G.A. Minutes 3-14-17

G.A. Minutes 3-14-17
Another Tuesday evening, another meeting at Coney Island…. After a week of cold weather and snow, the weather people tell us things are going to slowly warm up. Tonight appears to be in transition mode with cloudy skies, little wind and temperatures in the low 20s.
Weather wise, everything appears to be kinda normal for this time of year. Some say that normal is boring but after all the crazy ups and downs of the last month or so, we think normal will work just fine.
Everything appears to be normal at Coney Island too. When the first few Occupiers arrive they find the same hipster working the counter, the back booth empty and a few customers in the other booths.
An Occupier comments, “I doubt we’ll have many folks showing up tonight. That flu bug that’s going around is pretty potent; it’s putting even the young ones flat on their backs for days”.
When more Occupiers begin arriving one of them exclaims, “Did you see that new video of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO that was made public today?” Most have seen it and they are stunned. To an Occupier who has not yet seen the video she explains, “It’s from the convenience store the night before Mike Brown was murdered by the Ferguson cop. It shows Mike talking with the store clerks; it’s obvious that they are well acquainted. They probably all grew up together in the neighborhood.
“Anyway, Mike shows them what appears to be a big, really nice bud of marijuana. All 4 guys behind the counter pass it around; they smell it, hold it up to the light, and then put it down on the counter. One of the clerks hands Mike what appears to be several cartons of cigarillos. Mike takes the cartons and begins to leave; he then turns around and gives the cartons back to the clerk. The clerk stashes them under the counter.
So after Mike is murdered the next day, the Ferguson cops put out the store video from earlier that day that shows Mike walking up to the counter, taking cigarillos and walking off without paying for them. The cops said it was proof that Mike had robbed the store. The thing is, the cops had the video from the night before, they just didn’t put it out”.
The Occupier who hasn’t seen the video is stunned too. The explaining Occupier continues, “I think the ‘night before’ video was obtained by the lawyer for Mike Brown’s family. So what do you think the cops did after the ‘night before’ video was made public?” No one knows. The explaining Occupier tells them, “They arrested the 4 guys who were working the counter that night”. Everyone groans.
After a moment of silence, an Occupier remarks, “I suppose you all know that our federal representative, Rick Nolan, is in town this evening. He’s answering questions and what have you at 4601 McCulloch St from 6-7pm”.
Another Occupier responds, “I think most environmentalists have pretty much given up on him. It’s apparent that he’s not going to listen to reason when it comes to mining and pipelines. He’s good on a lot of things but he just refuses to stop whoring for mining votes up on The Range. I believe he’s convinced that’s the only way he will continue to get re-elected. He’s wrong though. His stance just shows that he lacks integrity. Remember how Skip Sandman walked off with 16,000 of what were probably Nolan votes back in 2014? Skip had almost no budget. If any progressive candidate who offered integrity were to run against him, I believe all the progressives who don’t bother to vote in the off year elections would come running back to vote for the new candidate and Nolan would be toast”.
An Occupier brings a copy of the Northern Worker weekly activist calendar and passes it around. She says, “You know you guys can get a copy of this calendar sent to your email each week. Just contact Adam Ritscher and ask to be put on the email list”.
Among the many events listed in the calendar is the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management’s public comment period to be held at the DECC on Thursday March 16th from 5-7:30pm. The agencies are taking public comments about what effects sulfide mining will have on the BWCA.
An Occupier states, “I’m definitely going to the comment period. Maybe I should wear my old Forest Service jacket from when I used to work for them. Another Occupier answers, “Oh, please do. That would create a really nice effect”.
Another Occupier tells us, “I’m invited to attend an early morning meeting with some other Water Protectors tomorrow. I’m not sure what it’s going to be about but I’m guessing it has to do Enbridge. As you know, I’m not much of a morning person but this is too important to miss”.
The city official remarks, “I’ve also been invited to that meeting but will have to be somewhere else. Please inform them of my prior commitment”.
Another Occupier arrives. He’s just returning from A Day On The Hill. He went down to St Paul on a bus with many other Duluth activists. Their mission was to meet with our state legislatures and to explain our concerns. The arriving Occupier tells us, “In a way, it was kind of a waste of time. Our legislators Liz Olson and Eric Simonson are already on board with all our progressive values. I guess they at least received moral support for all their hard work anyway”.
The hipster staff dude goes out for a smoke while we keep an eye on the place, as usual. When he returns, a street guy is with him. They’re talking so we assume they’re friends. The street guy sits down in a front booth and the hipster calls someone on his phone.
Pretty soon a Duluth police officer arrives. It’s one of the younger cops but we know he’s not a new recruit because we recognize him. He’s wearing a short sleeved uniform but also has on gloves. He’s got his chest all puffed out and his arms hanging far apart from his body like a lot of men do when they’re trying to look more muscular than they actually are. He also looks kinda nervous.
So, we’re curious as hell but we stay back in our booth. It’s best to not mess with a cop who looks nervous. The cop stands away from the guy in the booth but begins asking him questions. The cop gets on his phone and then he goes behind the counter and grabs a bunch of paper towels. He appears to be handing the paper towels to the guy in the booth. Then a bunch of other men who aren’t wearing any kind of uniforms come through the door. They just stand around talking with the cop.
Eventually, an ambulance arrives. The paramedics stand around talking for a while. We hear the street guy say that whatever it is that has happened involved some guy named Mike. We find this amusing as at least one third of the males who live in Duluth are named Mike.
The paramedics put the guy on a stretcher and all the various involved people go outside and stand around talking some more.
The staff guy tells us that the street guy had been stabbed in the shoulder and was bleeding profusely. The staff guy didn’t personally know the stabbed guy but he saw that the guy needed help.
Once the doorway has cleared of talking people, some of the Occupiers go out for a smoke break. We see a fire truck parked weirdly at the corner. As the ambulance pulls away, an Occupier nods toward the street and says, “Must be a slow news day”. We see a camera person from one of the local TV channels packing up. We agree as someone getting stabbed in the shoulder around here is really no news at all.
When we return to the café we find the staff hipster dude is in quite a bit of distress. The paper towel mess complete with what he describes as a bloody disaster has been left behind. That means he will be expected to clean it.
A couple of the Occupiers are medical professionals. They take a look at the booth and the floor. They see there is actually very little blood but realize most people who don’t work in the medical profession get really freaked out by any amount of blood. The Occupiers advise the staff guy as to how he can safely clean it up with equipment he already has on hand. The building manager arrives to help with the cleanup; he carries a big mop. The Occupiers assure them that everything will be o.k.
Once the dust has settled, the Occupiers resume their conversation. One Occupier says to another, “Hey, you went up to Bemidjii the other day for the comment period for Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper. How did it go?” The questioned Occupier replies, “Oh, we really rocked it. Enbridge was trying to keep the event secret but we brought a busload of people from Duluth, 2 busloads came from the Twin Cities and another busload from somewhere else. There were also a lot of Native people from various reservations.
