G.A. Minutes 11-22-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We say, “Yeah”.

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

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

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

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

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

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G.A Minutes 11-11-14

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

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G.A. Minutes 11-8-14

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

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

We’ll be back again on Tuesday.

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G.A. Minutes 11-1-14

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

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G.A. Minutes 10-21-14

G.A. Minutes 10-21-14
The CJM Memorial is empty when the first two Occupiers arrive. Ordinarily they would wait for the arrival of more of their comrades before setting things up but not tonight.
It’s too cold for sitting around waiting. They do the work by themselves. Soon others arrive; the fire is going in no time and everyone huddles close to it.
An Occupier asks about the latest news from the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance group. Another answers, “A few of the members are currently doing research concerning the de-listing of wolves and other protected species and the introduction of new mines, logging operations and other environmentally destructive operations on to the lands of the previously protected species. The idea is that INM/NWA should be able to work more closely together; enabling them to better co-ordinate their actions. The next meeting is this upcoming Friday, October 24th, 1pm at the Duluth Indian Center”.
Someone mentions, “The Coalition To Stop Sulphide Mining will be holding another event at our friend’s club on next Saturday. I think we should go to offer support and also there’s going to be some really good bands”. We all agree we would like to attend the event so make plans to meet at the Red Herring at 8pm on Saturday October 25th.
Some regular street folks arrive to get some coffee. The man says, “Oh, you’re burning sage. Is it fake sage?” An Occupier answers, “Is there such a thing as fake sage?” Another responds, “Oh you know, that synthetic stuff and the first Occupiers teasingly retorts, “So if you use fake sage does that mean you will get fake blessings?” Everyone laughs.
A regular man who is not homeless but spends a lot of time on the streets appears. He and his friend sit and talk with us for a while. He’s spent all his money on alcohol again and doesn’t have bus fare to get back home. Some of the Occupiers dig in their pockets and come up with enough change to help him out.
Another man we haven’t met comes up to sit. He’s very friendly and his voice sounds familiar. After we converse for a while he says, “Don’t you know who I am?” We don’t know. He tells us his name and we are astounded. This man lived at our former homeless camp but he looks very different than he from how he looked at our camp. He’s lost weight, is wearing nice clothes and has a calmer demeanor than he did when he lived with us. An Occupier states, “Oh man, I didn’t even recognize you. I figured you had gone back to Chicago”. The man says, “I live up in Hermantown and I have a job”. It seems he hasn’t found many friends in Hermantown. He’s not a daily drinker but when he feels like drinking he comes down to the old hood and looks for his old friends. Seeing as he no longer lives in our neighborhood, he’s out of the loop as to where people are on this night. He sits with us and politely calls out to all the women who walk by. He doesn’t get any responses.
One of the Occupiers reports that one of our friends is holding a conference at City Hall this upcoming Saturday at 12:30 pm. Members of the Council of Black Minnesotans will be presenting a forum and question and answer session with some MN elected officials concerning issues affecting black Duluthians. The Occupier continues, “I don’t know if I will attend as I don’t think I would have much to offer that would be helpful though I could just listen”. She gives the names of a few of our P.O.C. friends who are planning on attending. Another says, “Duluth is a strange place. At first glance it appears to be a very progressive and fairly hip place but if you look closer there is a lot of racism here. Just look at the difference in income levels, difference in housing and in jobs. That tells one something”. Another says, “I don’t think there are any black people in city office jobs. There are a lot more black people who live here than black people you see working any type of job as you go about your daily business in Duluth”.
A group of people, most of whom we are familiar with, join us. One of the men begins to introduce himself when an Occupier jokingly says, “Ogiima-Central Hillside! We know you” ( Ogiima is Anishinaabemowin for Chief). The man had visited us once many months ago. He had been very drunk and boastful. Tonight he is humble and answers, “Oh, I ain’t nobody. I’m just a drunk”. It appears that he and his friends have been drinking this evening. When they begin to bring out their bottles, the Occupiers ask them to go and drink at the back ledge. They cheerfully do so.
We resume our conversation at the fire and the street group stands at the back ledge laughing and drinking.
Suddenly a DPD squad pulls up to the curb and gets out. A lone officer walks quickly toward the group. They immediately disperse but Ogiima doesn’t get away fast enough and the cop corners him. The cop begins the usual questioning, “What’s your name? Where do you live? Have you been drinking? Do you have ID?”
Another squad and officer arrive. We continue looking into the fire but stop our conversation and listen carefully to what’s going on at the ledge. The Chief answers humbly and politely. He pleads, almost crying, “Please don’t take me in. Please let me go”. Suddenly his tone changes. He says, “I’m Ogiima and these are my friends”. The officer asks if we know the man. We say yes we do.
One officer goes to his car to check the Chief’s credentials while the other officer guards the Chief.
In the midst of all this, a well dressed woman carrying a bag walks through. She walks up to the officer and the man saying, “I have cupcakes and garlic toast from the event at the Zinema. Would you like some?” The officer says no thanks and the Chief takes a cupcake.
The woman then comes over to the fire and puts all of her food out on the table. We have a lovely conversation with her about all the changes that are occurring at the Zinema.
The Chief wants to come and sit with us at the fire but the cop will only let him sit on the back ledge. We think the cop believes we are all crazy and may possibly do him some harm.
Finally the other officer returns, says something to the first officer and the first officer says to the Chief, “Everything’s o.k., you’re free to go”.
The other officer drives off, the Chief comes to sit by the fire and the first officer comes over to talk to us. He says he’s new to this neighborhood beat and asks who we are, what we’re doing and stuff like that. We tell him as little as possible while still appearing to be polite and co-operative. He wishes us goodnight and reminds us to call him if we need any help. He gets into his car but doesn’t drive off.
All of the Chief’s drinking friends return and plunk themselves down by the fire. They quite loudly proclaim they are not afraid of cops. One yells “Fuck the police!” A very young girl who is part of their group pulls a bottle out of her coat, drinks some and begins to wave it around.
A female Occupier stands up and chastises the girl, “No! You cannot drink at this fire! If you want to drink you must leave and come back after you’re done. You are not going to ruin things for everyone else”. The girl puts her bottle back but appears as though she thinks she has been unjustly punished.
Shortly thereafter, the group says their goodbyes and begins to wander off. They realize they have forgotten the Chief so return for him. As he starts to leave we notice he has left his backpack. We call him back, get everybody situated with their proper belongings and off they go again. As they leave, the squad car drives off in the same direction they are going.
The fire is down to the coals but the remaining people are in no hurry to leave. We stand around conversing with our hands over the fire pit.
We’ll be at the gig at the Red Herring on Saturday and back at CJM next Tuesday.

