G. A. Minutes 3-20-18

Today is the first day of spring. Yeah right….. around here that statement is considered to be a joke. The official first day of spring aka the Spring Equinox never brings weather that is even remotely spring like. This evening the sky is overcast, temperatures are in the mid-20s but a strong east wind makes it feel like it’s slightly below zero.

With climate change kicking in, we have no idea what to expect but we think it will at least get warmer soon and all the growing things will turn green and start growing again. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if what the man made weather alterations gave the Twin Ports area was an endless winter? Hey, wait a minute…..that’s not even funny. Forget I said that.

Coney Island has only 3 customers when the first Occupiers arrive. The customers consist of a young man, who we vaguely recognize, and his 2 young sons or little brothers. The staff guys appear happy to see us; probably because they know more people will show up to join us.

Speaking of more people, a few of the Anonymous crew arrive. They’re going to hold another Line 3 Resistance Rally on this upcoming Friday. They plan to meet up and rally on the corner of Lake Ave and Superior St at 1pm; then march down to Wells Fargo and US Bank and see how much trouble they can make without getting arrested. Some of the Occupiers hope to join them.

An Occupier announces, “Natives Against Heroin will be having another Fire Teaching on Saturday, March 24th, 2pm at the Central Hillside Community Center. I really enjoyed the last one so am gonna be sure to attend this next one too”.

Some of the Occupiers attended the memorial service for Ms. Community Cleanup held last Sunday at AICHO. An Occupier tells those who were unable to attend, “I went over around 4pm, figuring that things would have wound down by then and there wouldn’t be many people there anymore. I was wrong; the place was still packed. I swear that every homeless and/or street person in the entire Central Hillside was there. Many asked when we’re gonna start up our fire again. I just told them we’d start as soon as the weather got warm enough to allow us to be comfortable sitting in the circle”.

Another Occupier opines, “I was glad to see that Ms Cleanup’s partner was there; he looked kinda like a deer blinded by headlights but then he’s looked like that many other times . Someone sighs, “I sure do miss her; when she wasn’t drinking she was the sweetest person I knew”. We all agree.

An Anon comments, “I wonder when our organizer friend is going to have another fundraiser for Makwa Line 3 Resistance Camp. Maybe we could hold one ourselves and call it Pow Wows Not Pipelines? An Occupier laughs and replies, “Our friend said the food fundraisers were canceled until further notice, whatever that means. We probably could hold one ourselves but calling it anything to do with Pow Wows would not be a good idea. We’re a bunch of white people who have no business even thinking about holding a Pow Wow.

“Those types of gatherings, I don’t know if they were called Pow Wows in olden times, were an important part of Native culture for thousands of years before European settlers came over and ruined everything. Now days, a Pow Wow requires a shit load of money, almost a year of advance planing and a huge crew of paid staff to get everything done. That’s why they’re usually sponsored by the so called tribal governments. I do think we could ask our friend if he’d be willing to do another fundraiser and we could help him. I also think we need to make time to get out to Makwa again and see how things are going”. Most of us are interested in holding another fundraiser; all of us want to go out to Makwa again.

An Occupier remarks, “It looked like the fundraiser/ spaghetti dinner for Honor the Earth this past Friday at Peace Church was a success. We (nods toward her partner) got there at the tail end when the food was almost gone. You all (nods toward other Occupiers) were already there. I noticed that the donations basket on the table was overflowing with money. Seeing as most of the actual customers were gone, it was nice to just kick back with you and all the other usual suspects”.

The staff guys have a TV up on the wall in the back of the restaurant. It’s tuned to some channel that is broadcasting some type of annual Republican dinner. It looks like He Who Shall Not Be Named is the featured speaker. Fortunately, the sound has been turned off so we don’t have to actually hear his bs. An Occupier asks, “I wonder what they’re having for dinner?” Another Occupier snorts, “Probably roast immigrants and white rhino pudding”.

The Occupier who is a college student says, “I have to write a big paper for my Masters program; I hope you guys will help me. My thesis seeks to explain how poverty causes increased environmental pollution. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be bringing my recording materials to our meetings and hoping we can discuss my ideas and whatever ideas you all may have”. We say, “Sounds like a plan”.

An Occupier asks the Occupier who likes to reports things, “So what else is going on this week?” She reports, “Well, a bunch of the big Water Protector NGOs are sponsoring a party with several live bands at the Red Herring on Thursday, March 22nd, 6:30p-9p. I’m sure there will be a suggested donation. Then on Friday is the big Anon Divest Rally, Saturday will be the Fire Teachings at 2pm and then a group called March for Our Lives is sponsoring a march about gun control that will leave from the old Central H.S. on E 3rd St at 5:30pm. On Monday the Human Rights Commission will hold their yearly forum, 5:30p at AICHO. The HRC will be providing a free simple dinner for everyone who attends and the event is open to the general public”.

The Occupier who is a single parent laments, “This gun control thing has me confused. I know we need a way to keep crazed white supremacists from killing innocent people but I also think we’re gonna need our guns to fight the revolution. I’m not sure what the answer is”.

We all agree that gun control is a very important issue that warrants further discussion but it’s almost 8pm and the staff guys are cleaning everything so instead of starting a serious conversation we all get silly instead. We start making up various scenarios about guns i.e. a gun that when the owner points it at someone and hollers, ‘Freeze!’ the person who was getting hollered at would freeze solid and so would the gun owner. After a while all gun owners would be frozen solid and the rest of us could get down to the business of creating a better world where all could live in peace and harmony.

The staff guys are looking at us with an expression that says, “We know you all are f’ing nuts but we love you anyway”. We want them to continue to love us so we pack up, leave tips and head on out into the cold. We expect to be back here next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-13-18

G.A. Minutes 3-13-18

It may just be wishful thinking but we believe we’ve seen a few subtle signs of the beginning of spring this past week i.e. the sun crossing higher in the sky, the big snow piles slowly melting and getting smaller, little patches of exposed earth here and there, an occasional crawling bug making its presence known and people’s pets beginning to shed their fur. We take all this to mean winter may be on its way out. Good riddance to ya!

Tonight when the first Occupiers and Anonymous crew roll up to Coney Island there is still light in the sky. The temperature is in the high 30s without any wind. Sweet… guess we won’t have to freeze our asses off when taking a smoke break.

As we settle in, an Occupier asks, “Did anyone make it to the COW (Committee of the Whole) last night?” Another Occupier answers, “Yeah, I was there as were quite a few others from the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition. We had a good meal out on the steps of City Hall and then went in for the presentation of the HPB of R to the City Council. Technically speaking, our HPB of R was given to the Human Rights Commission a month or two ago; they unanimously approved it and then passed it on to City Council at last night’s COW.

“We’re pretty sure we already have more than enough Council votes to pass the Bill as a City Ordinance; the only hold up now is the City Attorney. He is tasked with turning the language of the Bill into proper legalese. As usual, when things have anything to do with the rights of regular people, the City is worried about getting sued. We think getting sued is pretty much a non-issue because we can’t even get homeless and street people to file a complaint with the Citizens Review Board or the HRC when their rights have been seriously violated. If the City and the Duluth Police Department train their employees to show homeless and street folks the same respect they show to everyone else there should very few problems.

“However, the City Attorney has the final say about what is considered to be legal in relation to City Legislative Codes and such. He doesn’t want the HPB of R to stand on its own as a new ordinance; he wants to fit all the 11 rights into various City ordinances that already exist. Of course, that will take a lot of research and more time too. The HPB of R Coalition is not happy about that and our spokespeople have made it clear to the City administration that we have already been jumping through their hoops for the last 5 years. We are not willing to wait even another half a year for the Bill to be presented to the City Council for a vote. If the work isn’t done right away, we may have to use “alternative methods”.

“Just between us, the City Attorney is supposed to be completely neutral concerning political issues; he’s just supposed to advise the administration and the citizens about what is legal and what is not. Unfortunately, the City Attorney for Duluth has made it clear over the years that he doesn’t want there to be an HPB of R in Duluth….ever. We think his new requirements are stall tactics. He hopes that we’ll be disheartened and give up.

“This City Attorney was appointed by the former mayor, Don Ness. The Ness administration was totally uninterested in anything having to do with homeless or poor people. Ness has another big job making lots of money now but I can’t remember what it is.

“Anyway, Ness and all his buddies are from the privileged and spoiled fraternity boy world. Their main concerns are investments and making money, tourism and making money, big business and making money and bike and hiking trails and somehow making money from that too. When he was mayor, Don Ness was quoted as saying homelessness was just a “side issue”. It was evident that his administration wanted homeless and poor people to just ‘go away’ to some place where privileged people would never have to see them. It appears the current City Attorney feels the same way. You’d think they’d realize that we’ve already hung in for 5 years so won’t be ‘going away’”. An Anon remarks, “Gee, I noticed that Don Ness and the City Attorney weren’t too skittish about having a very expensive lawsuit against the Fond du Lac Band and our downtown casino even though they were certain to lose”.

