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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G.A. Minutes 11-29-14

G.A. Minutes 11-29-14

We’re at the Amazing Grace Café again. Again it is quiet and almost empty. We order bowls of their delicious soup and sit down at the big table by the fish tank.

The first thing we do is get a copy of the café’s music schedule for the month of December. We are all music lovers but we find it difficult to hold a meeting when there is a band playing on stage. We have to practically shout at each other in order to hear and of course, it’s extremely rude to be talking while musicians are performing.

It looks like most Saturdays will be available while most Tuesdays will be showcasing live performances. We decide to make the Amazing Grace our temporary winter quarters as much as possible and concentrate on finding alternatives when bands are playing.

Next Tuesday is one of the times that the café will not be suitable. An Occupier offers the use of his apartment for our next meeting and we gratefully accept.

An Occupier gives a quick rundown of upcoming December events. Another Sunday Sermon will take place tomorrow November 30th, 6pm at the Red Herring. It’s rumored Mr. Nice is going to show up and that he is considering running for public office again. Mr. Nice is such a fun guy.

On Wednesday December 3rd at 6pm the Jefferson People’s House will show the film “Breaking the Spell” a documentary about the 1999 WTO protests. After the movie they intend to have a discussion about property damage and civil disobedience as tactics for social change. We all plan on attending as this topic is right up our alley.

The next Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance meeting will be on Friday, December 5th 1pm at the Duluth Indian Center.

The Washington Studios Artist Co-op will hold its annual Holiday Show on Saturday December 6th from 11am-5pm. The Occupier couple live at this co-op so will be working at the show. They ask that the Occupiers please hold their Saturday meeting in the couple’s home so as to allow them to make an easy transition. We all agree this will be a good thing to do.

Loaves N Fishes will hold their annual Christmas party on Sunday December 14th from 2pm-5pm at St Paul’s Episcopal Church.

An Occupier asks, “Do you guys want to hear the scandal of the day?”

We say, “Sure, why not?” and she continues,

“So Jay Fosle, probably our most right leaning City Councilor, wrote on his Facebook page that the protesters in Ferguson are ‘savages’ and should be dealt with accordingly. When I was alerted I went to his Facebook page but it had already been deleted. It looked like a lot of stuff had been deleted. As you can imagine, many people are very offended by his comment”.

Another Occupier says, “So the African American people of Ferguson are savages but the police who have oppressed, abused and made their lives hell for many years are not? I know his term is up in about a year. I hope this comes back to bite him if he runs for reelection”.

Someone else replies, “I wouldn’t count on it. A lot of his supporters are probably racists too. Racism is alive and well in this country and also in this city”. We wish to ally with the African American community in Duluth but so far have not been told what is needed of us.

The Occupiers who are regular attendees at INM/NWA gatherings give a brief report on the progress of the timeline information being researched. They say, “We plan to show that wolves and other species were removed from the endangered species list in order to pave the way for mining, logging and other earth destroying projects. The delisting of wolves actually had nothing to do with the behavior of wolves at all. All that stuff about wolves killing too many livestock, attacking humans etc. is just a smokescreen.

“We’re finding a lot of evidence, in fact, so much that it’s going to take a while to organize it all”.

One of the Occupiers adds, “I’m told our senator Amy Klobuchar was a major supporter of the MN wolf hunt. I haven’t had time to check out this allegation yet so will have to get back to you when I get the facts.”

Some of the Occupiers attended the Citizen’s Review Board open house last Tuesday. One of them reports, “It wasn’t exactly what I had expected. Of course, the people from the DPD took charge of everything. They didn’t have an actual question and answer session like we were led to believe. There were quite a few people, including many black folks, present. People were divided into 5 groups and each group went around to 5 separate tables each of which was monitored by 1 or more members of the DPD.

Each table had a specific topic to be addressed like: What constitutes militarization of the police? How does the CRB operate? How does one file a complaint about a police officer? ….. and some other topics I can’t remember. All the groups were supposed to come back together for final discussion at the end but that didn’t happen. I think the final conclusion from all the citizens attending was something like, “Isn’t the system for complaints that is currently in operation pretty much like the fox guarding the hen house?”
The cops didn’t have much of an answer for that. They just said, “Yes”.