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G.A. Minutes 10-18-14

G.A. Minutes 10-18-14

It’s kinda chilly tonight; probably 5 or 10 degrees above freezing. The sun goes down around 6:30 pm these days; it will get colder still once it’s dark.

Street folks start coming up as soon as they see our vehicles. It’s the time of year when homeless folks have to think seriously about how they will survive the winter. The CHUM center will fill way beyond capacity; it’s not a pleasant place to be but at least it’s warm.

Not all homeless people will be able to stay at the CHUM or any of the few additional shelters in the city. Some cannot survive the craziness of being packed in wall to wall with mostly mentally unstable people. Some are so mentally unstable that shelter staffs refuse them entry.

Whatever the circumstances, the first cold autumn breezes signal the start of grim reality for those in the northland without homes.

The DPD squads start buzzing around the Memorial before we even have the fire going. There are quite a few different cars. They’re not slowing down or even particularly looking at us but it seems they want to make their presence known.

The chairs fill up as soon as the flames flare up. It’s standing room only but we know very few our guests.
A young, gay couple is very impressed when they discover they’re sharing a campfire with Occupy Duluth. It’s not often we run across street folks who have even heard of Occupy.

An Occupier says he needs help getting an electric stove carried into his house. He’s talking about the stove we found for the Duluth Indian Center. It turns out the DIC won’t be able to use it as the cost of installing the proper electrical wiring is prohibitive. When no one responds, the Occupier says, “Well don’t all jump up at once”. Another Occupier answers, “Sure I’ll help you, just let me know when”. It will take several people to move the stove. It looks like it won’t get moved any time soon.

An Occupier tells about a movie called Disruption which he viewed recently at the U.U. church. He begins to describe what he saw but is interrupted by the loud talking of the rest of the folks.

Tonight the members of the circle are almost completely male. A woman of the neighborhood who spends much time cleaning and monitoring CJM throughout the week and 1 Occupier are the only females.

The street men have decided to hold a competition concerning who is the more streetwise and who has the most life experience. They are being quite loud about it. Soon bottles of alcohol are pulled out of coat pockets.

