G.A. Minutes 1-9-18

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

G.A. Minutes 1-2-18

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

G.A. Minutes 12-12-17

G.A. Minutes 12-12-17
It’s cold again and it’s snowing too but at least there’s not much wind; that helps. Although the streets and sidewalks are very slippery the Occupiers manage to make it into Coney Island without falling on their asses.
Coney Island is devoid of customers. As we’re peeling off all our layers of clothing, pushing tables together and getting settled, an Occupier asks, “Has anyone heard anything further about Ms. Community Cleanup?” Another Occupier responds, “I heard that they took her out of the ICU and put her into a Hospice Unit”. The first Occupier sighs, “This is all so sad”.
About 3 days ago the main homeless outreach worker informed one of the Occupiers that Ms. Community Cleanup had a heart attack. Apparently, Ms. Cleanup was alone when she was stricken and spent at least 30 minutes without oxygen before she was found and rushed to the hospital. She was in a coma and put on life support; the doctors don’t expect her to live and believe she will die when her body is ready to do so.
It’s not fair; Ms. Cleanup had been doing really well for the last year or so. After years of being homeless and living on the streets she had been getting her life back together. The last time we saw her was last summer at our fire at Peoples Plaza. She told us, “I’m not drinking or smoking synthetic anymore. I just smoke pot and that seems to agree with me better”. We’re not sure how old she is but doubt she is much older than 30. Although she experienced a very difficult childhood and a hard life after that, we knew her to be cheerful and kind hearted. In spite of her ADHD she’s intelligent and clever. Everyone who prays is praying for her recovery. You never know, everyone thought Spiritual Man would surely die after he was so badly stabbed but he pulled through. It’s possible that Ms. Community Cleanup could come back to us also.
A solitary Anon arrives; he tells us that some of the others are out somewhere west of West Duluth. They doubt they will be back in time to make it to our meeting. The Anon also tells us, “I got into sort of an online fight with Duluth Police Chief Mike Tusken yesterday”. We say, “Oh really, do tell”. The Anon continues, “Have you heard about the DPD trying to get a grant or something for $125,000 in order to buy more riot gear? It was all over Facebook”. We say, “No we hadn’t heard. Most of us are unable to spend much time on Facebook. What do they need more riot gear for? They already have tons of it”.
The Anon replies, “That’s what I said too. Chief Tusken said they might need it in case the white supremacists attack all us anti-racists and there’s a big riot”. An Occupier exclaims, “WTF? The DPD should be trying to bring the differing groups together. They should be encouraging dialog and negotiations and such, not buying new toys while standing back and waiting for a riot!” The Anon agrees, “Well, because of the huge public outcry, the whole new toy idea has been put on hold, for now anyway”.
An Occupier inquires, “Do you guys remember the Overpass Light Brigade?” Another Occupier responds, “We sure do. It was a lot of fun and a very effective way of messaging when we helped the Northwoods Wolf Alliance hall their lighted signs all over northern Mn”. The first Occupier continues, “Honor the Earth is requesting that we make some OLB light boards for them. Our friend, the Catholic Worker, who goes back and forth to Kurdish areas in the Middle East, is going to help us make them. If you remember, she helped us with the boards we made for the NWA actions too. The boards for HTE will say No Line 3; that’s pretty simple and will be easy to make. We may have everything finished by the end of the week. HTE plans to start using them on the evening of Winter Solstice.
An Anon comments, “What the hell is up with this new tax bill that the House and Senate are trying to ram through Congress before the end of the year? It sounds like they’re trying to give a select group of 1%’ers a shit ton of our taxpayer money and then get rid of the entire small safety net for regular citizens which is all we have left”. An Occupier agrees, “Yup, that’s about right. Their greed and destruction of the earth and her resources has created a situation where the 1% is now cannibalizing the very hand that feeds them. I think we are witnessing the beginning of the end of the capitalist system”.