Another Occupier adds, “That sucks! Hang in there, you know we’ve got your back. Last night I was listening on KUMD to the City Council meeting that took place after the COW so I got to hear Councilor Fosle make a fool of himself again”. Some of us laugh while others look puzzled. The Occupier explains, “They were having the first reading of the proposed Earned Safe and Sick Time Ordinance; a woman was speaking about her experience of being pregnant when she was only 19 years old. She was having a few health problems but didn’t get PTO time at her job and couldn’t afford to take unpaid time off so continued showing up for work; she ended up having a miscarriage.

“So Fosle tells her, ‘You should have thought about that before you became pregnant. It’s a matter of the choices you make’. I could hear the gasps and groans from the audience even though I was listening on the radio. Fosle is going to get a lot of flak about that ignorant comment for a long time to come”.
Someone adds, “Yeah, like there’s no such thing as an unintended pregnancy and only people who have big, glorious jobs are entitled to have a family or a life”.

The Anons report that their Line 3 Resistance Rally last Friday was quite successful. An Anon tells us, “A lot of people showed up; we basically just bounced back and forth between the 2 big banks playing our music and handing out fliers. As usual, a lot of cops showed up. We joked back and forth with some of them; we’ve noticed that as long as we don’t get too physically close to them; some of them actually treat us like we might be human beings”.

A few of the Occupiers attended Ishkode (fire) Teachings last Saturday at the Central Hillside Community Center. An Occupier comments, “It was nice and intimate; only about 7 or 8 people showed up. Skip lit the fire, we all put asema (tobacco) in the fire and said a prayer then we sat in the fire circle and listened to Skip tell the story of how the Raven/Crow gave fire to the Anishinaabe people. As it started to get colder, we went inside and just kicked it, talking about what it’s like to be addicted to hard drugs or to have a family member and/or loved one who is an addict.

“They’re going to start having a sweat lodge pretty soon. The plan is to attract neighborhood addicts that would like to go into a sweat. There are a lot of Native and other people who are addicts and would like to quit but the standard capitalist, white people and/or Christian treatment options just don’t work for them. Many people find the indigenous ways to be more effective”.

An Occupier says to another, “Did you find out what is up with the Sacred Fires going out?” The questioned Occupier responds, “Yeah, kinda. It didn’t happen at Makwa (bear) Camp; it was another camp. I’m told that there was only 1 person left in charge of the Sacred Fire; tending a Sacred Fire is a 24/7 job. One person cannot possibly tend the fire all by themselves so when it would go out, they would just relight it. That is a major no-no. I think that maybe the people who are leading that camp don’t really know what they are doing”.

Another Occupier queries, “I hear there was also something going on out at Makwa too?” An Anon groans, “Oh, that was just some silly shit. Someone called the police and said that the Water Protectors at Makwa had an assault rifle. The Cloquet police and the FDL police came roaring up; there were about 12 cop cars. It turns out that the guy who owns the camp land also owns some type of hunting rifle. He probably has had it for a long time because he used to live there kinda deep in the woods all by himself. Anyway, it’s been a long winter and living out there at camp makes it seem like it REALLY is never gonna be over. After the cops left, a few of the Water Protectors were crabby. No big deal; it’s all blown over now”.

The Occupier who likes to report things, reports, “Honor the Earth is sponsoring a Line 3 Resistance Spaghetti Dinner, Friday, March 16th from 6p-9p at Peace Church (1111 11th Ave E) and Superior Save the Kids and Ex-Prisoners Organizing are having a No DPD Riot Gear rally this Saturday the 17th 5p-6p down at Lake Ave+Superior St”. We all plan to attend these events.

The clock says it’s 3 minutes til closing time; as we pack up an Anon asks an Occupier, “Do you have time to help us get that mattress?” The Occupier replies, “Sure, now would be a good time”. One of the Occupier couples has a mattress that needs a home; one of the Anons has a new home that needs a mattress. Funny how things work out sometimes. So, after packing up and bidding everyone good night, most of the crew goes home; the rest go off to haul a mattress up the hill.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-6-18

G.A. Minutes 3-6-18
The city of Duluth Mn dodged a bullet yesterday. A big snow storm was moving northwest (really); it pretty much covered the whole state. We were prepared to get a ton of snow dumped on us again but the whole storm passed about 10 or 15 miles south of us. There was some very strong east wind but not any snow. Whew! We’ve already accrued all the snow that we need this winter and are hoping to just slide peacefully into the beginning of spring in a month or so. It could happen.

So this evening as the Occupiers roll into Coney Island, the weather is a little chilly with temperatures in the low 20s and remnants of the cold east wind. At least no one had to wear their winter boots tonight. We can handle this; we all have homes. Our unsheltered homeless ones…..that’s another story.

This evening there are a few Anons and our friend the socialist, feminist organizer waiting for us when we arrive (slightly late). After we move some tables around, our friend the organizer reports, “Socialist Action will be sponsoring the Women’s March this year. It will be on Thursday, March 8th of course, 5:30pm starting from Peoples Plaza.

“Also, the location of the Socialist Pizza gathering, 6”30pm on every last Friday of the month has been changed to the Building for Women on 1st Ave E + E 1st St. The group has just become too big to fit into Luce’ so we’ll just meet at the BW and order pizza to be delivered. S.A. is planning on holding an Earth Day Rally too on Sunday, April 22nd. I don’t have any details yet but I will have them soon”.

An Occupier remarks, “I’m so glad you stopped in tonight. We don’t get to see you as often as we’d like and you’ve given us some good information; we’re totally down with supporting and participating in all the the events”.

The Anons agree; they’re also psyching up for their Line 3 Resistance rally and march this upcoming Friday, starting around 1pm at Peoples Plaza. An Anon mentions, “A lot of people have told us they’re gonna join us. Peeps from out of town have promised to step up too. Of course, we’ll go bother the big banks again; their customers need to realize what the money they put in these banks is being invested in. The customers probably work really hard for the money they earn and deposit in Wells Fargo and US Bank. Many of them don’t want to work in order to pay for earth destroying ventures that companies like Enbridge create. We’re just trying to get the word out”.

An Occupier says,”I just heard a little while ago that 2 Sacred Fires went out somewhere around here. That’s all I know right now; I’m guessing it had to be at one of the Line 3 Resistance Camps. Does anyone know more?” A few of the Anons have been given the same information but no one knows anything further. Someone comments, “Well, being a white person, I’m not completely knowledgeable when it comes to Native ways but I believe having or letting a Sacred Fire go out is not good. It has something to do with losing one’s power I think”.

Another Occupier announces, “Do you all know that Natives Against Heroin are going to do Ishkode (fire) teachings this upcoming Saturday, 2pm at the Central Hillside Community Center? An Occupier replies, “No, I didn’t know that. I’m sure it will be interesting and if it’s anything like the opening event NAH held a couple of weeks ago, it will be packed”. Many of us plan to attend.

An Occupier says to another, “So how you feeling these days?” The questioned Occupier tells him, “The surgery was pretty creepy and then I slept for a day and a half. After that I was still tired for days but I tried to get a few things accomplished between naps. Tonight is my first time out of the house; I feel pretty much back to normal now. I suppose you noticed I didn’t put out any minutes from last week’s meeting. Another Occupier adds, “No problem, we would have been worried about you if you had put minutes out. You’ve been through a lot so deserve a rest”.

The Occupier who has been through a lot exclaims, “Something truly marvelous happened to me in the midst of all this. A friend of the city official just GAVE me a computer; no strings attached! The friend is getting ready to move across the country and didn’t want to ship his computer. He was thinking of just putting it in a free store but the official man remembered that my computer crashed so hooked me and the computer-giving man up. Now I have a new computer and it works just great! It would have taken me many months to save enough money to buy even a refurbished one. I am a very happy camper”. Another Occupier responds, “I sure miss having the city official at our meetings”. The Occupier with the new computer tells him, “Yeah, me too but he’s busy with his radio show and lots of other good things”.

An Occupier laughs and tells us, “I somehow got into an argument with some woman on Facebook. She was telling me that cobalt is a very rare metal. It’s mandatory for the creation of cell phones, computers and stuff like that. She said that MN has a lot of cobalt up north where Polymet wants to open a sulfide mine. She tried to tell me that it was o.k. to let Polymet destroy our precious clean water and manoomin beds because at least they will pay all the miners up north a living wage to work the mine. She said otherwise the mining companies will continue to get cobalt from African mines where they have child slave workers. I didn’t even know what cobalt was so had to look it up and then I came to this meeting”.