The Occupiers explain that they need folks to take their drinking and whatever else outside of the circle. No one is trying to tell anyone else what substances they are allowed but the Occupiers know how quickly blatant substance abuse will bring on the cops and how quickly some people’s behavior deteriorates when “anything goes”.

The neighborhood woman chastises everybody and things settle down; but not for long. A somewhat regular and sometimes aggressive man walks up to the fire, raises his hands and repeats a made-up Muslim prayer, ending with several loud grunts. Another man who joins us occasionally begins preaching his version of Christianity. Something to do with God loves all people and Obama is gay.

An Occupier says to the man’s girlfriend, “Do you have some way of shutting him up?”

The girlfriend responds, “No, but isn’t he just terrible? He very rarely drinks but when he does, this is what happens”.

Another man stumbles around and yells, “Jesus never existed and there is no God!” Others attempt to shout him down and the alcohol bottles start waving again.

One Occupier says to another, “This is all completely out of control. We need to shut it down”.

And that’s all she wrote. The Occupiers say nothing but begin packing up and dousing the fire.

An older neighborhood man who joins the circle frequently, calls out to the drunks in a tone that sounds like a little boy, “You ruined the party! You ruined the party!”

As they leave one of the Occupiers comments, “I hope this gets around. We are really laid back but even so, we won’t tolerate just anything”.

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G.A. Minutes 10-11-14

G.A. Minutes 10-11-14

There’s not much of a wind but autumn is certainly in the air this evening. We hustle to get things set up and to get the fire started.

Some of the Occupiers are a little on edge. We know that after the visit from the DPD and the City Fire Department at our meeting last Tuesday, we are flying in their faces by openly having a fire at CJM.

Oh well….. Speaking truth to power always carries some risk. The issues we’re dealing with are of major importance. The publics’ right to make use of public space and the necessity of all people, rich or poor, powerful or powerless, to abide by the same laws are serious matters. We will need to back up our words with action.

Tonight we have all our ducks in a row. A Duluth city ordinance and a MN statute expressly state that our fire is legal and does not require a permit. We have copies of these laws with us in case somebody should feel like challenging our or anybody else’s right to congregate as we do.

The Occupier who regularly does a general pickup of the Memorial before we begin our meeting has an assistant this time. The developmentally disabled man joins him, efficiently getting all the bits of garbage cleaned up.

We gather around the blazing fire and are immediately joined by others from the neighborhood. Everyone will need to keep warm on a night like this.

A woman we know as schizophrenic walks by. She’s in a bad mood and is loudly cussing at everyone. The Occupier who is cleaning tries to talk with her. This does not go well and we encourage him to just leave her alone.

A man from the neighborhood passes by. He is carrying a purse, waving it over his head. He says, “Do you want me to throw this up on the roof?” A woman waving a large bottle of alcohol follows him and meekly says, “No”. He answers, “Well then, leave me alone. If you were not a woman I would knock you out”. He hands her back her purse and walks away. She does not follow him.

Back in the circle some folks question, “Hey, we heard the police were hassling you guys at your last meeting. What’s up with that?” We tell them the story.

An Occupier states, “We think they’re being pressured by the CJM BOD to make us stop having our fires. The Board has been making a lot of noise lately about wanting to kick all neighborhood people out of the Memorial grounds. We try to explain to the board that the so called problem goes so much deeper than their narrow little minds seem to be able to handle.

“If they want CJM to be free of people hanging out, they need to be working on getting housing, healthcare, education, meaningful work and other services for poor and working class people. Of course those country club wannabees don’t want to hear any of that. They just want all the neighborhood people to disappear to who knows or cares where. That’s how most rich people are; they just want anything they consider unsightly to get out of their line of vision. They actually think they have the right to demand that other human beings just disappear. They think themselves to be a better class of people. I will fight those morons til the day I die and maybe even longer than that”.

An Occupier informs us he may be leaving town for the winter. He has been homeless again for the last few months. A friend has offered to share a room with him in Mpls. We are happy for him. The Occupier and a street man begin to have a disagreement about semantics or something. We’re not sure what it’s about but people begin to leave the circle.

Fortunately the mood is broken by the arrival of our friend the grey haired woman. She says, “What the heck is going on tonight? People are so crabby. They have just been coming up to me on the street and yelling at me”.

An Occupier answers, “Yes, I’ve noticed that too. Everyone seems out of sorts”. Our grey haired friend manages to cheer everyone up as usual. She tells a few silly stories and many folks return to the fire.

One lone DPD SUV drives slowly by. We’d noticed his presence earlier. So far we think he’s been our only stalker.