On a different note, another Occupier exclaims, “I have good news! The City has put up 6 porta-pottys on sites that were chosen by homeless people around Lincoln Park and Central Hillside. The pottys are located at the skate board park underneath the freeway near Midtown Manor, 12th Ave W and W Superior St, the bus parking lot next to the M+H gas station on Superior St, the Main Library Plaza, Central Hillside Community Park and Lake Place Park. I think they finished putting up the pottys today although I haven’t had time to check things out yet”
Someone adds, “That is so cool! We’ll have to get out there and check them out; go in them and make sure everything is functioning properly. How about this? We could tell everyone we know to forgo taking a drive to look at all the beautiful Christmas lights on the rich people’s houses and take a tour of porta pottys instead”. We all groan.
The Occupier with the good news suggests, “Well, the next meeting of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition is this upcoming Thursday, 6pm at Dorothy Day House. You could show up and pitch your idea, see how it is received”.
Another Occupier rolls in; he’s spent the last couple of days out at Makwa Line 3 Resistance Camp. He had a wonderful time and tells us, “I met a lot of kind, hardworking and committed people and attended some good workshops. I even learned the basics for doing a lockdown. There are a lot of men in camp but the leadership consists primarily of Indigenous women. Some of the people there had also spent a lot of time at Standing Rock”.
An Occupier asks, “What did their firewood situation look like?” The Occupier returning from the camp informs her, “Oh, they have tons of firewood now. HTE sent an entire semi-truck full of it; there’s now an absolutely gigantic wood pile. I’d say the pile contains at least 20 cords of wood”. The questioning Occupier exclaims, “Hurray! I’ve been trying to look for firewood for them but with all the other stuff I have to do, I haven’t had much luck. I know we need to bring things out there and be of use while we’re there because it’s a working camp. I’ll have to bring things that are easier to find because I’m chomping at the bit to go out there again”.
The Anon reports, “If you guys have any warm clothing or blankets or things like that, we’d be happy to take them off your hands. We’re trying to collect things to give to the many people in need in this community”. An Occupier replies, “I have some really nice things that were left behind by a guy who moved out of my artist co-op. I was gonna take them to the Dom or to CHUM. It would be easier to just give them to you guys as they’re going to end up going to the same people more or less”.
An Occupier opines, “Hey guess what, our friend, the main CHUM staff person told me he believes that the Stylish Native Woman and her partner found an apartment to rent. I was so glad to hear that; I’ve been scoping out the streets looking for them but haven’t seen them”. We all say, “Woo Hoo!”
We don’t think there have been any customers, besides us, during the entire evening. One of the staff guys comes over and tells us, “We’re really glad you guys are here but because we haven’t had any other customers, our boss says we have to close at 8pm”.
No problem; as we are packing up an Occupier states, “Hey, I have a plan. Next Tuesday, at 6:30pm, the students at UWS are going before the Superior City Council to ask the Councilors to pass a resolution denouncing the cuts to classes, majors and minors that the UWS Chancellor is trying to push through. They need bodies to pack the council room; whadaya say we go over there and give our support? We haven’t done anything as a group to help them yet”.
We think that sounds like a good plan. We gather up our stuff, leave some tips and inform the staff that we won’t be here next Tuesday.
The week after that is December 26th, the day after Christmas Day. One of the Occupier couples always has a recreational fire and a dinner that most of the Occupiers and others attend. It sometimes goes rather late so we’ll have to play that next day by ear.
However, “Good lord willin’ and the creek don’t rise” we will definitely be back by the beginning of the New Year.

