G.A. Minutes 7-25-17

G.A. Minutes 7-25-17
So the weather people say it’s supposed to rain this evening. It’s not raining as the first Occupiers roll up to People’s Plaza; we’re gonna try to get as much time in the fire circle as the rain gods will allow. The sky is overcast but not particularly dark, the temperature is in the low 70s and there is no breeze at all. The air is very muggy; uggg….. maybe the fire will take up some of the moisture.
Several of the Anonymous crew are waiting when we arrive. As they help set up the circle one of the crew tells us, “I’m not sure who’s gonna show up tonight. I’ve been without internet for an entire week so haven’t been able to communicate. We’re very dependent on Facebook for sharing information and for organizing”. An Occupier responds, “Yup, the internet is very convenient; we use it too. We’re going to have to look for other means of communication though. Once the revolution becomes stronger, the government will just close the whole thing down. The Anon adds, “When the government shut down the internet in Egypt everyone came out of their houses and congregated in front of the main government centers”.
The Stylish Native Woman and her partner arrive. Her partner tells us that he was recently arrested and hauled off to jail again. The arresting cop smacked him around too. The Partner is an unmedicated schizophrenic who has an uncontrollable need to just yell into the air sometimes. He doesn’t yell at other living beings and as far as we know has never physically harmed anyone; he just yells sometimes. When he’s finished he always apologizes to anyone within earshot.
Anyway, he’s been plagued with bouts of yelling for the last month or so. Somebody must have called the cops a week or so ago because one showed up to insult and harass him. Cops have been harassing him for well over 20 years. When he tried to verbally defend himself, the cop smacked him around and took him to jail. Now he’ll have to try to explain himself to a judge. He never has much luck with that.
All the so called professional people tell The Partner that the solution to all his problems is to just take his prescribed medicine. The Partner says, “I just really cannot take that stuff. When I take that stuff I become a complete zombie; I can’t even think”. The so called professional people seem to think that The Partner taking his medicine is a very simple and easy thing. They think that if he doesn’t take it then he doesn’t deserve any kind of help.
The Partner opines, “I wish there was somewhere I could go where there were no people and I could just yell and yell until I exhausted myself. I could then come back and associate with people until I had to go and yell again”.
We’d like to offer to help him file a complaint about being beaten up but we know he would never do that. He’d be too afraid that some of the cops would take him into a dark alley and break every bone in his body. There are some cops on the police force that would do that too.
More Anons are arriving; they hang around the fire circle and turn on their good music. Many Anon groupies also appear. We call them groupies because they are younger than the Anons and don’t have much knowledge or interest in what Anonymous is really about. They just think the masks are cool.
When an Occupier returns from parking his truck he reports, “There’s a guy without a shirt running around on the roof of the steam plant. A couple of squad cars are parked down at the bottom”. A few people go to take a peak over the back bushes; then an ambulance comes roaring across the overpass and off in the direction of the hospitals. The guy on the roof can no longer be seen. Someone says, “Gee, I hope he didn’t jump off the roof”. Someone else responds, “Naw, if he’d have jumped off there would have been a lot more squads and such around”. We all hope things work out o.k. for the dude.
When the Fire Magician finally gets a chance to light up the fire, the Anons go out to the street corner and start thumping. The groupies stay behind, hanging around just outside of the circle between forays for food from the table. We notice they’re acting extra “squirrely” tonight.
A street man who sometimes visits our fire and a street woman who we haven’t met in the past are discussing their previous and many stays in prison. The man states, “One time I spent a year in solitary. It wasn’t too bad; I read a lot of books and I appreciated the reprieve from having to interact with lots of people”. The woman replies, “I have grandbabies now and they need me. I have to stay out of the system”.
One of the street folks points to the water sculpture across the street and calls out, “Hey look, some tourists just brought Mr. Green a big pizza! Several of the street folks go running over to see if Mr. Green will share. An Occupier says quietly to another, “Oh, Mr. Green will definitely share. I know him; I was his nurse when he was in a chemical dependency unit about 15 years ago. He’s developmentally disabled; I know he looks real mean and scary but he’s actually a very sweet and innocent dude.
“He just doesn’t understand the connection between hanging out with the real hardcore street drug users and being kind of stuck in the life he leads. Every month when he gets his SSI check all bad guys hang out with him and he buys them drugs and alcohol. Once his money runs out, they beat him up and leave. As far as I know, no one has tried or been able to get him to understand about addiction or that another life is possible”.
After the pizza is gone, Mr. Green comes over to our circle to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. He doesn’t recognize his former nurse.
The city official and another Occupier come up the stairs. Once they are settled an Occupier reports to the city man, “I have 3 people who are willing to go on your radio show. Two of them could be available any Wednesday, Thursday or Friday afternoon”. The city man answers, “Those times would work for me too”. The Occupier continues, “I still have to contact the third person and then we’ll be good to go”.
The newly arrived Occupier asks, “So what did you think of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Open House last week?” Another Occupier replies, “I arrived very late so most of the food was gone but I think the sponsors have a very nice house, garden and back yard. The band playing was good too. Our old friend, the band’s guitar player has certainly advanced his chops since the last time I heard him play a couple of years ago. I was able to sit and chat with a few people I hadn’t seen in a long time. Also, Rich Upthegrove is definitely the best person for City Councilperson at Large. I’ll have no problem voting for him. We all agree, Rich Upthegrove is the best candidate.
An Occupier announces, “I went to Detox last week because I think I need another round of treatment for my alcoholism. They interviewed me and put me on a waiting list. I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait to get in. A street person adds, “Yeah, I’m having some pretty serious mental health issues but I can’t get in anywhere. Everything is full and there are long waiting lists. Another street person chimes in, “Even St. Louis County Jail is full. They’re contracting out to other smaller jails in the state. There sure are a lot of people hurting out here”.
The conversation turns to the subject of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights. The official man reminds us about his idea to purchase cheaply priced used buses from the DTA and turn them into portable shower facilities. An Occupier comments, “I like that idea. Myself and 2 other people from the HPB of R Coalition are tasked with exploring solutions to the 24/7 access to bathroom facilities human right. Mayor Larson has asked for a meeting with us. She says she has some ideas too. When we meet I will bring up the DTA bus solution”
The gay African American former street guy who was a regular at our Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial fires appears. He’s been at several of our fires this year too. He and the street man with the prison record see each other, break out in big smiles and hug each other for a long time. We were aware the African American man had fallen in love with someone but we didn’t know who it was. We don’t know the former prisoner well but, on the surface at least, he appears to be intelligent and kind hearted. We hope he really is because the African Heritage Man deserves to have a real relationship with someone who cares about him.
The Anon groupies have been running around the Plaza and acting silly all night long. It appears that some of them are drunk. Now they are sitting in the circle and trying to burn each other’s hair with their lighters. We tell them to stop. They do stop but begin wrestling with someone’s bandanna. They come within inches of the fire; everyone is yelling at them to stop. They have become deaf.
It’s about 9:30pm and we were planning on watching the fire die out. The Fire Magician sighs, “That’s it! We gotta go. If these kids won’t respect the fire circle then we’ll have to take it away”. All the non-groupies help pack up; the Anons come off the corner. The groupies just stand there looking confused.
An Occupier walks out of the Plaza to get her vehicle and load on the food stuff. She spots 2 cops that she doesn’t recognize, sitting on bicycles in the shadows; she hears the 1st cop say, “Hey, they have a fire going up there!” The 2nd cop says something that she can’t make out. The 1st cop says, “You mean they can do that ?!?” The 2nd cop says, “Yeah”.
The stupid acting groupies come walking down the stairs, appearing to be ready to harass the cops. At first the Occupier thinks she should go back to the circle but then she remembers the city official is still there. No worries, cops NEVER mess with the official man.
The light changes and the Occupier continues her mission. When she returns, the cops are gone and so are the groupies. Everything is ready to go; an Anon puts his sound system into her trunk and we are off….. Until next Tuesday of course.

G.A. Minutes 7-18-17

G.A. Minutes 7-18-17
It rained all day today and into mid-afternoon. The weather people say that’s all we’re gonna get for now. When we arrive at People’s Plaza this evening, the sky is clear, the temperature is in the low 70s with no breeze to speak of.
Spiritual Man is already waiting for us; he jumps right in and starts setting up the chairs. The young Native guy who used to help at the Anishinaabe taco sales comes up the stairs. He tells us that he recently got a very good deal on a used van; it now has a flat tire but he doesn’t have the tools needed to fix it. He says, “Winona LaDuke gave me $40 yesterday and I need to get to St. Paul tonight”.
He asks the Occupier who has the truck to come with him about 6 blocks away where his van is sitting. The Occupier replies, “I have tools and I’ll help you but not until after the fire circle is done. Come back here once the sky is completely dark and we’ll go take a look at your vehicle”.
One of the young white guys who hang around with Anonymous sits down; he comments, “It sure is quiet”. An Occupier answers, “That’s because the Anons aren’t here yet. They generally make a lot of noise”. The young guy tells her, “I don’t think they’ll be showing up this time. The Anon who takes care of the sound equipment and signs is feeling a little sick”.
The Fire Magician lights a small fire to begin with; the air is still quite warm and very few people are in the circle. The group currently consists of some Occupiers, the city official, Spiritual Man, the friend of the Anons and a young street man who has been coming to our fire for the last couple of weeks.