Things are back to normal now with many friendly people sitting talking, laughing and warming themselves.

A young man we haven’t met compliments us on our use of the sage bundle. He begins to explain basic Anishinaabe culture. We are familiar with most of what he tells us but we listen politely and allow him to individually smudge everyone in the circle.

A boy about 10 or 12 years old rides up on a scooter. He asks for a cup of coffee. At first we briefly hesitate but realize these kids of the street are older than their years. He says, “It’s o.k., my Dad is back there on the ledge. If you ask him he will say it’s alright for me to have coffee. We give him some and invite him to sit and join us. He speaks with us as though he were a much older person.

Soon his Father and the others from the back ledge arrive. We have standing room only. Father and son have obvious respect and affection for each other. The son tells us his Father taught him how to drive a year or so ago. He says his Dad did this so he would be able to drive him home if he got too drunk. His Father replies, “Shhh…. You’re embarrassing me in front of my new friends”.

An Occupier notices it is almost 10pm. She says to another Occupier, “The way that cop has been scoping us out all night, we’d better watch the time. I’m not in the mood for an ambush”.

They quietly begin packing up. The Father also notices the time. He, his son and several others are staying at a small homeless shelter just up the hill. Their curfew is 10 pm. He says to one of the other men, “Do you need a place to stay tonight?” The man says yes he does and the Father answers, “You can stay in my room but you’ll have to climb in the window. There are guards at the door and I’m not supposed to have guests. You’ll have to crawl back out the window around 6am”.

Everyone is saying their goodbyes when the boy’s father looks over at the back ledge and says, “Oh no, that woman is still there”. The Occupiers look too and see someone passed out on the ground with their legs twisted up in the air. An Occupier walks over and sees it is the woman who was waving the big bottle of alcohol early in the evening. The occupier asks the boy’s father if she should call 911 and have them take the woman to Detox. The Father responds, “Yeah, you better do that. She’ll be really mad in the morning but at least she’ll be safe for the night”.

The Occupiers call 911, pack up, put out the fire and wait for the rescue squad to arrive. The woman sits up, shouts “F’ you” to no one in particular and falls down on her back again.

After 20 minutes or so the stalker SUV arrives followed by a fire department “O.D. squad”. They begin walking toward the Occupiers until one points to the back ledge. The police officer and the fire people begin talking to the woman.

We think that as long as the fire people are with the DPD officer, the woman will come to no harm. We have no idea who she is so can provide no further assistance.

Next Tuesday we will be going to the Sawyer Community Center to meet with Leonard and Mary Moose, 2 much respected Anishinaabe elders. We plan to be back at CJM on Saturday.

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G.A. Minutes 10-7-14

G.A. Minutes 10-7-14

The weather report called for chilly temps and very strong winds. Their prediction turned out to be just a maybe this evening. We’re wearing warm clothes, the wind is mild and the temps aren’t very cold.
We arrive and before we even set up, an officer from the DPD walks up. He’s doing the macho walk, trying to look like he means business. He says, “You’d better not light a fire in that thing. You can’t have a fire in a city park.”

The Occupier who generally researches the laws for Occupy Duluth, thinks to herself, “Oh no! After an entire year of compliance with the actual law they’re gonna start this B.S. again?” What she says to the cop is, “Oh officer, I wonder if you are new here? We went through all this over a year ago and it’s been determined that we do have a legal right to have a fire here”.

The cop says, “I’m not new! I’ve been here for seven or more years and I’m telling you that you can’t have a fire in a city park!”

One of our regular street friends says to the cop, “You can’t tell them they can’t have a fire; they can do what they want around here”. The cop says to the street man, Mr.___ (calls him by name) you need to shut up. I’ll take you down in a minute. Walk away”. The man walks away. The Occupier knows what the cop was really saying was something like, “You’re just a lowlife homeless person. I can do whatever I want to do to you”.

DPD officer demands to see the Occupiers’ ID. The Occupier goes to her car and gets the packet of paperwork she has always carried in case an incident like this happened. She returns with the letter from the DPD chief of police which states DPD officers have been instructed to not approach the Occupiers when they are having their fires at CJM. It says the matter has been turned over to the Fire Marshall and the Fire Marshall told him our fire wasn’t allowed.

We always found the last part kinda funny as in the past all the fire people who were sent to our fires were supportive and complimented us on our safety precautions.

The Occupier hands the letter to the officer and he says to her, “I want your ID right now!”