Another Occupier suggests, “I think the Facebook woman’s argument is lame. There is plenty of cobalt in all the old computers and cell phones that just get thrown to the trash heap to rot and pollute the earth for a bazillion years. All those old broken things can get recycled and the cobalt can be reused. The miners can have decent jobs recycling the old stuff and doing other earth sustaining things and the child slaves can just go to school. It just takes a new way of thinking in order to save our Mother Earth”.

The feminist organizer remembers, “Oh, I forgot to mention, the WI legislature is debating a bill that would take 650 million taxpayer dollars and build a new prison”. We all groan; she continues, “Superior Save the Kids and Lake Superior Ex-incarcerated People Organizing are sponsoring a rally against the creation of a new prison next Monday, March 12th at 4:30pm at the corner of Belknap and Hammond Ave in Superior. It’s right next to the Douglas County Court House”.

An Anon is monkeying with his phone; he finds a very clear picture of a Duluth Police Officer and passes it around. He says, “That is a picture of the cop who was really throwing people around at one point during the lockdown at Wells Fargo a couple of weeks ago. He was being cruel; he grabbed me and smashed me into a wall”. An Occupier smiles and replies, “It’s good that you got the full face picture of the cop. I watched that hour long video of the lockdown and the part where the cops got out of line was in it. I have that video and you have that picture. I know I’m always preaching about filing complaints with the Citizens Review Board but every time we let police brutality slide it tells the offending cops that they can do whatever they want. If you want to file a complaint, I’ll be glad to help you”.

Somebody asks, “So what did you think of the Community Meeting About Riot Gear or whatever it was called that we went to last Wednesday?” Everyone is quiet for a bit; then an Occupier opines, “The Duluth News Tribune said that community sentiment was evenly divided but it didn’t look that way to me. I thought a lot of people spoke against supporting the DPD purchasing $125,000 worth of riot gear. SURJ really rocked it with their statistics and analysis about the effect police have on poor people and people of color. Just about all of the people who spoke in favor of riot gear where family members of cops; they had no idea what it’s like to be on the receiving end of what cops do. I think the people are more in danger from the cops than the cops are from the people.

“However, who knows what the DPD is gonna do? If they can’t get it now, they may quietly purchase it next year. Government folks are not to be trusted”.

Another Occupier agrees, “It seems to me that what is really happening with all the nation’s and the world’s police forces getting militarized is that the 1% has stolen so much of the land and resources that there’s not a heck of a lot left to steal. In order to steal the little bit that’s left, the 1% is not gonna be able to allow the so called middle classes to maintain the standard of living that they have been used to. The poor will be made even poorer and then almost all the people will take to the streets. The 1% is trying to get the police force prepared to protect them from the masses. It remains to be seen how many cops will actually kill their own people”.

An Occupier adds, “There will be a shit ton of climate refugees too. You know, climate change, also brought to you by the 1%? I do believe though that if enough people can get their heads together and decide to help one another and to live a different way, the violence and doom will be lessened considerably”. We all hope she is right.

A member of one of the Occupier couples proposes, “I think we should quit early and all go over to our house and relax”. Sounds like a plan. We pack up, tip and say goodnight to the staff guys and head out.

Unless we are blessed with a surprise early spring (don’t count on it) we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-20-18

G.A. Minutes 2-20-18
It’s Tuesday evening and it’s still the cold dark time of the year; that means the Occupiers are meeting at Coney Island again. Duluth received 5 or 6 inches of snow over the last couple of days. Across the bridge in WI they received a lot more; many schools and businesses were forced to close over there today. Duluth didn’t have many closings but driving is difficult; we have a fairly decent snowplowing department however, they have a large area to cover so it usually takes a few days before the roads are back to normal. The weather people tell us to expect more snow later in the week. Ah, the joy of winter….
Right now the main roads are passable, the side streets, not so much. Driving up and down the hill varies from simply annoying to downright scary. Living on the hillside is way cool though; when it’s not winter, there are many places where one can just sit and watch the ships, boats and other things going on in the harbor and Lake Superior. Some lucky people, who aren’t even rich, can watch the lake from the windows of their house or apartment. It’s way more interesting than watching TV.
The first Occupiers to arrive are deep in conversation as they come through the door. One Occupier is telling the others, “In a little over a week I’m gonna have some fairly serious dental surgery at an oral surgeon’s office. My teeth problems are a result of being a single parent without any support from my baby’s Daddy. I never was able make enough money to give my child what she deserved while being able to take care of my own needs too. I went without dental care for over 20 years.
“So now some of my teeth are hurting bad; I went for a consult with the oral surgeon that my regular dentist recommended; his estimate was huge, but luckily I now have dental insurance for the first time in my life. The insurance will pay for two thirds of the bill so I figured the surgeon’s office would just schedule my surgery ASAP and let me make payments on my share of the bill. I’ve never been to that particular dental surgeon in the past so if they were worried about my paying my share all they had to do was check with my regular dentist to see that I always pay my dentist bills. But no, they want me to give them the entire payment before they’ll even let me climb into the dentist’s chair. I have to wait until I get paid on the 1st of next month in order to pay them. That’s gonna make paying my rent, utilities and all that really difficult.
In the meantime, I’ve been to the ER twice this month to get antibiotics because my teeth have been abscessing; antibiotics are not cheap and dental pain is not fun. I’m kinda bummed out and pissed off too.”
Another Occupier exclaims, “That really sucks! A person could die from an untreated abscessed tooth. I don’t know why the medical system treats dental care as separate from the rest of health care. Every part of a human body is connected to all the rest of the parts of the body. The entire American health care system sucks and the health insurance industry is nothing but organized crime! We need a single payer system for everything like other countries that recognize that the basic needs of their people are more important than helping rich people make more money”.
A moderate sized group of Anonymous folks roll up. They are “masked up” and have their flags and all that. They are all smiling; one Anon reports, “We had a really good day today. We went out early so we could hit the big banks. We went to US Bank first; when they saw us coming down the stairs, the bank employees started running around locking all their doors and acting like we were gonna kill them, blow up the bank or something stupid like that. They told their customers to enter through a small side door so we went over to that door and just stood outside of it while not blocking the way for peeps to enter the bank. We held our signs and gave flyers to the people willing to take them. All we’re trying to do is to let people know that the bank they use is majorly invested in the earth and water destroying Enbridge Company. We gently suggest that they might want to use another bank or a credit union. Eventually, a few squad cars showed up.
“We then walked over to Wells Fargo; when the employees saw us they quickly locked their front gate. They always look really angry; they probably hate us. We just stood around on the edges of the skywalk playing our music on our portable sound system and handing flyers to passersby who wanted them. Eventually a bunch of cops showed up. We weren’t doing anything illegal and they seemed to know that. A lot of us filming everything on our cell phones probably helped increase their awareness of the 1st Amendment.
“At first they stood around acting kinda awkward like they didn’t know what to do. Then some of them started actually listening to our music; they relaxed a bit and just stood around digging it. The cop standing next to me knew some of our music and made comments about some of the composers. Some of the other cops stood away from us, glared and looked like they wanted to bust our heads. So we all hung around until bank closing time then we split and so do they. We interrupted business at two banks in the same day….. Yes!!!”
An Occupier adds, “Yeah, I’ve been at direct actions were I’ve had some conversations with cops. Some of them have tried to tell me that they are just regular working people trying to survive like the rest of us. I tell them, “If that’s true then why are you on the side of the man instead of over here on this side with us?”
“I know that cops are actual human beings but they’ve been brainwashed and trained how to maim and kill people. If their boss orders them to bust our heads then that’s what they’re gonna do. It’s very rare for a cop to refuse an order from his so called superiors”.
Another Occupier asks, “Did you guys go to the last Polymet hearing?” When the Anons answer, “No” the Occupier continues, “It was really something. They had all kinds of security personnel and a few Duluth police officers hanging around all the entrance doors. There was a line of regular young DECC employees who were patting down each person before allowing them to enter the venue. There were eight or ten employees but only one of them was female. Of course, most of the women trying to enter demanded to be searched by a woman so that slowed things up a bit. They wouldn’t allow anyone to bring food in but they had food for sale. Hmmm…
It was all really stupid; the security guards were trying to act intimidating but all the pro-Mother Earth folks just rolled their eyes. I imagine Polymet or Glencore had to pay a few bucks for all the extra personnel; the way they throw around money, they must expect to make several bazillion bucks from tearing up our Mother Earth and poisoning our water and our children. Too bad we’re gonna have to disappoint them.”
An Occupier asks the Anons, “Have you all checked out the videos that Unicorn Riot puts out?” An Anon replies, “Sure, we watch them all the time. We also pay attention to Sub Media and Activate Now”.
An Occupier remarks, “I know this Friday is going to be quite busy for all of us but I need to remind everyone that Natives Against Heroin is going to be holding their first sweat lodge outside of the Central Hillside Community Center this upcoming Saturday starting at 12:30pm. It will be a potluck so if you can, contribute some food. Also, they’ll be holding sacred ceremonies so women need to wear skirts”.
The staff is doing their final cleaning and the other customers are packing up. We’d better follow suit; as we’re gathering our things an Occupier reports, “There’s been some strange developments between the City Attorney and the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition. The next meeting is on Thursday, after I go to that I’ll have a better idea of the whole situation and will be able to explain more”.
One Anon says to another, “We have over one hundred masks over at the house”. An Occupier chuckles, “I can see it all now. The cops raid your house, thinking they’re going to find the Mother Lode. They ransack your place and then their boss rolls up. He says, ‘Well boys, did you find lots of bombs, guns and drugs?” A cop answers, ‘No sir but we found a shit ton of their masks”. We all crack up.
We leave tips for the accommodating staff guys and head out to attempt to make it up the hill without sliding into a ditch. We expect to be back next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-13-18