An Occupier states, “The next Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition meeting is this Thursday at Dorothy Day House”. The city official adds, “I attended a big meeting today about the HPB of R up at the Central Hillside Community Center. There were a lot of people there; folks from the Coalition and many City departments, City Councilors and such.
“The bulk of the discussion was about funding sources. I’m afraid they weren’t too happy with me; I kept providing information about rent control, CDBG funds and other things that City Councilors and City department employees didn’t seem to be aware of. I was surprised by their lack of knowledge and their defensiveness”.
The Occupier remarks, “Oh that’s right; I knew about that meeting but forgot to go. It’s probably for the best because I’m like you; I bring up topics that the so called upper echelons of folks so called running the City would rather ignore.
“I sure wonder what’s going on with mayor, Emily Larson. She talks like she’s in support of homeless people and their equal rights but her behavior shows something different. I definitely know she doesn’t want the HPB of R to become a City ordinance. I suppose she’s a better deal than the previous mayor, Don Ness who showed himself to be racist and classist but still, I wish she’d back up her words with actions”.
The city man agrees, “As far as Duluth’s communities of color are concerned, Mayor Larsen receives the grade of an F”.
Another Occupier tells the city man, “I received the email you sent out about grants for people willing to tell their stories about living during the Viet Nam War era. I think that would be a good thing for Veterans for Peace to get involved in”.
The official man concurs, “I sent it to them too. Do you all know that SURJ is sponsoring a tour of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial area tomorrow at 5:30pm?”
The Occupier who reports stuff says, “If now is the time for reporting, I’d like to report that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will not be having an Anishinaabe Frybread Taco Sale in August. Their frybread maker is having knee surgery and they don’t have another experienced maker.
“I have a good recipe for frybread but it’s not the Anishinaabe kind. I know how to fry but I don’t know how to make the dough. It seems like people around here keep their recipes a closely guarded secret and just pass them down to their next generation”.
Spiritual Man remarks, “I know how to make frybread. I learned from my mother when I was a kid”. Another Occupier advises, “Why don’t you just go on the internet? I imagine that somebody sold their recipe during a moment of need”. The reporting Occupier opines, “Yeah, I guess I could do that but it seems unethical somehow”.
An older, white, Christian man who we have known since the very first days of Occupy at the Civic Center walks up. He is accompanied by a young woman. We’ve always found this man to be a little odd but very likeable. He hangs around with right wing evangelical Christians but is disappointed with how unchristian these folks are.
He’s a very talented photographer/videographer who used to be employed by a major local TV channel. We don’t know what happened but he hasn’t been employed by any local media company in many years. He moved to Orange County, California last year where he became homeless. Homelessness was a new experience for him; he learned a lot and then decided to move back to Duluth where people are more charitable.
We chat for a while but he has to go to purchase a top of the line camera from some guy. He’s planning on making a video about homelessness. We tell him we think that’s a good idea and wish him luck.
An Occupier informs us, “I have a young friend who recently told me about non-binary gender identity. I’m not sure I completely understood. Does one just decide to not be a specific gender or what? I mean, I have no problem with the idea but I’m not sure I fully understand the concept”.
The city man adds, “So what does cis gender mean?” Someone tells him, “Cis means heterosexual or straight, trans means changed gender or something like that”. The scientific Occupier explains, “In organic chemistry when carbon chains branch out in opposite directions originating from the same spot it’s called “cis”; when they branch out in opposite directions but originating from different spots it’s called “trans”.
An Occupier takes out his phone and states, “I know, I’ll just see what Siri (a computer program that tries to talk like an actual person) says”. Another Occupier jokes, “Siri?!? Don’t ask her; she doesn’t know anything”. The phoning Occupier asks Siri anyway and she gives him an answer that makes no sense at all. The joking Occupier exclaims, “See I knew she didn’t know anything. And besides, Siri, stop flirting with my husband, you B…… wait, is Bitch a non-binary word?” Siri replies in a patient, pleasant voice, “Now, now”. We all just crack up. Our questions remain unanswered.
An Occupier couple rides up on a motorcycle. The male remarks, “It’s summer and I finally got my bike up and running. Maybe I’ll take it when I go out to the Retreat at Mesabe Co-op Park this Friday and Saturday”.
The multi-racial couple, who were staying at CHUM and attending all our fires last year, appears. They have an apartment now; the female has been in counseling and drug treatment for an entire year. She tells us, “I feel like a completely different person. I’m so much happier and healthier”. She talks about things she’s learned and says she has been taking a drug called suboxone. She reports, “When one is trying to get off of heroin there’s methadone and suboxone. Suboxone works much better”.
The young street man adds, “Yeah, I don’t know why they even give methadone. A person is addicted to heroin so they give the person another drug that they become addicted to instead? That doesn’t even make sense”.
Coma Man seems to arrive out of nowhere. He just stands, smiling at us. He doesn’t seem to be particularly wasted. He says, “I have to leave but I’ll come back later”. Off he goes.
The woman who is in long term drug treatment asks the city man if he know anything about the City Diversion Program. She has several tickets from the police that were received many years ago. She’d like to clear them up. The city man knows about the program and tells her where to go to find out if she is eligible.
A group of 5 or 6 young guys, who are of varying ethnicities and sort of Anonymous groupies, climb up the ledge, go through the trees and come running across the Plaza and into the circle. Because there have been fewer people in the circle this evening, about half of the food is still on the table. The youngbloods devour everything in a matter of minutes. They take the tobacco pouch, begin rolling cigarettes and talking about girls. They’re nice kids; we like them and just sit and listen to them talk.
A group of young girls are walking down the sidewalk. The young guys know the girls and call out to them. To the delight of the boys, the girls come over. They chat a while and then the entire group goes off to wherever (climbing through the trees and jumping off the ledge of course).
It’s quite late; the stars are out and we’ve run out of wood. Taco Helping Man appears; he seems only slightly drunk. He has his girlfriend and a couple of other guys with him; they are really drunk. All the sober people quickly pack up and are ready to go.
The Occupiers will go home and rest up for tomorrow; except for the Occupier with the truck. He’s going a couple blocks up from the Mission feeding center to help Taco Helping Man change a tire. We hope the experience won’t take too long or end in some type of disaster.
Of course, we plan to be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 7-11-17

G.A. Minutes 7-11-17
The weather people say it’s going to rain tonight; they don’t say exactly when though. It could happen in an hour or not until the middle of the night. We’ll just have to keep an eye on the sky. Right now it’s overcast, the temperature is in the mid-50s and a steady wind of moderate force is acting like it’s not really mid-July.
Some of the Anonymous folks are already out on the street corner as the first Occupiers arrive at People’s Plaza. The man from New Jersey, a few Anons, Socialist Action members and several other peeps begin their Cop Watch (another name to be decided upon) meeting as we set up the fire circle and food table. The Fire Magician gets the fire going right away. It will definitely be needed this evening.
The Cop Watch folks are talking about doing an action in coalition with Superior Save the Kids and Lake Superior Ex-Prisoners Organizing. It is to be titled Millions for Prisoners Human Rights and will take place on the protest corner directly outside of the Plaza on Saturday, August 19th from 5p-6p. The Occupiers plan to participate in this rally.
There are many street folks here too. They generally show up later; tonight they’re making the scene early. It seems like everyone is hungry. The Occupiers have brought their usual pile of sandwiches, cookies, coffee and apple juice. The Native couple from the neighborhood donate a big pot of manoomin (wild rice) and New Jersey Man contributes a really good watermelon. Fortunately, he also contributes a cutting board and a big sharp knife.
An Occupier puts the cutting board on the floor and cuts it up to the best of her ability. Some of the pieces look pretty strange but at least she didn’t cut herself or anyone else. When she’s finished she wraps the knife in a towel and puts it under her chair. She learned her lesson last year after Coma Man got a hold of the wood chopping axe and started playing Ninja Warrior with it.
The Cop Watch meeting is finished and most of those in attendance need to leave. New Jersey Man joins the circle; all the chairs are full. Among those in the circle are the Occupiers, the city official, Spiritual Man, the Stylish Native Woman and her partner, Mississippi Woman, the veteran young homeless man whose mother comes to the fire from time to time in search of him, a few young Native guys who have been attending regularly this year and a Duluth police officer.
The DPD officer wants to speak with the veteran young homeless man but he doesn’t want to speak with her. So the officer says, “O.K., you all have a good evening” and leaves. The veteran man tells us, “She arrested a friend of mine last week and now she wants me to give her some information. It ain’t gonna happen”.
A Native man who says he attended one of our fires last year comes up; he was attracted by the smell of the burning sage. He tells us he is a member of the Fond du Lac band and spent several years in prison where he found Jesus. We notice that he wears a small Christian fish symbol on a chain around his neck. He requests to be allowed to pray for our gathering in the Anishinaabe language. We accept his offer and give him a pinch of tobacco.
The Native Christian man steps toward the fire; Spiritual Man stands beside him. As he prays, an Occupier who has a vague familiarity with Anishinaabemowin notices that he asks the Creator for a blessing upon us but does not begin by calling in “the spirits” as is usually done. When he finishes he and Mississippi Woman go off away to have a conversation about their Christian beliefs.
An Occupier informs the city official, “The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition folks have asked me to take on the responsibility for getting everything together so some of them can come on your radio show. Are there any particular days or times when you would like them to do this?” The city man responds, “Most any day could work. We can record the interview and then I can play the recording on a Thursday at 6pm”. The Occupier answers, “O.K. good. It will probably take me about a month to get the people in order but I’m on it as of right now”.