“There was a lot of security and they sort of searched people before they entered the big public comment room. Many people made public comments in person; Native women did a jingle dress dance out in the lobby and a large crowd chanted out there too. Basically, we let Enbridge know we are not asleep”.
An Occupier reports, “It appears there is good news in the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Ordinance department too. A couple of days ago the main organizer for the HPB of R Coalition received a call from the mayor. She told him that she has always supported the HPB of R but was waiting for all the various governmental departments to weigh in and hadn’t wanted to appear to be pushing her influence on them.
“However, the departments appear to be trying to ignore the issue so she thought it was time for her to get involved. Also, the Human Rights Commissioner has been given a part time assistant so that makes him more inclined to support the HPB of R. too.
“She also told the main organizer about a resolution that was going before the City Council yesterday in support of the process of City agencies and City Councilors working with the coalition to get the ordinance worked out. We all showed up yesterday and spoke in favor of the resolution; the councilors voted unanimously in favor of it.
“We know that a resolution has little power behind it and that Mayor Larson is giving a State of the City speech on Monday, March 20th, 5:30pm at Lincoln Middle School, 3215 W 3rd St and she probably will want to brag about her support of homeless people.
“She could just be using smoke and mirrors but at least her public support will make all the governmental departments have to meet with us so that helps.
“It really sucks that people in power can make things happen or not happen just according to how they feel. It’s not right”.
Changing the subject, an Occupier says to another, “I’m really sorry I missed your movie event at U.U. That flu bug really got me and I ended up in the ER that evening”.
The Occupier responds, “Bummer. It was a Michael Moore movie entitled ‘Who Do We Invade Next?’ I strongly recommend that anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, try to do so”.
The hipster guy has cleaned up the mess but is barely started with his final regular cleanup so that he can go home. We try to put extra tip money beyond what we normally leave. Maybe that will help him to feel better. He has a hard and sometimes stressful job.
We expect to return next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-7-17

G.A. Minutes 3-7-17
The weather is actually normal tonight as we cruise into Coney Island.  Normal for March, that is.  The month of March can have all sorts of different weather but it’s rarely life threatening and the promise of spring makes it almost bearable. 
The wind has been howling like crazy all day with gusts up to 50mph.  We hear the early morning commute was pretty exciting.  All the snow on the roads and sidewalks had been melted until the very early morning hour when a light but very moist snowfall came down.
All the cars were going sideways down Lake Ave; they were smacking into parked cars.  Eventually there was a 5 or 6 car pileup in the 3rd St and Lake Ave intersection and somebody ran into a power pole which caused a power outage in part of the Central Hillside.
Most of the Occupiers have managed to find ways of survival that don’t require an early morning commute. Most of us just woke up to a power outage.  We had flashbacks to last summer’s 36+ hour power outage in 100 degree heat.  No worries this time though.  The power was back on in  half an hour; the sun came out and melted all the snow and the wind dried up all the wetness.
We scare easily these days.  We know climate change is happening right now.  We know that under the “current administration” things will be getting worse.  We know we will probably experience the kinds of weather and lack of energy services that folks in Third World countries experience on a regular basis.  We worry about our future generations as we don’t know how long it will take until “the meek inherit the earth”.
The same hipster guy is working alone again.  There is already a group of people in the back booth; it sounds like they’re about to have a meeting.  We are a small group again tonight so can easily take the middle, slightly smaller booth.
We can hear the folks in the back booth talking about whether they want to eat or not.  They decide that they do; they leave to go somewhere else.  We don’t come here for the food.  We come here because it’s centrally located in the neighborhood, it’s comfortable and if we see any of our street friends, we can invite them to join us and know they will be accepted by the staff and the other customers.  Once it is empty, we go to the back booth.
We think many of our Occupiers have gone on the 350 bus up to Bemidjii to the hearing about the Alberta Clipper pipeline.  We hope so and we hope the bus was full too.
An Occupier asks, “Has anyone heard what is going on at Standing Rock these days?”  No one has heard anything. The Occupier continues, “I guess I’m gonna have to find the time to do some research.  We know there are still Water Protectors at Sacred Stone Camp.  Ever since the porkies tore down Occeti Sakowin the general media has been silent.  I hope I can have some information by our next meeting.
“Enbridge is coming for our northern MN water next and I know we need to shift focus but everything is connected and we can’t forget our Standing Rock relatives.  In fact, they have stated they will be here to help us when the time comes”.
An Occupier expresses concern related to the mother of his children who has recently been released from a drug treatment facility.  He tells us, “They just sort of plunked her down into the same environment she was in before she went to treatment.  She’s really not capable of being left on her own with no guidance.  I’m already overburdened with being a single parent to all the kids.  I can’t take care of her too”.
We talk about the many failings of drug treatment facilities.  Most are understaffed and overburdened by the amount of people in need of treatment.  Most are completely dependent on government and insurance company funding.  The government and insurance companies are interested in contributing the least amount of funding that they can.  We come to our usual conclusion; our for-profit healthcare system is grossly inadequate.
The city official tells us about his upcoming radio show which airs on Thursday.  He has interviewed a woman journalist who is originally from the south.  She has written a book about some deeply hidden facts that she came across when researching her family history.  Her family was very unhappy with her bringing these facts to light, even within the family.
An Occupier adds, “People in this country need to know the truth about our history.  If we are unwilling to know the truth, we will never be able to heal.  Another truth is that every human being on this earth is related to every other human being.  It’s been calculated from measurements of the human genome that as recently as 4,000 generations ago all humans originated from the same genes.  That means every person in the world is related to every other person in the world.  We have at least one common ancestor, in as little as a hundred thousand years ago.  That’s practically nothing in archeological deep time.”    We all nod in agreement.
Another Occupier comments, “The Anishinaabe Taco Sale went well.  They made a good profit to add to their “save our mother earth” coffers.  They might try something different next month.  I don’t know the particulars but it has to do with walleye fillets”.
The Occupier who generally keeps a record of progressive events passes around a copy of the Northern Worker calendar again.  She says, “As usual, too much going on to give a verbal report so here you go.  Tomorrow is International Women’s Day so there’s been and will be a lot going on around that.  I’m sorry to say I won’t be able to attend anything as I’m already committed to being at the Human Rights Commission meeting and then at the Indigenous Commission Sobriety Feast.
“I’m definitely a feminist but as you know, my main interest lies with saving mother earth, the water and the air.  If we don’t have a planet to live on, none of this other stuff will matter.  Besides, seeing as we do a lot of that work with local Anishinaabe folks and seeing as women are very respected and equal in traditional Anishinaabe culture, I feel comfortable in my role”.
The city official asks, “So what’s going on in our local feminist circle these days?”  The Occupier responds, “As far as I know, there are 2 main groups.  One is a large, well-funded group (I can’t remember their name) that has a lot of women from the Democratic Party.  I’m told some of them spend a lot of time taking negative comments off of Mayor, Emily Larson’s Facebook page.  The other is a smaller progressive group called Feminine Justice League.  They are a political study group that also does most of the art and picketing in front of the Duluth Building for Women.  There’s another group called the Hotdish Militia.  I think they are a fundraising group for women in need”.
