the BLM movement but I’ve been thinking about how we can connect our work with environmental causes to it.

“I realized that most earth destroying projects are placed in predominately P.O.C. and/or African American neighborhoods. I’m thinking we can emphasize this fact whenever appropriate”.

An Occupier tells us he has received an email from the president of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial BOD. The email advises us of the decision of the Board of CJMM to deny our occupation of the Memorial for purposes that include the use of a fire as defined by the Duluth Fire Department.

Another Occupy retorts, “What!? Again with this shit? They have absolutely no legal jurisdiction over CJM and I’m so tired of their posturing”.

The 1st Occupier responds, “The email was written in a style very unlike the president’s usual manner. I don’t think he was stating his own opinion but echoing the words of the other CJMM BOD members. In fact, I received a phone call from him a few weeks ago. He stated he was very interested in using CJM as a place for social justice work”.

We have a long discussion about our anger and frustration with what we identify as systematic racism and elitism of the CJM BOD. A friend of ours and 1 of the originators of the Memorial has told us in the past that he believes the current BOD members have lost the real mission of CJM.

Tonight’s meeting has contained quite a bit of bad news. We think it’s time to quit.

Somebody says, “There’s no live music at the Amazing Grace on Saturday. We can meet there. Maybe we can ask the CJM president if he will join us there for a chat”.

Everybody thinks that is a good idea.

We will try not to fall on our butts as we walk carefully out to our vehicles.

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G.A. Minutes 12-13-14

G.A. Minutes 12-13-14

We’re having another meeting at Amazing Grace this evening. There’s no live music but there are more people than we’re used to seeing sitting in the chairs and at the tables.

At 6 pm the temperature is in the high 30s; most of the snow has melted during the last few days. We realize that it’s warm enough to have made a fire at the Memorial. Unfortunately, we didn’t think about it until now. We probably won’t see weather like this again until April. Oh well….. Not much we can do about it now.

An Occupier asks, “So how did yesterday’s Overhead Light Brigade – Stop The Wolf Hunt go?”

Another answers, “Pretty good. Northwoods Wolf Alliance brought five people and Howling For Wolves brought more. There were enough people to hold all the lights and enough left over to relieve people so no one had to stand for the entire two hours. I think HFW was impressed with the OLB lights and will want to do actions with NWA in the future.

“A lot of drivers were honking and cheering. It reiterated the fact that the majority of Minnesotans don’t want the wolves to be killed”.

Another Occupier states, “I’m sort of vaguely confused about which direction we should take with all this. NWA is an Anishinaabe based group and we are their allies. As far as I can tell, the Anishinaabe way is to explain the spiritual significance of Maii’gan (wolf) and to tell the Ojibwe story. One should use Anishinaabe ceremonies and teaching as a means of protecting Maii’gan.

“Over the past several years I’ve seen that these methods are effective when interacting with Native and progressive white people but it doesn’t resonate well with others.

“Working on the timeline to show people that the delisting of endangered species is really being done in order to open up land for mining and especially sulphide mining projects seems like the way to go if we want to get more understanding and support from the general public. It’s going to take a large number of people to make an effective movement to save the wolves. At least that’s my opinion from my white person’s viewpoint.

“I feel like I may be overstepping my bounds by pushing a white culture based idea but when we mention the timeline at the NWA meetings, the Native members are really supportive. So what do you guys think?”

Another Occupier comments, “You know this thing with the Endangered Species Act has been going on since 1973. I think it started with the spotted owl in Washington State in relation to logging in their habitat. The logging companies were prevented from logging in those areas.

The ESA prevents any changes to the environment that harms habitats of endangered species. The Act has been effective in preserving the lives of animals and in preserving lands and environments. That’s why the 1% wants to remove animals from its protection”.

The rest of the Occupiers think the timeline is a good idea and should be pursued.

The first Occupier says, “Oh yeah, the next Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance meeting is this Friday, December 19th 1pm at the Duluth Indian Center.

The next topic for discussion is the “Black Lives Matter” march and rally that took place last Wednesday. A few Occupiers went early to the CJM Memorial to get their Occupy fire going so it would be ready when the marchers arrived. The rest of the Occupiers went on the march.