The neighborhood couple has been out on the corner with the Anons. As they are leaving, they stop to pick up their now empty manoomin pot. They ask, “So when is the next Sobriety Feast?” An Occupier tells them, “Tomorrow night, 6pm at the Central Hillside Community Center. I’ve made a big pot of homemade macaroni and cheese with turkey hot dogs in it. Everyone says, “Yum!”
The food has all disappeared; the Anons are still thumping on the corner and most of the street folks have gone off to their sleeping places. With full stomachs, they will hopefully sleep well.
The circle is considerably smaller; everyone pulls their chairs closer to the roaring fire. The Occupiers, Spiritual Man, New Jersey Man, one Anon and the 2 young Native regular dudes are the only folks remaining; then Chicago Man appears.
An Occupier exclaims to Chicago Man, “I’m so glad you showed up tonight! I have something for you”. She hands him a small sage bundle. Chicago Man is pleased and remarks, “Oh thank you! This is exactly what I need. It really helps me to keep my head together when I can smudge when I need to”. He tells us he’s just been hired as a clerk at one of the neighborhood big box stores. He also has a job interview at the casino tomorrow. Chicago Man confides, “I’m not too thrilled about these jobs because I do much better when I have a job where I don’t have to deal much with other people. I’m kind of an introvert so have to force myself to make nice with strangers. However, seeing as I’m still grieving the loss of my deceased partner, I find it helps to keep myself busy. Besides, I seriously want to get a place of my own. I’ll have to do whatever it takes to make that a reality”.
The wind is blowing strong now, it’s been dark for a while; the stars are not visible. Someone looks at their phone and reports, “It says here that it’s not going to rain until 2am”. No one is ready to leave yet; an Occupier goes to his truck to get more wood.
A discussion about spirituality, philosophy or something like that begins. At first the 2 young dudes are sitting next to each other and talking about girls but they soon join the main discussion. Among the topics analyzed are atheism, various spiritual practices not associated with any specific “god”, Christianity and Anishinaabe spirituality.
The Anon wants to know about Marxism. New Jersey Man opines, “I believe Marxism is considered to be a science”. He goes on to explain basic Marxist ideas. The conversation goes on until the wood runs out. It’s quite late but we’re sorry we have to leave. It would be great if we could continue with this good vibe next time.
We expect to be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 7-4-17

G.A. Minutes 7-4-17
Peoples Plaza is completely empty as the first Occupiers arrive for their weekly fire circle this evening. We realize that many of the street people received their small monthly government checks a few days ago. That means many of them will be off somewhere indulging in their substance of choice. However, there are no people of any sort on the street; there are lots of cars though. Whatever…. we take our time setting up the food, chairs and such and wait to see what happens.
It’s slightly chilly for an early July evening; the sky is partly cloudy; the temperature is in the mid-60s. A slight eastern breeze is responsible for the chill. The Fire Magician prepares the fire pit for a big fire but says he’ll wait to light it until the sun goes behind the buildings.
A 30 something, probably white, street man who is vaguely familiar to us takes a seat on a bench just outside of the circle. We say hello but he doesn’t acknowledge us. It appears he is having a quiet conversation with someone who we can’t see.
Our next visitor is the African American gay guy from Chicago who we met last week. He says, “Oh good, you’re here. I thought you said every Tuesday”. He seems kinda sad; when an Occupier asks if he’s o.k, he answers, “These last few days have been really stressful for me. My living situation is chaotic and all the fireworks going off all over the place are really getting on my nerves. I’ll be glad when I get my own place so I can have things the way I like them”.
The city official arrives; he’s still carrying his cane but he doesn’t need to use it. His knee has healed considerably so he takes the cane “just in case”. An Occupier says to him, “Say, I heard the Damiano will be needing a new executive director”. The city man verifies that particular rumor as true. The Occupier continues, “If they put the position out to the public you should apply. You have the experience needed and would be good at that job. The city man agrees, “Yes, I think I will apply; it probably wouldn’t interfere with my radio show”.
The sun is behind the buildings now so the Fire Magician starts up the fire. It roars up right away, protecting us against the cold wind.
A Native young woman who we don’t know sits down. Her behavior is boisterous and she appears to be drunk. She’s somewhat over weight and is wearing a thin ankle length skirt that has a side split going all the way up to the waist band. All her “stuff” is hanging out and it looks like she’s not wearing any underwear. She bounces from chair to chair, attempting to rub up against whoever is sitting there. Trust me; it is not a pretty sight.
When she gets to the chair that holds the Chicago Man she stops. Apparently, he’s the one who strikes her fancy. Chicago Man is polite; he listens to her conversation for a little while. It’s obvious she is making him feel uncomfortable; he gets up and gets some food from the table. She follows him; he moves away from the circle. She turns to the Occupiers and asks, “Is it o.k. if I bring my boyfriend here”. We say, “No problem” and she leaves.
Unfortunately, she quickly returns with a tall, slender young Native man in tow. We think we have met this young man in the past. He says hello then bends over, puts his head in his hands and just sits there. She resumes stalking Chicago Man. He briefly plays her game but we can see he’s getting annoyed.
At one point her boyfriend gets up and bends over the side bushes. An Occupier opines, “It looks like your boyfriend is throwing up over there in the bushes”. She checks on him briefly then returns to resume her stalking. However, (surprise, surprise) Chicago Man has disappeared.
The Anonymous group rolls up. They decide to just hang out around the fire. Seeing as Chicago Man is gone, the half-naked woman starts rubbing herself on all the male Anons. They are not pleased but refrain from insulting or yelling at her. They crank up their music.
An older Native man who looks very familiar to us stumbles in. He tells us he has been drinking continuously for 2 days. He asks the city official to call his sister who lives on the top of the hill and tell her that he (the drunken man) needs a ride home. The official man complies and relays the sister’s message that the drunken man is not allowed to come home when he’s drunk. That’s when we remember the dude. He was always coming to our fires up at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial and asking folks to call his sister.
The drunken old guy thanks him, then tells him, “You know, I really don’t like the way you’ve been treating your woman. It’s not right”. The city man is not married; he doesn’t even have a girlfriend. He responds, “Sorry, it’s not me. You have me confused with someone else”. The mistaken man replies, “But how can that be? I was just talking to your old lady today and she told me how bad you treat her”. The city man stands his ground.
The confused old guy turns to one of the Occupiers and growls, “I know who you are…..Cop Caller! All I have to say to you is FUCK OFF!!!” The Occupiers have become used to this alcoholic mistaken identity thing so she tells him, “Nope, it’s not me. You’re thinking of someone else”. He looks real closely at her and sighs, “I guess you’re right. I was wondering what happened to all your curls”.
The boyfriend of Half-Naked Woman has revived somewhat. He’s showing off his veins and track marks to the mistaken man. The mistaken man is impressed. The boyfriend calls over to Half-Naked Woman who is still busy rubbing up on folks, “Get over here and sit down!” She comes to sit beside him but she’s still squirming. He says softly but firmly, “What did I just tell you? Sit down and shut up!” She complies.
All evening the cops have been buzzing around with their sirens blaring and their lights flashing. There’s been fire trucks and ambulances too. Sometimes they go up the hill but mostly they’ve been heading for the freeway or Canal Park. We think there are probably some car accidents on the freeway. We doubt anybody is rioting down in Canal Park.
The Plaza is rapidly filling up with lots of people. Most of them are street folks who appear to be really wasted. There’s the little veteran homeless dude whose mom stops by the fire when she’s looking for him, the schizophrenic middle aged man from the Skinner, the handsome, dark haired, furry schizophrenic guy who rants around the neighborhood and many others. We wave to them, they wave back but they know not to sit in the circle when they’re too fucked up.
An Occupier looks around the Plaza at all the incoherent people staggering around and comments, “Well, at least the music from the Anons is good”.
Menagerie Woman and her best friend arrive; they’ve come in the friend’s car tonight and brought 3 dogs with them. We give water to the dogs. Bush Man is down in the Cities staying in some type of mental health care facility. The friend tells us she is in the process of moving. She’s been living in a large public housing building where everything is really nuts. Things are looking up though; she’s managed to find a larger apartment in a smaller building where she will have a patio and the opportunity to garden. She reports that the housing authority is now giving out housing vouchers that have a 90 day time frame as opposed to the previous ones that had a timeframe of 30 days. Apparently, the Duluth housing market for poor people is so tight that the housing people know it will be close to impossible for poor people to find somewhere to live.
The friend notices Half-Naked Woman sitting next to her boyfriend with her stuff hanging out. The friend states, “It looks like your skirt has come apart. Would you like me to help you fix it?” The Woman seems to notice for the first time that her skirt is open and replies, “Yes please”. The friend sees that the skirt has little buttons all down the slit and she begins buttoning them up. She advises, “You probably won’t be able to wear this again. Some of the buttons are missing and the skirt is a little too small for you”.
Another young Native man who visited our CJMM fires frequently appears. We haven’t seen him since we moved to People’s Plaza 2 years ago. This particular man always seemed to have his shit at least half way together. It appears he knows the Woman and her boyfriend well. He speaks to them sternly, “These people work really hard to make this fire and food for us. You need to respect it!”