The Occupier responds, “Sure. I’m not trying to disrespect you. You read that letter and I’ll go back to my car and get my ID.

The cop reads appears to be reading the letter and then talking on the phone. By the time the Occupier returns, more DPD squads are arriving. She gives the mean acting cop her ID. There are now four more cops consisting of two in separate squad cars and two on horseback. They all say the same thing (you can’t have a fire in a city park).

One squad cop is checking the other Occupiers’ IDs and acting like he doesn’t want to be there, while the other is acting all friendly and attempting to have a conversation with the paperwork Occupier. The mean cop is still acting mean and the two cops on horseback appear to not know their ass from a hole in the ground, at least when it comes to legal matters. The Occupier thinks, Oh great, the usual game has begun or to quote Yogi Berra, “It’s deja vu all over again”.

The mean cop says talks on his phone to somebody and says, “O.K., I’m going to call the fire captain and he will come down here and tell you that you can’t have a fire”. The cop who would rather be somewhere else leaves.
We sit and wait for the fire captain. We’re not too concerned as we’ve always had pleasant dealings with the Fire Department. An Occupier says jokingly, “I hope he doesn’t show up with a full fire crew, blocking the street, lights flashing and all that”.

No sooner are the words out of her mouth than the captain appears with a full fire crew, blocking the street, lights flashing and all that.

The captain politely greets the paperwork Occupier but this time there’s a twist. The Occupiers show him a copy of the fire ordinance for city parks. This ordinance clearly states the fire at CJM is legal.
The fire captain says, “I really like your fires and I wish you could have one but you can’t have a fire in a city park without a permit from the Fire Marshall”. When asked for the exact number of the code or ordinance, he says he doesn’t know it.

This is a different twist. The paperwork Occupier knows he’s quoting the law erroneously. She knows that law places a stipulation concerning a large number of people at an event but she doesn’t have a copy of that exact law with her.

Crap. She also knows if the Occupiers start up the fire without being able to show the true permit stipulation, at least one of them will be arrested and worst of all, their fire equipment will be confiscated. We don’t have time for that.

The Occupiers say they will have to get back to the captain on that one. All the so called officials appear quite happy. The fire people fall all over themselves providing phone numbers for the Fire Marshall and encouraging the Occupiers to call tomorrow. The captain says, “I’m sure it will be no problem. Just give her a call. She’ll email you a permit and then you’ll be able to have fires.

The Occupiers didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. They know that no City official is going to grant the Occupiers anything but a long walk off a short pier.

All the fire people and cops leave, except the mean cop. He remains parked across the street. The Occupiers begin to pick up the chairs but the paperwork Occupiers says, “No! We can’t leave now. We can’t let them think we’re a bunch of wimps and that they can win that easily. We have to stay now, at least for a while. It’s not that cold”.

The other Occupiers don’t appear too pleased but they put the chairs back down. We take out the sage bundle and dish. At least we can offer people the opportunity to smudge.
Throughout the rest of the meeting various DPD squads circle around the Memorial at regular intervals. It must be a slow night for them.

Another Occupier arrives and we tell him, “Hey, you missed all the excitement”. We relate the evenings’ events.
Various street folks arrive, sit in the circle, ask what’s going on, get an explanation and ask when we will have a fire again. We tell them we’re shooting for this upcoming Saturday. Soon the folks are cold and leave.
The Occupiers chat for a while about some miscommunication we have had regarding the inner workings of a few of our computers and also about the organizing strategy of trying to convince people in positions of power to fight for one’s particular cause vs the strategy of encouraging the people to demand power for themselves.

The regular street man who had attempted to defend us from the cops at the beginning of our meeting returns. He smudges and says, “Did you hear that little bitch cop say to me ‘You ain’t nothing but a N___(says N word) and I’ll do whatever I want to you?’” The Occupier realizes she had interpreted the cop’s words a little differently but says, “Yeah, I heard it. That’s the kind of thing that needs to be taken to the Citizen’s Review Board”. The man is not interested in taking it to the CRB.

The Occupiers are getting cold and they figure they have stayed long enough to make their point. They pack up and make plans to research the law (again) and return on Saturday.

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G.A. Minutes 9-30-14

G.A. Minutes 9-30-14

Compared to what we’re used to, we know this evening will be a cold one. It’s in the high 40s with a strong east wind. At least we won’t have to worry about rain.

When we arrive it’s already too cold to stand around talking. We hustle to get stuff set up and to start up the fire. We’ll need to keep it big and blazing until it’s time to leave.

