G.A. Minutes 5-7-19

G.A. Minutes 5-7-19

We are about to hold our first recreational fire of the year at Peoples Plaza this evening. As usual, the Fire Magician and the Occupier who brings most of the food are the first people to arrive. They notice that the big tree planters are blocking the vehicle entryway again; this forces them to park their vehicles up on the sidewalk in order to unload all the fire stuff. The food bringing Occupier exclaims, “Oh for christ sakes! The entryway was left open all winter and there were many vehicles driving on and off the Plaza the whole time we were gone. I suppose the MP+L security goons realized we were due to return soon so they ordered some maintenance workers to put the big planters across the entire entryway. The goons must think they’re still in jr. high”.

The Fire Magician replies, “I know, it’s such a drag that we and most of the rest of the people in the world have to fight tooth and nail to have even a few hours of actual freedom in our lives. I wonder why the Human Rights Commission hasn’t addressed our human rights complaint yet; we been waiting over half a year haven’t we?” The Food Bringing Occupier answers, “I think so, they’re meeting tomorrow evening at City Hall; I plan to attend and I’ll insist that they put our complaint next in line to be dealt with”.

So now, the old and battered Occupiers are faced with the job of hauling a shit ton of stuff up the stairs and across the Plaza. If they have to do it alone, it will take them at least an hour just to get everything over to the fire circle area. Never fear, another Occupier, several Anonymous peeps, the city official and many Water Protectors roll up. With everyone working together things get hauled and set up in about 15 minutes.

The weather is cold, cloudy, misty and kinda miserable. Strong gusts from an annoying east wind aren’t helping either. The Fire Magician gets a roaring fire going; that helps a lot. He also sets up a small charcoal grill which will keep a big pot of homemade tomato-rice and vegetable soup warm. A Water Protector/Anon provides a couple of different and very tasty hotdishes to go with all the usual stuff on the tables. There are deluxe PB+J sandwiches, pickles, chips, cookies and our semi-famous “stay awake forever” coffee. It’s early enough in the month that many homeless and/or street people are still relaxing in inexpensive motels or in some cases, drug houses. The few folks, who may not receive small government checks and are still out on the street, join us for a good meal, the warmth of the fire and the friendly and interesting discussion going on in the fire circle… Sweet.

An Anon reports, “In case you don’t already know, there’s going to be a No Line 3 rally right here tomorrow morning starting at 9 am. There will be an Enbridge shareholders meeting going on tomorrow in Calgary so there will be No Line 3 rallies across northern MN and Canada in all the places that are threatened by the planet-destroying Black Snake. The rally here is sponsored by the Sierra Club, MN 350 or Honor the Earth or maybe all three of them, I’m not sure, but I think it means that a lot of people will show up”. All of the fire-worshipers who are able will be there too.

An Occupier in a chair in the circle that faces the street sighs, “Don’t look now but I think we’re gonna have a replay of May Day”. Some W.P.s and Anons say, “What!?!”. An Occupier mutters under her breath, “Oh, fuck!” A couple of very young guys from the Duluth Fire Department come walking up the stairs; they have water spraying tanks strapped to their backs. The Occupier, who reports and records things, gets up and goes to greet them; in the most friendly manner she can muster she says, “Hey guys, what’s up?” The slightly older firefighter responds with the standard but false statement generally utilized by Duluth government types who have no idea what they’re talking about, “You can’t have a fire in a public park; the Plaza is a public park so you have to put your fire out. If you refuse to put it out then we have to put it out ourselves”.

The recording Occupier attempts to explain, “Actually, what you are saying is just not true. One CAN have a fire in a public park under certain circumstances and our fire complies with all those circumstances. Let me show you a copy of the City ordinance regarding fires”. The fire dude is not interested and tells her, “Let’s just wait until the police get here”. As if on cue, 2 cops arrive. The bigger and older officer is one half of a pair of brothers who are both on the Duluth police force; these brothers are the only African Americans in the DPD so they’re kinda famous. The other cop is a much younger white guy that we sort of recognize. Everyone who for various reasons, does not want to interact with the police, leaves the circle and quickly disappears. The older cop is friendly but still says, “People can’t have fires in public parks”. The explaining Occupier states, “I know that is a DFD policy but it is overridden by the City Ordinance, the MN Statute and the International Fire Codes”. She shows the officer copies of all these things; as they are chatting, the Occupier is surprised to see that the cop appears to actually be listening to her.

The older officer opines, “You know, this is really stupid; you guys aren’t doing anything wrong or causing any trouble. Let me call my lieutenant to see if we can fix this”. He gets on his phone; the recording Occupier turns to go back to the circle and sees that the firefighters have quickly snuck in, put out the fire and left. An Anon remarks, “They probably wanted to get back to the fire station so they could eat their dinner”. The big cop returns, looks around and says, “Wow, it’s really cold now; as soon as we leave just start your fire up again. We won’t be bothering you all anymore tonight”. He tells the younger cop, “Go into the MN Power building and tell the security people that this fire is on City property not MN Power property so they have no jurisdiction. Tell them we don’t like it when people call in frivolous reports”.

The cops leave, the Fire Magician cleans up the mess that the fire dudes made and starts up a fire again. Yes!!! Everyone crowds around it; we were all freezing. As the folks who needed to leave begin to come back again, an Occupier jokes to a couple of returning W.P.s, “The Revolution is over, we won and… YOU MISSED IT!” We all think that’s pretty funny.

A 40 something homeless guy, who has attended our fires regularly over the past few years, inquires, “So what happened on May Day?” Someone replies, “Pretty much the same thing that just happened here except there were a lot more people from all sorts of local progressive groups joining in the celebration. The weather was just as crappy as it is now but we had a good sound system, good music, and a big canopy tent over many tables full of food. Of course, we had our fire and a pot of soup heating on the little grill. Some folks went marching around the neighborhood and upon their return, about 20 Duluth cops and some from the Sheriff’s Department showed up. The lead cop was a real asshole. The recording Occupier agrees, “Yeah, he was definitely an asshole. I had forgotten to bring copies of all the relevant ordinances, statutes and codes but I gave him the appropriate numbers and info so he could look it up on his phone. He refused to do so; I asked him to call a supervisor but he refused to do that either. After asking him about 10 times he finally looked up the City Ordinance but then refused to read or interpret it properly. I hate having to deal with blockheads.

“Anyway, he said, “I really don’t want to issue a citation to anyone so if you guys put out your fire yourselves then I won’t have to give a citation to anyone”. We told him we would not put out the fire so he says, “Well, whose fire is this?” We know that game already; if we say it belongs to everyone (which it does) then the cops say that means it doesn’t belong to anyone and they confiscate it. I was the only Occupier who had never been issued a citation for anything up until then so I said the fire belonged to me. The asshole cop asked for my ID; I said I had to go get it from my car so he follows me all the way there. My ID was in my pack in the trunk and I noticed he was looking in my trunk and inside my vehicle. He didn’t ask to search my vehicle though, which was a good thing because I would have said no and we’d probably still be there arguing right now.

“Officer Asshole kinda changed his tune after he looked at my ID; he was definitely middle-aged but I imagine he noticed that I was 10 or 15 years older than him. He began speaking politely and acting friendly towards me but I couldn’t have cared less, he was still an ignorant jerk in my book. So he goes back to his vehicle to write the citation and I went back to the fire circle. The fire dudes had already put out the fire and left but they didn’t put it out completely and it was starting to flame up. Everyone was standing around in a circle with their backs to the fire; they were trying to shield it so the cops wouldn’t notice that it was still burning. No such luck, one of the cops noticed and they called the firefighters and told them to come back. When they returned a supervisor stood over a young recruit, instructing him exactly how to put out the fire. Hello? I doubt that anyone would need instructions on how to put out our little fire.

After that was done we were all freezing our asses off; the Anons still had their sound system on and a really rocking hip hop tune came on. The singer said ‘fuck’ every once in a while so Officer Asshole turned it off, saying, ‘you can’t play that vulgar language in public’. That caused one of the Anons to blow a gasket, and he said, ‘What about freedom of speech? What about the Constitution?’ The cops just ignored him and started to leave, then Asshole comes back again and I blew a gasket; I scolded him and said, ‘Now what? Whatdaya want now?!?’ He mumbled something and left.

“The rest of us just sat around for a few more hours, freezing ourselves to death because there was no way we were gonna let the cops think they could drop in and spoil our event whenever they felt like it. Some of us came down with colds from sitting in the cold, rainy weather for so long but that’s a small price to pay in order to defend our right to freedom of assembly and all that. I’m gonna take the fucking citation to court, plead not guilty, present all the laws that protect our fire and see what happens. I’ve already turned in a request to view Asshole’s body cam footage and I’ll file a complaint with the Citizen’s Review Board too. The so-called ‘powers that be’ are not gonna get off easy this time. So anyway, that’s what happened on May Day”.

Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, May Day was quite a fiasco this year. I had to go pick up my kids so couldn’t stay around for the freeze your ass off part but damn! There sure were a lot of cops that day; most of them were just standing around sorta not knowing exactly why they were there. It was only Officer Asshole running around trying to make a big deal outa nothing.

“I wasn’t able to make the 1 Year Anniversary of the Husky Oil Refinery Explosion and Fire event; how did it go?” A W.P. states, “It went really well, a good bunch of people showed up at the former Enbridge building that’s across the street from the jail and County Court House in Superior. Winona LaDuke was there too with the big Honor the Earth decorated bus and many HTE folks. The local media was there and some of us gave speeches and interviews about how Husky needs to get rid of that hydrogen fluoride tank and replace it with something safe”. An Anon interjects, “Better yet, they should close down the refinery and get the hell offa our land!” The W.P. agrees, “For real. So once the rally was over everyone took various modes of transportation out to a boat landing in East End; I think it was on the Nemadji river. It was nice and quiet; the Occupiers had a fire going and some food and coffee. Peeps from the Honor House showed up with a big pot of soup and a chocolate cake; one of our good traditional friends from the Fond du Lac Rez brought a bunch of tipi poles and showed everyone how to put them up and take them down.