The couple doesn’t say anything; they just get up and leave. The Anons are leaving too. They’re going to find a place by the lake where they can watch the fireworks. The half way together young man goes with them. It’s almost 10pm so most everyone in the space scurries off to find a watching spot. The Occupiers stay behind; they’re kinda conflicted about fireworks and the whole 4th of July charade.
As we are packing up, Chicago Man returns. He asks, “Has she gone yet?” We assure him that she has. He sits down next to an Occupier and sighs, “She was getting really annoying. July is a really bad month for me. It’s the month that my partner died, the month that his family that didn’t care about him when he was alive came into the picture and also the month of his funeral. I was allowed to attend the funeral but after that they just didn’t have any use for me”. We emphasize but don’t know what to tell him except that his pain will probably lessen with time.
As we are leaving, an Occupier comments, “Man, this was the weirdest meeting we had here. We didn’t even get to discuss anything on our agenda”. Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, I’ve always thought that I wanted to go back to CJMM to have our fires. Things were always much more active and dramatic there. After tonight, I’ve changed my mind. The Plaza is just fine with me”.
On that note, we plan to be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-27-17

G.A. Minutes 6-27-17
Weather wise, it’s going to be another perfect summer evening at People’s Plaza. The sky is clear and the temperature is in the upper 70s. It would be almost too warm if it wasn’t for the variable, moderately strong wind blowing and creating the ideal conditions. We decide to wait to start up the fire until the sun goes behind the buildings.
Yesterday a few Occupiers attended the Socialist Action monthly gathering. A man from New Jersey who, over a year ago, had come to one of our Occupy meetings at the old Coney Island was also in attendance. He let everyone know he and some friends were planning to hold a peaceful protest about police accountability. The protest was scheduled to take place on the sidewalk outside of the Plaza, Tuesday evening at 5pm. The Occupiers informed him that we would be starting our fire circle at about 6pm and that he and the other participants would be welcome to join us.
When we roll up tonight we are pleasantly surprised to see so many folks holding signs and chanting. Some are from Socialist Action, a few from Anonymous but most are people we don’t know. Most of the cars driving by are beeping support. When they are finished they come to the fire circle.
They want to hold a short meeting in order to plan future strategy. As they discuss where they should go in order to not co-opt the Occupy meeting, an Occupier tells them, “Our meetings at People’s Plaza are different from what most people think of when they think about a meeting. The fire circle is open to everyone. We just sit around it and talk about whatever comes to mind. We wait to see who joins the circle and whatever happens just happens. You guys are welcome to hold your meeting right here”.
So that’s what they do. They discuss possible next steps and form a few working groups. The Occupiers participate in the Police Accountability meeting too. They plan to meet again at our circle on Tuesday July 11th at 6pm.
As things are winding down, the male from the couple who used to help us at the taco sales says, “Well, I just wanna know who will help the Indian people. The Indian people need help you know”. Some of the cop watching folks say, “We want to help but we’re not sure what we should do”. The Occupiers already know the taco helping man. They realize he is talking about the problems with alcoholism and substance abuse that he and most of his friends struggle with. Again, they encourage him to put down his tobacco and to pray.
The Native couple from the neighborhood arrives. They bring a big pot of very well-made manoomin (wild rice). The Occupiers have brought at least twice as much food as they normally do. We wonder how long everything will last tonight.
Menagerie Woman rides up on her bike. She’s returning from her regular Tuesday night plasma donation and on her way to her regular Tuesday night movie. She’s just stopping in to say hello. Bush Man has stayed at home.
Many street folks arrive and begin getting things to eat. A middle aged street woman who we know from our previous homeless camp appears. We haven’t seen her in years; a short hugging festival ensues.
The cop watching folks have gone; more Anons have landed. As they head out to the street corner and crank up their music, the Fire Magician lights the fire.
The Occupier who lives in Superior spent a couple of days in the hospital recently. He tells a story about his hospital roommate. The roommate is a career military veteran who is in the hospital for a possible leg amputation. He is also the primary care giver for his wife who has Alzheimer’s. Social workers come to his room to discuss what will happen if he can no longer care for his wife. They tell him he will have to come up with $37,000 in order to put his wife in a nursing home. They want him to put himself in a nursing home too. That will cost him another $37,000. The story telling Occupier says, “What is going on with our medical system? Can’t they just help people?”
Someone introduces the subject of the new healthcare plan that the Republicans are trying to push through the legislature. The plan is so draconian that even some of the Republican senators are refusing to back it. An Occupier comments, “Apparently, the most conservative senators are refusing to support the plan because women are not being required to pay more for the healthcare that woman need for their special woman’s necessities. The senators don’t think men should have to pay for anything extra that women need”. An Occupier responds, “If those senators succeed in forcing women to pay more, then those same senators should be allowed to only have sex with each other”.
Spiritual Man comes up the stairs; he’s pushing his girlfriend’s bicycle. He looks tired and more brown than usual. He tells us he’s been out on the beach in the hot sun looking for agates all day and shows us what he found. He has a couple of handfuls of really beautiful rocks and gives a heart shaped one to an Occupier. He gets coffee and plunks down in a chair. He says, “Man, my back hurts. I’m finding this getting old thing to be kinda rough”. Several of the Occupiers agree, “Yeah, us too”.
A middle aged chronically homeless man who frequently visits our fires joins the circle. He and Spiritual Man have been friends for many years. They converse about their lives.
A youngish African American man with a noticeable southern type accent sits down. He tells us he has recently come to Duluth from Chicago. He’s grieving for his partner of 8 years who died recently. He says he needs to be somewhere more peaceful than Chicago.
Another small group of young men we haven’t met before arrive. They consist of an African American, a Native and a Caucasian. They are lifelong friends and were attracted by the smell of the burning sage. All the chairs in the circle are now full; many other folks are standing or sitting nearby.
The man from Chicago begins a conversation about spirituality. The newly arrived group of men, Spiritual Man, the Occupiers and many others join in. After a while an Occupier opines, “In my opinion, it’s all the same God. There are many different names and many different cultures but all are actually worshipping the same God”. Everyone agrees with her analysis.
The food and drinks are all gone now. The only thing left is a big jug of water. The Snoozy Man who used to run the biggest spare changing group outside of the liquor store up on First St shows up. He was a regular at our fires at the Clayton Jackson MGhie Memorial. No one can remember seeing him ever eat anything so we think he won’t mind that the food is all gone.
The liquor store has gone out of business so we assume the Snoozy Man has found a different gig. He tells us he has an apartment of his own now. He announces his new address to all within earshot and says if anyone needs a place to crash for a night they will be welcome.
We notice that a cop with all his lights flashing has pulled over a motorist directly in front of People’s Plaza. He talks with the person in the car but keeps standing up, blatantly staring at us. An Occupier thinks the cop is trying to intimidate the Anons.
One of the men from the group of lifelong friends states, “Oh no, he’s staring at us. Pulling that car over was just a ruse. Trust me, I’m black. I know about these things”. Someone says, “You know, the only people who are harassed by the police more than black people are Native American people”. The Native guy from the group of friends remarks, “Yeah, that’s probably true”. The man from Chicago adds, “Try being black and also a woman living in a man’s body”. We all say, “Whoa!!!” The discussion ends there. Eventually the cop leaves.
The city official and another Occupier roll in. They are returning from having dinner on a train. The city man has a knee injury so must walk with a cane for a while. An Occupier asks the city man, “Hey, would you be willing to interview a few people from the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition on your radio show?” The city man replies, “Most certainly; I would love for that to happen”.
The city man asks the Occupiers, “So how did the big Neighborhood Youth Services event turn out?” An Occupier responds, “It was very successful. Several hundred people attended. We helped Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance make and give away 108 fry bread tacos. After we finished and cleaned up everything I had to go home and take a nap. Someone comments, “In our Central Hillside, if you want lots of people to show up somewhere, just announce there will be free food”. Everyone laughs.
It’s now well after 10pm. Even the Anons are ready to pack it in. An Occupier says, “Well, next Tuesday is the 4th of July. Do you think we should have a fire?” Everyone answers, “Yes!”
With all the people still in the Plaza helping, we get things packed up and into the vehicles in no time. One of the Occupiers loads all the Anon signs, sound stuff and a few of the Anons into her car for a ride up the hill. We’ll be back next Tuesday to celebrate the 4th in our own way.

G.A. Minutes 6-20-17

G.A. Minutes 6-20-17
One could not ask for a more beautiful evening before the first day of summer than the one we are about to enjoy at People’s Plaza. The sky is partly cloudy, the temperature is in the mid-70s; the gentle breeze from the west creates an atmosphere of perfection.
We find quite a few people waiting for us when we arrive. A few are friends of the Anonymous crew; most are various folks from the street. Apparently the word has gone out that the Occupiers are bringing their fire pit to the Plaza tonight. Everyone begins helping set up the circle and the supplies.
An Occupier jumps in one of the supply vehicles, planning to take it out to the street to park it. He drives just a few feet when……BOOM!!!…… we hear a loud explosion. The driver slams on the brakes; we all stop what we’re doing and look around. No worries, the driving Occupier ran over the bottom end of an unopened bag of veggie chips. Who woulda thought the air being forced from a bag of chips could make such a big noise?
Among the people who have been waiting is a young homeless couple that we haven’t seen in a while. They used to stop by and help out at the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NDN Taco Sales when the sales were held at the former All Nations office.