Another Occupier reports, “The weekly Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights meeting is Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House again.  We’re also going to be attending the HRC tomorrow at 5:30pm at City Hall. We’re going to make sure the HPB of R isn’t just being sent there to die”.
We notice we’ve been watching the wrong clock and that it’s well past time for us to have left.  The hipster is being patient but we can tell he’s ready to go.  We begin packing up.
An Occupier, still sitting in the booth, reaches down to the floor to pick something up.  As he does this, his face falls into a plate of unfinished French fries.  The city man gasps and moves towards the Occupier.  French Fry Man sits up with the thing he was looking for in his hand and a quizzical look on his face.  The official man exclaims, “OMG!  I thought you were having a stroke of something!”
We all just crack up.  We take turns making up what the article in the Duluth Trib. would say if the French fry death event had actually happened.  We know we’re supposed to leave but…..we just can’t stop laughing.  Maybe it was a “you’d have to be there” moment.
We plan to return to Coney Island next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 2-28-17
Last week Duluth was a tropical paradise; tonight we’re having a blizzard.  Cars are sliding all over the place; many are having serious trouble getting up the hills. 
It’s really not that bad though because temperatures are in the low 30s with an occasional wind.  Providing they have somewhere warm and safe to go, folks who must walk won’t suffer frostbite.  Homeless folks will be wet, uncomfortable and unable to actually sleep but they probably won’t die.  Heck, it might even be spring one of these days; with the schizophrenia of climate change you never know.
We are only a few Occupiers and the city official at Coney Island this evening.  Maybe some forgot about our earlier starting time or maybe they just didn’t want to go out into this end of winter sloppiness.
We say hi to the lone hipster working the counter and head to the back booth.  The only other customers are 2 regular guys in another booth.  They’re talking about people who have seizures.
The city official tells us about the wonderful time he had at the Milwaukee conference.  He gives us a booklet from the event; it looks really interesting and makes us all wish we had been able to attend.  The official reports that when he was introduced as being from Duluth, the entire audience broke out in huge applause.  It seems that people all over the nation know about our Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial and are quite impressed.  We’re sorry that most people in our City government don’t feel the same way.  Mostly they just ignore CJMM; despite many requests, they still haven’t cleaned up the pawnshop garbage that’s been sitting behind the Memorial for 8 years.
The city man asks if we’re aware that the City Council recently voted to approve giving $250,000 to a developer to help him develop more market rate apartments in a currently wooded area near the Miller Hill Mall.  Of course, there will be no low income units available in this new development.
An Occupier comments, “Yet the City budget people say they can’t possibly finance 7 port-a-potties for homeless folks at a cost of $5,000 – $10,000 a year.  I’m gonna be sure bring that up the next time I speak before the Council.  I am so sick of this shit”.
Another Occupier changes the subject by saying, “Remember how we talked about a recent increase in shootings in our neighborhood last week?  I said I was going to the Citizens Review Board meeting and would ask about it.  Well I went to meeting but I didn’t have to ask; all the Commissioners were very concerned and asking what the hell was happening.
“Chief Tuscan was there so he gave the run down.  In the past month or so there have actually been 6 shootings scattered around our poor and working class neighborhoods.  One was at the liquor store close to CJMM, another in the East Hillside, one in West End, and one at 65th Ave W.  Then there was one where people in cars driving on I-35 were shooting at each other and another (I forgot where he said it was) that was an actual premeditated murder.
“Tuscan assured the Commissioners that all the shootings were between people who knew each other and there were no sniper type events.  He said the reason for increased shootings is probably because there are a lot of guns among the general public these days.  Of course, one must always take what the cops have to say with a grain of salt but that’s the info they’re putting out right now.
“I asked about the incident I witnessed on the Blatnik Bridge but all the cops said they were unaware of that event even happening.  They thought it might have been some other law enforcement agency.  I told them it was so dark that I was unable to see the markings on the SUVs.  We have so many so called law enforcement agencies these days; it’s anybody’s guess what was really going on”.
An Occupier states, “Before I forget, Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be having a Taco Sale on Friday and they’ll need our help.  We’ll need to call the others as we’ll need them to help too.
“Also, the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition is doing a letter to the editor campaign right now.  They find that there is so much talking behind their backs going on with the City government and some of the NGOs that it’s time to get the information out to the general public.  So far, there have been 2 letters posted in the Northland Reader and 1 in the Duluth News Tribune”.
The lone hipster asks if we mind if he goes out for a smoke.  We say that’s fine.  There are no other customers currently in the place so our job shouldn’t be too hard.
An Occupier reports, “Duluth for Clean Water is having another event at the Zeitgeist on Saturday at 2pm.  I don’t think I’m gonna go though.  I found their last presentation to be really elemental; I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know.  Also, one of the last presenters made the comment that seeing as we’ve learned so much now about how to fight sulfide mining, we will be really prepared when the next sulfide mining projects apply.  I was very offended by that.  Everyone knows that other mining companies won’t be able to apply until after Polymet is in operation.  So was she saying that Polymet is already a given? That was so lame!  Even if that’s what she thinks privately, she shouldn’t be putting that out in public.  It made me wonder who she’s really working for”.
The Occupier who usually keeps track of the weekly progressive/radical goings on reports, “The HPB of R Coalition meeting will happen again this Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day, the Anonymous kids will be out on the protest corner tomorrow starting at 11am and there will be an International Women’s Day Strike Rally on the same corner March 8th at 5pm.  There are a lot of things going on again this week so I brought a copy of the Northern Worker activist calendar for everyone to look at”.
It’s coming up on 7pm and it looks like the hipster dude is dying to go home.  As we pack up, an Occupier says to the city official, “I want to thank you again for the tickets to the Soul Food Dinner.  We had a good time.  The place was packed, the food was great and some of the spoken word presentations just blew my mind”.
So we’re off.  For another week we will try to do good things and stir stuff up as much as we can.  We plan to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 2-21-17
Duluth MN has turned into a tropical paradise.  For real. Temperatures have been in the 50s for the last 5 or 6 days with nighttime lows in the 30s…..in February.  We’re keeping a close eye on the sky as pigs will be flying soon.
At Coney Island, 2 of the hipster guys are working the counter. We’re all happy to see each other.  The other non-hipster staff people are o.k. but the hipster staff actually knows what Occupy is about.  They’re down with it too.
They tell us that the hours of operation have changed; they’re going to close at 7pm now.  One hipster tells us, “The place is usually dead by 7:30pm and it makes us kinda nervous to be here all alone until 9pm. 
We’ve noticed this ourselves.  We’re generally the only customers left by the end of the night.  Occasionally a lone male street looking person will come in to use the bathroom.  The level of violence in the neighborhood seems to have increased over the last month or so.  We’re not sure why.
An Occupier responds, “Dude, we totally get it.  No one should have to risk their life just to hold down a job.  We can start our meetings at 5:30pm from now on.  That will give us enough time to take care of any pressing business”.