G.A. Minutes 2-13-18
There are actually 6 or 7 customers when the first Occupiers arrive at Coney Island this evening. This is a big deal because we haven’t seen that many customers in the place during an entire evening any other time since we started meeting here in late October.
We want there to be customers during our weekly visits because that’s what will convince the owner to keep his eatery open on Tuesday evenings. If the owner were to close early during the winter, we’d be pretty well screwed. Finding a somewhat comfortable space in the Central Hillside that is open to the public, not too hard on our very limited budgets and where they won’t call the cops if we stay longer than a half an hour is no easy feat. We know because we’ve been looking for such a place for about 6 years.
Ideally, the place would be free, have good music on the sound system, palm trees, excellent organic food and a well-paid, happy staff who were members of a restaurant co-op or very progressive union. We found a place like that a few years ago, it was called Jefferson Peoples House but it closed after not very long. It wasn’t free and didn’t have palm trees but all the rest of the stuff was there.
JPH was run by a group of young people most of whom lived in the same communal house and took turns staffing the coffee house after they finished working their other jobs that paid their bills. The young people just worked for tips in order to keep the place afloat. JPH had a mellow revolutionary atmosphere; the staff would listen to our discussions and chime in when they could. We think it closed because it was located a little over east from our Hillside and that made it difficult to access for Central Hillside folks who didn’t own cars. The co-op workers never did get enough customers to make it possible to just break even. It would be nice if some people would try doing something like JPH again. No, not the Occupiers…….don’t even go there.
Anyway, we find a booth next to a couple of empty tables and start settling in. We need to wait a while before ordering food or drinks because the front counter is busy with the other customers who are placing their orders.
We don’t expect many Occupiers or members of the Anonymous crew to join us tonight; today was a very busy day for all of us. The 2 Occupiers and the man from Makwa (Bear) Line 3 Resistance Camp had their pre-trial hearing today. A pre-trial rally was held for them at noon in front of the St Louis County Court House. The annual March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and in Support of the Lifegivers was held today, also at noon.
One of the Occupiers is one of the people who were arrested for chaining themselves to a Wells Fargo entry gate several weeks ago; he tells us, “I was surprised at the large number of folks who attended our pre-trial rally. When the court came back into session we went in and all entered pleas of not guilty. Our next court date is April 11th. I then caught up with the Indigenous Women’s March. By the time I found them there were only a few Indigenous women marching with a good sized group of Anons. They marched all over the place. They were still marching when I went home for dinner”.
An Occupier who has been unable to make our meetings for several weeks asks, “So what are you charged with?” The Occupier/Water Protector responds, “Obstruction and trespassing”. Another Occupier exclaims, “How can you be charged with trespassing when you were all chained to the gate but were sitting inside the skywalk which is public property?!?” The responding Occupier says, “That’s a good question. I’ll have to ask one of our pro-bono attorneys”.
The Occupier who has missed meetings inquires, “So I guess you all are gonna use the necessity defense, right? Isn’t that where a defendant admits that they may have committed an offense but they were compelled to do it in order to prevent an even greater offense that was happening or about to happen?” The innocent until proven guilty (or so The Man tries to tell us) Occupier agrees and the inquiring Occupier continues, “Does anyone know if that defense has ever been successful in the past?”
Another Occupier replies, “I don’t remember the details but I know that some Water Protectors used it fairly recently and won their case”. An Occupier looks at his cell phone and reports, “The necessity defense has been used many times over the years but very few defendants were victorious. Among the few cases that ended in acquittal was the case of a woman who was being battered by her drunken husband. She had been drinking too but jumped in the family car and drove away in order to avoid further battering and possibly death. The police stopped her and when she went to court she used that defense, explained her reasoning and was found not guilty. The Occupier/Water Protector opines, “Everyone has to just keep using the necessity defense when protecting Mother Earth and her children until the courts start looking at it as normal”.
An Occupier comments, “I was listening to the City Council meeting on KUMD last night when I heard a bunch of people speaking in support of the nibi (water) and the manoomin (wild rice) and against the Polymet sulfide mine. I didn’t even know the topic was going to be presented last night. I’m sorry I wasn’t there”. The Occupier/Water Protector tells her, “It really didn’t matter because the place was totally packed. All the seats in the chamber were full and lots more folks were filling the hallway. I didn’t hear about it until my attorney told me; it was a more middle class crowd than we generally hang around with”. The listening Occupier answers, “Oh cool, it’s great when we don’t have to do everything ourselves”.
An Occupier says to the radio listening Occupier, “Hey, you’re a smoker and you smoke menthols; what did you think of the City Council’s vote to ban menthol cigarette sales except for in tobacco shops?” The smoking Occupier explains, “I buy my smokes over in WI where they’re cheaper so it doesn’t affect me personally but I guess I’m an expert on the subject. I didn’t think the day would ever come when I would agree with Councilor Fosle on anything but I do. The supporters of the ban say they presented the ordinance in order to prevent young people from beginning to smoke. They say that young ones are attracted to smoking menthol. That may or may not be true but I don’t think the ban will achieve its stated goal. Kids already can’t buy cigarettes so they ask their slightly older friends to get cigarettes for them. If they want menthol then that’s what they’ll ask for. Also, all the convenience store owners are really pissed but the tobacco shop owners are dancing in the aisles. I bet there will be some more tobacco shops opening in our city within the next year”. After her words, all the smokers go out for a smoke break.
When they return, someone remarks, “So are we still down with helping out at Skip Sandman’s NDN Taco Sale Fundraiser at AICHO from 10am-2pm on Friday, February 23rd? We are all down. Someone else sighs, “There are so many things going on Friday the 23rd; I’m gonna have to choose just a few. There’s the taco sale then the Standup for Immigrant Rights demo at Lake and Superior at 4:30p and Socialist Pizza 6:30p at Luce’.
“Also, the NAACP is having a Groundwork of the Revolution Freedom Fund Dinner at Clyde Iron at 6p. The tickets are $60 a piece but they have some free or reduced fee tickets for people like us”. An Occupier opines, “Well I think I’ll go to Socialist Pizza; I don’t really like dressing up so if I don’t go to the NAACP dinner maybe someone else who likes dressing up will be able to go in my place”. A few of the Occupiers do like to dress up; maybe they’ll go to the dinner.
All the other customers are gone and the place looks very clean. We take the hint and head for the door. We plan to be back here next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-6-18