An Occupier remarks, “I think the whole thing went really well. I was impressed by the diversity of the crowd and by the fact so many people were willing to come out in the winter on a week night. I hear there were one hundred to two hundred people participating”.

Someone says, “The murders by police in Ferguson and NYC have really set off a spark across the whole country. This may be something very big. If we’re lucky it may be the next civil rights movement. I hope it lasts.

“I’m also hopeful about the changes that appear to be going on in our local NAACP. Did you hear the new NAACP president speak at CJM? She was powerful. I guess we’ll have to wait and see. We can offer whatever backup is needed”.

An additional Occupier reports, “I see they’re having live music here on Tuesday. We’ll need to meet somewhere else”.

Another Occupier offers use of his apartment in West End. We agree to meet there.

The Occupier couple suggest, “We’re rather exhausted from this week’s actions. Do you guys want to come over to our house, put your feet up and relax for a while?” We say, “Sure” and off we go.

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G.A. Minutes 12-9-14

G.A. Minutes 12-9-14

We are very few tonight at the Amazing Grace Café. In fact, there are very few in the café at all. All the tables are empty except for our table containing four Occupiers.

Occasionally someone drops in to purchase a coffee to go or a muffin. Other than that, it’s just us. This is good because we won’t have to worry that any of our topics of discussion will scandalize customers at a neighboring table.

Tomorrow a multicultural group of Duluthians will hold a Black Lives Matter march and rally in support of a nationwide movement stemming from the recent murders of young black males by white police people and/or neighborhood security personnel.

The most recent young black men who have been murdered are Trayvon Martin, Michael Brown, Eric Gardner and Tamir Rice. All were gunned down by white people under very questionable circumstances.

Eric Gardner was placed in a chokehold by NYC police. When Eric stated that he was having trouble breathing, another policeman sat on Eric’s chest. Eric suffocated and died on the spot.

In all of these cases, the murderers were held unaccountable by the American system of justice. For centuries in our country, black people and others of color have been murdered with impunity by various racist white people. The American justice system has routinely found white murderers of black people not guilty of any crime.

To this day black and other people of color, especially young men, live with the realization there lives may be cut short at any moment by the bullet of a racist.

The most recent murders of the aforementioned young men appear to have been the last straw for our nation’s P.O.C. The country has erupted in massive demonstrations and police riots. These demonstrations are being led primarily by P.O.C. youth with support from non-racist whites.

Tomorrow will be the day the P.O.C and supporting white people of Duluth have their say.
A rally will start at 4:30pm near the Harbor Lift Bridge followed by a march up the hill to the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. Another rally will take place at CJM.

The Occupiers have been assigned the task of having a fire going for the marchers when they arrive.
The weather has been unseasonably warm and promises to continue for the rest of the week. However, the sun will be down when the marchers arrive and a fire will be needed. The Occupiers feel they are up to the task as they have much experience with fires at CJM.

We decide that the Occupier couple is capable of getting the fire going by themselves. The rest of the Occupiers can join the march.

We review our plans for the Overpass Light Brigade Stop The Wolf Hunt action Friday December 12th 4pm at the People’s Power Plaza/Maii’gan Corner. We checked the condition of the OLB lights at our last meeting and everything is working fine. We are working with the Northwoods Wolf Alliance on this and hope we have enough people committed to attend and make this action a success.

Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will hold a meeting at earlier on 12/12/14. They’ll be meeting at 1pm at the Duluth Indian Center. Some Occupiers will attend while others will work on packing up and transporting the OLB lights to the action site.

An Occupier says, “Have you heard what happened recently at the last NAACP meeting?” Some have not so the Occupier continues, “It was their annual election for the president and a new president was chosen. The older man who has been the president for about twenty years was not reelected. A young woman activist/UMD college student was chosen instead”. The unaware Occupiers are quite pleasantly surprised.

Someone responds, “Heck, if there’s going to be new blood I may just join the NAACP myself”.

We are about to begin a discussion concerning the possibilities of having new and more progressive leadership in our black community when somebody suggests the smokers might like to dip out for a smoke break.

The smokers think this is a good idea and as they are heading for the door the lone server asks, “Are you guys leaving?” An Occupier who worked as a server in her younger life replies, “Would you like to go home?” and the server sheepishly answers, “Well, kinda”.

We assure her that as soon as we finish smoking we will pack up and let her close the place.