As we take our seats in the back booth an Occupier comments, “So tomorrow is supposed to be the day that the cops and the military forcibly take down the Occeti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.  I wonder how that’s gonna go.  I know that all along the people in the Sacred Stone Camp have expected all the other camps to be torn down.  “They’ve been preparing Sacred Stone to be able to take in the folks from the other camps.  They have to close down the other camps anyway as all that land will flood when spring comes.  I hear the weather is unseasonably warm out there too”.
Another Occupier adds, “I’ve been seeing notices from the camp asking for people to come out there to be witness to what will happen tomorrow.  I know a few of our friends have gone.  The notices say that if you can’t get to camp then please hold a rally in support of Standing Rock.  There’s gonna be a Jingle Dress Rally in Support of Standing Rock tomorrow at People’s Plaza at 4pm”.  We all plan to be there.
The city official will be leaving for Milwaukee in a few days.  He will be giving a presentation about our city’s Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial at the annual gathering of the America’s Black Holocaust Museum.  This is a pretty big deal.  The city man tells us a Memorial to the over 4,000 reported lynchings of black people that took place between 1877 and 1950 will be built in Memphis, TN.  Once it’s completed it will be a major big deal.  Of course, all of this is appalling and very sad but it must be seen and acknowledged.  Unless our country owns up to its true history its people will never be able to heal.
An Occupier reports, “Now that I’ve been able to hook up with the Homeless Person’s Bill or Rights Coalition again, I’m finding all sorts of intrigue going on.  I suppose that’s not unusual when dealing with government bureaucrats.  When the coalition members meet in private with people from the various departments and agencies (they call them stakeholders) those people say that they definitely are in support of the H.B. of R. However, I received an email from the mayor stating that several agencies had come to her with ‘concerns’.  I asked her which agencies she was talking about but she wouldn’t tell me.  The other coalition members report that they think there is a lot of talking between the stakeholders going on behind our backs.
“The Duluth Police Department wants the bill to be a policy instead of an ordinance.  Apparently, the mayor wants that too. We’re not going to go for that because a policy will have no real accountability.  A policy can be changed at any time without even giving public notice.  If the Homeless Bill of Rights is made into a policy, we might as well not have one at all. 
“We’re going to try and get everything out into the open.  We all took on assignments to write a bunch of letters to the editors of the various local newspapers.  I sent one off to the Northland Reader yesterday.  We have about 20 people who will write letters and then we want to hold meetings with more than 1 stakeholder group at a time.  That way they may be more forthcoming about their concerns.  If they say want they really feel, we’ll be able to address their objections or whatever.
“Creating and passing a Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights has been worked on for the last 3 years.  It should not take this long. I don’t understand why granting homeless people the same rights that the rest of the people in this city are entitled to is such a big deal”.
Another Occupier states, “There is going to be another Pancakes Not Pipelines event on Saturday, February 25th 11am – 2pm at the Central Hillside Community Center.  Water Protectors are trying to raise funds to hire a bus to take people up to Bemidjii for the one and only hearing in the country about the Enbridge Line 67 Expansion, aka, the Alberta Clipper.  Remember that one?  It’s the one where they want to push tar sands oil through their already existing pipeline.  The already existing pipeline has been pushing regular oil for a long time but now they want to switch to tar sands and on top of that, they want to greatly increase the amount of the flow.  The expansion will cross the Canadian/US border but through some slight of hand, Enbridge has managed to not have to seek USA permission in order to do this.
“We were worrying about the Alberta Clipper a few years back but Enbridge managed to make us believe they weren’t gonna do it after all.  Surprise, surprise……they lied”.
Someone mentions, “Socialist Pizza (that’s our pet name for the Socialist Action monthly gathering at Pizza Luce’) will be happening again on Monday, February 27th at 6:30pm.
Someone else says, “It’s possible that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be having another Anishinaabe Taco Sale on Friday March 3rd.  I should know for sure by tomorrow.  They’ve been waiting for the kitchen they’ve been using to be remodeled. If they can do a sale, of course they’ll need our help.
An Occupier asks, “Does anybody know what’s going on in our hillside neighborhoods these days?  We usually have 1 or maybe no shootings a year.  We’ve had 2 or 3 this month alone. WTF?”
Another Occupier tells about a scene she witnessed a couple of days ago while driving over the Blatnik Bridge.  She says that 6 or more DPD and/or Sheriff SUVs, all with their big lights flashing, were blocking both sides of (to Superior and to Duluth) the traffic and they had a beat-up old car up against a rail and cops were running all over the place.  She also says, “WTF?”
The first Occupier remarks, “I’m going to the Citizens Review Board meeting tomorrow.  I’ll ask and see if anybody tells me anything”.
7pm has come upon us pretty quick.  We pack up; 1 of the hipster guys comes out with us as we leave.  He turns off the open sign and locks the door behind him.  The other hipster dude starts in on the nightly cleanup.  Things are much safer this way.
Barring a hurricane, earthquake or who knows what, we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.         

G.A. Minutes 2-9-17

G.A. Minutes 2-9-17
It’s still winter here in Duluth and everywhere else in the Great White North.  It’s cold too.  A couple of days ago the temperature went up to almost 20 degrees and we got a bunch of snow.  After that it went back down into the teens with below zero temps during the night.  That’s where things are this evening as we meet up at Coney Island.
Everyone has seasonal affective disorder.  The last month or so of winter is always so hard to get thru.  Most people just drag around and whine a lot.  Those of us who pretend to be cheerful are really just faking it.  Winter is just too damn long around here.  
It’s a good thing that our city has so many remarkable features. That’s what keeps most of us here. The weather people say it’s going to get up into the high 30s tomorrow and things will start melting.  That would help a lot.
The non-hipster guy is working alone again.  Come to think about it, we haven’t seen any other staff people in a while. Maybe the non-hipster is the only person who works here anymore.  That would explain his frazzled behavior.  We miss the old hipster staff guys.  In an odd sort of way they were on our same wave length. 
As we’re settling in an Occupier says, “I have news.  The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights meetings are being changed to Thursday nights, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House.  That means we can have our meeting here on Tuesdays again if everyone is down with that”.  Everyone is down.
An Occupier has recently returned from several weeks in Europe.  He tells us about a fabulous high speed train he traveled on.  He saw many green energy innovations, none of which are in use in the USA.  He drank really good beer in Germany and thinks most Parisians don’t like Donald Trump or maybe it’s just Americans in general.  The Occupier doesn’t speak French so he couldn’t explain that the two are not interchangeable.
The city official will be traveling to Milwaukee, WI in a few weeks.  He’ll be giving some lectures about the creation of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  His radio show has been picked up by a third radio station.  His radio show is becoming quite a success.  With all that the city man does for our community, he has our immense affection and respect.
An Occupier comments, “I suppose everyone knows about the March in Support of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women that will take place on Valentine’s Day.  It will leave from the Central Hillside Community Center at 4:45pm and march to People’s Plaza; stop there for a bit and then go down to the waterfront.
“I guess there’s been some questioning because some folks are confusing this march with the annual event that happens in Canal Park on May Day.  You know, the one where we put flowers in the water?  That event will still happen on May 1st.