We think both members of this couple may be developmentally disabled but we don’t really know. They are both pretty deep into alcohol and drug abuse so their general behavior may be a byproduct of their addictions. We think they are in their early 20s; the female has never appeared to be interested in political things or anything at all other than where to find her next meal or her next substance to abuse. However, the male is interested in all kinds of things but he has a tendency to get his information all mixed up.
He begins to give a lecture about recent American history or something like that. As he talks, he keeps referring to Barack Obama as our second black president. We tell him that Obama was our first black president; he responds, “Oh no, there was another black president, I just can’t think of his name”. We start throwing out the names of every famous recent black person that we can think of. When an Occupier says, “Martin Luther King?” the young man responds, “Yes, that’s it! He was our first our first black president”. Someone gently informs the young man that MLK never was actually the president but seeing as the fact is not particularly germane to his lecture we just let it slide. The big Native Anon jokes, “If I was president, the first thing I’d do would be to order all the American flags in the country to be turned upside down cuz’ the USA is definitely in distress”.
At some point the young man stops lecturing, turns to an Occupier who he’s well acquainted with and exclaims, “I know that alcohol and drugs are very bad for me but I just can’t seem to find a way to stop. Many of the elders in my family are spiritual people and healers. My grandmother, who passed away some years ago, was a very skilled healer. She comes to me sometimes; she tries to talk to me but I can’t understand what she is saying. I know she has passed on but she’s here in this life too. One time I was sitting by the lake and some elders appeared and were standing on the water. They wanted to talk with me; they said they had information that would help native people. I became afraid and ran away”.
His Occupier acquaintance invites him to attend the monthly Duluth Sobriety Feast. She also suggests, “Man, if you’re looking for the way just put out your tobacco every day and pray. The answer will come to you”. The man’s girlfriend calls him to come over to a back bench and sit with her. We ask the man to be sure and visit us another time.
A large group of Anons arrive; they have lots of signs and a sound system. They’re planning on going out to the street corner to wake up the drivers but first they want to sit around the fire for a while.
A street woman who lives in a Board and Lodge walks up. We’ve know her for many years; she says, “Oh good, you guys have food. I missed dinner tonight, can I have some?” We answer, “Of course, eat all that you need”. She does, says thank you and goes off down the street.
The Anons begin chalking the Plaza stairs; some of them are really talented artists. Others go out on the corner; they hold up various anti-capitalist signs and crank up the music. Soon car horns are beeping their support.
The Occupier who reports things gives a quick report, “There’s going to be a big block party sponsored by Neighborhood Youth Services up on 4th St between Lake Ave and W 1st St 1pm-5pm on Sunday. INM/NWA has been contracted to make NDN tacos for the event; of course they will need our help. Then across the street at the Central Hillside Community Center the main CHUM staff person is sponsoring a Chili Feed Fundraiser to raise money to increase the reward for information about the disappearance of the Woman Who Tells Good Stories. It will also happen from 1pm-5pm. That area of the Hillside is sure to be thumping on Sunday. I just hope we can finish making tacos in time to get over to the fundraiser. Also, Socialist Pizza will happen on Monday, June 26th, 6:30pm at Luce’.”
Another Occupier comments, “Hey, it sure was great to hear the city official give a shout out to Occupy Duluth when he gave his speech at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Day of Remembrance last Thursday. I liked how he said we are true to our word and don’t let people down”. An Occupier adds, “For real. Most of the time when anybody talks about Occupy they say we’re real dangerous because we make bombs and stuff. Or else they think we’re real cool because we make bombs and stuff. Occupy is not or ever was about making bombs and stuff. It still amazes me how most people sucked up all the bs that the major media put out about us. Remember how the former CJMM BOD co-chair used to publicly accuse us of doing the work we do to help the community so as to make ourselves look important? Damn….”
A kinda hippie looking white dude who we haven’t met before joins the circle. He has a back pack and tells us he’s homeless. He starts talking about He Who Shall Not Be Named and says, “I’m really excited about all the jobs and stuff that he’s gonna bring to the people”. An Occupier replies, “You’ll be waiting for the rest of your life. HWSNBN is definitely a 1% ‘er who only cares about himself. He is one lying motherfucker”.
The hippie looking dude answers, “Well, I’m a conservative person myself but I bet you guys really liked Obama. An Anon who is still at the fire tells him, “No, we didn’t like Obama but we like HWSNBN even less”. The conservative dude then attempts to explain how climate change is a hoax; it’s something about how before 150 or so years ago people were unable to take accurate measurements of the temperature of the air.
One of the Occupiers is an actual scientist and another is well versed in scientific stuff. They go a few rounds with Conservative Man but it quickly becomes apparent that the guy doesn’t have any actual knowledge of his own. He’s just sprouting stuff he’s heard on Fox News and wherever. BORING……. If Conservative Man doesn’t become too rude or violent, we’ll let him stay in the circle.
A Native couple who live in the neighborhood appear; they bring a case of sodas and lots of hot dogs and buns to share. An Occupier goes to his car to get the roasting sticks and people start roasting the dogs. As we look around we notice there are people everywhere in the Plaza. A guy is teaching a couple of young girls in the back how to ride a skate board. Many people are chalking the stairs; all the benches in the entire People’s Plaza have various street folks on them. Maybe they’re too shy to join us but they feel safe to sit on the benches because as long as we are here, the cops probably won’t bother them?
The food that we brought disappeared during the first hour. Now that there are hot dogs, it looks like everyone is hungry. All shyness evaporates; people politely share the roasting sticks and chow down.
Some people ride up on their bikes; when they stop we see they are Menagerie Woman and Bush Man. We’re rather surprised but attempt to conceal it. We haven’t seen either one of them since last autumn. We know that Bush Man had become violent with Menagerie Woman. The police came and hauled him off to jail and then he was sent to the Twin Cities because of some pending charges there. We thought that was the end of it but obviously we were wrong. They seem to be getting along well enough tonight; we hope things will stay that way.
And then…….will wonders never cease…. Someone steps out of the shadows. It’s Mississippi Woman. She’s a longtime resident of the Skinner Apartments so we see her frequently on the street but she hasn’t been to one of our fires since we moved to People’s Plaza. It looks like she’s hungry too. She’d been out on the corner reading the Anon signs and smelled the fire.
When she finishes eating she gets ready to start her usual rant. We’re all pretty familiar it. Much of her rant sounds like the words of a southern black preacher but some of it has truth to it. She hollers, “They out there sayin’ the system is broken. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with the system, it’s wrong with the people! They don’t put God in their life”.
For some unknown reason, Conservative Man decides to challenge her. He stands next to her and loudly proclaims, “The problem with the black community is the lack of fathers in the home!” Mississippi Woman responds, “My mama and my daddy wasn’t married but they raised all us kids real good”. Conservative Man repeats, “The problem is lack of fathers in the home!” An Occupier taps the Man on the shoulder and says, “Excuse me but how long have you been black?”
Conservative Man tries again but soon realizes he is no match for Mississippi Woman. She is at least 30 years older than him and her game is down. He quietly leaves; if he had a tail it would be between his legs.
We had thought the Native couple from the neighborhood had gone home but no, they return with another load of sodas and hotdogs. The starving masses return and the feeding frenzy begins again.
It’s now 9:45pm and the sky is still light. An Occupier whispers to another, “We’d better pack up; I have things I have to do tomorrow”. The other Occupier responds, “I know, me too but there’s still food to be cooked. We’re gonna have to wait until everything is eaten”.
About a half an hour later all the food is gone and many are moving considerably slower. The Anons are still thumping on the corner and many folks are still in the space. We think the cops don’t know that there’s a 10pm curfew for city parks; or maybe they don’t care. We hope it’s the latter.
Anyway, we bring the vehicles up and apologize to all the remaining folks. An Occupier discovers a mislaid bag of veggie chips in her car and gives them to one of the Anons. We wish everyone a good night and a good time and plan to be back here next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-13-17

G.A. Minutes 6-13-17
There was very heavy rain and strong wind during much of the day; the weather people predict more for this evening, night and tomorrow. We conferred with each other a couple of hours before our meeting time. The weather map showed many big storms coming from the west and heading straight for our neck of the woods.
One of the Occupiers who normally brings much of the food for the fire circle stated, “You know, there’s a certain amount of preparation that goes into feeding everyone. If we get rained out as soon as we get there, what am I supposed to do with 2 dozen hard boiled eggs?” We decided to hold tonight’s meeting at the Coney Island up on W. 1st St.
This new (to us anyway) Coney Island is a little different than the old one that we used to meet at before it closed. For one thing, it’s 3 or 4 times larger; the décor isn’t old fashioned and cool and there’s no music playing. We expect the clientele will be different too.
This eatery is located very close to the CHUM and to Life House so we imagine some street folks will be around but the big downtown Holiday Inn is only a block up the street. Tourists frequently step out to tour the neighborhood. Oh well, we’ll just have to make due for now.
The place can probably seat at least 100 customers but when we arrive we see there are only 3. The 2 young people who are working the large front counter are quite friendly. When we explain that we expect more people and may need to push some tables together, the young man responds, “No problem. Just make yourselves at home”.
The city official is the first to arrive; he’s a bit out of sorts this evening. He tells his story, “Now you know I’m not the sort of person who ever gets violent but today I really had the urge to smack somebody. I know 2 twin sisters who were adopted from Africa and brought to live here in Duluth when they were just little babies. Their adoptive parents are well respected community members. The girls are very sweet and innocent; they’re 12 years old or so now; just entering their teenage years”. Most of the Occupiers know these girls and their parents and agree that they are good people.