We notice one guy sitting on the back ledge. He has his hoodie pulled down over most of his face and his body language says he’s very unhappy or messed up or maybe both. We don’t think we know him.

As we ignite the flames a former camper, who we come across from time to time, arrives and sits down. He always appears happy to see us.

He calls to the guy on the back ledge and tells him to come over. The guy says, “I can’t. I can’t walk”. The camper walks to the ledge, talks with the guy and the two of them walk to our circle. The guy is walking really funny. He’s not staggering but he’s walking like he’s on a tightrope or floating on air or something.

When he sits down and looks at us we realize he is also a former camper and a person well known to us. At first he mumbles, not saying much but as we engage him in conversation he begins to respond.

The first camper tells us he has a court date soon and expects the judge to order him to leave town. He says, “I guess I’ll be moving to Colorado”. The second camper adds, “Yeah, and I’m going with him”.

An Occupier asks, “What? Aren’t you getting prepared to go to firefighting school?” The camper puts his head in his head and responds, “I just don’t know. Since my mom died I just don’t know anything”.

We knew his mother. She was also homeless for a while and stayed in our former homeless camp. She was blind and very dependent upon the second camper. We were aware she had died a few weeks ago.

A group of Native American guys stop by. They are all pleasantly drunk. Some we have met in the past, some we have not. They speak to each other in Anishinaabemowiin. We don’t know what they are saying but we can tell they are happily teasing back and forth. They warm themselves and wander off to a friends’ house.

An Occupier says, “So now that the Climate Convergence March is over, what happens next?”

Another Occupier answers, “From what I’m observing, it’s seems that groups like Sierra Club and 350.org are quite pleased with themselves and are saying we need to just keep having big marches, signing petitions, pushing current congress people and electing good congressional candidates to switch from fossil fuel to sustainable fuel, stop mining and fracking and save the planet.

The smaller more radical groups are saying, ‘No, we’ve been petitioning, marching and electing congress people for far too long. It doesn’t work. The system is rotten to the core. No matter how good the people elected to congress are, they will be swallowed by the system. We need more radical actions and we need to realize the 1% will never be persuaded to willingly give up their ill-gotten gains. We need to realize that this is a fight that will go on for generations We need to realize some people are going to be killed by the servants of the 1% before we finally win’. Right now they wisely aren’t saying what these radical actions will be”.

Still another Occupier states, “Well, I’m in agreement with the more radical groups”. We all nod in common consent.

Our friend, the grey haired woman, arrives. For once she has appeared while the meeting is still going on.

Many more folks come to sit. Tonight the Occupiers have brought the fixings for s’mores. They put out the roasting sticks, graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. Many begin roasting the marshmallows and making their treats.

While we have been sitting in our circle a man who is vaguely familiar to us has been walking a good distance outside our circle, yelling and cussing about something while casting his glance in our direction. We’ve become accustomed to all types of strange behavior going on outside the circle so have just been ignoring him.

When he sees we are making s’mores, he stops yelling, comes over, sits down, asks to make one and tells us a somewhat confusing story about camping with his grandfather when he was a child. He roasts up a bunch of marshmallows, wolfs down two big treats, gets up, walks around the circle cussing and yelling for a while, and then walks off. Oh well……

For several months now we have noticed a grey haired, stylishly dressed Native woman sitting or standing in various places outside our circle. Overtime we notice she is not a person involved in sex trafficking or drug dealing. Many street regulars appear to know her. Tonight she sits with us for the first time. She appears calm and friendly as she listens to our conversation.

An Occupier tells us that Idle No More and Northwoods Wolf Alliance are currently researching evidence which appears to show that the real reason wolves and a few other animals were originally removed from the endangered species list was to make way for mining companies and other destroyers of the earth. When an area of land is the natural habitat of any endangered species, companies wishing to destroy the land are not allowed by law to do so as the destruction would adversely affect the endangered inhabitants.

The Occupier remembers this theory being postulated a few years ago at a conference sponsored by some Native people. Her memory of the event is hazy but she remembers various organizers expressing doubt about it, and the idea being forgotten soon. If enough credible evidence is found, INM and NWA will be bringing the idea to the forefront soon.

A group of well-dressed men are passing by on the sidewalk. One man calls out, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” We don’t answer but wave at the group.

Then one Occupier calls back, “We’re making s’mores. You’re welcome to have some”. Two of the youngest group members come over. They say, “We’ve just come from a big dinner but can we talk to you about Jesus?”