Another Occupier arrives.  He reports, “Hey, did you hear that the U.S. Court of Appeals refused to reinstate Trump’s ban on immigrants and refugees?”  We all say, “Hurray!”
An Occupier adds, “That means this issue will probably go to the Supreme Court.  The ban is only good for 90 or 120 days so it will probably be over before it gets to court.  What would probably be best is if it would go to court before the ban has ended.  Then the court would still have only eight judges which would mean a four-four decision and the lower court decision would stand.  With all this evil shit going on, it would be nice to have something good happen in the government”.
Another Occupier remarks, “I’ve read several articles recently that suggested that although Trump totally sucks, he’s just the sideshow.  His antics are designed to distract us from what all his minions are doing behind the scenes”.
Someone agrees, “That’s probably true.  I think there will be some dark days ahead.  I also think that if we don’t panic, stay united with those of like minds and ‘keep our eyes on the prize’ things will turn out for the better in the long run”.
Another states, “Speaking of dark days, I see that the Army Corp of Engineers caved in and obeyed Trumpopath’s illegal order to give the final permit for Energy Transfer to drill under the Missouri River at Standing Rock.  I imagine they’re drilling right now.  The water protectors have several law suits filed but I imagine by the time a final court decision orders Energy Transfer to stop; the pipeline will already be finished.  I want to go out there but I know the corporations are coming for our water next. I think I need to stay here.
“I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for the water protectors at Standing Rock.  I wonder what they are planning to do now.  Some I have spoken with say they won’t be surprised if they are killed”.
Seeing as the city official will be out of town, he gives his tickets to the UWS/UMD Soul Food Dinner to some of the Occupiers. The dinner will be held in the Greysolon Ballroom on Saturday, February 25th at 6pm.  The event has been sold out and the Occupiers are grateful to receive these tickets.  The Soul Food Dinner has become an annual event for them.
An Occupier has a hole in the sleeve of his coat.  Another Occupier happens to be carrying a sewing kit with him.  He takes the coat and begins repairing the sleeve.  The rest of the Occupiers go outside for a smoke break (the non-hipster stepped out for his break a while ago). 
When they return, the staff guy is sweeping the floor and the coat is fixed.  All the other customers are gone.  We start packing up.
An Occupier says, “Before we leave I just want to tell you all that I’ve been asked by Idle No More to help out this weekend at a big conference for representatives from most of the Anishinaabe tribes in the northern watershed.  Also, Honor the Earth’s Sioux Chef Dinner still needs a few people to act as servers and such. It will be happening at Peace Church on Monday, February 13that 5pm.  If we can get there by 4:30pm that would be good”.
So with that, we all head out to go home and crawl under the covers.  When we wake up tomorrow the weather will be much warmer….right? 
We won’t be having a meeting next Tuesday as we will be marching for the murdered and missing women.  More than likely you will find us back at Coney Island on Tuesday, February 21st.   
G.A. Minutes 2-2-17
It’s Thursday again and we’re back at Coney Island.  The non-hipster dude is working alone again.  He’s still stressed out but doesn’t seem to care.  Although there are only a few customers, he’s running around like crazy.  Maybe being stressed is just his normal way of being.
Winter has definitely returned.  It snowed during most of the week and now temperatures are in the single digits with strong wind.  The street is devoid of pedestrians.  Everyone who can be indoors is indoors; many of those who cannot are hiding out in the parking ramps and the skywalk.  On nights like this, most of the security guards will turn a blind eye to the homeless ones as long as they are quiet, hidden and back out on the street before the business people arrive.
The Anonymous crew is out on the corner of Lake Ave and Superior St holding a #NO DAPL rally.  As she walks through the café door, an Occupier says, “I’m so glad the youngbloods are stepping up.  Ever since I contacted pneumonia a couple of years ago I’ve been unable to breathe while standing outdoors when it’s really cold”.  
As the first Occupiers arrive they are joined by a woman, formerly of the streets, who they have known for many years. She’s had her own apartment for a few years now and has still been struggling with addiction.  She’s had a very hard life but has not given up.  Fortunately she is highly intelligent, with great organizational skills and a kind heart.  We’re pretty sure she will be one of the lucky ones who survive and then go on to help others.
As more Occupiers begin to arrive the conversation turns to the hot topic of the past year or so, Standing Rock.  There was another confrontation with the cops yesterday.  This time it was with the National Guard and not the Morton County Sheriffs so none of the water protectors were seriously injured or maimed. Well over 50 were arrested though.  Their crime?  Setting up another camp on land stolen from the Standing Rock Sioux over 100 years ago.  Of course, although the confrontation was completely peaceful, the arrested water protectors will be charged with inciting a riot, assault of a peace officer or some other trumped (pun intended) up charge that carries expensive bail and a large fine.
As most people know by now, the Psychopath In Chief issued an executive order a few days ago aimed at the Army Corp of Engineers.  The order stated that the ACE must quickly finish the DAPL EIS and permit the pipeline to be finished no matter what.  The ACE has not yet responded, no permit has been issued and the executive order is probably unconstitutional but some of the water protectors believe Energy Transfer has begun drilling under the river anyway.  Each time any of the water protectors try to sneak a little peek at what’s being done, they are met with the rubber bullets and dangerous chemical sprays of the Morton County Sheriffs Department.  
The water protectors of Standing Rock have sent warning to the water protectors of northern Minnesota that we can expect to be next in line re: Enbridge (a major investor in Energy Transfer) attempts to build their water destroying pipelines across the waterways and wild rice beds that lie in the ceded territories of northern MN Anishinaabe tribes.  Many Native and non-Native people of northern MN are sworn water protectors; preparations began years ago but more are in the works.
Several of the Occupiers have been meeting with elders and almost-elders of the Fond du Lac band.  At this time the discussions in these meetings cannot be made public.  The Occupiers have been able to provide a few ideas as far as strategy goes but mainly they have been learning and receiving the wisdom from the legends and philosophy of Anishinaabe culture.
An Occupier comments, “I wonder how things went at the meeting between the Homeless Bill of Rights Coalition and the Human Rights Commission.  I really wanted to be there but our meetings at FDL happen at the exact same time as the HB of R meetings”.  None of the Occupiers who are present attended the aforementioned meeting.  We agree to ask around and to attend the HB of R meeting next Tuesday and the HRC meeting next Wednesday.
Another Occupier reminds us, “This upcoming Saturday, there’s going to be a rally in support of refugees, immigrants and against the “Trumpopath’s” ban of them.  It will start around 1pm and then at 3pm there’s gonna be a Forum on Polymet at the Zeitgeist.  On Sunday, our friend from the Green Party will be sponsoring a potluck and presentation about a Guaranteed National Income”.
Some of the Anonymous folks come through the door.  They are carrying signs and their sound system.  They appear to be at least halfway frozen.  We quickly order coffee for them.
The non-hipster staff dude needs to go out for a smoke.  We’ll keep an eye on everything until he gets back.   
An Anon reports, “We had at least 15 people show up for the rally”.  An Occupier responds, “In this weather on a week night, that is amazing”.