“After a while one cop showed up but he was acting all laid back and chill”. An Occupier concurs, “He was, wasn’t he? I went over to chat with him; he was a sergeant or something. He said that he got a frantic call from his supervisors demanding that he get out to the boat landing right away to see what we were up to. He told me, ‘I don’t see what the big deal is; you guys have a rally or something, speak your mind to get your message across and hopefully get on TV then you leave and go on about your business and we go on about our business too’. He went on to tell me about members of his family who had worked for Husky or Enbridge and then came down with serious illnesses. Apparently, anyone who gets a job working hands-on for Enbridge has to sign a waiver promising not to sue Enbridge after they retire. Most of the retirees come down with some rare and deadly type of cancer within a few years of retiring. He also confided, ‘I’ve noticed that all the Enbridge people are just TERRIFIED of you guys’. As he left he said, ‘A lot of people are gonna be really pissed about you guys being here. After all, this is where the teenagers come to have sex’.

Everyone laughs. The Occupier who reports things reports, “They’ve finally officially decided when the Naming Ceremony for Gitchii O’de Akiing Park is gonna be. Friday, May 31st at 1 pm; I still don’t know if they want us to bring our fire or not. I’ll find out in plenty of time to be ready, I hope”.

It’s getting late and we think we should pack up; tomorrow morning at 9 am will arrive very soon. Some of us live a little ways outside of Duluth and will sleep over at the houses of those of us who live nearby so as to make it to the event at the Plaza on time.

We start packing up; once the fire is put out, we realize just how really flipping cold it is outside. So even though most of us are already tired, the cold air gets us moving quickly. We expect to be back at Peoples Park next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 4-16-19

G.A. Minutes 4-16-19

It comes as no big surprise to us that we had one last (hopefully) blizzard before spring truly kicked in this year. The Great White North played host to around 5 inches of new snow during the middle of last week. Wonderful. The entire city shut down for at least 24 hours; driving or walking around was a complete mess for at least 2 days. However, temperatures remained in the +20s and as far as we know, none of our homeless ones froze to death. An Occupier couple reported that once it became possible to see out the windows again, they saw a big, fat robin sitting on a snow covered branch. They said, “The poor little guy was sitting completely motionless with a small pile of snow on his head; he didn’t look very happy”.

This evening, when the first Occupiers, Water Protectors and Anonymous crew arrive at Coney Island, it’s still light out, the sky is clear, temperatures are in the upper 40s with little wind. The snow has melted on all the sidewalks and streets and much of the ground too; the only white stuff left is in the big piles the snowplows left when they plowed the streets and every day those piles get smaller. So that means only one thing; spring has actually arrived for sure now. That’s true isn’t it? Well, ISN’T IT?

We all say hi to the staff guys, place food and drink orders and head to the back of the large restaurant; we find the research activist, one of her friends and an Anon waiting for us. Once we get settled, a Water Protector quires, “So what did you all think about the Say No to Hate event at the Central Hillside Community Center last Saturday evening?” Everyone thinks it was a good starting event and we hope that all the genuine caring and good energy that was present at CHCC a few days ago, will turn into effective concrete action. An Occupier comments, “It was decided by general consensus that there would be another No Hate meeting this upcoming Saturday. All the attendees were supposed to receive an email telling us what time this next meeting would be starting; has anyone heard anything yet?” We all say, “Nope”.

About a week and a half ago, a white supremacist (s) put posters advertising a national white supremacist group all over a park just outside of downtown Duluth. Once the word of this insult got around the Twin Ports area, most people of color and many so-called white people were quite upset. Hence, the creation of the “Say No to Hate” event. This despicable white supremacist ideology has plagued the world for over 500 years; it serves as one of the tools used by the 1% to keep various groups of people divided from each other. The concept of white supremacy is deeply ingrained in American culture and present in many parts of the world. White supremacy is ingrained in American institutions, sometimes in ways so subtle that most so-called white folks don’t even notice; most people of color do notice though.

So anyway, this is not the first time white supremacy has challenged our city. This is not the first time that well-meaning community members have gathered together to try to address the issue. In the past, community members have held a couple of meetings, then the leaders get involved in other things, meetings fall to the wayside and the so-called white folks just go back to their daily lives; white supremacy gets put on the back burner until the next racist incident occurs.

People of color don’t have the option of putting white supremacy on the back burner; racism is continuously present in their daily lives. During the Say No to Hate meeting, a person of color said to the predominately white group, “We want you all to take care of this. You know ‘your people’ better than we do besides, we’re tired; we deal with this stuff all the time and it takes a toll both physically and emotionally on us. We need you all to step up”.

The Occupiers, Anons and Water Protectors all hope that the aforementioned community members do step up; we will assist them. We know we can’t take the lead, our plates are already full; also, a lot of the so-called white community members and some of the people of color are afraid of us. They’ve watched or read too much of the major media’s misinformation and lies about us. If we tried to take the lead, the only people who would show up would be the people who know and work with us already. We continuously do anti-racist work between the white and persons of color in our groups already. White supremacy needs to be eradicated throughout our community and throughout the world.

An Occupier remarks, “While we’re on the subject of racism, did you all hear about the hockey riot on Saturday night?” Some of us have heard, others have not. The Occupier continues, “Well, the UMD hockey team won some sort of important hockey game on Saturday night and the fans were very happy about it. They began to take over parts of Canal Park, they were extremely noisy and rowdy. The Duluth Police Department closed down the street for about an hour, somebody knocked over a big light pole and one person was arrested for being drunk. That’s it; the cops did not put on their riot gear”.

Another Occupier reports, “I saw some of those rioters that night; I stayed after the No Hate meeting to help the main organizer clean up. I went out on the back porch to have a smoke; I heard, then saw, a large group of well dressed, white, jock type young men stomping down the sidewalk on the upper side of E 4th St. They were obviously drunk and hollering about what bitches women are. I dipped into the shadows so they wouldn’t see and possibly target me. I had no idea what they were about but thought it very strange to see such a sight in our neighborhood. It’s a good thing they didn’t wake up any of the neighbors; they may have had some real trouble then”. We all laugh and the Occupier continues, “When I gave the main organizer a ride home about a half an hour later we came across another large group of young, white guys doing the same type of thing. That’s when I found out about the hockey game”.

A Water Protector tells us, “They were over east in my mom’s neighborhood too. She said they were tipping over garbage cans and making a general mess. She turned off all her lights and stayed quietly hidden in her house hoping they didn’t come into her yard. She said this was not the first time the young hockey fans rioted”.

The first Occupier states, “There’s actually a moral to this story, see if you can guess what it is. So I heard this story from sort of a big shot woman who holds a leading position in one of our city’s most important NGOs; I’ve observed this woman’s work for several years now and I have no reason to believe she would tell me anything that wasn’t true. Anyway, she said that a few days before or after the hockey riot event, there was a problem up at Woodland Hills (a local company that provides residential and so-called correctional services for so-called delinquent teenage boys from all over the state. These boys are, more often than not, children of color). A couple of the boys were fighting and the DPD was called; 21 cops showed up! Once the fighting was over the cops charged one guy with “inciting a riot”. So what do you think is the moral of this story?” An Anon exclaims, “That Duluth police officers and a large part of the people who live in Duluth are racist as fuck?!?” The storytelling Occupier smiles and says, “Very good; you may go to the head of the class”. We all laugh.

The smokers go out for a break and while they are outside, a group of 5 or 6 young people come over to talk with them. The young ones appear to be an equal mix of males and females and are dressed in the same casual manner that most of the innocent kids in our neighborhood prefer. They tell us they are on a Scavenger Hunt and wonder if we can help them. First off, they need a quarter which a Water Protector promptly produces; they just need to take a picture of the quarter with their cell phone. Next, they need a 1978 penny; the smokers dig through their pockets and coin purses. They find plenty of pennies but none from 1978. The smokers and the youngsters go inside and ask the rest of the group; the staff guys even empty the stash of pennies from the cash register. No luck. Among the hundreds of pennies that all the adults produce, there is not one from 1978. The kids go off down the street; an Occupier opines to another, “There must be something different about pennies made in 1978; they’re probably a collector’s item”.

Somebody asks, “So it might be time to start up our recreational fires at Peoples Plaza again pretty soon, doncha think?” The Fire Magician responds, “Yeah, you’re probably right; I drove past the Plaza yesterday and noticed that almost all the snow has melted. The vehicle entryway is completely open too. We don’t have enough firewood to last for the whole season but we have enough for a start. Our wood people have more wood for us but they live up north in the woods and there’s still so much snow there that they can’t get their splitter and all the other stuff out of the garage. Let’s get through the Husky Rally in Superior on April 27th and the May Day event at the Plaza on May 1st and then we can focus on starting up our fires”. We say, “Sounds like a plan”.
A few of our Water Protector friends tried to hold a Water Walk somewhere in Michigan; it didn’t turn out very well. They were very innocently attempting to carry a vessel of water while walking and praying for the recovery and health of Lake Superior and of water everywhere. When they began to walk on the sidewalk of a big bridge, they were surrounded by a bunch of Michigan cops, cuffed and put in jail. They stayed in jail for a couple of days while we and other allies rushed around trying to gather money for their bail.

They’re all out now but they’re charged with all sorts of ridiculous, felonious things. They’ll be stuck going back and forth to court for months and months and it will cost a lot zhoon (money). It’s quite unfair seeing as all the charges are false and they weren’t doing anything wrong or even illegal. We think they were just in a very redneck area while looking like hippies. Are they terrorists? Well, no…… A terrorist hippie is a very rare thing indeed.

On the other hand, a Water Walk is a thing that is supposed to be sanctioned by the elders of the Water Walker’s tribe. The route is carefully planned and allies living along it are notified that the Walker should be passing through around some particular time. There’s lots of other stuff that we don’t know about that must also be done. We don’t think that our Indigenous friends and other allies made all the proper preparations before starting off. Of course, we will try to help them throughout their ordeal but we think it just goes to showya, real Indigenous ceremonies have a lot of power so their protocols should be seriously followed.

The Occupier who lives in Superior tells us, “I think I’m gonna be on the local TV news later tonight or tomorrow. I went to that open house sponsored by Husky Oil earlier; I brought my oldest son with me; we’re both scientifically inclined and the reporters interviewed us both. I wanted to say something about our despicable mayor but I had no way to fit it in”. An Anon/WP wonders, “So what’s up with your mayor?” The Occupier explains, “Our mayor, Jim Paine, really betrayed us. After last year’s explosion he issued a demand that Husky Oil remove its hydrogen fluoride tank and replace it with a chemical that has been proven to be much safer. He’s recently changed his tune; he and Husky cut a deal whereby the City of Superior receives a certain amount of money for each gallon or some other measurement of oil that Husky pumps out of its refinery. The total payment promised comes to at least a million dollars”. We think that means Jim Paine puts a value of one million dollars upon the lives of the more than 100,000 people in the Twin Ports that will be killed when the hydrogen fluoride tank explodes. That doesn’t include all the trees, plants, earth, birds and animals that will also be toast. WTG, Jim.