“So anyway, these 2 young girls go into a recently opened sandwich type shop in our downtown area. They order and pay for their lunch and sit down to eat it. Suddenly the owner of the new shop comes stomping out and accuses the girls of stealing. Because nothing like this has ever happened to the girls before, they’re rather confused. The owner growls, ‘Show me what you took!’ The girls still don’t understand so they show him what they are eating.
“Their mother comes in to join them and she’s just flabbergasted when she realizes what is going on. She hasn’t had this type of experience related to her daughters either. She didn’t know what to do. When she asked me for advice later, I told her to hire a lawyer. I hope she does.
“I posted about the incident on my blog. Later on when I was at my job I expressed my frustration and my anger about the event. One of my co-workers had seen my post on my blog. He told me he thought I was over reacting, should not be displaying so much emotion in front of the general public and that the incident was really no big deal after all. When I told him that the adoptive parents of the African girls were white people he appeared to change his tune. He seemed to think that maybe the girls HAD been mistreated. I had to leave in order to refrain from choking him. You know, statistically, the junior high and high school students in this country who experience the highest level of mistreatment from adults are black girls”.
An Occupier has just returned from the public hearing about the Enbridge Line 3 that was held today at Fond du Lac College. He tells us, “It was wonderful. The place was full; mainly of FDL tribal members speaking against the pipeline. They had a round dance and beautiful drumming and singing. FDL just owned that hearing”.
Another Occupier shows us a flyer she received today from one of our Native organizer friends. The flyer tells about an Expungement Clinic hosted by the Legal Service of NE MN. It’s free of charge and will be held in the Ordean Building every first Tuesday of the month starting on August 1st and continuing until August of 2018. She says, “I’m guessing that none of us have any records that we need expunged but it’s still good information to have in case we run across someone in need of the service”.
The Occupier who reports things gives her report. She tells us, “Do you all remember that very popular band from about 10 or 15 years ago called Azure Du Jour?” Many of us do remember. The reporting Occupier continues, “Well they’re doing a reunion performance on Saturday, June 17th, 6pm-10pm at the Red Herring”. We say, “Wonderful!” Many of us were big fans of the band.
“Also, this weekend is Juneteenth weekend. The celebrations will be held in Duluth on this Saturday afternoon and in Superior on this upcoming Sunday afternoon. Another thing that will be going on Saturday, June 17th is Reclaiming Our Socialist Heritage sponsored by the Twin Ports Democratic Socialists of America and happening at 6pm at Norway Hall”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior asks, “I’ve been hearing a lot about something called the alt-right over the last few months. Does anybody know what it is? Another Occupier answers, “Oh that just means the white supremacists. Some right wing pundit came up with that term when He Who Shall Not Be Named started getting a lot of attention for his presidential campaign. I think the pundit was trying to make the white supremacists look not as dangerous or evil as they really are. I think we all need to make a conscious effort to always use the term white supremacist instead of alt-right. We need to call them what they really are”.
The city official opines, “When someone says white supremacist I believe most people think of the KKK. That’s one type of white supremacist thinking but there are other more subtle manifestations of the same thing. You know, like when white folks who are not necessarily really hateful but they still subconsciously see a person of color as less intelligent, less educated, less honest, less competent or what have you than a white person. Then there’s institutional white supremacy such as the slightly hidden ways the educational system, banking system, housing system, judicial system and all the other systems making life more difficult for people of color”. We say, “Ain’t that the truth”.
On that note, the city man has to leave. We say our goodbyes and as he heads out the door an Occupier reminds us, “He’s going to be the keynote speaker at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Day of Remembrance on Thursday at noon”.
Another Occupier goes on a rant about how totally wacked the entire world is. When he comes up for air someone else adds, “It took me a long time to admit it but I believe we are living during a very important time in the history of the world. Things are very precarious and we need to pay careful attention and try to help things in a good way”.
An Occupier agrees, “Remember the indigenous prophecy that says now is the time for the spark that lights the 8th fire. If the 8th fire is lit then all the good teachings and good ways of being will come back. If not, it will mean the destruction of the earth. I think it means that the people living now are the ones who are responsible for bringing about the change in the hearts and minds of the people of the earth that will cause them to remember that the earth and all the living things in it are sacred. I know the prophecy is meant primarily for indigenous folks; our job is mainly to assist the carriers of the spark in whatever way they ask us to. Personally, I’m down with that”. The rest of us are down with that too.
Changing the subject, an Occupier says, “Want to hear something really weird?” We do. He continues, “HWSNBN’s wife Melania is from Slovenia, a formerly communist country. Her father was a fairly important dude in the Communist Party. So now Melania is moving into the White House. I was watching a news report that showed some of the move in. Melania’s father was there; he was just hanging out and wandering around.
“So all the politicians in DC are worrying themselves to death about Russia and communists but no one bats an eye at the communist in the so called First Family. I thought that was funny”. We all crack up; we think it’s funny too.
It’s about 8:30pm. The place is empty and the 2 staff people (they do not appear to be hipsters) are washing everything. They keep looking over at us. The hipsters from the now defunct Coney Island taught us what that means. We pack up, leave tips and head out.
It has not rained yet but it looks like it wants to. However, the east wind is super strong. Strong enough to have blown over our fire pit. We think we made the right decision. If the weather gods allow it, we’ll be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-6-17

G.A. Minutes 6-6-17
It looks like we’re going to get some good almost summer weather at People’s Plaza this evening. The sky is clear; the temperature is in the mid-60s with a very light northwesterly breeze.
When the Occupiers who bring the fire and food supplies roll onto the Plaza they spot a couple of guys from a local TV station setting up in the back of the space. It appears they are getting ready to broadcast something.
One of the Occupiers walks over to them to see what’s up. She just wants to make sure that we don’t get in each other’s way. The TV guys tell her, “No worries. We’re just using the foliage here as a backdrop for a short news report. We’ll be done and out of here in just a few minutes”. They ask what we are up to and the Occupier explains a bit about the weekly recreational fires.
Once the broadcast is finished, the camera person comes over to the fire and postulates, “Hey, if you folks do this every week I could ask my boss if it was o.k. for me to show up and do a short story about your group. What do you think?” An Occupier replies, “Well, I’m not too sure. I’d have to ask the rest of our people”.
As more Occupiers arrive, the supply bringing Occupiers relay the TV proposal. A consensus is easily reached; we think it would not be a good idea. Too much publicity would not be a good thing. The police and fire departments are well aware of our fires and appear to have chosen not to bother us.
Although everything we are doing is completely legal, if some of the control freak, stuffed shirts who attempt to run the City get wind of our group getting publicity they may force the DPD and/or the FPD to harass us. We’ve already been there and done that and it was decided that having a weekly fire was more important than fighting with the so called City leaders.
Also, the fire is supposed to be for other local grassroots activists, organizers and people from the neighborhood. We’re not interested in becoming entertainment for well off folks who want to go “slumming”. An Occupier comments, “We’ve already been featured in all the local newspapers, that’s enough”.
A large group of Anonymous young bloods roll up. They are wearing all their Anon gear and carrying lots of signs and their sound system. Most head right out to the street corner and begin “kicking it”.
Much to our pleasant surprise, the next person to arrive is Spiritual Man. We have not seen him for 8 or 9 months. He tells us that he was working out of state. He gives us tobacco and we give him hugs. A middle aged African American man who we haven’t met in the past is with him. Spiritual Man gets coffee and takes a seat around the fire circle. His friend, who appears to be rather drunk, takes a seat on a bench.
An elderly white man wearing a motorcycle jacket sits down. We have not met him previously. He’s very talkative and states he is a veteran. One of the Occupiers is also a veteran; they carry on a conversation about their service. When the visiting veteran suddenly gets up and leaves, the Occupier veteran says, “I told him we were Occupy Duluth; I guess that didn’t sit too well with him”.
An Anon arrives with his little dog. The dog is very cute and friendly; she jumps softly into fire watcher’s laps. We always carry a water dish for visiting animals; we give her some water.
The city official reminds us, “I’m going to be the featured speaker at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Day of Remembrance this year; June 15th at noon. I hope you all will be there to support me”. We will all be there.
A long line of street cleaning and street painting vehicles have been going up and down the street for at least an hour. They’re very noisy and look kinda like a parade. Someone remarks, “They’re probably fixing things up for Grandma’s Marathon. That’s gonna happen on June 17th you know”. An Occupier adds, “Whenever Grandma’s Marathon happens I make sure to stay up on the hill. No way do I want to become part of that mess. This year the Duluth NAACP will be celebrating Juneteenth on June 17th in the Central Hillside Community Center Park. I plan on joining them”.
The Occupier who has recently begun working at the Mission feeding center sighs, “I received some very disappointing news recently. I took the job at the Mission because my social security retirement benefit is not enough to actually survive on. I’m only being paid $360 a month at the job but it sure does help. Now I’m told the housing authority will be increasing my rent by $120 a month because I have that little job. They just refuse to let poor people get ahead at all”.