Another Anon tells us, “I was talking to a woman from the City’s Clean and Safe Team.  She told me that she is very opposed to the Homeless Bill of Rights”.  An Occupier opines, “She probably sees homeless ones as a big nuisance.  She might even find them scary.  Some of them actually are.  However, the homeless really can’t help it that they have to hang around on the streets.  They don’t have anywhere else to go or anything to do.  If I were homeless, I think I’d become a major drunk or dope fiend just out of boredom”.
The Anons begin talking among themselves about future plans for actions and such.  We just sit and listen; they have many good ideas.  We’ve noticed that many of the Millennials are turning into good, responsible revolutionaries.  This gives us a huge amount of relief.  Some years ago, most of us were worried there would be no one to carry on the work and the dream for a healthy planet and society once we all were gone.
The staff guy is sweeping the floor in a hurry.  He probably wants to go home.  We begin to clean up; the Anons gather up their stuff.  We notice that although they are dressed in layers, none of their clothing was made for actual winter weather. They’re planning on hauling all their stuff way up the hill.
One of the Occupier couples will somehow figure out a way to cram 3 Anons and all of their gear into a small car and give them a ride home.  It’s the least we can do.
The way things stand now, we plan to be back at Coney Island next Thursday.
 

G.A. Minutes 1-26-17

G.A. Minutes 1-3-17

G.A. Minutes 1-3-17
The Polar Vortex is visiting again.  It showed up a few hours ago and we’re told it won’t be leaving until Sunday.  Marvelous.  The temperature reads 8 degrees; when the wind blows it feels like it shoots down to well below zero.  Some of our homeless folks freeze to death in weather like this.
Things look calm and somewhat under control when we arrive at Coney Island this evening.  It’s very different than it was last week when we showed up for a meeting that never happened.
Last week we walked in to find the newly hired young African American woman hauling rugs around and sweeping the floor. She appeared to be stressed.  The newest hipster was behind the counter wandering around, completely flummoxed.
He told us a street man came in acting crazy, yelling, swearing and demanding to be allowed to charge his cell phone.  The hipster dude told him that if he wanted to charge his phone, he was gonna have to stop swearing and scaring the customers. So the swearing dude grabbed the glass tip jar off the counter, slammed it into the food prep and storage area and walked out.
There were little bits of glass everywhere.  The hipster said, “I just called my boss; he says I have to close up.  I think he’s right because I can’t tell for sure if any of the food or drinks have glass in them.  I don’t want to take the chance by serving anything”. 
We hung around long enough to call the Occupiers who hadn’t arrived already and to help the hipster dude calm down a little. A few of us went across the street to the Chinese Restaurant in order to get something to eat.  Our meeting never happened.
The newest hipster is working alone tonight.  There are a few customers; he seems slightly flustered but is handling it o.k.  A friend of ours who is a well-known and well respected local musician is standing at the counter placing an order.  We invite him to join us.
An Occupier, who will be leaving for Europe shortly, has been working on planning for the People’s Inaugural to be held on January 20th (no surprise there).  He reports, “It was going to be held at the Red Herring but seeing as there was so much interest and support for the event, we decided to hold it at Sacred Heart”.  He gives us the tentative rundown of speakers and performers.
Our musician friend says, “I assume someone will be calling me”.  The Occupier replies, “Oh crap, no one has called you yet?  We need to take care of that right away because we were already saying we had enough white guys.  We want to make sure voices from all community members are heard”.
The musician has to move on to his next destination.  We chat a bit more and after he leaves the Occupier comments, “Gee, I hope he wasn’t offended because I called him a white guy”.  We all laugh because we know the musician is pretty much without ego problems.
We ask the hipster if he would mind putting KUMD on the radio.  He does and an Occupier tells us, “I’m sorry to have to let you know that last Tuesday was the last show the best DJ in the Twin Ports did.  He’s going back to college to get a degree in environmental studies so won’t have time to do a radio show anymore.  Someone else will be taking his place and I think they’ll be trying to play the same type of music”.  Another Occupier whines, “Yabut, it will be a very long time before they can find someone who can throw down the tunes like Steve-O does”.
An Occupier passes a flyer around.  It advertises an event sponsored by Woodland Hills.  Dr. Martin Brokenleg, a Native American, will be speaking on “Walking the Ancient Path of Purpose, Power, Achievement and Belonging”.  She explains, “I think I may have heard this guy speak before.  He was really inspiring.  He’ll be speaking on Tuesday, January 17th, 1:30pm at Mitchell Auditorium.  The event is free but they’re expecting so many people that they’re asking folks to register beforehand.  I registered myself and 5 guests.  So who wants to go?  We all do; maybe we’ll have to register someone else in order to accommodate everyone.
A few of the Occupiers have a meeting out at Fond du Lac on the same day.  They will attend the Dr. Brokenleg event and leave a little early.  One of these Occupiers reports, “The last meeting was small but very good.  Our friend, the FDL spiritual leader, started things out with a prayer ceremony; we had a potluck feast and began a discussion about Enbridge’s Line 3. There were a couple of FDL guys there who knew a heck of a lot about pipelines.  They are guys in their 50s or so.  One of them has spent most of his life working on pipelines and the other has spent most of his life taking care of the earth and wildlife around them.
“Several of the big, genuinely grassroots, Native groups are interested in working against Line 3.  I hear that the First Nations people are already kicking it.  It looks like we’ll be killing the Black Snake here too”.
An Occupier’s phone rings.  It’s an Occupier who has taken a leave of absence in order to raise a young child and to work closely on climate change issues.  He wants to know if he and some of our other friends can show a documentary film in the performance space of the artist co-op where one of the Occupier couples live.  He’s asking about Sunday afternoon. The couple thinks it will be o.k.  They agree to discuss logistics with the calling Occupier tomorrow.
The Occupier who lives in Superior exclaims, “Wisconsin is doing it again!  This time they’re trying to make it even harder for Wisconsinites to collect unemployment benefits.  They’ve taken away the 800 phone number that people used to call. Now the only way to apply for and/or monitor ones’ benefits is to go on a computer and do it there.  Believe it or not, there are still people who don’t know how to use a computer.  There are also people who live in rural places that don’t have internet access.
“The Scott Walker people do this shit on purpose!  Their main goal seems to be to utterly destroy the lives of regular working people.  I don’t understand why they think this will benefit the state of Wisconsin”.
Another Occupier adds, “I used to live in Wisconsin.  There were progressive people living there.  I wonder what happened to them.  Maybe they all moved to Minnesota like I did”.
The city official stops in.  Several of us missed his radio show last week.  It featured the new president of the Duluth NAACP. One Occupier has managed to find the show on The Cloud.  He agrees to send it to the rest of us.
An Occupier asks, “So what exactly is The Cloud anyway.  I know we’re supposed to send all our computer files, music, passwords and everything else to The Cloud for supposed safe keeping.  But what if it’s not there when we ask for it?  What do we do then?  Where is this cloud?  Who maintains it?  Who owns it?  Does the NSA have access to it?”