On that note we’re ready to call it a night. November has been a very busy month and we’re all pretty tired.
We’ll meet again next Tuesday at Michael’s apartment, 2021 W 2nd St #204. Ring the buzzer and he’ll let you in.

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G.A. Minutes 11-22-14

G.A. Minutes 11-22-14
We’re meeting at the Amazing Grace Café tonight. It’s the best we could come up with on short notice. We had planned on attending a documentary film sponsored by Voices for Racial Justice to be shown at the Coppertop Church. VRJ had a last minute change of plans.

Actually it’s pretty nice here tonight. In the past we’ve found things less than optimal because of live music or loud voices of many people. Tonight the place is quiet, almost empty.

The atmosphere at the Grace is always comfortable, the staff always pleasant. One can order a cup of coffee or just serve themselves a glass of water. They can then sit all day or evening long without being required by anyone to make another purchase.
The Occupier who writes the meeting minutes reports she’s lost the minutes of the last meeting…..again. They went off into cyberspace never to be seen, at least in this lifetime.

She thinks she’s figured out the problem this time though. It looks like her word processing program has a glitch. It seems if she exits the program too quickly after saving the final edit the whole thing gets sent to some type of impenetrable prison from which there is no return. Maybe she will eventually remember this fact and stop making the same mistake. It’s a good thing Occupiers are a forgiving lot or maybe it’s just that no one else wants to take on the secretary task.

The Occupier with the newly acquired housing voucher is still having trouble finding a place to live. He’s still being slowed down by the housing (aka background check) fees. He can only afford about two applications per month. The property management companies take a long time to give him an answer and they get to keep the housing fee whether they have an immediate place for him or not. At this rate, finding a home may take a while.

In the meantime he is forced to live at CHUM. He’s an older man with many health issues. He’s not cut out for life at CHUM and has been sent in an ambulance to the ER once already.

Another Occupier who is also homeless confesses he was unable to vote in the last election. He has a valid ID but no address and was unable to find anyone to vouch for him. He was turned away by the election officials.

A conversation about our voting system begins. We hear most places are not renewing their voting machine contracts. This means the majority will return to paper ballots. We know there are a wide variety of ways votes can still be tampered with and elections can be hijacked.

One of the Occupiers comments on recent posts being put up on social media by another Occupier. The Occupier making the posts comments, “Most of that stuff comes from Popular Resistance and Acronym TV. Remember that film ‘Occupy Autumn’ that we screened at the Zinema a few years back? The guy who made the film is one of the original organizers of Occupy Wall Street. He gave us the film for free and told us we could show it as many times as we wanted to. He and other original OWS people have formed a newsletter and video organization. I’m still in contact with him and I receive lots of really good articles and stuff”.

An Occupier says the Citizens Review Board is having sort of an open house on Tuesday November 25th at the Community Action Duluth office. The CRB is not too happy with the fact that all citizen complaints must first be filed with the DPD and then the DPD picks what they want to present to the CRB. An open house is being held in hopes of receiving citizens’ comments.

The Occupiers remarks, “I think we should attend. When we filed our complaint with the CRB we were unaware of the process so went directly to the CRB and explained our problem. The DPD then took our complaint and eventually got back to us with favorable results. We then reported these results to the CRB. I don’t think we would have received favorable results if the CRB has not been informed about our complaint beforehand. We should go and tell everyone our story”.

Someone states that the second meeting of the predominantly African American group which is discussing possible responses to be made when the decision to not indict Officer Wilson in the murder of Michael Brown of Ferguson, MO is announced, will be held in the City Council Chambers on Monday, November 24th at 5pm.

Somebody else says, “So do you know what happened with VRJ and why we didn’t go to see the documentary”.

We say, “Yeah”.

The Occupier continues, “Well you know that VRJ people who no one had met before were coming up from the Twin Cities for the event. They and some of the people of color from Duluth decided they wanted to have their first meeting with only other people of color. They asked that white folks respectfully refrain from attending this first meeting. The POC would put the documentary up on youtube so everyone could view it.