The lights flash off and on again. Time to go; we pack everything up, including the 3 little girls who are becoming regular attendees at these Coney Island soirees. They have been so intent coloring and sculpting that we almost forgot they were here.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 4-2-19

G.A. Minutes 4-2-19

It appears we are being freed of dangerous icy sidewalks and streets, 6-foot high snow banks that are close to impossible to see or climb over and freezing temperatures that keep those of us who have homes, trapped in them until the cabin fever makes us desperate enough to risk contracting hypothermia. We are all hoping and/or praying that this thing (aka winter) will pass early this year. It will be very good to have April showers bringing May flowers for once.

When the first Occupiers and an activist walk through the front door at Coney Island this evening they see a very large group of people sitting at all the tables in the midsection of the space. An Occupier exclaims, “Wow! I wonder who all is here; I was thinking we weren’t gonna have hardly anyone at tonight’s meeting”. Upon closer inspection, they realize the large group is a working-class family celebrating someone’s birthday. In the very back of the restaurant, where the Occupiers and their accomplices usually sit, they spy just two Anonymous/Water Protectors waiting for them. They expect that a few others will roll in as the meeting progresses.

When everyone has ordered their food and settled in, an Occupier asks, “So what did you all think of the Ende Gelande event last night?” Ende Gelande means Just Stop in German. All who are present this evening were also present at the event which featured some organizers from Germany, who were participating in a Resistance Tour throughout the U.S. The activist, who was one of the lead organizers of the event, comments, “I hope it went well; I was doing the childcare so didn’t get to participate”.

A Water Protector responds, “Things did go well and I learned a lot but I think our situations are different. They organize one or two gigantic events a year while we organize three or more small events each month. The German organizers are focused solely on stopping coal mines while we’re focused on pipelines, sulfide mining, murdered and missing Indigenous women and relatives, anti-capitalism and lending support to other like-minded groups. However, both of our groups definitely are into stopping the plundering of Mother Earth, fighting against climate change and saving the planet for at least the next seven generations. Despite our differences, we are all on the same page”.

An Occupier adds, “I thought it was way cool how they were amazed at our concept of being connected or part of the land where we live. The German dude said they and all the people who they organize to come and block the passageways of coal mines are from the cities; they are fighting for clean water and air and to halt climate change but the thought that they are connected to the actual land that they live on just never occurred to them”. An Anon agrees, “Yeah and he said they will never be able to use words like Mother Earth because they’re too close to words like Fatherland and Motherland and their horrifying history with Hitler and such. I hope they come back again someday; they’re pretty interesting peeps”.

The Occupier who reports things reports, “Speaking of organizing, these guys (she nods toward the Anons and the activist) are organizing an anti-Husky Oil Refinery event in Superior on Saturday, April 27th. An Anon also reports, “Right, we’ll start at 4:30 pm by rallying in front of the Douglas County Court House (Hammond Ave and Belknap St) then march through town and over to the boat landing on the Nemadji River for a feast at 7 pm. The main focus of the event will be the hydrogen fluoride gas tank that Husky is unwilling to remove from the refinery site and replace with something safer. I mean, wholly shit! If that hydrogen fluoride tank explodes like it almost did last year, the entire Twin Ports area would be blasted into smithereens in a matter of minutes. Our signs will say stuff like No Husky, No Hydrogen Fluoride Gas”. We all plan to participate in the event.

An Occupier informs us, “I joined in with a bunch of peeps from Natives Against Heroin last Sunday for a cleanup of some of the Central Hillside neighborhood. We had about 20 folks from the neighborhood; some of the N.A.H. folks from Minneapolis and the Fond du Lac Rez came up to help too. It turned out to be kind of a fun afternoon. The activist asks, “Did you find a lot of used needles?” The cleanup Occupier tells him, “I didn’t find any but others found some; I was working at the intersection of W 4th St and 1st Ave W which generally is covered with them. I think the Needle Exchange people were out around that area a day or two before our cleanup but I bet that if I went there tomorrow, syringes will have accumulated again. A WP sighs, “That is so sad”. The Occupier continues, “Yeah I know, this opioid epidemic destroys the lives of addicts and non-addicts alike. Anyway, so once the cleanup was done I stayed and hung out in the parking lot with some of the Native folks. The men were cracking me up; the initials for Natives Against Heroin are NAH/nah. They had some signs and T-shirts that said Just say nah; you know, like Nancy Reagan’s sorry ass slogan of Just Say No. They’re going to do another cleanup soon; I’d advise you all to come and help because it’s helpful for the neighborhood and fun too”. Another WP adds, “I was there too; the weather was so warm and beautiful. I was sorry that I had to leave early”.

The reporting Occupier has more to report, “The date for the Gitchie-ode Akiing Park Naming Ceremony has been changed to Saturday, May 18th starting at noon or 1 pm. I’m betting the weather will be real nice by then”. The activist cautions, “I sure hope so; it’s always a problem trying to have outdoor events because there’s never a guarantee that it won’t rain. Fortunately, John LaForge is going to allow me to borrow that gigantic tent of his for the Naming Ceremony and for May Day too”. We all say, “Cool”.

Someone reminds us, “Well, the City is gonna start major street repairs on April 8th which will probably continue until just before winter starts again. There’s a big sign outside of the Electric Fetus that says repairs begin on April 8th; I wonder how that’s gonna affect our ability to get in and out of Gitchie-ode Akiing and Peoples Plaza. An Occupier who lives in Greysolon Plaza tells her, “There’s an identical sign outside of my building at Superior St and 3rd Ave E. I think that they’ll be working from just east of Lake Ave to 3rd Ave E. The Plaza should be no problem and there’s a back entrance to Gitchie-ode Akiing; I haven’t checked it out yet but I will”.

An Anon exclaims, “I am so excited for May Day!” We are all excited but we know there’s going to be a lot of work needed over the next month or so to make it happen. The older folks are hoping the youngbloods in the assemblage will step up and take charge: the gray-haired ones are best at maintaining the fire and the food. That said, the Anons and the activist move into a separate booth to discuss May Day plans and duties.
The rest of us get into a discussion about the many new anti-protest laws being proposed across the country, especially in states that have new pipelines about to start construction. We are still deep in conversation so everyone agrees to head over to a private home. The lights all politely flash off and on and we take our cue.

Of course, we expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-19-19

G.A. Minutes 3-19-19

It appears that spring may be arriving early this year; the temperatures have been in the high 30s-low 40s for the last week or so. The snow is melting, even the gigantic piles of it are shrinking. Most people have shed their arctic gear and have switched to spring/autumn attire. It’s definitely abnormal weather for the month of March.

When the first Occupiers, activists, Water Protectors and Anonymous crew arrive at Coney Island, someone remarks, “Wow! This weather just rocks; if it keeps on like this we may be able to start our fire circles at Peoples Plaza in a few weeks. An Occupier sort of agrees, “It sure does look like it, doesn’t it? However, many years of past experiences has taught me that March can look all sweet and mellow but just when you relax it allows a blizzard to pass by and dump 3 feet of sloppy wet snow on you. The weather in March is unpredictable; we should probably wait a bit longer to be sure that winter is finally over”. An activist, who has also been around the block a few times, adds, “That stuff about March going in and out like a lion and a lamb is a fallacy too. March will do whatever, wherever it wants; there’s just no telling”. An Anon/WP exclaims, “Yeah and now that we’ve entered the age of Climate Change, all sorts of ‘once in a lifetime’ shit is happening on a regular basis!”

A WP/Anon has brought her 3 very young daughters along this evening. When they’re not whining or fighting they’re wonderfully cute and charming. We know these kids already as they have hung out with us at many venues. We always try to limit the amount of swear words we use when the little girls are around but we aren’t very good at it. “Old habits die hard”? We know that fighting among siblings is mandatory in capitalist culture but swearing while fighting is still frowned upon. When one is poor, there is always a social worker or two lurking in the background, just waiting for an excuse to take one’s children away. Especially if one happens to be a Person of Color. We grownups need to get our shit (whoops) together.

An Occupier asks everyone, “Did anyone see the video of our Indigenous WP friend explaining about the Water Walk that they and a few of our other Indigenous WP friends will be starting in a few days?” Almost everyone responds, “Huh?” or “No I haven’t, what’s up with that? The Occupier opines, “I can’t remember everything but I think they are going to walk the southern shore of Lake Superior from Cloquet and the Fond du Lac Rez to somewhere in Michigan. It will probably take a long time.”

An activist wants to know, “So what exactly is a Water Walk?” A WP attempts to explain, “Well, you know that in Anishinaabe culture women are considered to be the caretakers and protectors of water. A Water Walk is an ancient Anishinaabe undertaking where a woman or many women of Anishinaabe heritage walk along the shore of one or more of the so-called Great Lakes while carrying a container of water and praying to the Creator for the health and protection of the water. The Walk is beneficial for the lake waters and for the persons doing the Walk too.

“I think this particular Walk coming up may have something to do with the fact that Josephine, the famous and deeply spiritual First Nations water walker, passed away very recently. I suppose you all know about how the colonizers tried to unleash genocide against all Indigenous people in the western hemisphere?” We do and the WP continues, “After they killed as many of us as they could, then tried to starve us to death on reservations then kidnapped our children and forced them into boarding schools where they were regularly beaten and raped and stripped of any knowledge of their culture and language and then forced to relocate into the colonizers cities, most of us had lost considerable knowledge of who we really were. In my opinion, it seems like First Nations people from so called Canada managed to hold on to a little more of the true ways than many of us in the so called USA.

Anyway Josephine, who was fairly advanced in age when she passed, was taught about water walking by the older women in her family. Over time and without deliberately seeking any attention for herself, Josephine helped the tradition of walking and praying for the water become a renewed tradition among Indigenous nations who live in areas that contain significant amounts of water”.

An Occupier adds, “I met Josephine a few years ago at an event at the FDL Rez. She struck me as a very wise and humble person. An Anon cries out, “Well damn! I mean heck, my main focus is on anarchy but any and every part that any person of honorable intention plays in the struggle is welcome in my world”.