None of us know the answer to her questions, not even the city official.  She continues, “Well, I don’t think I’ll be sending any of my stuff to some stupid cloud that I don’t know anything about. I’ll just stay old school and use a jump drive”.
Someone changes the subject saying, “You all remember that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance is holding their next Anishinaabe Taco Sale this upcoming Friday from 9am-2pm and that they need us all to help, don’t you?”  We all remember.
Someone else asks, “Is everyone planning on going to Socialist Action’s Marxmas party on Saturday?  I go every year and have a great time”.  Everyone is planning to attend.
The hipster is sitting at the counter talking to a young woman. He’s probably done with his cleaning.  We know we should leave but nobody wants to go outside.  The Revolution will require us to be brave.  We clean up our mess and gather our courage to face the freezing cold that awaits us.
When we collect our tip money we notice the new tip jar looks exactly like the old one.  An Occupier jokes, “Right on dude! The crazy guy smashes your jar and you put another one up right in the same place.  ‘In your face!’
The hipster answers, “Yeah, but now when someone puts money in it, I take it out and put it in my pocket.  I’m thinking, if you’re gonna rob me, why not take the money in the till?  That’s not my money.  My tips are what I survive on from one day to the next”.
All of the Occupiers have homes now.  That means we probably won’t freeze to death before next Tuesday when we plan to return to the Original Coney Island.

G.A. Minutes 12-20-16

G.A. Minutes 12-20-16
We’re having a bit of respite from the Polar Vortex right now.  The weather people tell us to expect milder weather until after Christmas Day.  That would be nice; we hope they actually know what they’re talking about.
Temperatures are in the mid 30’s with not much of a wind. Everything is kinda slushy so we wipe our feet as we enter Coney Island this evening.
A group of people are in the back booth already.  It sounds like they’re having some type of meeting.  We take the slightly smaller booth in the middle of the café; we’re not expecting many Occupiers tonight so everything should be just fine.
The hipster guy who used to be the newest staff member is working and the tall non-hipster guy is working too.  The tall guy is now the newest staff member; he’s still in training.  It looks like he has a little more confidence now but still requires supervision so he doesn’t accidentally kill someone or set the place on fire.
As we place our orders and settle in, an Occupier comments, “I think it would be a good idea to push the Duluth Police Department to sign a non-aggression pact with all the Twin Ports and Fond du Lac water protectors. That way, when the time comes that we need to do serious direct action in order to protect our water from Enbridge and Polymet, we won’t have to be hit with rubber bullets, attack dogs and water cannons”.
Another Occupier responds, “That would be nice, wouldn’t it?  However, I don’t think the DPD would sign something like that.  I’m sure Chief Tuscan would give a speech saying that the DPD would never behave in such a manner unless they were protecting us from ‘outside agitators’ blah, blah, blah.  Besides, with all the work we already have to do I don’t know if we have enough water protectors to spare a few to push for a non-aggression pact.  It’s a good idea though”.
The newest hipster has already brought all our orders; they were correct.  Now he’s hovering saying, “Is there anything else at all that I can do for you?”  An Occupier asks, “Would you be willing to change the radio station to 103.3 KUMD?”  The hipster says, “No problem” and immediately and easily does it.  Now were listening to the best music DJ in the Northland.  We feel like we’re at home again.
For the past two weeks the radio has been on some wacko rock station with lots of commercials.  The new staff people were so discombobulated that we figured if we asked them to change the station, their heads would blow up.  So we just suffered.
An Occupier asks, “Does anyone know what’s going on with the evil Polymet sulfide mine project these days?” Another Occupier replies, “Well, I think they’re in the permit application process right now.  Polymet has to apply to the MN DNR for twenty permits to mine.  I’m not sure if they have to apply for each one separately but I do know that they’ve applied for the first one and a decision will be handed down soon.  Then there will be a public comment period.  If you want more information you could check out Water Legacy.  They and Paula Macalbee are the main watchdogs on this.
Of course, we all know the MN DNR is in the back pocket of Polymet and all the other murderers of Mother Earth so they won’t actually listen to anything the various water protectors have to say.  They’ll just follow the process until the end; grant all the permits and give Polymet permission to destroy our water and manoomin.  Then it will be time for us to put our bodies on the line”.
The first Occupier exclaims, “I just don’t understand what is wrong with these people!  They know their mines and pipelines are going to pollute and destroy all the water and land on the earth.  They are going to wreck the entire planet and cause the death of the human species.  Yet, they continue their vicious ways in order to get some more stupid money.  What is wrong with these people?!?”
An Occupier tells her, “Well, you see, it works like this,” he puts his fingers in his ears and yells, “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!  La la La la!  La la La la!”  We all laugh.
Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, and all the unemployed miners up on The Range want any kind of mine or pipeline they can get just so they can have high paying jobs. What about giving them and a bunch of other people high paying jobs cleaning up all the messes already made by industry and mining?
Changing the subject somewhat, an Occupier says, “Seeing as the Standing Rock elders are asking everyone to campaign for people across the country to take their money out of all the big banks that are bankrolling the Dakota Access Pipeline, do you think we should ask the City of Duluth to divest from Wells Fargo?”
Another Occupier opines, “That’s a really good idea.  The City Council just approved a resolution in support of Standing Rock so it follows that they wouldn’t want to keep their investments and such in a bank that enables Energy Transfer to destroy the water at Standing Rock and brutalize the S.R. water protectors.  Let’s pass your idea around and see if others want to step up”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior arrives.  He’s tired and stressed out.  He is the single parent of three boys and is trying to make a good Christmas for them while also complying with all the things expected of him by the various aunts, uncles and grandparents.  We get him a cup of coffee and he tells us, “Christmas is supposed to be a time when one shares warm and happy fellowship with family and friends.  Instead, our culture and the media demand we buy lots of presents. 
“I’ve managed to get each of my boys two nice presents a piece.  Then I have a few small things for them to give to the relatives.  That’s the best I can do.  I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to make the fire on Christmas Day.  I have to drive the boys to several places across MN and WI”.
We say to him, “Don’t worry about it man.  Just do what you gotta do.  We know that you would like to be with us but it just can’t be helped”.
An Occupier reports, “After all the children were grown, my family decided to do Christmas without presents, decorations or any of the other capitalist trimmings.  That was over ten years ago and it’s been wonderful.  We just all got together at Brighton Beach and made a big fire in the fireplace out there.  When the sun went down we went to someone’s house for a good potluck dinner.  That’s where the idea of having a Christmas Day fire circle came from”.
Another Occupier informs us, “A couple of us have been invited to a small feast out at FDL tomorrow.  Some of the heavy hitting FDL organizers will be there.  The plan is to have a prayerful meal and then start to lay the groundwork for the upcoming battle with Enbridge’s Line 3.  We’ll have more to report to you all at our next meeting”.
Many of the Occupiers attended Honor the Earth’s Support Standing Rock fundraiser at the Red Herring last night.  Someone comments, “Man, it was less than standing room only.  We were all packed in there like sardines.  It was cool how everyone could barely move but still were friendly, smiling and polite.  I bet they raised a lot of funds”.