Some of our local white folks (she mentions a few names) were very opposed to this idea. When POC wouldn’t back down the white folks decided they were going to hold their own “Ally Meeting” before the POC meeting. Everything should be over by now. I’ll call one of our POC friends later to see how things went”.

Another responds, “Some Allies. It sounds like the white folks were more concerned with their own sense of self importance than with the needs of their POC allies. I mean, historically POC have rarely been able to have a meeting between themselves where they would not have to worry about offending some white person. The T.C. POC and the Duluth POC had not met each other before today, maybe they wanted to be able to talk frankly about what they’re up against. You’d think the white folks would be a little more gracious”.

Someone checks the time. It’s 8:57pm. Yikes! We have to get the Occupier staying at CHUM back before curfew. We grab our things and run out the door.

We’ll hook up again Tuesday at the CRB meeting.

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G.A Minutes 11-11-14

G.A Minutes 11-11-14
We find the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial completely covered with 3 inches of snow upon our arrival tonight. There’s a cold wind and temperatures are in the low 20s.
Almost all the Occupiers are present. Word has gotten around that this will probably be our last meeting at CJM until spring. That fact is enough to get everyone bundled up and out in the frigid air this evening.
As we’re setting up an African American gay man who had been a regular visitor to our fire for years calls out to us. We haven’t seen him since last spring so are pleasantly surprised see him now. We all give him a hug and say, “Man, where you been?” He tells us he was sentenced to four months in the Work Farm and was just released today.
He’s taking a couple of street men to a new homeless camp. He asks them to wait a bit so he can chat with us. He’s sounds more confident than he has in the past and has plans to apply to college. The main homeless outreach worker is going to help him. We are pleased to hear this.
After the newly confident man leaves, an Occupier reports there are two interesting events happening tomorrow. One is the second meeting of the group connected to the Council For Black Minnesotans. It will take place on the third floor of City Hall at 7pm.
The other is a film sponsored by Water Legacy. It’s going to be at the Red Herring, also at 7pm.
Another Occupier reports the Jefferson People’s House has declined our request to hold our meetings in their space during the winter months. They don’t have the staff to manage after hour events on a regular basis. Oh, oh…… It looks like we’re going to be homeless again. Fortunately our homelessness is theoretical rather than factual. That is a big difference.
Someone else tells us there will two events next week which we may want to attend. Next Tuesday, November 18th we are invited out to the FDL Community Center to listen to the wisdom of an elder. On Saturday November 22nd the Voices For Racial Justice will be showing a documentary film about African Americans and Native American working together for racial justice. A large part of this documentary was filmed in Duluth. Both of these events fall on our regular meeting days but we agree they are important enough to attend them in lieu of our meetings.
An additional Occupier comments one of our friends is showing a movie “Breaking the Spell” on Wednesday, December 3rd 6:30pm at the Jefferson People’s House. The movie will be followed by a discussion about whether property damage is violence.
An Occupier attended a wolf rally last Saturday as a representative for Northwoods Wolf Alliance. The rally was held at People’s Plaza/Ma’iigan Corner and was sponsored by Howling For Wolves. The Occupier had a lengthy conversation with the local leader of HFW and will be able to report back to NWA that things look promising re: NWA and HFW being able to work together when appropriate.
As we have been talking a few regular street friends have given us a hurried greeting as they scurried on to whatever shelter they had managed to find for the night. The streets are empty; no one has stopped.
The spiritual street man arrives. He has no boots, just a pair of sandals with socks. He’s on his way to somewhere else but stops by to chat.
A conversation about carbon pollution begins. An Occupier says she has read recently that the U.S. doesn’t report its carbon discharge from war and other military activities when reporting its annual carbon footprint to the UN. Another Occupier says, “That’s probably why scientists are reporting that climate change is happening at a much faster rate than was initially expected”
The discourse turns to the topic of violence. One of the Occupiers states, “Of course there are moral issues but violence in demonstrations and things like that is highly impractical. The 1% owns the bombs, guns, cops and all that stuff. One is certain to get their head beaten in when they use violence. Besides, if one gets their head beaten in when using violence the general public will have no sympathy for them. When one gets their head beaten in while remaining non-violent they are likely to receive support from outside observers”.
Another Occupier asks, “Is property damage violence?” The first Occupier responds, “When the damage is to the 1%, no. When its property of poor people, yes”. We all laugh.
A friend of the Occupier couple arrives. He lives in the artist co-op where the couple also lives and this is his first time at one of our meetings.
An Occupier who has recently received a housing voucher tells his story, “It’s not what it’s cracked up to be. You have to find your own housing. You have to go to each property management company in person, fill out an application and pay a background check fee in order to be considered for an apartment. When you don’t have a car getting to all the places takes a long time. When you have physical disabilities it’s even more difficult. You can easily spend $100 or more just paying background check fees. You also have to pay for the cleaning deposit. With all the added expenses you’re lucky if you have enough money left over to pay the rent”.
An Occupier remarks, “I’m pleased to announce that by sitting here in this weather we have proven we are crazier than anybody else in the neighborhood”. This fact comes as no surprise to any of us.
Somebody else says, “If almost all regular people have to have a job in order to survive, how come everyone can’t have a job? How come people are supposed to fit the job instead of jobs fitting the people? How come people with felonies, even for simple stupid stuff, can’t have jobs?”
The friend from the artist co-op comments, “I’ve noticed one of the only jobs that people with felonies can be successful at is that of an artist. I have some friends who have drug felonies who have become quite successful with their art”.
The conversation turns to religion, various names for God and real requirements for pleasing “God” vs petty imaginary requirements based on fear, atheism and other higher power related things too numerous to mention.
Now it’s late and some of have cold feet and hands. We all have runny noses. We pack up and head out.
On Saturday we’ll meet at the Occupier couples’ apartment and try to figure out where to go from here. If anyone reading this has a suggestion for a public place located in the downtown Central Hillside area that would allow us to meet without a meeting fee please contact us. Any suggestions will be truly appreciated.