An Occupier reports, “Our friend, a local freelance organizer, is attempting to organize an event for May Day (Wed. May 1st) at the newly officially named Gitchi-ode Akiing Park (Grand Heart Place). He wants us to bring our fire pit and stuff. Another Occupier responds, “Well ya sure, providing he gets this thing off the ground, we should certainly bring our fire and stuff”. The reporting Occupier answers, “Our friend has organized some very effective events over the years, it wouldn’t surprise me if this May Day thing is successful”.

One of the activists remarks, “So the City finally approved the name change of what was previously called Lake Place Park?” The Occupier tells her, “Yup, they did; it only took them 5 years”. We all say, “5 YEARS!?!?” The Occupier continues, “The Indigenous Commission made the official request to the City 5 years ago; after that, the Commissioners had to attend a bazillion meetings with rich people. They got asked some pretty stupid things too but managed to keep their composure throughout. Like at, I think it was a Chamber of Commerce meeting, some privileged white guy asked, ‘Well if you get a name change, will we still be able to go there?’ Somebody else asked, ‘Will you be able to protect us if we go there?’

“So anyway, there’s going to be a Gitchie-ode Akiing Naming Ceremony at the park tentatively set for Saturday, May 4th starting around noon. They want us to bring our fire”. We all say, “Cool”.

An Occupier, who has been absent for many months because of health issues, cruises in. We are overjoyed to see him. After all the usual hugs and pats on the back, the newly arrived Occupy interjects, “Do you all know about the big explosion and fire that happened a few days ago in a petrochemical plant outside of Houston, Texas?” We nod in the affirmative. “Well as usual, the major media is not telling the whole truth. That plant had many of the same chemicals in it that were present in the Husky explosion and fire last April in Superior, WI. During that whole time Husky Oil said there was no danger from any of the smoke and fumes coming from the refinery but they still evacuated thousands of people. In Texas, the Intercontinental Terminals Company is also saying there is no danger and they haven’t evacuated anyone. All the people who live in the highly populated area are just staying home, sucking poison into their lungs”. An Anon says sarcastically, “Oh sure, when a major corporation says that everything is o.k., we should certainly believe them”.

A WP reminds us, “There’s gonna be a dinner with the Valve Turners this upcoming Sunday at AICHO, 5pm”. An activist queries, “Valve Turners?” The WP laughs, “You know, those Catholic Workers who shut off one of the valves on Enbridge’s old Line 3 pipeline up around Grand Rapids”. The activist also laughs, “Oh yeah, that’s right; I do know that. I think it will be a pretty cool event; Catholic Workers are so inspiring”. Everyone plans to attend the dinner.

Someone wants to know, “So what’s up with the warming center these days?” The Occupier who is a member of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition informs, “It’s closed for the season now unless the temperatures” plunge into the deep freeze again”. We all shutter and say, “Eewwww!”

Suddenly, all the lights are flashing off and on. We stop talking and look up; it’s just a little before 8pm and the staff guys want to go home. No problem. The little girls are very tired and need to go to bed anyway. We do all the packing up, paying up and final goodbyes then head out the door AND we don’t need hats or gloves. We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-5-19

G.A. Minutes 3-5-19

We’re back at Coney Island again this Tuesday evening; it’s still winter but we’ve entered the month of March so we think we may have gotten over the hump. There will still be snow and maybe even a blizzard or two but March storms are generally milder with temperatures above arctic range. Then again, climate change is now in full swing so no one knows what to expect for sure. That gives us all the more reason to keep our shoulders to the wheel and keep up the battle against the extractive industries, corporations and capitalism in general.

As for tonight, the sky is overcast, the temperature is somewhere in the teens with a moderate variable wind. In other words, if one is properly layered it’s possible to stand outside long enough for a cigarette and short conversation. If one is outside longer than that, jogging or jumping up and down will be required.

This evening’s gathering consists of the usual mix of Water Protectors, Anonymous peeps, local activists and Occupiers. One of the activists is sporting a serious “shiner”. Everyone is concerned and surprised; the purple eyed activist laughs, “Isn’t it cute? It’s hard to explain exactly how I did it but I smacked myself in the eye with the end of a shovel while attempting to clear the snow off my driveway for the gazillionth time this season”. An Occupiers emphasizes, “Ow! That musta hurt”. The activist confides, “Actually, it didn’t; maybe it was the couple of beers that I drank before I got started but I just kept shoveling until after a while I noticed that something was blocking the vision of my left eye. I went inside to check it out; it looked much worse then than it does now so I took a few pictures, postponed the rest of the shoveling and called it a night”. The Occupier comments, “I don’t imagine you might have had a few more beers in order to comfort yourself after your ordeal?” The research activist replies, “Well yes, I might have done that, I just might have”.

Changing the subject, a Water Protector/Anon who lives on the Fond du Lac Rez exclaims, “Just when I think my RBC (Reservation Business Committee aka/ the small group of enrolled members of the Fond du Lac Band of Anishinaabe/Ojibwe/Chippewa who rule according to the crooked capitalist, dominant culture system) can’t do anything more to piss me off, they piss me off AGAIN! Our tribe fought really hard tohang onto the Carter Hotel that is right behind our casino in downtown Duluth; the supposed plan was to rebuild it and rent out low income apartments to our many tribal members who are homeless and living in the city. Now the tribal government announced they’ve decided turn the space into a parking lot. WTF? We need homes for our people not private parking for the FDL bigwigs. I told our tribal chairperson the same thing earlier today; he sees me as a thorn in his side but SOMEBODY has to give him a reality check. I hate how our tribal government betrays our people while lining their own pockets”.

An activist quietly remarks, “Yeah, it is kinda weird. I notice there are a lot of Native American people in this country who are going whole hog about living their lives in tune with their traditional ways. However, for the most part, their tribal governments give most of the tribal benefits to themselves, their families and their friends. What’s up with that?”

An Occupier attempts to explain, “It’s all part of the plan begun by some of our ancient European ancestors. Have you ever heard of the Doctrine of Discovery?” The activist responds, “Yabut, I don’t remember what it was all about”. The Occupier continues, “It was a proclamation or something like that issued in 1493 by Pope Alexander VI that said any Christian anywhere in the world who came upon any land that was not occupied by another Christian, was perfectly within their rights to claim said land and to exploit said land however they saw fit. Once word got around about the Pope’s declaration, so-called ‘adventurers’ got financial backing from various kings, queens and wealthy merchants so they could travel around the world and ‘discover’ so-called vacant land and shit. It didn’t matter that the lands the so-called explorers ‘discovered’ had plenty of people and societies already living there; as long as the people did not practice official Christianity, they were labeled ‘savages’ devoid of any human rights at all.

“I’m sure you know something about the history of the “Christian conquerors” and their efforts to ‘civilize’ non-Christian peoples of the world?”

The activist nods in the affirmative and the Occupier continues, “Well, the conquerors did the same thing to all the indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere too; the British, French and Germans stomped on North America while Spain did the stomping on South America. I don’t know much about how things went down in South America but I know that in North America the indigenous folks were the victims of attempted genocide. At first the colonizers, thinking the folks were stupid, tried to trick them into trading their land in return for beads, mirrors and crap; when that didn’t work the colonizers tried to just kill them all.

However, many of the native people were fierce warriors and although the colonizers were more numerous and had bigger guns they were unable to kill all of the ‘Indians’. The next step was to try and schmooze the folks, sometimes giving them alcohol (a drug most indigenous peeps were unfamiliar with) with treaties written in a language the indigenous ones didn’t understand and that the colonizers didn’t abide by anyway. They rounded almost all of the Natives up though and corralled them in what were called ‘reservations’. On these reservations the residents were poisoned, starved and treated as less than human but in spite of it all, some of them still survived.

“So the next big idea was boarding schools, which brings us around to the late 1800s. The colonizers took the Native people’s children and put them in institutions around the country, generally far away from where their families lived. In these institutions the Native children were segregated from the rest of the world, forced to learn English and beaten for speaking their languages of birth, physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually abused and taught about lying and being mean. Once the kids were grown and got kicked back to the reservation they had been completely stripped of their culture and found it hard to relate to their families or their surroundings. Many of the boarding school graduates turned to drinking alcohol as sort of a last resort.

“In the 1950s the plan was to relocate the “Indians” from the reservations into US cities. Most non-Native Americans were shocked to find out that indigenous people still even existed, believing that all ‘Indians’ had either been killed or had just died off. In the 1960s and 70s Native people in the cities began speaking out and demanding a better deal for themselves and for their people; so the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs), the US government and who knows who else came up with the concept of tribal governments. The catch was that these tribal governments had to function along the same lines as the government of the U S of A. If the tribal government didn’t adequately function in the plutocratic manner demanded they would not receive their federal government funding. So that meant corruption, lack of transparency, bribes, nepotism and all the other crap that goes along with the non-democratic, capitalist worshiping type of government we all live under in so-called America.

“So that’s why, much like our federal and state governments, tribal governments don’t do what is actually good for their people. Damn! I’ve really been running my mouth; I feel like I just gave sort of lecture. I may have some of the chronology wrong and I’m sorry that I talked so much. I’ll try to behave now”. The Anon/WP laughs, “Nah girlfriend, you’re o.k. and it is true that my RBC runs everything according to the ways of the dominant culture”.

Another Occupier switches gears asking, “So what did you all think of the Direct Action Training that we participated in over the weekend?” One of the activists responds, “I thought it was really cool. I was surprised at the amount of people who attended, some of them traveling all the way up from The Cities. I learned a lot, really enjoyed making new connections with like minded people and hope we do it again soon”. Everyone else agrees.

Someone inquires, “How about that announcement on Saturday from Enbridge stating they’re going to postpone the work on Line 3 for a year?” An Occupier exclaims, “Don’t turn your back on Enbridge for even one minute. They are some lying mother fuckers! I’m betting they’re hoping all the Water Protectors will just go home and smoke dope or some shit. By the time the W.P.s wake up…….SHAZAMM!! A brand new earth destroying pipeline will be up and running. It’s not gonna happen that way though, we’re gonna remain vigilant; am I right?” We all say, “Oh yeah, you’re definitely right”.

An activist says to a W.P., “I saw the video of you all over at the Husky Oil Refinery action yesterday. Thanks for doing that; it looked like it was freezing cold. You all were so bundled up that I couldn’t tell who anyone was; I just recognized your voice”. The W.P. Tells her, “Yeah, we planned it that way”.