An Occupier responds, “We don’t have a problem with the words of Jesus but we don’t talk about that stuff here. There are so many different people here with many different beliefs so we don’t want to offend anyone”.

The men say, “Well, can we tell you what Jesus has done for us?” We say o.k. It turns out they are members of Teen Challenge. They tell stories of horrible drug addiction, loneliness and suffering. They say that hearing the words of Jesus and praying saved their lives.

The Occupiers congratulate them and a conversation about various religious teachings begins. The stylish grey haired woman participates. We note that she is a very intelligent and deep thinker. The men are surprised the Occupiers are well versed in these types of subjects.

An Occupier says, “Oh, we have these types of conversations here all the time”.

As the men leave an Occupier advises, “The real test will come after you leave the program. Remember to stay strong and don’t lose your way”.

A large, young Native man who has been sitting with us says, “You know, I believe in God or Creator but I hate that motherfucker. He took my dad, my sister and two of my cousins. All He does is take”.

He then tells a story of finding one of his friends frozen to death one morning on the Lakewalk. He tells this story in much detail; tears are falling from his eyes. He wipes his face and says, “No! I am NOT crying”. The stylish woman sits at his side, talking softly with him.

It’s after 9pm so we begin to pack up. Just then our friend the infamous street woman shows up. She is slightly drunk and says, “I heard you guys were making s’mores. Can I have one?” We say, “Sure” and sit back down.

The woman tells us her latest boyfriend beat her up very badly and she had to have him put in jail. He’ll probably be locked up for a long time. She’s sorry he’s going to jail but also knows she will not put up with beatings.

She also tells us she has finally received housing. We’re very happy for her. She’s been homeless for several years. We notice she’s drinking again and hope she’ll be able to get back on the wagon and keep her new home.

Another male friend of hers arrives, we all laugh and joke for a while and then they leave.

It’s well after 10pm as we pack up for good. There’s not a cop in sight. Maybe they don’t care about us anymore. We could stay here unmolested by them all night! Then again……..

Maybe not. We all have stuff to do tomorrow.

We plan to be back on Saturday.

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G.A. Minutes 9-23-14

G.A. Minutes 9-23-14

Summer is back for at least the next week, or so the weather forecasters tell us. At this rate we’ll be able to collect on the days of summer that we were cheated out of in June. Sweet. We must be doing something right.

A couple of Occupiers have agreed to arrive a little early tonight. The president of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial BOD has asked to meet with them before the regular meeting starts.

When they arrive, the president is nowhere to be seen. An Occupier says, “While I was driving over here I noticed that the streets are just teeming with people. I bet everyone is out enjoying this beautiful day”.

A few more Occupiers arrive and everyone begins setting things up. A regular woman from the street takes one of the Occupiers aside and asks, “Do you know where we might get a tent and a couple of sleeping bags?” The Occupier doesn’t have any secret information so can only suggest contacting the main outreach worker at CHUM or asking the people at Loaves N Fishes. The Occupier thinks to herself “Oh, she and her man must have lost their housing. That’s too bad. They don’t look like they’d be adept at camping and I know she has kids”.

The CJM BOD president still hasn’t arrived, people are beginning to be seated and the fire has been started. Oh well….. If he arrives later he’ll just have to join the circle.

An Occupier tells a story of how she has been having on online conversation with some regular people from West End. They are discussing the fact that they find used syringes with needles still in them all over their neighborhood. Most are frightened and asking what they should do.

The Occupier has been explaining to them how a Needle Exchange Program operates. The conversation has been going on for about a week and all the participants have been serious but pleasant. She goes on “Except today some guy from Park Point logs in and says to tell mayor Ness and all his socialist cronies (everyone cracks up when they hear this) to cut all the welfare payments they give these undesirable people from other cities, down to the bare bone. He says this will stop all the undesirables from coming to Duluth’.

“I just couldn’t help it”, the Occupier said. “So I wrote back to him and said: ‘I hate to have to be rude but you sound pretty undesirable yourself. We don’t need any haters in this conversation. We’re trying to solve real problems.” Everybody has to laugh. The Occupier continued, “As far as I know, the Park Point guy hasn’t returned to the conversation.”

People are about to comment on the story when our friend, the pretty street woman who tells really good stories arrives. We can tell immediately that she is not in a good mood. She’s also quite messed up on some type of substance. Alcohol is usually her drug of choice.