It looks like there will be no live music so we plan on returning to the Amazing Grace Cafe for our next meeting on Saturday.

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G.A. Minutes 12-2-14

G.A. Minutes 12-2-14

It’s pretty darn cold tonight as we jump out of our vehicles and scurry across the frozen ground and into an Occupier’s high rise apartment building. It’s 10 degrees or so with no wind. It could be and will be worse.

No Occupiers have walked or taken the bus. Those with vehicles made sure that those without were picked up. Even though the temperature is well below freezing, it’s not yet considered cold enough for CHUM to be forced to open its doors to everyone. That means there are quite a few homeless folks still huddled in doorways and bus stops.

The apartment is small, warm and comfortable. We chat and joke a bit then get down to business.

An Occupier reports she has been talking with the leader of Howling For Wolves. They discussed the fact that neither group and been able to do much to protect the wolves in the past months. They thought it might be a good idea to partner HFW and the Northwoods Wolf Alliance and have a Stop The Wolf Hunt/Overpass Light Brigade action on the sidewalk freeway overpass at Lake Ave. and Superior St. They felt Friday November 12th would be a good time to do this.

The Occupier made contact with members of NWA and received an initial positive response. The Occupiers have been storing the OLB lights since last year. NWA can supply a few people who have participated in OLB actions in the past and a camera person with media contacts. If HFW can supply the additional people needed to hold the lights, this could be a successful undertaking.
An Occupier who hasn’t participated in OLB actions asks for an explanation of what it’s all about. Another explains the process for making the lights and why it is necessary to do the actions at night.

The first Occupier says, “I would like to do something related to homelessness”.

Another answers, “One can do these OLB things about anything they wish. The first thing to do is to come up with the wording. Keep it simple with as few letters as possible but the wording must also be clear so the viewers will easily understand the idea being put forth. Then you make the lights; get the number of people needed and committed to hold them; pick a spot and go for it. As long as you are on public space and are careful to not completely block the walkway you shouldn’t be harassed by police”.
The Occupier mentions Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will have their next meeting on Friday, December 5th. Plans for the OLB action can be finalized at that time.

One Occupier says, “You know OLB lights could even be used as an emergency form of communication during a demonstration or other large gathering.

Another jokingly says, “Oh everybody would just use their cell phones”.

The initial Occupier replies, “The servants of the 1% can shut those things down. We need to think about using other forms of communication”. We all agree we have become overly dependent on cell phones, Facebook and other things which are actually under the control of our oppressors.

Someone remarks, “Apparently we already don’t have good communication. Look how we ran around the day after the Ferguson grand jury verdict was announced. We went to all the events we knew of only to find they were being sponsored by and for the white people of Duluth. I’m sure Duluth’s African American community must have been doing something but we sure didn’t know what it was”.

We know it is true, we would like to ally with our African American community but it’s just not happening. We know there is a long history in this country of betrayal of black people by white people. We know that at least some of the African American community would not want us as allies. We will continue doing our best to wait and watch for direction.

An Occupier states, “I wish we could find a way to be prepared beforehand to provide quick assistance when a crisis occurs. We could at least then be able to offer food, shelter or other help”.

Another agrees, “Our problem is funding. The majority of us are from working class backgrounds. We never have extra money that we can save. Our treasury has three dollars in it. We’ll have to think of ways we can provide immediate help without needing monetary resources”.

Somebody comments, “In the past I’ve had experience working with many people from Somalia. I never noticed a suspicious attitude like I was just waiting for a chance to betray them or something. I feel that from American black people many times”.

Somebody else responds, “Somalians have a different history. I worked with a bunch of guys from Kenya. They used to get mad when they’d hear us criticize the government and make fun of the President. One guy said, ‘In my country you can go to prison for just thinking about killing the President’ “. Another responds, “We need to remember that the advantages we take for granted are given to us off the backs of the so called third world”.

Someone else reminds us tomorrow the Jefferson People’s House will show the film “Breaking the Spell” with discussion to follow. We are all hoping to attend.

It’s past 9pm. We think we’d better end the conversation for tonight.

We head back out into the cold. We’ll be in our warm homes shortly, unlike many of our friends from CJM.
On Saturday we’ll meet in an apartment at the Washington Studios Artist Co-op.

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