The city official says to the Occupier with the new job, “I know you were at the local DFL convention last week; tell us about it. The Occupier answers, “It was just terrible. I really don’t want to talk about it”. Another Occupier chimes in, “I hear that the local DFL is so divided between the Clinton and Bernie supporters that they were unable to come to any consensus about endorsing any of the City Council candidates except for Joel Sipress”. Someone else agrees, “Yeah, that’s what I heard too”.
The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “There’s gonna be 2 somewhat local public comment hearings about Enbridge’s Line 3 soon. One is in Floodwood on Thursday, June 8th and the other is at FDL College on Tuesday, June 13th. Both will begin at 10am. She says to the big Native Anon dude, “By the way, I did a little research about He Who Shall Not Be Named signing that executive order allowing hunting of bald eagles. Turns out it’s just a hoax; HWSNBN didn’t actually do that. It wouldn’t be surprising if he did though”.
The big Anon replies, “Oh, miigwitch for doing that. I’ll be going to both the public comment hearings. Water really is life you know. I’m so pissed about how the 1% always wants to rip off the Natives. For 500 years they’ve been trying to genocide us but we’re still here. We may be crippled but we are still some strong people”.
An Occupier concurs, “It appears to me that Native people are no longer accepting the rip offs”. The Native Anon exclaims, “You’ve got that right! We’re taking back our traditions and our languages; we’re standing up and fighting for our rights as human beings and as indigenous peoples. The 1% is totally freaked out by that and they’re coming down hard. As you saw at Standing Rock, they tried their hardest to break us but we stood and will continue standing”.
The Occupier who is a single parent to 3 children changes the subject, “Being a poor person in this world is so difficult. Just trying to survive feels like slavery”. The city man answers, “If you want to see slavery, just look at our prison system. Now that’s slavery”. Another Occupier adds, “It is; I think that work stoppages are where prisoners have the most power and are most effective. Of course, I know they pay real heavy for doing that”.
All the sandwiches, cookies and coffee have been gone for a while. There’s still a bit of apple juice. Many people have been at the table and the fire circle tonight. As the sun sets completely we feel the full effect of the fire.
An Occupier opines, “I notice that CJMM is empty of street folks since the Bottle Shop Liquor Store closed. The street is empty too, even on good weather days. She says to Spiritual Man, “Do you know where all the street folks who are drinkers go for their liquor now that Kenny’s Bottle Shop has closed?” The Spirit Man replies, “I think they go up to the store on 4th St”.
Another Occupier adds, “Oh yeah, Loiselles. I thought that’s where they might go. I wonder where they’ll go after they get their alcohol. I know they don’t like to go too far from the store. I guess CHCC Park is the closest place to hang out. They’re gonna have a hard time asking for spare change in that 4th St neighborhood. None of the residents have much money. They’ll have to target people visiting Essentia Health. I don’t think that will go over very well”.
Spiritual Man’s friend has been quietly sitting on the bench in the shadows all evening. Apparently, he’s also been sipping on something. He suddenly jumps up and begins staggering around and yelling. He looks at a small group of Anons who are now sitting at the fire. “What’s wrong with you!?!” he hollers, “Are you all gay? How come you ain’t got no wimens?” He sits in the circle and continues, “If I had a fire like that I’d bring it into the house and sit with my arm around my woman. I’d rap and make love to her all night long”. An Occupier laughs, “If you brought that fire into your house, you’d burn the place down. That would not be very romantic”.
The drunk man doesn’t seem to have cared for that comment. He says, “You guys ain’t shit! I’m gonna go find me some white boys who like to shoot pool” and staggers off. Spiritual Man just shakes his head. The drunken man is not really a friend of his; just someone he met on the street that followed him over to our fire.
It’s well past 9pm and we are planning on packing up but the Anons keep putting more wood on the fire. Just as we start to gather up the wood we see the Stylish Native Woman and her partner coming across the street. This is great! We haven’t seen them since last fall. Nevermind….. We put more wood on the fire.
The couple has come for coffee but have to settle for apple juice. We’d heard that the partner was forced to have a couple of his fingers amputated during the winter but that’s all we know. He shows us his left hand; the first 2 fingers have been amputated. He wants to tell his story; we listen.
We’d forgotten how soft his voice is; the traffic drowns out some of his words. From what we can gather the story is, he was sleeping outside all winter. At some point his fingers became frostbitten and he went to Essentia ER. They bandaged him and gave him some medicine and sent him on his way. Seeing as he had no place else to go, he continued to sleep outside. His fingers became frostbitten again and the police forced him to go back to the ER.
In the ER he was given a large dose of morphine and then asked to sign a paper. He doesn’t remember signing anything but his signature was on the paper. They then put him into an induced coma. When he eventually woke up he found that his fingers had been amputated. He wasn’t real happy about that.
They then refused to allow his visitors, even the Stylish Woman and his parents, to visit him. They tried to make him take his medication for his schizophrenia but he refused. He absolutely hates to take it. They called some lawyers and a judge and said he was incompetent. He says, “I know they were trying to have me committed to St. Peters. They’ve tried before. I just kept arguing with them and refusing to go along with their program. Finally they just let me go so now I’m missing 2 fingers, can’t even roll my own cigarettes and still don’t have a place to live.
“I must have got their attention though. Now I have an ARHMS worker and a couple of social workers. They say they will find me an apartment that I can rent. If I don’t find a place by next winter I guess I’ll have to sue all concerned”.
We know it will be hard to find a place for the partner to live. He has 2 old felonies on his record and his schizophrenia causes him to have fits of yelling. However, he always tries to go off by himself to yell; he’s considerate of others. We think the mental health people get really pissed off at a guy with his illness who still manages to see the game they’re playing and to stand up for himself. He seems to always land on his feet. We admire the Stylish Native Woman who has stood by his side for many, many years.
So now its’s after 10pm and we really must go. We say, “Now that the fire’s back you’ll know where to find us on Tuesdays, at least”. We will also look for them on the street.
So……… Good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise….. We’ll be back here next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 5-30-17

G.A. Minutes 5-30-17
The sky is covered with rain clouds this evening as we roll up to People’s Plaza. We know it’s not going to rain though; we checked the weather map before we drove down here. The map showed us that a string of rain clouds would pass over the area but Duluth was on the tail end of it. The temperature is in the low 50s with occasional gusts of south wind. Everything will be just fine.
As we begin setting up, a large group of young bloods from Anonymous arrive. It looks like the entire crew is here. They help with the set up; then some of them take their signs and sound system and go out to the street corner to preach to the cars.
The rest of the Anons sit around the fire circle. The city official asks, “What do people think about the idea of a guaranteed annual income?” The Occupiers think it’s a good idea; some of the Anons are unsure about what it is. We explain the concept. An Occupier tells them, “Some people believe if our country had a guaranteed annual income most people would quit their jobs and lie around drinking and taking drugs all day. However, in European countries that are currently experimenting with giving out the income, that’s not what they’re finding.
“They find that people are using the funds to meet their basic necessities, pay off their debts, access education and training and to try to start their own businesses. They find that people are no longer homeless and/or starving anymore”.
An Anon inquires, “Did you guys see that He Who Shall Not Be Named signed an executive order making it legal to hunt bald eagles?” No one has heard about this; most say “What!?! Or WTF!?!” An Occupier remarks, “An order like that will certainly be struck down by the court system. Bald eagles are on the endangered species list. HWSNBN cannot just make pronouncements about anything he damned well pleases and supersede any law he wants. I wonder if he’ll ever be able to figure that out”.
A stylishly dressed, very pretty young woman walks up. She says hello to one of the Occupier couples and asks if they remember her. The couple does not recognize her but they don’t say so. After chatting a little they’re able to determine that the young woman is a regular at the monthly Indigenous Commission Sobriety Feast.
The Feast is open to all people but is generally attended by young Native families from the Central Hillside neighborhood who are struggling with various types substance abuse and addiction. The Occupier couple also attends the monthly feast; they always make a big healthy hotdish to share. Most of the attendees are struggling financially too, so a good free meal is appreciated.
The stylish young woman takes a seat, looks around at all the people in the circle and out on the sidewalk and says, “So what do you guys all believe?” An Occupier tells her, “I think we’re all on similar versions of the same page. I’d say the one thing we all are is anti-capitalists”. The woman responds, “What does that mean?”
The Occupier continues, “Well, you know how some people are born with access to more money and material things than the rest of us? Those people then get to have agencies, companies or whatever where they hire some of the rest of us to do the work. They pay their workers very little and keep most of the profits for themselves. Basically they’re allowed to get rich from the labor of others”. We see a look of recognition on the young woman’s face. She understands a lot; she just doesn’t know the current terminology.
She says to us, “I have a really hard time focusing on just one thing. I’m always aware of and watching everything in my surroundings. A therapist told me that I’m hypervigilant. I guess it’s because I have been hurt and kicked around so many times; you have no idea what I have been through. I’ve even been hurt by churches”. When some of the Anons return from the sidewalk we notice the young woman is already acquainted with them.
A middle aged, chronically homeless man who has been attending our fires for several years sits down. He has a bus pass that he is trying to sell. No one in the circle is interested but the man has always really liked our coffee; he gets a cup and takes a seat. He fills us in on this week’s street gossip.
The man asks an Occupier, “Don’t I see you up at the Mission?” The Occupier has recently accepted a job as a greeter for the evening meal at the Mission feeding center. He answers the man, “Yup, that’s me. I’ve only been there a few weeks. The most people we’ve served so far were 160 within 45 minutes. I think I’m doing o.k.; no one has physically or verbally attacked me anyway”.