The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “It looks like there will be conflicting actions this upcoming Friday. Socialist Action and the Feminist Justice League are sponsoring a picket in honor of International Women’s Day on the protest corner starting at 5pm. Anonymous Twin Ports, Northwoods 350, MN 350 and ALD are sponsoring a bank action at Wells Fargo in Cloquet starting at 3:30pm. I’m guessing we will each need to decide which action we’re gonna go to because given the travel time involved, I can’t see how anyone will be able to attend both of them”.

An activist ponders, “I wonder if FDL could just go to all renewable energy sources and leave all this unsustainable energy garbage behind?” An Occupier replies, “You might want to check out what’s going on up at the Red Lake Rez; about a year ago they announced they were going completely solar. I asked a friend of mine who lives up there if the announcement was for real and he said it was”.

We notice that it’s already after 8pm but the staff guys are just beginning their cleaning routine. As usual, we haven’t been paying much attention to our surroundings; we guess there must have been a lot of customers. We quickly clean up, pack up and pay up so as to allow them to turn off the outside lights and put up the Closed sign.

Some of us will go over to one of the Occupier couples homes in order to make signs for the upcoming bank action. We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-19-19

G.A. Minutes 2-19-19

We have no complaints about the winter weather this evening, although our lack of whining is relative; for the last couple of weeks we experienced several heavy snow storms, some sleet storms and temperatures well below zero. The snow banks are now so high that one needs to drive far out into the street in order to determine if any cars are coming. Folks who are walking need to walk in the street as gigantic snow piles combined with ice banks cover most of the sidewalks. The City snow plow drivers have been working pretty much 24/7 but every time they get all the streets and roads plowed and start preparations to load and haul off the excess snow, it snows some more and they have to start plowing everything again.

Many of our city’s well-off folks are complaining like crazy about all the snow the plows are forced to push up on their sidewalks and lawns. We know the snow plow workers are doing the best that they can; they have no control over how much snow we’re gonna get before winter is over. If the homeowners want to place blame on something we think they should focus on climate change and the fact that we live in Minnesota.

Tonight the temperature is in the high teens with clear skies and little wind; we can even view the full moon (aka Super Snow Moon). Our Grandmother (Anishinaabe name for the moon in all her stages) is marvelously beautiful. Looking at her and talking to her helps us keep our cool while attempting to cope with our way too long winters.

We expect there will be fewer peeps than usual at this evening’s meeting at Coney Island. Some have family matters to deal with tonight; others are having car troubles. As we push the tables and chairs together our gathering consists of 3 Occupiers, 2 members of the Anonymous crew, a Water Protector, the activist who is an expert researcher, the street woman formerly known as Ms. Fox and the city official.

The Occupier who writes our meeting minutes exclaims, “I can’t believe I haven’t written any minutes for about 3 weeks, I’m kinda embarrassed”. Another Occupier tells her, “With all the stuff we’ve had going on, I don’t see how you could have found the time to do any writing. I mean, over the last 3 weeks we’ve helped with the Anons Operation Safe Winter every Saturday from 2pm-6pm at Peoples Plaza and Gitchigumi Scouts every Sunday meeting up at 4 pm at Peoples Plaza, dividing up in small groups and going out from there, We’ve done a film showing and really good discussion, 2 meetings about the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women & Relatives, a lengthy training session about how to do patrols for MMIW&R, a rally and march for MMIW&R in Superior, WI that had just about as many cops bothering us as there were marchers, we’ve held our regular G.A. Meetings every Tuesday AND you made that gigantic hotdish for the Sobriety Feast. I can’t imagine why you didn’t have time to write”. We all laugh.

An Occupier says to another, “You went to the hearing today in Grand Rapids for the Four Necessity Valve Turners didn’t you?” The other Occupier replies, “Yes I did; there were some very good developments. The judge told them they were entitled to a 12 person jury trial where they could argue the Necessity Defense. They will have to jump through a bunch of hoops beforehand and it will probably be a year or so before they actually go to trial. but still, it’s kind of a victory because so far, the judges in this country rarely accept a Necessity Defense.

An Anon exclaims, “Those Catholic Workers just rock! Their entire lives are dedicated to saving humanity and all the plants and animals. I realize that their methods are somewhat different from ours; a lot of their actions are symbolic and directed at the power of the universe. On the other hand, our actions use a concrete strategy. Whatever….. I really admire Catholic Workers and their level of commitment; I think all of the Valve Turners are Catholic Workers, aren’t they? We don’t know the answer to her question

The first Occupier remarks, “I hope the Valve Turners will be able to get J. McEwen and JT Haines to be their attorneys for the trial. The defense they presented for our Occupiers/Water Protectors a few months ago was just about perfect”. The Occupier/Water Protectors who are present at tonight’s meeting agree with the first Occupier’s analysis about the abilities of their attorneys. Someone reports, “By the way, the next court date for the ‘Black Snake Killers’ is March 25th”.

The city official tells us, “Just so you know, the Duluth Transit Authority has 4 openings for full-time bus drivers right now. One can access the application process on the DTA website or Facebook page. A special type of driving license is required in order to drive a bus but if an applicant meets all the other requirements, the DTA will assist them in acquiring the special license. Tell all your friends, especially persons of color”.

An Occupier reminds us of the Direct Action Training we have been invited to attend on Saturday, March 2nd noon-6pm at the artists co-op. Another Occupier jokes, “Yes please, I believe that I am in need of some Direct Action Training as I am suffering from massive delusions. I still call myself a Democrat; I believe in the Two-Party System”. We all gasp, clutch our hearts and say “Oh no!” An Anon attempts to comfort him saying, “Oh my brother, we all love you and want to help you heal. Please attend the Training; it will set you straight and return you onto the path of righteousness and salvation”. Then we all take a moment to crack up.

We notice the staff guys beginning to clean up so we begin gathering up our dirty dishes and bringing them up to the counter. An Anon prompts, “This upcoming Saturday, February 23rd 2p-5p at Peoples Plaza may be our last #Op Safe Winter action for this year. We normally just do it on all Saturdays in February. I hope you will all attend and help us close out the year. Also, on Sunday, March 3rd, noon-2pm at Peoples Plaza there’s going to be a St. Paul Principles Gathering Breakfast; it’s sponsored by Anti-Colonial Land Defense, Gitchigumi Scouts and many groups from the Twin Cities. For those who don’t already know the St. Paul Principles (he begins reading):

1. Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the
plans of other groups.
2. The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of
time or space.
3. Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any
public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events.
4. We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance,
infiltration, disruption and violence. we agree not to assist law enforcement
actions against activists and others.

An Occupier asks, “Do they want us to bring our fire?” The Anon replies, “Probably, as it’s sure to be cold out. I’ll check with them and let you know. It’s going to be a potluck so everyone who is able should bring something to contribute to the meal”.

As per usual, the staff guys are cleaning up; we clean up our stuff, pay our bill, leave a generous tip and head out the door. Some of us will stop by an Occupier couple’s place for a little R&R.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-26-19

G.A. Minutes 1-26-19

When the first two Occupiers arrive at Coney Island this evening, they come running through the front door. One Occupier exclaims, “Holey shit! This weather is unbelievable! My car thermometer is reading -19 and the sun only went down about a half an hour ago”. The other Occupier adds, “Yeah, and the -19 doesn’t include the wind chill; I’m guessing that the actual air temperature is closer to -40”.

When the Occupiers scrutinize the space, they see that it is completely empty. One of the staff guys tells them, “It’s been almost dead all day; we’re expecting our boss to call us any time now and tell us to just close up”. The Occupiers order some food and head to the area in the back of the restaurant. One Occupier comments to the other, “I doubt that anyone else is as insane as we are; we’ll have to wait a while to see, though”.

It turns out that there are others who are actually just as insane. Within a short while another Occupier arrives, then 3 activists and a couple of Water Protectors. The first Occupiers are comforted to find there are others who share their derangement.

As everyone sheds their many layers of outer clothing, an Occupier says to an Occupier/Water Protector, “I see you all are having a fundraiser related to your arrests when you chained yourselves to the Wells Fargo entry gate about a year ago. I hear that the benefit is going to happen on February 8th from 6p-9p down at Carmody’s”. The Occupier/WP replies, “Yup, we have to raise money in order to pay our fines. We were each charged with trespassing which is a petty misdemeanor and the judge fined us $135 a piece. That’s less than the $300 a piece that the City requested but still too much for each of us to afford on our own. After he issued the guilty charges the judge said to us and the courtroom, “There is a long tradition in this world of honorable and appropriate civil disobedience. This case is a perfect example. Keep up the fight”.

One of the activists exclaims, “Well then, why didn’t he just find you not guilty by reason of your ‘necessity defense’?!?” The Occupier/WP tells her, “I really don’t know. Maybe there was some obscure legal thing that our attorneys weren’t aware of or maybe he was just afraid of losing his job”. Another Occupier interjects, “The courts and the cops in ‘Merica’ are lowering charges for environmental and social justice cases frequently these days because they don’t want defendants to be eligible for a jury trial, especially if the defendants plan on using the ‘necessity defense’. I think they know that if the defendants are able to present the whole story, the jury will probably find them not guilty”. Another activist opines, “It might have to do with the fact that Wells Fargo is on private property. Trespassing charges are different on private property than charges on public property. Next time, try to find a major bank that is on public property”. We all laugh.

An Occupier reports, “The warming station in West Duluth has been open for about a week and a half now and I hear things are going really well. The information is being spread by word of mouth out there and the station has been getting 25-35 guests a night. Another Occupier inquires, “Are they still forcing the warming station guests to stay awake all night?” The reporting Occupier winks and says, “No comment”. She continues, “Some of the homeless ones are crediting the warming station with saving their lives. However, a few problems still remain; 10 pm is too late to open the station because it gets colder once the sun goes down and 6:30 am is too early to put people out to the street because the sun doesn’t come up until after 7 am. Of course, not opening the warming station at all unless the overnight temperature is predicted to be 0 or less is not fair either. A person can still freeze to death when the temperature is anywhere below freezing. One of the workers told me that when he comes to open the station a little before 10 pm he finds many homeless peeps hunkered down in their sleeping bags waiting for the place to be opened.

“Never fear though, the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition, Loaves N Fishes, the main CHUM outreach worker, some Catholic Workers and many others are pushing for these things to be remedied. As of right now, at least we have one warming station up and running”. We can’t argue with that.