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G.A. Minutes 11-8-14

G.A. Minutes 11-8-14
The weather report says a very big storm raging across the Pacific Ocean is on its way to northern Alaska and far northern Canada. Northern MN can expect temperatures below normal for this time of year for the next week or so.
It’s already dark when we first few Occupiers arrive at CJM this evening. We can feel the beginning of the colder temperatures.

Several street people are sitting on the back ledge; among them is a very pretty young woman we have met in the past. She walks over and says, “We’ve been waiting for you. Are you going to make a fire? We’re homeless and we’re really cold”.

With her words in mind, we hurry to get things ready. Some of the street folks assist with the set up. In a short time the fire is roaring; all the chairs are full and everyone is huddled close to the warmth.

Included in this group is another young woman we have met a few times. She is usually quiet and shy except when she’s drinking. When she’s drinking, she is vulgar, hostile and looks for a fight. Tonight she is drinking.
She’s quite a handful but the rest of the people look out for her as she falls over, loses her coat, glasses and other belongings and alternates between cussing at and hugging everyone. She’s fortunate to have these friends. If she didn’t, she’d probably be dead by now.

Once folks are warm, some of them go to the back ledge for a bit, probably to drink a little more. Suddenly the hostile young woman is on top of the pretty young woman and pounding on her. A couple of the men quickly pull the aggressive woman off the other woman and gently scold her. The pretty woman leaves quickly.
We think, “Oh great. I hope it’s not going to be another one of those nights”.

Two of the Occupiers had attended a wolf rally earlier in the day. One had gone as a representative for the Northwoods Wolf Alliance. The rally was sponsored by Howling For Wolves and the Occupier was sent to ask if HFW would be willing to ally with NWA with hopes of working more closely on projects. She reports the response from HFW was quite positive. She also reports that NWA is researching information about wolves and other species having been removed from the endangered species list in order to make way for mining, logging and other earth destroying ventures.

One of the three Occupiers present this evening remarks, “I have a lot of things to report but it doesn’t look like anyone else is going to show tonight so I guess I’ll save things til next time.

Two women who are personal friends of the Occupier couple appear. They have not participated in an Occupy meeting before and seem to be slightly uncomfortable. In an attempt to help the friend feel comfortable an Occupier comments, “It can get a little crazy around here but of course you and I have never acted crazy”. The friend laughs and relaxes.