Someone else agrees, “It was pretty cool.  I enjoyed listening to Winona LaDuke speak; the performers were excellent too.  It’s a good thing that they put glasses by the water fountain; there was no way I was gonna attempt to order a drink from the bar”.
We’ve stayed later than usual.  There have been customers in and out all evening so the staff folks are just beginning to clean up.  The newest hipster tells us he’s been working a lot recently.  He’s looking forward to Coney Island being closed for a few days for the holidays.  He needs a break.
We clean up our mess, put tips in the jar and head out with plans to meet up at the fire circle on Sunday and back here on Tuesday.   
G.A. Minutes 12-13-16
It should come as no surprise that we are back at Coney Island again.  We have a visitor too.  It’s called the Polar Vortex.  No one is very happy about this and we have no idea how long it will be around.  It sounds like we’re going to be stuck with it at least until the end of the week.  Marvelous.
As we walk through the door, the outside temperature reads 3 above zero.  We notice a small sign on the door that says Bathroom For Customers Only.  That’s never been there before.  Hmmm… 
Things don’t look too promising behind the counter either.  The non-hipster trainee is in charge tonight and it looks like he’s training someone else in.  A cheerful, probably non-hipster, young African American woman takes our orders. 
When an Occupier asks for her usual order (chicken salad wrap, easy on the chicken and lots of veggies) the young woman admits she doesn’t know how to make that.  She asks the non-hipster guy but he doesn’t know how to make it either.  The Occupier explains how it is done then takes a seat in the back booth with the rest of the crew.
After a very short time both staff members come to our booth carrying everyone’s orders.  They have almost everything right except the salad wrap appears to be from another planet.  No worries, at least it has all the correct ingredients.  Once the servers have returned to the counter, the Occupier takes the whole thing apart and rearranges it so as to be able to get it into her mouth instead of her lap.  It’s all rather amusing in an odd sort of way.
An Occupier announces, “On January 20th the Red Herring will be throwing an inaugural ball.  We should all go”.  Another Occupier adds, “The way things are looking right now, I don’t know if there will even be an inauguration.  With voting recounts, possible defections of Electoral Candidates, Russian hacking and massive conflicts of interest everything is up in the air.  It’s kinda like the circus from hell”.  Everyone nods in agreement.
An Occupier comments, “I was watching a video today of the Standing Rock Water Protectors cutting down some of the razor wire that the Sheriff’s Department had put across the bridge on the main highway that leads past the camps and into Cannon Ball. The protectors worked for a little while and then the cops showed up.  They had an armored vehicle equipped with water cannons and that ear drum blowing machine.  The cops aimed assault rifles at the protectors.
“A water protector said to the cops, ‘I don’t know why you guys are so worked up. We’re just trying to clear off the highway on our reservation land so people will be able to get through on the highway.  We’re just trying to help’.  The cops didn’t know what to say about that but they didn’t budge from their positions. 
The Occupier who had watched the video said  the stand-off went on in blizzard force wind for about forty or so minutes.  The cop  in  a white stocking cap face mask seemed to be acting as some kind of spokesperson, but he would not unmask or give any clue to his identity.  He did not answer when the protectors asked what his position was, by what authority and in what capacity did he represent the crowd of thirty or forty uniformed men behind him.  He could not answer and even turned his back to the water protectors.   Eventually the water protectors agreed among themselves  they  had made their point.  The police are constantly watching.  They will respond in minutes in force to the least provocation.  If there is no work going on at the pipeline, who are the police protecting with this illegal barricade? The protectors went back to their warm tipis.  I imagine the cops had to stay out by the bridge to defend stuff from who knows what”.
The city official arrives.  He’s bundled up from head to toe just like the rest of us.  He’s followed by a man who is vaguely acquainted with one of the Occupiers.  The man asks to join us and pulls up a chair.  The man begins spouting platitudes one after the other. We listen for a while then resume our conversation.  Once the vaguely acquainted man is not taking center stage any longer, he leaves.
An Occupier continues, “I was really glad to see the water protectors are still protecting everything at Standing Rock.  I’m a little confused as to what’s going on out there right now.  I imagine you all saw the video put out by Standing Rock Chairperson Dave Archambault.  He says the fight is over and everyone should go home.  Did you see the statements put out by several of the elders stating the chairperson does not speak for them and people should stay at the camps because water protection is still needed?”
We have all seen Mr. Archambault’s video; some of us have seen the elder’s statements.  An Occupier reports that she has been sent pictures of a big warehouse stuffed with brand new generators and many other good things that were mailed out to the camps.  These things were not distributed but ended up in a warehouse owned by the chairperson and possibly the Tribal Council.
Someone says, “It seems that everyone not at the camps is confused about what’s going on right now.  Some of our Native friends and fellow organizers are going out this upcoming weekend to try and make sense of everything”.
Someone else adds, “I’ve observed that when tribal governments try to follow the white man’s rules they usually become corrupted and sell out their people to the interests of the wealthy white people”.
The city official interjects, “Whenever a group uses that top down, Robert’s Rules type of leadership structure, corruption is sure to follow”.
An Occupier tells us, “I received a message from the Superior Organizer today.  She said that one of the members of the Indigenous Commission is in the hospital in Bismarck and is due to be released soon.  The Superior Organizer was wondering if anyone would be available to bring the Commissioner back to Duluth.  I gave her the phone number of one of our friends who will be going out to the camps this weekend.  I know the Commissioner went out to Standing Rock about 10 days ago but I have no idea why she’s in the hospital.  I hope she’s o.k.”  
On another note, the city man remarks, “I don’t know why the Mayor and all the big City officials have to serve alcohol at all their big City functions.  Alcohol has been a big problem in communities of color.  Having alcohol served at these City functions does not help us.  Personally, I’ve never had an alcohol problem but I don’t attend the functions just out of general principle”.
An Occupier exclaims, “Having to hang out with all those ‘suits’ and they’re all drunk?  I couldn’t handle it.  It seems that alcohol is almost mandatory with those folks”.
An Occupier will be leaving for Europe in a few weeks.  He’s going on vacation with his two adult sons.  He says, I think we’ll be going to Germany and France.  I’ll try to check out what they have going on in the way of alternative energy sources.  I think most European countries are more advanced than the USA”.
Another Occupier reminds us, “The Red Herring is sponsoring a benefit for Standing Rock next Monday December 19th from 5pm to 1am.  There will be lots of live music and a silent auction.  Winona LaDuke will give a presentation.  I’m betting it will be a good time”.
The city official has bundled up again and is going off to catch his bus.  As he leaves he calls out over his shoulder, “I forgot to mention, the DTA is hiring bus drivers right now. They pay a decent wage too.  Spread the word”.
We have been sitting in the very back of the Coney Island Café all evening but still, every time the door opens we feel a blast of very cold air.  We have no desire to go back into it. 
It seems like we have no choice.  The new staff members are probably not going to let us spend the night in the place and besides, it would still be cold outside in the morning. Many other people on this planet have to endure discomforts much worse than ours. We bundle up and brace ourselves for the short walks we will be required to tolerate.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.