Changing the subject, a Water Protector asks, “Hey, did anybody see the video that our friend, the WP elder and Fond du Lac band member put out today?” An Occupier pouts, “Yes, I did and it really pissed me off. That shit was fucking disgusting!” Others say, “Huh?” The WP tells them, “Three of our W.P.s went to the FDL casino out on the rez; they were attending an open house sponsored by Enbridge. The event was kind of a job fair and who knows what else; they had food and it was open to all FDL band members. All three W.P.s are FDL band members.

“Anyway, it was in a private room, there were tables scattered around with food and brochures and stuff; there didn’t appear to be many people in attendance, an Enbridge public relations type guy was standing around waiting for someone to talk to him. So the W.P.s mosey on over to talk; the PR dude tries to impress them by bragging about how Enbridge is there to help them learn how to start a business. Fortunately, (or unfortunately, it all depends on how you want to look at it) the W.P.s have some business of their own to discuss. Firstly, there is all the destruction of the environment and of cultural ways that have survived since forever issues. The W.P.s explain to the man why they really don’t like having Enbridge anywhere on their reservation; now that Enbridge and all their workers are present on native land, the dominant culture inspired, so-called tribal government (aka RBC), is requiring that actual FDL enrolled band members/Anishinaabe people apply for a permit before walking, standing or what have you, on any FDL land (especially in the woods or other so-called undeveloped land).

“Believe it or not, this is true; the genuine water protectors, traditional people and all other folks of Fond du Lac Indigenous heritage are not allowed to access THEIR OWN LANDS without a permit. Also, any people from anywhere who are not FDL members cannot access FDL land for any reason at all. Meanwhile, Enbridge workers have unlimited access to FDL lands however and whenever they choose. So the W.P.s don’t like this very much. Keep in mind, the W.P.s are speaking very politely and respectfully. The PR guy keeps interjecting, “Yabut, I can teach you how to start a business”. The W.P.s tell him they know that if or when Enbridge gets to working full out, Man Camps will pop up all over the place. They know that some of their children will be raped and/or abducted or lured into taking or selling dangerous drugs. The W.P.s don’t like this very much either.

So the conversation goes on like this for five or ten minutes then all of a sudden, a shit ton of rez cops show up. The cops form a line between the W.P.s and the PR man. The W.P.s say, “WTF?” One of the W.P.s has met the PR dude many times in the past so she kind of knows him. She calls out to him over the shoulders of the rez cops. “Ah come on Bob! (or whatever his name is) Really??? Really???” The PR guy just keeps fading away, acting like he’s being swept away by a river current or something. Then the cops inform the W.P.s that they are being trespassed out of the casino which is on THEIR OWN LAND. The W.P.s consist of two grandmas and a young mother; I mean, I suppose they could have had suicide vests strapped to themselves but………PROBABLY NOT.

Every time any of us are forced to come into contact with any Enbridge employees, we are amazed by their ridiculous behavior. Are all people who worship money as stupid as they are?

One of the activists who are present at this evening’s meeting is a woman from a First Nations community in Manitoba. She has spent a large portion of her life looking for, supporting and defending Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives. Most of the problems and solutions in Manitoba are similar to those we experience in our northern Minnesota area however, she and her colleagues have been fighting the good fight for over twenty-five years. In the Twin Ports area, the real grassroots work is just beginning. The First Nations woman can’t help but tease us; she sees we are really dragged down by this arctic weather. The Manitoban woman laughs, “This is nothing; back home we have this kind of weather for three or four months in a row”. Some of us think, “Wow! She is really tough”. Others think, “Remind me to never go there”. The woman activist intimates that she will need to travel around for a bit but promises to return in time for the next MMIW&R Search Training and Patrol on February 13th.

The staff guys are deep into their cleaning routine; we take the hint and begin packing up. The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “Just a couple of quick things, the Anons will need our assistance this Saturday, 1 pm at Peoples Plaza, for the kickoff of Operation Safe Winter; Gitchigumi Scouts will be doing outreach and patrol on this upcoming Sunday. Meet up at Peoples Plaza at 3 pm. Also, remember that next Tuesday we’ll be having a short meeting here because we’re going over to the artist co-op to watch the documentary, Trouble: Killing the Black Snake.

With that, we all head out, gingerly and screaming like the big whiny babies that we are, because it’s just TOO DAMN COLD! We expect to be back at Coney Island, for a while at least, next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-15-19

G.A. Minutes 1-15-19

We expect a pretty small turnout for tonight’s meeting at Coney Island; some folks who regularly attend have informed us they are having car trouble. Others are not coming out because it’s just TOO DAMN COLD. Perfectly understandable, the entire Twin Ports area is covered in a sheet of ice making driving or walking quite treacherous.

The temperature at 6pm or so says 10 degrees but a strong north western wind is pushing the air temperature well below zero. As has been stated many times in the past, we all can take refuge inside our meeting place and in our humble but warm and comfortable homes. The homeless ones who have been left out on the street will have to sleep in building doorways, under the freeway, in a covered parking lot or any place they can find that isn’t already occupied by another unhoused person. Then, to top it off, these homeless folks will not be able to get a full night’s sleep because it’s actually too cold to sleep and sooner or later a non-homeless person will see a homeless person going into some place to try to at least get out of the wind chill.

Said non-homeless person will then call 911 to report a homeless person having the nerve to try to protect themselves from the extreme cold. Cops will show up and tell the homeless person to “move along”. That’s not very nice but after all, homeless people are creepy and no one who has a home should have to ever see them. NIMBYites abound.

All this misery could be avoided if the City and County would just open the promised warming station at the senior center out on W 58th St. However, the Duluth City Council recently voted to only open the warming station when the temperature hits 0 degrees; the overnight wind chill was not a consideration. We think that none of the Councilors have ever experienced being homeless and stuck out on the street all night long during our winter months; we doubt that any of them would be willing to try it out for even one night.

We’ve been told that all the Councilors received quite a lot of “push back” (that’s the latest word that City employees and NGO folks use now days; it’s almost as popular as “absolutely”) concerning the establishment of a warming station anywhere in Duluth but come on, is there anyone who would be willing to do what is right and just instead of what will get them reelected or what will keep them in their high paying job?

Actually, we know someone who always does what is right and just instead of what is expedient. In fact, he is our friend. Although he is highly skilled and qualified, he never gets offered any of the so called important jobs. He pretty much knows everything that goes on in City government and many go to him for advice but when there’s an opening for a so called important job he applies but is never hired. We think all the “suits” know that our friend is always gonna take the path of truth and justice no matter what. We hear that there’s even a word for folks who are willing to lie and/or be dishonest in order to keep their well paid positions; it’s called being a “team player”.

Anyway, our gathering this evening consists of 3 Occupiers, 2 Water Protectors who are also down with the Anonymous crew, a local activist who is a very good researcher, another local activist who specializes in doing a lot of the “grunt work” for some local NGOs and her teen-aged daughter and an activist who has recently moved into Duluth and is trying to find out what goes on around here.

The Occupier who usually takes the minutes of our meetings apologizes, “Sorry that I have appeared to be slacking over the last month or so but it couldn’t be helped. Two of the missed Tuesdays were Christmas Day and New Years Day; I thought we had a very productive meeting last Tuesday with all the new people from afar. Holding a vigil outside in the freezing cold for our fellow Water Protector and his family was so meaningful, especially with the WP who came over from The Rez to assist with the ceremony. I had big plans for telling the story of last week’s meeting but after making that big casserole for the Sobriety Feast, going to the Human Rights Commission meeting, taking care of some of my responsibilities at the co-op where I live, attending a planning meeting and 2 events for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives and going to the Honor the Earth’s Open House, it was suddenly Monday afternoon and I’d only written a few hundred words. I decided to take a really long nap. However, I promise that if I don’t get the minutes from this meeting out, I’ll move into an Assisted Living Facility”. We all laugh.

One Occupier says to another, “So when are they gonna actually open the warming station?” The other Occupier responds, “I really don’t know; one would think it would be pretty soon. The weather forecast is for night time temps to be well below zero for at least a week. As I’ve mentioned in the past, this warming station idea came from our grassroots movement but as soon as the City and the County came on board, grassroots folks were excluded. It seems like they’re more concerned with the needs of the NIMBYS than with the needs of the homeless. I’ve heard that when they do finally open the station the hours will be from 10pm til 6am. I’ve also heard that while they will need some volunteers, they’ve actually hired a few peeps via CHUM who are or who have been homeless. Those peeps will be like the supervisors or something. The next Homeless Persons Bill of Rights meeting is this upcoming Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House; I’ll be able to find out more then”.

The first Occupier adds, “I read in the Duluth News Tribune that the warming station is not going to allow sleeping there”. We say, “What???” A WP/Anon quips, “Sleeping by the supervisors or by the volunteers?” We all crack up. The first Occupier explains, “No, there’s to be no sleeping by the homeless people who are trying to stay warm”. An activist exclaims, “You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me. Being able to sleep unmolested is the biggest need that most homeless folks have. The Occupier agrees, “I know. Like I said, grassroots folks are not being seriously consulted about anything. The guy that I consider to be the biggest moron of the whole bunch was quoted as saying that there would be no sleeping because the building wasn’t designed to house overnight guests”. The activist opines, “Well then, they should have found another building”. The Occupier agrees, “Yeah, I know”.

An Occupier and the researcher/activist sit at a table next to the rest of us; they are looking at various legal documents and maps and trying to find the location of the original survey markers on a particular spot of our Mother Earth that provides the foundation which 4 W Superior St (aka Peoples Plaza) sits upon…… or something like that. We know that their research is focused on tracing the history of that specific piece of ground from just after it was stolen from the Native Americans until the final easement with the so called City of Duluth was signed.

The researcher comments, “Whenever I do serious research I come across little interesting tidbits almost by accident. This time I found out that a citizen can go to speak before the City Council and speak on every topic on the agenda. One is given the chance to speak for 3 minutes before the Council discusses and possibly votes on each agenda item. If a person were clever enough and had an important idea they wanted to get across, that person could find a way to connect each agenda item to the idea they wished to present and be given an actual half an hour or more of speaking time over the whole evening. Hmmm…. If I were to do it I’d talk about affordable low income housing”. She also gives us information about the lack of camping restrictions in public parks versus city parks.

A Water Protector opines, “I really liked those training sessions about Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women and Relatives that we participated in over the last couple of weeks. I look forward to doing it again next month; the indigenous woman who was the main presenter has some serious detective skills. I think she’s been able to find the remains of every loved one she’s been asked to look for and that’s after the cops tell the families they’ve followed every lead and come up with nothing. After completing her investigation she said she usually finds the remains within a few hours. I think that’s because she actually cares whereas the cops don’t”.