A woman who owns the African American Beauty Solon in the neighborhood stops by to say hello.

The neighborhood spiritual man arrives, gets some coffee and quietly takes a seat.

Two large African American men are slamming their bodies against each other, wrestling and at first we think they are fighting. It soon becomes apparent that they are just playing. Two large men having fun and acting like they were young boys again. It’s rather cute.

Suddenly one of the men realizes he has lost his cell phone. They stop their game and slowly retrace their steps in an attempt to find it.

A man who has been holding his hands over the fire for some time says, “My hands are so cold and they hurt so much”. An Occupier asks if he has any gloves and when he answers no, she says, “Why don’t you take these? They’re not much but maybe they’ll help. I’ve taken to bringing an extra pair every time we come here in case someone can use them”. The man gratefully accepts the gloves.

Another man who is part of their group says, “You know, everyone says I’m crazy because of the time I spent at Miller Dwan”. He then launches into a loud diatribe, “I’m just waiting for Jesus to arrive. What chu goona do when Jesus comes to you and asks ‘What have you done for me?’ What chu gonna do?”

He soon becomes repetitive and annoying. We’re glad when the group wanders off because they take him with them.
A few at a time, everyone leaves until the spiritual man and the few Occupiers are the only ones left at the fire. We all breathe a sigh of relief as it is finally quiet.

In silent fellowship, we watch the fire and it begins to lightly snow. Oh well……. We knew it was going to happen sooner or later.

After a while it’s time to go. We begin to pack up when the pretty young woman returns. She is perfectly shitfaced and cold.

We allow her to sit and warm up. She is whiny and demanding. She says, “Where am I gonna sleep tonight? I’m gonna freeze to death! I called my boyfriend’s house and another woman answered and called me a cunt. Where am I gonna go?”

The spiritual man is going to hang out in the Casino for a while. We suggest she go there too. She refuses saying, “So what am I gonna do, just walk around there all night?” We then suggest that we call homeless outreach and they take her to Detox. She says, “Hell no! I’m not some kinda drunk!”

We have no other options to offer her and she stumbles angrily off.

As we drive away, we search the street for her but she is nowhere to be found. We figure she must have found someone to take her in.

We’ll be back again on Tuesday.