Two young men who are vaguely familiar to us arrive. Their appearance suggests they are some of our neighborhood’s homeless and living on the street folks. The Native guy smudges and they both sit down. The Native guy gestures toward a bush at the back of the Plaza. He says, “That’s where I’m living these days. I need to go check and see if my stuff is still there. When he returns, he is carrying a jar that is about half filled with coins. He sits to count it out then puts all the pennies in a cup on the table. He and his friend wander off, presumably to spend the rest of the coins somewhere.
An Occupier asks, “Did you all see where a bunch of inside information has been leaked that shows there was coordination between the security company hired by Energy Transfer, the local cops, several other police departments and the U.S. military during the water protector camps at Standing Rock? They called the water protectors terrorists and treated them as such. Another Occupier adds that she was appalled by the extreme racist attitudes displayed by people from the dominant culture of North and South Dakota.
The big Native Anon exclaims, “It’s been over 500 years since we came into contact with Europeans and many of them still don’t see us as human beings!”
Someone remarks, “With all the wars that HWSNBN is trying to start, I wonder if they’ll bring back the draft”. An Occupier answers, “I don’t think that would work anymore. Too many people are aware of the bullshit”.
An Anon opines, “Yeah, we’re not stupid anymore. We’ve learned about Vietnam. We know the real story about Iraq and Afghanistan. The wars are never for the reasons the so called rulers say that they are. We know that it’s not a coincidence that opium poppies are the major crop in Afghanistan and the United States is in the midst of a major heroin epidemic”.
Another Anon states, “Hey did you know that those little denture cleansing tablets can be used as a detoxifier to allow a person to pass a drug test? A while back I got a call from my P.O. She said I had to come to her office in two days to take a piss test. I thought, ‘Shit, I’ve been smoking weed all weekend. What am I gonna do now?’ My uncle showed me how to use those denture tablets. I passed my test”. The Anon explains the denture cleanser process.
An Occupier exclaims, “I sure wish I had known about that when I was still working. I spent a lot of money on those detoxifier kits from Last Place On Earth in order to keep my job. Denture tablets would have been a lot cheaper”. We all laugh.
Another Occupier reports, “The documentary First Daughter and The Black Snake is going to be shown free of charge at the Zinema on Thursday at 7pm and at AICHO on Saturday at 5pm. I think Winona LaDuke expects to be at the Thursday showing”. We all plan to attend one of the showings.
The partner of Ms. Community Cleanup arrives. We’re surprised at how good he looks. He tells us, “I’ve got 100 days sober”. We see that most of the Anons also know him. One of them comments, “You look really healthy dude”. He does; he’s put on weight and is speaking coherently. Everyone congratulates him.
A woman from the Skinner Apartments comes up. She has attended our fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in the past. She gets coffee and observes, “So you guys are still kickin’ it, huh?” We reply, “Yup”.
It’s now 8:45pm and still light out. An Anon points to a cloud coming down from hill and says, “That one looks like a real rain cloud”. An Occupier disagrees, “Nah, it’s gonna pass”. Everyone sits quietly just watching the roaring fire.
The big clock strikes 9pm and…….SWOOSH!!! Rain comes pouring down. Everyone jumps up; the Fire Magician runs to get the vehicles. We throw a sheet of plastic over the table and stack up all the chairs. The fire and the sage are still burning brightly in spite of the downpour. The street folks all run for cover.
The Occupiers and Anons just stand around the fire and laugh. We’re getting drenched but it’s not very cold. Someone comments, “This feels kinda good”. Eventually, the vehicles arrive and we load everything up. We pack up the Anon sound equipment too; fortunately, it’s water proof. Once we are done and the fire is put out………. The rain stops.
Oh well, time to go home and dry off. We’ll be back next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 5-23-17

G.A. Minutes 5-23-17
We’re finally back at People’s Plaza and preparing to have our first recreational fire of the year. YAHOO!!!
Actually it looks like it could rain. The weather people have called for a 50% chance of scattered showers; the sky has been overcast much of the day. We don’t care. It’s been almost 7 months since we’ve been able to have a fire; we just can’t wait any longer.
We’ve all dressed warmly; the temperature is in the lows 50s with a moderate northwesterly wind. A fire is doable.
The city official arrives to help with the setup. He says, “I won’t be able to stay long. It’s too cold and I’m just not dressed for it”. The city man’s wardrobe consists mainly of clothes that are suitable for doing city official stuff. A rustic woodsman he is not.
The Fire Magician is back in action; he has a roaring fire going in no time. It smells, looks and feels great. We all pull our chairs close up and wait to see what will happen next.
A young Native man who has been showing up at our fires for many years quietly walks up. As usual, he’s soft spoken, polite and shy. He smudges himself, rolls a cigarette from the tobacco pouch then sits a little way off and listens to the conversation.
An Occupy asks, “Did you all see the picture that The Main Homeless Outreach Worker put up of the homeless camp that was destroyed? A homeless person made a small camp somewhere around here on a rocky looking hill. While the camper was gone, someone slashed his/her tent and stole all his/her belongings. The Main Outreach Worker managed to gather up another tent and some camping stuff so the camper could set up again. The same trashing of their camp happened the next day. That is so sick”.
The official man remarks, “I have some pretty good things that would be useful for homeless camping if someone would be willing to come to my house and get them”. An Occupier agrees to do so.
As the city official reaches across the table to pour some juice he notices the flyers we put out concerning the disappearance of The Woman Who Tells Good Stories. He comments, “I think there should a larger amount offered for information about her disappearance. Somebody knows something.”
An Occupier tells him, “Our friend, The Main CHUM Staff Person is planning a benefit chili feed event in order to raise more money for a reward. I think it will happen around the end of June”.
Another Occupier asks, “Did you guys see that the Superior African Heritage Community has been given the Men As Peacemakers annual Peacemaker Award? Someone replies, “SAHC is one of the groups that are led by the Superior Organizer. It’s about time she was recognized for all the outstanding work that she does”.
It starts to sprinkle a bit; wearing a skeptical look on his face, the city man states, “I think I’m going to leave now”. An Occupier replies, “Don’t worry, if it starts coming down in sheets, we’ll pack up and leave too. We’re only half crazy”.
As the city official disappears down the street an Occupier exclaims, “Crap! I forgot to ask him for Skip Sandman’s phone number. Veterans for Peace wants to ask him if he’ll speak at their Memorial Day event. Now I’ll have to go all the way over to his house to ask him. What a first world problem”. We all laugh.
The Occupier who reports things gives us her weekly report, “The Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition meeting is this upcoming Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House, as per usual. Tomorrow some members of the HPB of RC are going to the Citizens Review Board meeting, 5pm in Room 303 of City Hall. We’re going to review the new police policy called Interactions with Persons Experiencing Homelessness. The policy basically says that homelessness is not a crime and that cops must be respectful to homeless people and not tell them to ‘move along’ when they are in public spaces.
“The new DPD policy is better than a punch in the nose but it’s lacking a lot of very important points. I think they made it in hopes that it would derail the efforts of the HPB of RC to get an actual HPB of R Ordinance passed by the City Council. However, derailment is not gonna happen”.
An Occupier inquires, “Did anyone see Winona LaDuke being interviewed by Tavis Smiley on PBS last Friday? She really rocked it”. No one else saw the PBS show but everyone wishes they had. We think we’ll be able to view it online.
Someone comments, “That reminds me, it sounds like Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be doing something a little different for their taco sale in June. They’ve been asked to supply all the tacos for a big block party given by Neighborhood Youth Services on June 25th. I’ve been tasked with tracking down the main frybread maker to see if she’s down with the idea. So far, I haven’t been able to find her”.
We hear the big clock strike 9pm; the occasional sprinkles haven’t been bothering us. They’re certainly no match for the roaring fire. We’re trying to decide if we should let it burn out when couple of guys from Anonymous show up. We’re vaguely acquainted with these young dudes so think we should show them some hospitality. The sky appears to be clearing; the Fire Magician goes to the truck to get more wood.
These Anons tell us they are currently living in some type of halfway house after getting out of treatment. The big Native guy tells us some good stories that the elders told him when he was in Thunderbird House. The smaller white guy says, “I’ve been in Duluth for 4 years now. I’m from Georgia; when I arrived here people were nice to me and they tried to help me. That blew me away. I’m never going back down south; I’m gonna stay here forever”.
The conversation turns to the subject of what the hell is going on with supporters of He Who Shall Not Be Named. An Occupier tells us, “I read lately that many of the supporters were shocked to find out that Obamacare and the Affordable Care Act were one and the same. The supporters certainly don’t want anything that has Obama’s name on it but they really like being able to get health insurance because of the ACA”.
Our good friend, a local, well respected and somewhat famous musician rolls up. He was just cruising the street and saw our fire. He says, “I know where I’ll be spending my Tuesday nights now”. An Occupier responds, “I see your name is up in lights down at Zuccone”. The Somewhat Famous Musician humbly answers, “Yeah, it’s Bob Dylan’s birthday again. I always get that gig”.
The big clock strikes 10pm. The fire is burning down, we don’t have any more wood and most of us have stuff we have to do tomorrow. We pack up and make plans to meet up here again next Tuesday.
As the last of the equipment is being loaded into the vehicles one Occupier sighs, “I’d forgotten how incredibly wonderful it is to sit around the fire”.