One of the activists remarks, “You know that I generally watch you guys from the sidelines and I totally admire and support all the work you do but I’m confused; I have watched you do homeless outreach and minor government disruption for years and I definitely get the fight against Enbridge pipelines, Polymet mines and all other environment destroying stuff but now you’re helping out with trying to find MMIW&R. I support that too but it seems like you’re going kind of out in left field; what’s the connection?”

An Occupier smiles and explains, “Oh, everything is definitely connected, that’s just a law of nature or a fact of life or something. You see, when the fossil fuel and other earth destroying corporations are allowed to put in a pipeline or a mine or something they generally do it in rural areas or other places where there are a lot of poor people. In order for the company to get its project up and running it needs to hire hundreds, sometimes thousands of predominately young male workers who come from all over the country in order to work in the relatively well paying jobs.

“The company builds a bunch of very basic houses or trailers or whatever for all the workers to live in. The common name for these big housing areas is Man Camp. So then you have a bunch of mainly young guys working out in an area that is removed from all the diversions of city life. They have a lot of money to spend and nowhere to spend it; that’s where the drug dealers and sex traffickers come in. The dealers bring in every type of drug imaginable, though I believe that meth and heroin are the most popular; the sex traffickers bring in primarily young girls and boys, sometimes little children and even babies and offer them to the workers for just about any type of sexual act imaginable.

“A large portion of the corporate, earth destroying projects are located in or near Native American reservations. Many of the young people living on the reservations are quite poor and easily impressed by the so called luxuries that the sex traffickers (also called pimps) dangle in front of them. A female Native American friend of mine who advocates for victims of sex trafficking has a saying ‘manicures, pedicures, new shoes and tattoos’. In saying this, she means to show that some of the things that we city folk think of as just normal can be very alluring to naive young people living on reservations.

“The pimps are quite skilled in knowing which children will be the easiest to seduce. Generally, the young ones who are the most lonely, bored, isolated and lacking in adequate nurturing from their families are those targeted. At first, the sex traffickers may lure these poor kids with flattery, giving them presents and pretending to love them. They may get the children addicted to a particular drug and after a while demand that the addicted one do something in order to pay for the drugs they are now dependent upon. The pimps also use fear, violence and induced feelings of worthlessness and hopelessness to force compliance from their adolescent victims.

It’s common for traffickers to haul these basically kidnapped and deceived kids far away from where they originally lived. A sex trafficking victim may find themselves passed from man to man and trailer to trailer “out in the middle of nowhere” having no idea where they are. When they’ve been used up in one area they are then drugged or terrorized into some type of transport and hauled off to the next Man Camp. If the trafficked one should try to escape, they will be severely beaten, possibly even killed. Once the pimp feels he (the pimp is not always a he) has no further use for his prey, he will try to sell the child to another pimp. It’s also quite common for a trafficker or drug dealer to murder the youth and dump the body in a shallow grave. Anyone ‘back home’ who actually cared for the ‘disappeared’ juvenile may search for decades in order to find out what happened to them. Most murdered victims of sex trafficking are never found.

“So you see, when Water Protectors and their allies fight to save Mother Earth, the water and the air, we know that the earth destroying, corporate projects will bring Man Camps and all that they entail into an affected community too. That’s why we include a demand for the end to MMIW&R along with all our other demands”. The activist replies, “Oh. My. God. That is so horribly awful! I did not know about that connection; I will proudly carry a No More MMIW&R with you all any day!”

An Occupier notices the staff beginning to clean up and reports, “Looks like we should be fixin’ to leave soon. but first I wanted to tell folks who weren’t at the meeting last week, about the partner of the Stylish Native Woman. We were just packing up to go when The Partner came in; it was just as cold then as it is tonight. He just had on a pair of light sweatpants, a t-shirt and was wearing his coat wide open; he didn’t have any gloves or a hat. His eyes were all wild and shit, you know how he gets when he’s in the middle of a major schizophrenic breakdown. The only coherent thing he said was, “IT’S COLD OUTSIDE!” We tried to give him our gloves and hats but he wouldn’t take them. The more we tried to talk with him, the more he seemed to forget who we were and start acting afraid of us. So we all decided to leave except for the Fire Magician who stayed behind to see if anything could be done to help”.

The Fire Magician adds, “Yeah, he went out onto the street and I followed him from the distance of about a block. I think he knew I was there though and it seemed like he was trying to hide from me. I followed him for a while as he went up and down the street; I eventually just walked home because I thought I was doing more harm than good. It sure would have been good if there had been an open warming station in the area. We’ve looked for him on the street since then but haven’t seen him”.

The first Occupier continues, “I don’t know for sure but I’m gonna take a guess as to what’s going on. We know the Stylish Native Woman has been having some serious health problems over the past year. Someone told me that she had been taken out on a stretcher and into an ambulance while having dinner at the Mission earlier that evening. The last time we actually talked, she told me she spent a couple days in the hospital about a month ago after having a collapsed lung and being diagnosed as diabetic. As soon as she was stabilized they dropped her off back at the CHUM. So we know that The Partner is not stupid and the Native Woman is around 20 years older than her partner. We also know how the partner responds to stressful situations; I’m guessing he was coming to the conclusion that the Stylish Woman may not live much longer. Just imagine! They are both so intelligent, kind hearted and so dependent on each other yet powerless to protect each other from ‘the suits’. I wonder how we can help them?’

We really have to leave now; the staff guys have lives too. As we head out the door a Water Protector reminds us, “Until we all get arrested we’ll be doing Hold Down the Port every Sunday at 6:30pm; meet at Peoples Plaza and then go to the chosen location”. An Occupier adds, “ The annual Martin Luther King Jr. March leaves the Washington Center at 10am, next Monday, January 21st and marches to the DECC with the presentations starting at noon”. We all say, “Right on”.

We expect to return to Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 12-18-18

G.A. Minutes 12-18-18

If Minnesota winter weather was anything like it has been for the last 2 weeks or so, there would be one hell of a lot less whining in this city. When the first Occupiers, Anonymous members, and Water Protectors roll up to Coney Island this evening, the temperature is in the upper 30s with an occasional light breeze. The majority of the snow melted about a week ago. That’s not too shabby for mid-December.

As we are getting ourselves settled, an activist who was introduced to us a few months ago arrives. We’re happy to see her; she attended our meeting last week (we have no minutes for that one) and listened as we talked about the Human Rights Complaint concerning the security goons that have been contracted by MN Power supposedly to watch over the big MN Power building. The situation is an old story to people who regularly read our minutes but it boils down to the fact that we want them to open the Peoples Plaza vehicle entryway that they illegally closed off.

The activist, who is an experienced legal researcher, graciously offered to assist us by trying to determine the history of the easement agreement between the City of Duluth and MN Power as it concerns Peoples Plaza. Tonight she brings her initial findings.

An Occupier states, “I believe I’ve already told everyone that I turned in our Human Rights Complaint at the Human Rights Commission meeting last Wednesday. It contained the text of our complaint and the contact info for myself and the 3 witnesses. I said I would get the easement info and copies of all the ordinances, statutes and fire codes to them later. I doubt our complaint will even be looked at until the beginning of next year”.

Another Occupier exclaims, “Man, last night’s City Council meeting was certainly fucked up!” Some are not sure what she is talking about; the Occupier continues, “Well, as per usual, Essentia Health is going to make changes to our Central Hillside neighborhood again. They’re gonna build a huge high rise office building in the area where most of their other main buildings are and they want a 15 story luxury apartment building to go with it. Essentia says it needs to have fancy apartments in order to attract world-class doctors and such to come to Duluth. Some rich development company from Madison, WI has agreed to build the luxury building but they are demanding 6.2 million dollars of Duluth TIF (tax increment financing) funds to do it”.

An Anon asks, “What are TIF funds?” The Occupier continues, “That’s kinda hard for me to explain but it has something to do with an agreement that the City will charge the luxury building owner-less property taxes than normal until 6.2 million dollars of tax breaks are used up. The City said that would take about 25 years. As far as I know, all this was pretty hush-hush until very recently.

“Even the City Councilors weren’t given the complete information package until just before the meeting. Anyway, once the word got out a few days before the Council meeting the regular people in Central Hillside were furious. I’m sure the Councilor’s email boxes just about blew up. I mean, we’ve only been begging, pleading and demanding a lot more low-income housing in our hood for over 10 years. Considering the huge need, we’ve received very little. The majority of people living in unsubsidized housing in the hillside and working as much as they can are damn near starving to death in order to pay the ridiculously high rents for generally substandard housing.

“So, once the word about the ripoff of Duluth taxpayer money got out, everyone was meeting, writing and preparing to speak out at last night’s Council meeting. The general consensus was that if the building was to be allowed, there would have to be a certain number of low-income units included within it. It was also to ask/demand that the Council just table the whole issue until more information could be obtained”. The Occupier explains to one of the youngbloods, “To ‘table’ something means to put it on the back burner to deal with later”.

“About an hour before the general Council meeting there was a smaller meeting with representatives of the developer. Someone mentioned to them that they would need to have some low-income units; the developers said that if they had to include even one low-income apartment, they would not do the project. Nice huh?

“So when the City Council meeting started, most of the general public (it was standing room only with peeps standing out in the hall too) were unaware that all of the low-income stuff had already been shot down. Several guys from most of the building trades spoke in support, of course. They need good privileged jobs you know and will do just about anything to get them, the rest of the world be damned. Then speaker after speaker tried to get the Councilors to stand up and do the right thing.

“Once word got out that the developers refused to even consider any low-income units the general public in the Council Chambers became even more pissed off and/or depressed. Many of them just walked out; those of us who stayed to hear the Councilors official vote were quite disgusted with the whole thing. At first all the Councilors, one by one, expressed their anger and frustration at not being given the luxury apartment information until it was too late for them to really study it. Then they voted 6-2 in favor of going ahead with the project; actually, I should say that the vote was one and a half to six because one of the Councilor’s no vote was proceeded by his saying he would vote yes. I think he only voted no because he could see the thing was gonna pass no matter how he voted”.

One of the Water Protectors quires, “Well, why didn’t they just tell the developers no, they couldn’t have the TIF funds unless they accepted some low-income tenants. The developers may have reconsidered and if they did not, there are always other developers”. The first Occupier agrees, “As I saw things unfolding, that’s what I thought too. I wanted to go up and speak then but the speaker sign up list had already been removed so I couldn’t sign up”.