G.A. Minutes 2-6-18
It’s another evening meeting at Coney Island. The weather is horribly cold as per usual and the low energy that is a part of Seasonal Affective Disorder is creeping into all of us. Fortunately, we are aware of this yearly phenomena so are attempting to compensate for it.
A few Occupiers and the youngest dude from the Anonymous crew are the first to arrive. As we settle in, someone remarks, “Have you seen the photos of the riot that took place in Philadelphia after the Eagles won the Super Bowl on Sunday night?” We have all seen the photos. An Occupier exclaims, “Yeah, a bunch of white guys running around the streets of downtown Philly smashing windows, uprooting trees and just destroying whatever they could. The cops didn’t do anything. I’m betting that if it was a bunch of dudes of color doing the same thing, they would have been arrested and given long prison sentences”.
Another Occupier agrees, “I’m afraid you’re right. With white dudes it’s ‘boys will be boys, you know’ but if anyone else were to do the same thing they’d be charged with terrorism. What I really don’t understand though is why people want to tear up shit just because their favorite sports team wins something”. None of us can give him an answer; we don’t understand it either.
On another topic, an Occupier tells us, “I sent off a letter to the editor to the Northland Reader today. It’s kind of an expose’ about the true nature of Enbridge. I wonder if they’ll print it”. Another Occupier speculates, “Oh, I think they will. I’m acquainted with one of the long term reporters at the Reader; he has expressed his frustration to me about not getting a variety of letters for their In Box column. They love it when new writers send stuff in”.
More Anons arrive; the youngest Anon has a story to tell them. He says, “Hey, remember when we did the last action at Wells Fargo and the first Water Protector arrived and chained himself by his neck to the entry gate that hadn’t been opened yet? Remember that the bank manager saw the Water Protector chain himself and that the manager then ran really fast over to where the switch to open the gate was?”
An Occupier exclaims, “What! The bank dude was going to lift the gate with the Water Protector chained to it by his neck?” The Anon continues, “Yup, if it wasn’t for the fact that 4 really big Water Protectors from Makwa (Bear) Camp immediately surrounded the bank manager and scared him just by their presence, the chained Water Protector would have been lifted up into the air and could have possibly choked to death.
“Anyway, I saw that bank dude tonight when I was walking in the skywalk on my way over here. I’m walking along on one side of walkway and the bank dude comes walking on the other side. We are separated from each other by at least 20 feet. The bank guy is looking kinda nervous so I stamped my foot and said, ‘Boo!’ The dude jumped up in the air and smacked into the wall! I mean I was 20 feet away from him and didn’t say anything at first or make any sign of aggression toward him and he’s still scared? What a fool!”
We don’t laugh at his story but we do smile. An Occupier comments, “So the bank manager doesn’t mind risking the neck of a Water Protector who is only trying to save the planet for future generations but he fears for his life when an Anon stomps his foot? Those money worshipping types have no clue”.
An Occupier hands one of the Anons a flyer that contains a map of all the new porta-potty sites. She explains, “These are the flyers that I was telling you about. They were made by a guy who lives and works at Loaves N Fishes. I thought you might like to pass them out while you’re cruising the streets”. The Anon replies, “These flyers are way cool! We’ll definitely use them”. The Occupier adds, “As you can see, the 2 parts need to be cut out and glued together. I’ve already printed out a few; I’ll email you the download as soon as I get home.
The Occupier continues, “Also, I went to the Citizens Review Board last month and gave them your report about the cop in the skywalk who won’t give her basic information when you request it. The only cops there were the usual Lieutenant and Deputy Chief. They agreed that when a member of the general public asks a cop for their name and badge number, the cop MUST provide it. They were curious to know who the offending cop might be. I told them that you have a video of her refusing to provide the information. The lieutenant gave me his card to give to you and he’s hoping you’ll call him. I know that cops are trained to playact and lie a lot but they did seem genuinely interested in remedying the situation”.
The big Native Anon rolls in; we haven’t seen him since mid-summer. He was out at Maii’gan (wolf) Camp for a good while and has recently moved back to Duluth. He plans to move out to Makwa Camp as soon as he is able. We’re delighted to be able to spend time with him again.
An Occupier says to the Occupier who recently had his debit card stolen and all of the money removed from his account, “I remember you said that it looked like the thief had been able to get your information and password from PayPal somehow. Well, I received an email yesterday from PayPal. It notified me that someone had attempted to access my account. I guess the difference between the two of us is that I notified my bank immediately, cancelled my card and got a new one with a different number. I’m guessing that the thief kept my card, was hoping that I hadn’t noticed it was missing and put more money on it. The recently robbed Occupier responds, “I think people need to refrain from using PayPal. It seems that a door has been left open”.
The Occupier who generally records the minutes reports, “I’ve found out that my computer really is toast. I’m gonna have to share his computer with him (she gestures toward another Occupier) until I can save up enough money to buy a new one. I’ve been looking around a bit trying to match what I need with what I can afford. I think it’s gonna take a while”.
The Native Anon asks, “So what are you guys gonna be up to over the next several days?” Another Anon tells him, “Tomorrow we’re going to march in remembrance of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Woman and in support of The Lifegivers. The March will take off from AICHO at noon. On Thursday, there will be a pre-trial rally at noon at the County Court House for the Catholic Workers who sat-in at the Duluth Enbridge office last month. Then at 5pm there will be a rally outside of the DECC before the Polymet hearing which happens from 6p-9p”.
Another Anon states, “I really want to get out to Makwa again. I’m waiting for our organizer friend to be ready to drive out there. I hope it will be soon”. The newly arrived Anon says, “Please let me know when you’re going. I’d like to go out too”.
So, it looks like we’ve talked up til the last minute. The staff has their coats and stuff and are ready to go. As we head out the door and go our separate ways, someone calls out, “See you on Thursday!”
One of the Occupier couples will give the Anons, who have the farthest to walk, a ride home. It’s too cold to be outside if you don’t have to be. We expect to return to Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-30-18

G.A. Minutes 1-30-18
Hey, guess what….. it’s still winter. Ordinarily that would not be very surprising but seeing as the winter season started in mid-October, it seems like we should be getting a reprieve about now. When I bring up this idea, people tell me, “Things just don’t work that way”. When I ask why, they tell me, “Because life isn’t fair”. I never know what to say after that so I settle for an expletive or two and leave it at that.
Anyway, the weather is pretty much like it usually is during this time of year. The temperatures stay in the teens above zero during the day and drop into the single digits below zero at night. When the wind blows, it takes whatever the temperature is down at least 20 degrees; when it snows without a wind we might go all the way up to 20 above, until the snow stops. Then it’s back down again and so on and so on and so on…… It’s enough to give a person Seasonal Affective Disorder but let’s not talk about that now.
As the first arriving Occupiers settle in at Coney Island one of them tells the others, “I got robbed a couple of days ago”. We say, “WTF?!?” He continues, “Someone got ahold of my bank debit card and took $580 out of my account. That’s all the money I had and rent is due again in a couple of days. I won’t have any money again until mid-February. What a total bummer”.
Another Occupier adds, “I had the same thing happen to me a few months ago. I must have accidently dropped my card when I paid for my groceries; when I went to pay for something at another store about 15 minutes later, I found that I didn’t have my card. I reported it to the credit union security department immediately but still, the thief must have found my card within a few minutes of my dropping it because they went straight up the hill to the big mall and spent everything I had. However, it happened just a few days before my next payday so I was able to pay my rent on time.
“I will be able to get my money back though and so will you, it just takes forever. Whenever a store clerk receives a card as payment from someone they don’t know, the clerk is supposed to ask for an ID to go along with the card. If they don’t, then the store is responsible for your loss or something like that. You have to fill out some papers at your bank, get a case number from the police and then wait for the corporate machine to work its way through the system and eventually you get your money back; or so I’m told”.
The first Occupier replies, “That would be nice. There sure are a lot of desperate people out here. There have always been desperate people in the streets but with the big increase of junkies and methheads happening these days, things have gotten way out of hand. One has to either watch their back 24/7 or not own anything that they would like to keep. If one is homeless, even hanging on to a few pair of clean underwear is not a given”. We all dig into our wallets and give the recently robbed Occupier every penny we can spare.
An Occupier reports, “I assume none of you were surprised that I didn’t put out any minutes from last week’s meeting”. None of us were surprised. She continues, “My computer is in the repair shop, I think it may be toast but I’m waiting to find out. As of now, he’s (she nods toward another Occupier) been able to open an account for me on his computer so I’ll use that for now”.
A young man who sometimes hangs with the Anonymous crew rolls in. He reports, “I don’t think any of the Anons will be coming down tonight. The dude who always leads our Tuesday night excursions has met a girl who interests him and he wants to get to know her better” We all say, “Aaahhh!” An Occupier adds, “Well good for him. He’s such a decent guy; he deserves to have a cool partner in his life”.
An Occupier says to the Occupier who likes to report things, “So what’s going on this next month?” The reporting Occupier responds, “Tomorrow there’s going to be a movie called Fossil Free shown at 6pm at the Red Herring. My guess is that it will be free or suggested donation. On Thursday, February 8th, the big Polymet hearing will be held at the DECC; the rally will be at 5pm outside the DECC with the hearing inside from 6pm-9pm. I know that I’ll definitely be going; depending on my mood, I may sign up to speak. I think the go-to group in relation to this event is Water Legacy”. All the Occupiers plan to attend the Polymet hearing. “Of course, everyone knows that Skip Sandman is running against Nolan for the 8th CD again. He’s going to hold his first fundraiser, an Anishinaabe Taco Sale over at AICHO on Friday, February 23rd from10am-2pm. Of course, he could use our help.” All of the Occupiers who are able will help out.
She goes on, “The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition will be needing to pack the City Council Chambers several times during the next month. I’m not sure of the exact dates right now but I do know that the Council always meets on Mondays. There will be lots more things going on but that’s all I know right now”.
Another Occupier has a report too, “Did you know that MN cops have a Bill of Rights?” We say, “Oh Please!” He says, “Well, they do”. I was at the Citizens Review Board meeting last week and a couple of the Deputy Chiefs were talking about the Police Officers Bill of Rights. I asked a few questions; they gave me the statute number and I looked it up. It’s MN statute 626.89 Peace Officers Discipline Procedures Act. Basically, it lists a bazillion types of protections that regular cops have if or when anyone, including their bosses, would make a complaint against them. It goes on for a long time and at the end it says that none of the rights given by the statute shall diminish the rights given to the cops in their union contracts”.
Someone exclaims, “Oh great! So cops have two bills of rights that protect them from being punished for any wrong doing they may guilty of but they don’t want our homeless folks to have a bill that simply mandates that homeless people are to be treated like human beings? Give me a break!”
We notice the C.I. staff are scurrying around and cleaning like crazy. Looks like it’s time to head out. An Occupier calls out, “If we hurry we can make it home in time to hear He Who Shall Not Be Named’s State of the Union Address”. We all crack up. Another Occupier opines, “I wouldn’t listen to that psychotic bozo talk about anything!” On that note, we’re off. We plan to be back here and still bitching about rich people and the government next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-16-18