She appears to be very sad. We’ve known her long enough to know that she expresses any strong emotion by using anger. She begins her usual diatribe about how come blacks have a Memorial and Natives don’t have one…..blah,blah,blah. Then she says, “My grandmother died a few days ago. She was 97 years old”.

She goes on to tell us some things about her grandmother. We try to convey empathy to her. She is not having any of it and says, “I don’t cry. Oh no, I never cry,” She starts to sob but catches herself. She just sits, looking miserable. One Occupier says to another, “Sometimes when people are having their grief and their pain, there’s nothing you can do. They just have to be allowed to feel it”. That comment seems to calm the sad woman a little.

An Occupier explains to the others about the expected visit from the BOD president. He states, “I received a call from one of our Occupiers who told me the BOD president wanted to talk with me. I met with him at a coffee shop yesterday. It seems like the president is on the same page as we are but the rest of the BOD members are not.

“They want us to stop meeting at the Memorial and they want all the neighborhood people to leave also. They want no smoking, drugs, drinking, drug or sex trafficking and no whatever else you can think of.

“If we continue to meet here, they expect us to enforce these rules. They want the Memorial to be a quiet, empty place where they can bring the wealthy potential donors to their scholarship program. He told me he would meet me here before the meeting but he didn’t show up. He’s a pretty nice guy. I hope nothing bad happened that prevented him from being here”.

Another Occupier responds, “Well it’s a good thing the BOD has absolutely no legal jurisdiction over CJM. I say the hell with them. They’re just a bunch of country club wannabees. They think being a BOD member is some sort of status symbol. They have no clue about the lives of the guys up on the wall or of any of the people who live around here. I say we just ignore the BOD. If they have anything they want to discuss with us they can join us here at a meeting”.

Something the Occupier said has rubbed the woman of the good stories the wrong way. She jumps up saying, “I’m outta here! You guys have bad spirits”. She staggers off.
Suddenly all the street people in our chairs leave. Then all the people on the street disappear. We have witnessed this phenomena in the past. We have no idea what it means.

A conversation about the 1% begins. An Occupier comments, “I don’t understand why they are so blind. Why can’t they see they are destroying the lives on their own generations to come also? Why can’t they see that their own lives would be better if only they allowed the rest of humanity to just have basic needs met.

Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah and they wouldn’t have to hire university think tanks to research why the masses revolt”. We all laugh.

Our friend an occasional Occupier arrives. He’s come for some good coffee and a chat. He doesn’t usually have time to attend our meetings as he’s running his own cab company out of our neighborhood. He’s well acquainted with all the street folks. We catch up on his latest news, he makes an appointment to meet one of the Occupiers later and then he’s off again.

The Native man on crutches who has been showing up to the circle lately arrives. He brings his girlfriend and introduces her. She’s pleasant and friendly. He offers each member in our circle a pinch of tobacco. Some put the tobacco in the fire with a silent prayer, others roll a cigarette.

As usual, the man talks of good things. He tells us his father was a Lakota spiritual advisor and created a shelter for men who were batterers. He says the idea was when the men came home, acted violently with their wives and got thrown out of the house; they would not come back and try to kick in the door etc. They could go to the shelter. We think his father was a very smart man.

Two young boys who we recognize slightly arrive. They are holding the story telling street woman up by her arms. She appears unable to walk; her speech is incoherent. They sit her down in a chair and one of the boys makes a phone call. He tells the woman he has found a place for her to sleep for the night and attempts to get her to stand. It’s not working.

The man with the crutches says, “Leave her alone. Wait a while and then she’ll be ready to go”. It appears that everyone listens when the man with crutches tells them something. The boys leave. We continue to talk and then the man and his girlfriend also leave.

The fire is dying, the hour is very late. We know we can’t just pack up and leave while the story telling woman is passed out and alone. We are wondering what we should do. We know we can’t just take her to one of our houses for the night. She has a lot of paranoia so if she wakes up in a strange environment she will probably freak out, think she’s been kidnapped and try to kill anyone she sees.

The street is empty of people we know are her friends. We sit for a while and then the two boys return. One says to an Occupier, “Will you talk to her?”

The Occupier gives it a try. “Honey, we’re packing up now. We don’t want to just leave you here. You’ll probably end up in Detox. Please go with your nephews. They have a place where you can stay”. The woman agrees and the boys carry her off.

We quickly pack up. It’s probably after 10pm but the DPD don’t seem to pay much attention to us anymore.

On Saturday we’ll be going to a belated Fall Equinox celebration in the country. We intend to be back to CJM on Tuesday. Maybe it will still be summer.

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