Another Occupier comments, “This manner of doing things has become the new norm in this country. A group representing the super rich shows up in the government offices of a city that is struggling financially. They offer to invest in a project that will supposedly benefit the city and its citizens but will do it on their terms only. The government officials are enticed by the amount of money being offered so they accept the terms of the super-rich. It then turns out that the rich folks lied, the project doesn’t just not benefit the city or its people, it actually harms them. The city and its people start bitching and the super rich group gathers up all the profits they have swindled and goes off to victimize the next city. Someone adds, “I’ve always been partial to the slogan Eat The Rich. We all nod in agreement.

The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “I’m afraid I had a few of my facts wrong. Earlier I reported about the warming station that is being worked on for homeless peeps that are stuck outside on the deathly cold winter nights here in Duluth. After Lee Stuart (director of CHUM) came out publicly in support of warming stations and the government types figured they’d better do something, nobody called Loaves N Fishes to clue them into the fact that the City and County “suits” were meeting covertly to form a plan.

“One of the government folks, who is secretly a supporter of grassroots workers, quietly told one member of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition about the meetings. That particular grassroots person now attends the warming station meetings and that’s how the rest of us get our information, Anyway, the first experimental warming station will be set up at a senior center on 58th Ave W”. Everyone displays confused looks and the Occupier continues, “Yeah, that’s what I thought too. Lee Stuart or someone else insists that there are homeless people out that way who don’t want to come into the center of the city and that there are no types of services or shelter for them. I have no idea if that’s true or not but I know that a couple of people who have visited our recreational fires have said that it is true. Whatever……apparently this will be an experiment and if no one comes to keep warm out there, they’ll move the station to somewhere in West End (aka Lincoln Park).

“The warming station won’t open until sometime in January; it will open on every night that the forecast is for -0 temperatures from 8 pm till 8 am. They’re gonna staff it with volunteers. I might sign up to volunteer once in a while depending on which hoops they’ll want the volunteers to jump through beforehand. Their plan is certainly not ideal but I’m thinking. seeing as we were expecting the warming station idea to take years to start up, in reality, things are moving quicker and we’ll all just have to learn as we go”.

An Anon/Water Protector reminds us, “We’re gonna be making No Line 3 and other anti-fossil fuel and treaty rights banners tomorrow out on the Rez; we can use everyone’s assistance”. Some of the Occupiers and others will be able to help.

The Anon/WP tells us, “Things are getting weirder and weirder out at our rez; Enbridge has their new pipeline pieces piled all over the place on OUR land. Enbridge workers are tiptoeing around and digging in the ground. Our FDL police force has barricaded the roads to all of our usual spiritual and cultural places, telling us we can’t go there. However, the thing is that it’s OUR LAND. When we go there or to the commercial places with our signs and music and stuff, every cop in the area shows up. I mean Cloquet, Carlton County, our own tribal police and probably others that we don’t know about. They harass us and try to think up things they can arrest us for.

“All of this stuff is completely illegal. Enbridge is not supposed to have any pipes on our land until all the permits are issued but even more importantly, our rez cops, rez administration and Enbridge are all in violation of the 1854 Treaty. Treaties are the Supreme Law of the USA. The Treaty says that the Anishinaabe people will retain, forever, the right to hunt, fish and gather in all their lands and in their ceded lands too. Know what I’m saying?” Everyone says, “Yeah, we do”.

The staff guys are cleaning up again; we figure we’ll surprise them by leaving before they have to give us gentle hints. As we’re packing up, an Occupier informs everyone, “We’ll be having a recreational fire and a feast again at our place on Christmas Day (which is next Tuesday). Y’all are welcome to come over”.

G.A. Minutes 12-4-18

G.A. Minutes 12-4-18

A small group of Occupiers drag their asses through the side door of Coney Island; they are the first people to arrive for the meeting this evening. One of them comments, “I always hate the time of year that happens after we have to turn our clocks back and then it continues until Winter Solstice. It’s just too dark; it makes me want to just crawl under my bed covers and not come out til spring”. Another Occupier agrees, “For real. Today the sun didn’t come up until about 7:30am and it was gone again by 4:30pm, it’s not fair. If people had any sense they would hibernate all winter like the most intelligent animals do”.

This remark cracks the other Occupiers up; an Occupier replies, “With all the capitalism and war mongering that the 1% and their minions have going on, mass hibernation would never work. There’s many different time zones in the world and half of the planet has winter while the other half is having summer. People would be worried that if they went to sleep the other half of the planet could come and steal their shit. What’s even worse, the awake half probably WOULD come and steal all the sleeping peeps shit. We’d first have to have a major paradigm shift before any mass hibernation could take place”. The postulating Occupier inquires, “Yabut, is it a good idea?” We say, “Yup”.

Lack of light is definitely not a problem at Coney Island; the place is always lit up like the biggest Christmas tree in the world. In fact, the excess lighting is kind of annoying but…. Whatever, the staff guys always seem genuinely happy to see us even though we don’t order mass quantities of food and we take up the whole back end of the restaurant. After several years of searching, Coney Island is the only place we’ve found that is willing to accommodate us. It sure beats freezing our asses off while trying to hold a meeting in a doorway or a parking garage until someone calls the cops and they roll up and tell us to “move along”.

Once the first Occupiers get settled, one of them tells the others, “It looks like we’re gonna get a warming station for folks who get stuck outside during the coldest days and nights of this upcoming winter”. An Occupier exclaims, “Whoa! Do tell”. The Occupier who is in the know explains, “The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition has been trying to push the City and/or some of the area churches to provide a suitable space for a warming station. We even offered to staff the place ourselves but we got pretty much the same answer from everyone we contacted; they said, “A warming station is a very good idea but we’re not able to provide a space at this time”. Then about 2 weeks ago there was an article in the Duluth News Tribune. A reporter interviewed Lee Stuart (director of CHUM); Lee stated that there was a great need for one or more warming stations during the winters in Duluth.

“This was a huge big deal. Over the past 10 years or so, there has always been a need for warming stations but Lee Stuart refused to admit it. She’s always been, understandably, protective of CHUM but CHUM has never been willing or able to house or accept all homeless people. CHUM has a lot of rules that some of the homeless ones are unable or unwilling to accept. Therefore, every winter homeless people would be found frozen to death.

“Anyway, once that article came out, the City, County and some of the major NGOs started networking behind the scenes. They scheduled a meeting for the middle of last week and at the last minute someone figured it might be a good idea to contact the lead guy at Loaves N Fishes and put him in the loop. He frantically called around to the Coalition members hoping to find someone who was able to attend that meeting and, fortunately, he was able to find someone. I was told that the City is gonna provide the space and the County is gonna wiggle its budget around in order to hire a couple of people at $15/hr. to staff the station. That’s about all I know right now; I’ll find out more at the next HPB of R Coalition meeting on this upcoming Thursday and report back to everyone”.

Another Occupier opines, “I’m really happy that there’s gonna be a warming station but the way it’s happening kinda sucks; it seems like this is the way everything happens. A whole bunch of grassroots, ordinary people can work for years trying to get their so-called representatives to provide something or do something that the ordinary people think is very important. The so-called representatives smile and offer platitudes but they never do anything to provide for the people’s needs. Then one person in a position of power speaks out publicly stating that the people’s need is valid and all the so-called representatives run around like crazy trying to at least look like they’re meeting that need. I mean, WTF?…… ordinary people are the reason that the so-called representatives have their well-paying jobs and their prestige and all that. The people in power just seem to want to take care of each other. “It makes me feel so mad that I feel like I want to go and tip over all their desks and tables and stuff”.

Another Occupier suggests, “I suppose you could go tip over a few tables if you wanted to but I doubt you would get the result you were looking for. The cops would come and arrest or maybe even shoot you; seeing as you’re a white person they probably wouldn’t kill you right off the bat but you’d still be in jail and in need of considerable bail money and a high-powered attorney. To top it off, all the major media would talk shit about you and you’d actually hurt your cause and the so-called representatives would just call the janitors to put the tables and desks right side up again.”

The Occupier who proposed tipping stuff over answers, “I know, that’s why I haven’t actually done it but don’t you all just get so pissed off about the minions’ obstruction that you want to throw things?” We all say, “Yeah”.

A group of Water Protectors, peeps from Anonymous and an elder Native organizer arrive. Someone orders a carafe of coffee and a bunch of cups; the Native elder and a few Occupy elders entertain the rest of the folks with stories from the old American Indian Movement (AIM) and other adventures from back in the day when the elders were living in Minneapolis.

Some of the Occupiers attended an event a few days ago. It was sponsored by the Native elder and some Water Protectors and concerned the ever-present trauma related to Missing and Murdered Indigenous Relatives. A woman from the Sahnish Nation (North and South Dakota) has an organization that searches for murdered and missing Indigenous people. The Sahnish woman and her assistants have participated in searches throughout the northern hemisphere. Among the many things she talked about were the fact that very few police departments participate in a meaningful way in trying to locate murdered and missing Indigenous folks. She also said that in our Twin Ports area, many Indigenous women and girls go missing but even MORE Indigenous boys and young men do so. The Native organizer asks an Occupier, “If I bring the Sahnish woman here again, would you be interested in attending another event?” The Occupier enthuses, “Oh, for sure! I’ll invite all my friends too”. The Occupier thinks to herself, “I wonder if we could ever find the remains of The Woman Who Tells Good Stories?”

A few of the W.P.s are planning a trip down to the so-called southern border of the so-called USA. They will bring along medical supplies, people who are bilingual and people with medical expertise. An Occupier wants to go along and whines, “Damn! It will be warm at the border; I’m bilingual and have medical expertise too. Too bad that my old ass doesn’t have the physical stamina to endure a long ride or non-stop work with little sleep. It’s not fair”.

An Anon inquires, “Hey, is tomorrow supposed to be a national day of mourning because of the passing of George Bush Sr.?” A W.P. tells him,”Yeah, ‘fraid so”. An Occupier adds, “I won’t be doing any mourning. All I ever saw was just another soulless politician”.

We notice that the staff guys have everything cleaned up, we’re the only remaining customers and the guys are just standing quietly waiting for us to notice……again. It takes us a while because we can’t stop talking and it’s so cold outside that we all have tons of clothing to put on.

Some of us have an activity planned for tomorrow; it will require sage but we don’t have any yet. An Occupier couple has a bunch of extra sage at their house so we all pile into our vehicles and head over to gather sage….so to speak.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.