G.A. Minutes 1-16-18
As predicted, winter is back. It’s cold but at least it’s not as cold as those last days of December were. The temperature has been in the single digits above zero during the day; sometimes the sun shines. That helps, but not much.
In the nighttime the lows are in the teens with wind chills of -20 to -30 below. By the way, can human skin tell the difference between -30 and -40 below zero? Hopefully, no one will have to find out. If they do, they probably won’t live to tell about it. As far as we know, no one in the Duluth area has frozen to death, so far, this winter. Many good people work hard to insure that all are adequately sheltered and fed; our government? Not so much.
The first Occupiers and some of the Anonymous crew arrive at Coney Island simultaneously. We shed our winter garb, order food and drinks, push tables together and settle in to wait for others to arrive.
Last Friday, two of the Occupiers and one man from Makwa Camp chained themselves to the metal entry gates of the Wells Fargo Bank in downtown Duluth. This is what is commonly called a lockdown. This action was taken in order to publicize to the general public the fact that Wells Fargo is deeply invested in Enbridge, a Canadian oil pipeline company. Enbridge is currently trying to bribe MN environmental regulators into giving their permission for a tar sands oil pipeline to be built across our clean water and wild rice beds. We say, “It’s not gonna happen. When the pipeline breaks and it will break, our water and wild rice will be polluted and destroyed forever”.
The lockdown action was also taken in order to encourage current Wells Fargo customers to remove their money from the tar sands oil friendly bank and put it in a credit union or somewhere else that doesn’t invest in earth destroying ventures.
The Occupiers and the Makwa man arrived at Wells Fargo early in the morning, just before the bank employees unlocked the big metal gate covering the Wells Fargo entrance. They quickly chained themselves to the gate. An Occupier and the Makwa man chained themselves together and then to the gate; the other Occupier put a chain around his neck and then on to the gate. Many more Water Protectors and their allies, including some of the Anons arrived; they began chanting, drumming and singing. The Wells Fargo employees were not pleased and, of course, called the police.
Shortly, the Duluth police and a lot of reporters and photographers from a wide variety of media outlets arrived. It appeared that at least half of the entire Duluth Police Department was there. Chief Tusken was running around smiling and shaking hands; it appeared that he was trying to keep everyone, including his police officers, calm. The Chief was quoted by a newspaper reporter as saying, when speaking of the protestors, “I actually know most of these people”.
So, the police formed a line against the walls; the Water Protectors and allies walked back and forth in the middle of the skywalk hallway continuing their singing and drumming. Each group appeared to be respecting the other’s space; after a while some guys who were cops or city employees arrived with some tools. This must have been the first lockdown that the DPD had experienced because they didn’t seem to know how to get the chains off the Water Protectors. They ended up cutting out pieces of the gate, helping the Protectors to stand up, telling them that they were being arrested, cuffing them and taking them down the hall and out to the squad cars.
They took the Occupier/Water Protector with the chain around his neck out first; he still had the chain around his neck. Next were the Occupier/Water Protector and the Makwa Water Protector with their arms still chained together. Each time a Water Protector was hauled off to jail the crowd would cheer, thanking them for their bravery and promising to come and get them as soon as their bail was posted.
Each time that the mechanical dudes starting sawing the fence, the Protectors and allies would crowd around the chained person’s area to see what was going on. They had their cell phones out and were filming everything. Some of the officers formed a line around the Protector being sawed off the fence; the cops would say, “Back up!” The Protectors would move back a couple of inches. Some of the male Protectors formed a line in front of the crowd of Protectors and their allies. The women stood behind them calling out, “Water is life! No Line 3!” and other things like that. The line of cops and the line of Protectors were facing each other, only a few inches apart.
At one point, a small, probably Caucasian, young man in a hoodie, who no one else seemed to know, began calling out personal insults to the cops. Some of the cops just snapped; they began pushing and grabbing people; one cop put his hand around the front of a woman’s neck. Everyone was yelling, telling the cops to stop; after a few minutes they did. They returned to just standing up real straight and looking stone faced. Then, as if following some invisible order, they all marched single file out of the skywalk.
At that moment, one of our organizer friends came down the escalator with a big stack of take-out pizza boxes. The boxes were passed around and everyone remaining ate their fill of pizza.
The Occupier who was chained with the Makwa man is present at our meeting. He reports, “So when we got to the jail we did the escape trick we were taught and were immediately released from our chains. They put us in a holding cell that was really crowded and told us they were going to keep us for 12 hours.
“After about 3 and a half hours they came and took us out. A captain told us we were being released on our own recognizance and that he was releasing us early because he didn’t want us to be put out when it was really dark outside. I wonder if he treats all of his captives in this same manner. So what happens next is that we go to court and defend ourselves, maybe we will have an attorney. We’re going to ask for a jury trial and use the ‘necessity defense’ “.
An Anon asks, “What’s the necessity defense?” The heroic Occupier answers, “It’s when you tell the judge and jury that you had to do something unlawful in order to prevent something that is very dangerous and evil from happening to the planet and the people. This defense has already been accepted in several court cases in our nation. The more it is used, the more it will become accepted”.
An Occupier comments, “Man, I am so proud and grateful to you and our other Occupier for putting your bodies on the line to protect our clean water and our manoomin (wild rice). I’m betting that because of all the horrid and illegal abuse by the police and their hirelings against the Water Protectors at Standing Rock and because of all the nationwide attention their abuse received, Chief Tusken wants his officers to present a more humane face. The problem is that Tusken is a new Chief; very few cops on the force were trained in by him. Many of the old cops have a difficult time acting like normal human beings”.
On a different note, an Occupier says, “I hear that the Water Protector who had his toe amputated is back at Makwa Camp. He appears to be walking o.k.” Another Occupier remarks, “Oh good, I’m glad to hear that. We need to go out there again soon”.
The Occupier, who promised to do the research, reports “I’m sorry to say that He Who Walks In A Coma is the person who died. I’m told that he went home to his family and died in the family home. He was only in his early 50s”. Another Occupier sighs, “That’s really sad. I think we are going to miss him; he was such a normal part of the scene. Even though he was usually blind drunk, he never drank when he sat around our fire and was always peaceful and kind”.
The Anons are still collecting warm clothes, blankets, sleeping bags and anything else that will be useful to folks in need. They call it Operation Safe Winter. Several of the Occupiers have been able to gather a fair amount of these things and are ready to pass them on to the Anons. This evening is cold and there’s too much stuff for the young guys to carry home. A member of an Occupier couple suggests, “Why don’t you all come over to our house after the meeting and we can hang around for a while, then we can gather up all the stuff, put it in my trunk and I’ll drive you all home. The Anons think that’s a good idea.
An Anon comments, “There’s getting to be a lot more people moving into Makwa Camp now; they need blankets, sleeping bags and winter clothing. We’re going to take some of the winter stuff out there as soon as we can hitch a ride”.
Another Anon tells us, “When we were driving home after the Wells Fargo action last Friday, the cops were waiting for us at my house. There were at least 3 squads; my mom was driving and they said she was speeding. She wasn’t speeding; she was driving up the icy hill. One has to really step on it when trying to drive up these hills when they’re covered with ice; the cops know that. I think we’re going to get a lot more police harassment from now on”.
Yesterday, on Martin Luther King’s Birthday Anniversary, at the big rally at the DECC, the NAACP presented Occupy Duluth with a Drum Major for Peace Award. When we had to go up on the stage we brought the Anons with us. The Occupiers generally like to fly under the radar but it was gratifying to be recognized for the work that we do. We’ve heard that the award was given to us because of our recreational fires and because of the fact that we don’t try to publicize ourselves. Sweet. MLK Day was a very pleasant day for us but now………it’s time to get back to work. There is much to be done.
An Occupier groans, “I’m having some really annoying computer problems. My computer keeps kicking me out and making me go through the whole reboot and sign in process again, over and over. Just doing simple things takes forever; I guess I’ll have to call an IT person”. Another Occupier adds, “There’s definitely a computer virus going around. I’ve heard a lot of people complaining about it”.
An Anon informs us, “I think there were a few infiltrators at the Wells Fargo event. I noticed a few people in the crowd that seemed to want to incite violence. There’s a one hour video of the event going around. (Almost everyone at the meeting has watched the video). If you watch the end where our friend comes down the escalator you will see a guy take some of the boxes from him and start passing pizza out. That guy, who we don’t actually know, has come to talk to us several times in the last month or so. He always tries to talk us into doing something violent. We tell him no, we’re not going for it.”
Another Anon reports, “There’s going to be some training for medics out at Makwa soon. There’s a real need for medics out there. An Occupier tells him, “I’ve been a nurse for over 30 years. I’m so old that I can’t walk much but I can do triage. My brain still works pretty well”. We all laugh and she continues, “Just let me know when they’re going to have the trainings and I’ll try hard to be there”.
We’ve pretty much talked ourselves out and it’s time for Coney Island to close. We pack everyone into several vehicles and head over to the Occupiers house to gather up all the winter gear. We plan to return to Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-9-18