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G.A. Minutes 11-1-14

G.A. Minutes 11-1-14
It seems to be getting colder every evening we meet at the CJM Memorial. Oh well….. Tonight we’re supposed to turn the clocks back an hour. Next time will be colder than it is now. We’ll try to stick it out as long as humanly possible; we’ll have to go indoors during the bitter cold winter months.
We don’t necessarily want to go indoors but realize we are fortunate to be able to do so. Many are forced to live outdoors year around. Every winter some of these folks are found frozen to death. This makes no sense in a country where many others own more than one home.
We’re just setting up the fire pit when we hear a loud call from across the street. It comes from one of our regular “problem children”, a young homeless man who is addicted to alcohol. We’ve never seen him completely sober but he’s quite funny and charming when he’s just slightly drunk. When he’s extremely drunk he becomes hostile and belligerent. There’s something we like about him even if we don’t know what it is.
Tonight he’s just beginning to get drunk. He comes over, sits down and begins a friendly banter with one of the female Occupiers. She laughs and joins in. The young man counts his change, determines he has enough to buy more alcohol and wanders off, promising to return.
It’s the first of the month so we had expected a pretty rowdy evening with the neighborhood “open drug market” in full swing. We’re surprised to find the streets empty and everything very quiet. We have only two street folks at our fire.
An Occupier who has spent much of his life in homelessness explains, “Many have bought a motel room for a few nights and seeing as it’s so cold, the dealers are probably making deliveries”. After several years, most Occupiers are still learning the ropes concerning homelessness.
An Occupier announces our friend who is running for the 8th CD will be holding a post-election get together at the Red Herring next Tuesday evening. She suggests we hold our regular Tuesday meeting at CJM and then go over to the event. Everyone thinks this is a good idea.
Another Occupier says there are going to be some follow up events re: the Council of Black Minnesotans. He doesn’t have all the details yet but one event will be another meeting at City Hall on Wednesday, November 12th at 7pm. The other event will be Friday and Saturday November 21st and 22nd at a TBA venue and will include people from throughout MN.
One more Occupier reports she has finally visited the Jefferson People’s House and asked the guy working on the day she visited about the possibility of holding our meetings in their space during the winter months. She was told that even though JPH has started closing at 5pm they are open to allowing groups the use of their space in the evenings. She was asked to email the JPH group with her request. She sent an email a couple of days ago and is waiting for an answer.
An occasional Occupier who lives in WI asks how things are going with our friend and his campaign for 8th CD. Another responds, “It appears that he has quite a lot of support. Voters will now have to decide whether they will fall for that old lesser of two evils game that says if you vote for the Green Party you are really giving your vote to the Republicans. I think if one doesn’t vote their conscience we will never have a chance to rid ourselves of the two party system”. Everyone agrees.
A regular street person says, “I can’t vote. I’m a felon so I can’t vote. We ask him if he has been out of prison for very long and if he is “off paper”. He says he is and an Occupier says, “Well then you can vote. You just have to apply to get your voting rights back”. The man responds, “Really? I don’t think my vote counts for much”. Another Occupier answers, “But you’re still a citizen and a person and you have rights. I think everyone should be allowed to vote. I think people who are still in prison should be allowed to vote”. The man responds, “If people in prison could vote I think there would be a lot less people in prison”. We all laugh.
As if on cue, a city fire truck in full regalia drives slowly by. As it departs it gives a couple of loud beeps. We all wave, unsure if those beeps were meant for us.
Our conversation continues and covers several topics: the new continuous war currently featuring ISIL, the question of what exactly is the American Dream, strange movies about women trying to look like Barbie that we have seen and hitchhiking stories including an explanation from the older Occupiers about what hitchhiking was like in the 60s.
We notice a DPD squad sitting across the street appearing to be watching us. He drives slowly down the hill, turns around and drives slowly back up the hill. Apparently wanting us to see he is watching.
The Native spiritual man who has joined us frequently over the last few months arrives. We pass the smudge dish around and he talks about raising children and of the importance of gently leading them in the right way. He is pleased with the way his oldest children have grown.
Another friend we have known for many years arrives. She is dressed up in her own way and has come to meet one of our Occupiers. They are planning on going off to a punk show.
The said Occupier hasn’t arrived yet. We say, “She’s probably stuck on Facebook and can’t get off”. We laugh as we know it’s probably true. We also know that many of us have the same problem. We try to justify this by commenting on how it is a convenient tool for local organizing. Also, if one has good FB friends one can learn a lot from very good articles. Blah,blah,blah…….
The Occupier arrives and we chat a bit. The two of them go off to the show.
A man we have seen before comes up to the fire. We have to grab him to keep him from falling in. He’s very drunk. We get him settled and he talks incoherently. He then begins to speak about vulgar topics.
The spiritual man gently explains the fire circle is a place of respect and the Memorial is sacred location. One should refrain from speaking disrespectfully. The drunken man accepts this correction and staggers off. We hope he doesn’t fall and crack his head open.
Our group now consists of the spiritual man and the Occupiers. We have a serious conversation about the difficulties of living and the importance of staying on a good path.
The young man who was with us at the beginning of our meeting returns. He appears to be more drunk but still in a good mood and says, “Hey, you forgot about me!” An Occupier jokingly responds, “No, you forgot about us!” The spiritual man and the young man are friends. We all laugh and joke a bit and the young man wanders off again.
It’s later than we normally stay, the fire is dying and we have run out of wood for the night. We’re going to have to pack up whether we want to or not. Once the fire dies we will quickly become cold. The Occupiers and the spiritual man exchange hugs.
As we are leaving one Occupier says to another, “I have some of our friend’s campaign signs in my vehicle. Should I put one in the memorial garden?” The other Occupier says, “Most definitely”. He puts the sign up and says, “I don’t know if many people will be able to see it from the street”. The other Occupier responds, “That’s o.k. This sign is for the people walking by”. We hope it will still be there when we return on Tuesday.

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