G.A. Minutes 1-9-18
We are all in very good moods tonight as we stroll into Coney Island. That’s because we appear to be in the middle of the “winter thaw” that we have been dreaming about. The temperatures have been in the 20s and 30s above zero for a few days now and the weather people say we have a few more days left before we go back to serious winter again.
As of right now, the old folks are feeling a lessening of their various aches and pains, the young folks can wear their stylish clothes again without risking frostbite and the folks in the middle don’t have to deal with their little children crying because their parents have bundled them up so much that they can barely move. The homeless ones are still homeless though; that hasn’t changed. During the thaw they’ll still be uncomfortable without a place of their own to sleep in but they probably won’t freeze to death, for a few days at least.
A small group from the Anonymous crew rolls up shortly after the Occupiers arrive. We have no need to peel off layer after layer of arctic wear this evening; a winter hat and coat are all that is required.
As the Anons push some tables together, their youngest member strikes up a conversation with the only other customer in the restaurant. The customer appears to be a middle aged, working class, Caucasian man. The customer informs the Anon that he (the customer) is a big fan of the online group Cop Watch. Mr. Customer is also opposed to sulfide mining in general, any other mining in MN watersheds and pipeline expansion in MN Native American ceded territories. The guy even knows what net neutrality is and is of course in favor of keeping it. I guess now is the time to drop the old cliché, “you can’t judge a book by its cover”. Anyway, Mr. Customer and the Anon carry on an interesting dialog until the man gets a phone call and has to leave. If we run into him again, we’ll ask him to join us.
The Anons report their Operation Safe Winter warm clothing giveaway last Friday went well; they tell us that when given a bunch of clean, warm socks, one of our street friends was close to tears. They’re planning to hold a giveaway again this upcoming Friday. In other news, Operation Safe Winter even has a Facebook page.
An Anon states, “You know, there’s one female cop who we see every time we do any type of action in or around the Skywalk. It appears that she also works security for Enbridge during her off hours. Whenever we ask her for her name and badge number, she refuses to give to us. I even have a video of her refusing to tell me her basic information and then walking away. I think there’s a law that says all cops have to provide that basic information when asked by a citizen to do so”.
An Occupier replies, “You’re right; there is a law stating that police officers must provide that basic information when asked to do so. If you have a video of that particular cop refusing, then there’s something that can be done about it. The next meeting of the Citizens Review Board will happen on Wednesday, January 24th, 5pm in Room 303 in City Hall. I always go to the CRB meetings; they can be boring but I like to keep abreast of the goings on in Law Enforcement Land.
Anyway, you guys can go with me or I can present the situation on your behalf. You can file a complaint if you’d like. I recommend you file one; it won’t change the world right away but I know the Duluth Police Department administration keeps long term records on all of their officers. Every year they put out a report showing all the officers who had complaints filed against them, how many were filed on each officer and other relevant things. Complaints affect the cop’s promotions and stuff like that. Cops don’t like to get in trouble with their bosses; after a few months you may find that when you ask that particular cop for her basic information, she will give it to you”.
The Occupier who is currently attending college arrives; once he gets settled, he tells us that he received his final grades for 2017. It seems he’s made the A honor roll. We congratulate him; he says, “Those grades should help me when I apply for financial aid grants”.
Changing the subject the college Occupier asks, “Did you hear that it snowed in the Sahara Desert today?” We say, “You’ve got to be kidding!” He replies, “Nope, it probably happened during the night when dessert temperatures drop down; it melted a few hours after the sun came up. Climate change is a bitch”.
The Anons are gathering up their gear in preparation for a couple hours of decorating the downtown area. As they are leaving, they remind us about the Makwa Camp Support event coming up on Saturday, January 13th, 5”30pm-10pm at the Central Hillside Community Center. We respond, “We’ll see you there”.
An Occupier sighs, “I think I saw something that said He Who Walks In A Coma has died. I can’t remember where I saw it”. Another Occupier exclaims, “No! I sure hope that’s not true. The last time I saw him was at one of our final fires of the year. He appeared to be completely sober; in all the years that we’ve known him, I’d never seen him sober. He could even talk. I’ll do some research and let you all know what I find”.
An Occupier says to the Occupier who always reports stuff, “I’ve forgotten what you told us about all the Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration events. Please refresh my memory”. The reporting Occupier answers, “Sure, Mayor’s Reception on Thursday the 11th, 6pm at AICHO, Rhythm & Hues, Friday the 12th 5:30pm for dinner with the performance at 7pm at Peace Church, Youth Nation on Saturday the 13th noon – 4pm at Denfeld H.S., Inter-Faith Worship Service, Sunday 5pm at First Presbyterian Church and then the Community Breakfast on Monday the 15th (Dr. King’s actual birthday) 7:30am at Holy Family Catholic Church followed by the march leaving Washington Center at 11am and arriving at the DECC by noon for the rally”.
The reporting Occupier then asks, “Does anybody know anything about a Women’s March that’s supposed to happen in Duluth on January 20th?” Another Occupier opines, “Well, I’ve heard there’s going to be one but that’s about all I know. I imagine it will be one of those feel good, show our strength in numbers events with no organized follow through; I’d be willing to try to find out more and report back to everyone”. We say, “Miigwitch”.
An Occupier remarks, “I’ve been doing more research about the Dominion Theory of Man vs Nature. I found an English translation of the original words of the Bible in the early Hebrew language. There is no mention of dominion at all. It translates into nurture, watch over, care for etc.; which is exactly what I suspected”. Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, it’s pretty much common sense. You take care of Mother Earth and She will take care of you.
“In other environmental news, the MN Pollution Control Agency denied the MinnTech variances today. Basically, I think that means they’re not going to let MinnTech pollute our water over the sulfide limit like they’ve been doing for so many years. If MinnTech wants to continue mining, they’re going to have to conform to the current sulfide standard. Of course, MinnTech is really pissed off; they think they’re being treated unfairly. They warn that the denial means that other mining companies that want to open mines in MN will have to comply with the current standards too. What a bunch of dumb fucks.
“Also, last Saturday an Iranian oil tanker collided with a Chinese cargo ship in the South China Sea. A huge oil spill resulted; the tanker was carrying the type of oil that floats on top of the water and is highly flammable. There’s a huge fire burning even as we speak and rescuers are concerned that the oil tanker will explode; if it does, it will spill the type of oil that is heavier and more difficult to deal with. When will they ever learn?”
An Occupier queries, “Does anyone know what Bitrot means?” Another Occupier explains, “Yeah, it means that computer disks will dissolve in about 30 years. Of course, that means that all the information on the disk will be gone too”. The first Occupier responds, “Oh great, I suppose they’ll have to stop teaching history and stuff; they’ll have to just make things up”. Someone adds, “I think they already do that”. We all laugh.
On that note, we check the clock and see that it’s time to leave. We gather up our things, leave tips and go out the door. The Occupiers who don’t have vehicles prefer to walk home tonight. We all expect to be back at Coney Island, probably on a much colder night, next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-2-18

G.A. Minutes 1-2-18
We’re back at Coney Island …. finally. We took 2 weeks for “Winter Break” although we didn’t take a break from participation in our local activist community. We attended several meetings and actions directed by some of our local, radical partners in crime. We also held a Christmas Day get together at one of the Occupier couple’s homes.
When we reminisce about our attempt to have a fire circle in the backyard of the couple’s home on Christmas Day we crack up at ourselves. The weather people told us that it was going to be well below zero with a wind chill factor of -40, we said, “No problem; we can handle it”. In reality, we could not handle it; it was so damn cold that we thought we were going to die. We told all the folks who were invited that the fire would go from noon til 4pm; we only lasted until 2:30p. We all dressed like we were in the Arctic Circle; some of us even wrapped warm blankets over our arctic wear. Even then, it was too cold.
No worries though, we spent a pleasant day and into the night in a warm, comfortable apartment with plenty of good food, music and conversation. We decided not to have a regular meeting at Coney Island the next day, December 26th, as we were staying up late on Christmas Night and the elders among us were exhausted from all the extra work required during the holiday season. Many of us spent the day after Christmas just sleeping in.
We’ve been living in the “Arctic Circle” for over a week now. Temperatures haven’t been above zero and the wind chill factor varies each day between -30 and -40. The weather people say we’ll need to endure this miserable cold for a few more days with expected highs and lows slightly above zero by Saturday. Just trying to keep warm takes a lot of extra energy even though we all have heated homes and vehicles or access to public transportation. We can’t imagine what it must be like for our homeless ones. Every hour is a fight for bare survival; night time is the worst. If one is unable to find a safe hidden spot in one of the parking ramps, an abandoned building or maybe a basement door somewhere that has been left open they will have to stay awake and moving all night long in order to prevent freezing to death. Every winter some of our homeless ones do freeze to death.
Most of the Occupiers attended the CHUM vigil for all the homeless people who died this past year. An Occupier comments, “I still can’t wrap my head around the fact that Ms. Community Cleanup is dead. I think I will grieve for her for a long time”. Another Occupier agrees, “I know; she was so young. I found out that she was 33 years old; that’s still too young. I was told by someone who was with her in the hospital that although she was in a coma, she opened her eyes and with a big smile on her face, she looked around the room at everyone who was there and then she passed.
“The Main Homeless Outreach Worker told me that they would wait until March to hold a memorial service for Ms. Cleanup because that’s when her partner will return. I didn’t ask where Her Partner was but I assume he’s in treatment or in jail. The last time I saw him he was talking and acting like a normal person; he told me that he’d been sober for 100 days”.
Another Occupier reports, “In order to get all the bad news over all at once, do you all remember when I told you about the diabetic Water Protector from Makwa Camp who was staying at our organizer friend’s house?” We remember. “Well, I’m sorry to report that he had to get his big toe amputated. He’s down in The Cities now, recuperating at his family’s house. I never did get a chance to talk with him again since I went to take a look at his feet but I thought he was a very committed Water Protector; I think he’ll return to camp once he’s healed. Losing a big toe will affect his balance somewhat but once he learns to accommodate that and if he takes care of his health, he’ll be able to fight many more battles”. Someone adds, “I didn’t have the pleasure of meeting the injured Protector but the Anons know him and say he’s a really good dude”.
There is probably magic in the air because just as their name is mentioned, a fairly good sized group of the Anonymous crew rolls in. As the crew is getting settled, an Occupier gives one of them a good winter coat that she found in the back of her closet. An Anon says to an Occupier, “We want to go down to Lake Place Plaza in the early afternoon on Friday and bring a table to put all our warm clothes on and also our sound system so we can play good music to liven up the place. We’re wondering if you would be willing to haul everything down there with your truck. We have someone who will give us a ride back when we’re done”.
The Occupier replies, “Sure, that’s doable. I’ll need you all to help me unload some of the fire circle stuff so we can fit your stuff in. How about I pick you guys up around noon on Friday and then we go and unload the truck and go back and load up your stuff?” The Anon exclaims, “That would be great! Thanks”.
Some of the Anons and an Occupier are going out to Makwa Camp tomorrow. They intend to help out with the physical labor wherever they are needed. An Anon opines, “I hope they ask us to chop wood; I love doing that”. An Occupier concurs, “When I was young and able I loved chopping wood too. Once you get that rhythm going it becomes kinda like a meditation”. As the Anon looks at her, he breaks into a big smile; his eyes twinkle and he says, “Yeah, I know”.
An Occupier asks, “So, does everyone want to go to Marxmas on Saturday? The Anons respond in unison, “Yes!” Most of the Occupiers plan on attending too. An Anon sheepishly reports, “Of course, we’ll need a ride” The Occupier assures, “I can fit 4 peeps in my car. If there’s more than that, I’ll make 2 trips. Everyone who wants to attend will be able to”. The Occupiers attend Marxmas every year; this year will be the first time the Anons do so.
Marxmas is an annual event sponsored by Socialist Action that is held at Solidarity House in Superior. Much of the preparation for the occasion is the work of our friend, a feminist organizer, artist, writer, educator and domestic violence shelter worker. She creates marvelous food around an annual theme and we play parlour games that are centered on the same theme. This year’s theme is Party Like It’s 1917. The Russian Revolution began in 1917. Most of the games have an intellectual bend to them; we look forward to this party every year.
An Occupier questions the Occupier who is a member of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition, “So how did your action with The Holy Family go last Thursday?” The Coalition Occupier tells him, “It went well and it was also a lot of fun. It was primarily an event for the media; we all dressed up like angels or shepherds and a woman who had been pregnant and homeless until Loaves N Fishes found a place for her in one of their houses, played the part of Mary. She gave birth to her baby about a month ago so the baby played Jesus; one of the LNF guys was Joseph. Mary gave a speech about how, when she was homeless, she was terrified that the hospital social workers would take her baby from her if they found out that she was homeless.
“I think all the major media were there plus a few from alternative media. I’m told that we were featured on all the local TV news programs. Our plan was to send a shout out for homeless people and to also send a message to the type of area Christians who think they’re following the tenets of their religion but think homeless people are dirty, creepy and lazy and they should just get a job (as if that was an easy thing to do)”.
An Occupier asks everyone, “Has anyone seen the locally made documentary entitled “The Secret to Being Black in Duluth”?” A few of the Occupiers have seen it: the Anons have not. Another Occupier remarks, “I have seen it once; I’d love to see it again. It features African American members of our community; some of whom I actually know. The members speak quite frankly about their daily experiences with racism in Duluth. I think everyone who lives in the Twin Ports would benefit from viewing the film”. The first Occupier continues, “Well, the documentary is going to be shown again at U.U. Church on Friday, January 19th at 7pm. Admission is free and everyone is welcome.
“Also, the annual Martin Luther King Birthday Celebration is coming up soon. The NAACP is the main sponsor and MLK events will run from January 11th – 15th. There will be a Mayor’s Reception on Thursday the 11th, 6pm at AICHO, Rhythm & Hues, Friday the 12th 5:30pm for dinner with the performance at 7pm at Peace Church, Youth Nation on Saturday the 13th noon – 4pm at Denfeld H.S., Inter-Faith Worship Service, Sunday 5pm at First Presbyterian Church and then the Community Breakfast on Monday the 15th (Dr. King’s actual birthday) 7:30am at Holy Family Catholic Church followed by the march leaving Washington Center at 11am and arriving at the DECC by noon for the rally”.
Another Occupier adds, “Whew! That’s a lot of events. The city official is the music director for the Inter-Faith Worship Service. If possible, I think we should all be there in order to support his efforts”. Everyone plans to attend as many of the events as possible.
An Anon reports, “Saturday the 13th is also the date for the next Makwa Camp Support Feast, 5:30pm- 10pm at the Central Hillside Community Center”. We all plan to attend and to help out as needed.
An Occupier inquires, “Is Skip still running for 8th CD? We say, “Yes, as far as we know”. The inquiring Occupier responds, “Well, have you ever heard of a woman named Leah Phifer?” Another Occupier replies, “Yeah, kinda. She’s a somewhat progressive who’s trying to get the DFL endorsement for 8th CD. I think she used to work for the FBI; she’s not as progressive as Skip Sandman but more progressive than Rick Nolan. I hope she gets the nomination because a campaign between her and Skip might actually be interesting. Remember, Skip is ex-Navy and then worked as a correctional officer for many years. I’ll be voting for Skip, of course, but it would be nice to not have to hear Nolan’s lyin’ ass anymore”.
It’s close to 8pm, which is Coney Island’s new winter closing hour. We think there were a few customers who came in while we have been talking but probably not enough to justify keeping the place open for another hour. We generally don’t notice much about our surroundings here once we get to conversing; possibly because the surroundings here are really boring. However, we are grateful that the staff welcomes us and doesn’t mind that we push a bunch of tables together and sort of dominate a part of their large space.
Anyway, it’s time to leave; some of the Occupiers and Anons are going to continue the conversation at a private home. None of that conversation will be recorded but if you were to attend one of our meetings, we would invite you to tag along next time. We plan to meet at Coney Island again, next Tuesday.