G.A. Minutes 12-5-17

G.A. Minutes 12-5-17
We’re at Coney Island once more. No surprise there; the weather is really cold again. Skies are cloudy with snow forecast for later; the temperature says 14 above but the fierce wind is pushing it much lower. The streets are pretty much empty; only crazy people are out tonight.
The Occupiers and the Anonymous crew arrive simultaneously. We are all bundled up from head to toe but the Anons are also stylin’. A couple of the Occupiers are snazzy dressers but the Anons are professionals. They’re dressed mostly in black over layers of warm clothes; their hoods and gloves are black too. Each has his entire face covered by a different colored Anon mask. Some have capes and carry big flags.
They also have lots of flyers for the No Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline event to be held at Black Bear Casino on Monday December 11th at 10:30am. They’re going to flyer the entire downtown area once they rest and warm up for a bit. We order a carafe of coffee and a bunch of cups as a gesture of solidarity.
An Occupier says to an Anon, “Did you guys go to the Pancakes Not Pipelines event last Saturday?” An Anon answers, “Yeah, we were there early to help with set up and then we went over the bridge to the event at UWS”. The Occupier replies, “Oh, I thought you guys had probably been there. We showed up about an hour into the event, stayed for the entire thing and helped with cleanup. Everything went well; a carload of residents from the Makwa Line 3 Resistance Camp arrived just after we finished watching a really good documentary. Our friend who organized the pancake event was able to give almost $200 to the campers.
“They all got up and introduced themselves; each one of them has years of experience in protecting the water and fighting pipelines. They said they are always in need of firewood. I’ve been trying to find some for them but all the firewood dealers that I know of are out of dry, split and seasoned wood until next spring or summer. One of the Line 3 Water Protectors said they’d be more than happy with 8 foot logs which they are able to prepare themselves. I’ll get to work looking for 8 foot logs right away”.
Another Occupier adds, “The ‘pancakes people’ are having another meeting to plan next steps for supporting Makwa Camp and fighting Enbridge on Friday, December 8th at 11:30am at the same place where the Pancakes Not Pipelines event took place”. Many of the Occupiers plan to attend.
An Occupier asks an Anon, “Do you know that the Justice City Coalition is having a meeting tomorrow, 6pm at the Men As Peacemakers office?” The Anon answers, “We weren’t aware of that but now that we know, I think some of us will attend. We received an invitation to join the coalition a few weeks before the big march happened so we attended the last couple of meetings. The Occupier opines, “I’m excited to learn what the next steps will be in Dismantling the Legacy of Racism and Building a Community of Peace”.
One of the youngest Anons inquires, “Have you guys seen or heard about people in Leech Lake being able to turn on their water faucets, put a lighter to the faucets and see big flames come out of them?” None of us have seen or heard about this supposed phenomena. The Anon continues, “Yeah, I watched a video on Facebook of this girl who said she lived in Leech Lake. She put a lighter to her water faucet and flames came out. I heard that Facebook has since taken her video down and that all news coming out of Leech Lake is being censored”.
An Occupier responds, “Hmm… Leech Lake…. is there any fracking being done around there?” No one knows and she continues, “Flames coming out of one’s water faucets is usually a result of fracking. We know people who are from Leech Lake. If we see them, we’ll have to ask them what’s up”.
The Anons are now properly warmed and coffee’d up. They’re putting all their layers on. One of the Anons suggests, “Should we go down to Bentlyville again tonight?” The oldest Anon tells him, “Bentlyville? Tonight? Did you feel how cold the wind is outside? We’re up here where all the buildings are; the buildings block the wind. Bentlyville is wide open down on the bay. The wind down there will be so strong that it will be hard to even catch your breath. We need to save Bentlyville for another night”. Then off they go.
An Occupier queries, “So what’s going on with the city official? He hasn’t paid us a visit in over a month”. Another Occupier replies, “Oh, I guess I forgot to mention that he now has a very important meeting that he has to attend every Tuesday at Community Action Duluth. I don’t know any of the details but I know it has to do with the very real possibility of creating a not-for-profit charter school that will cater primarily to students of color”.
The first Occupier exclaims, “Oh that would be so cool! I sure hope it all works out; we really need a school like that in our community. I also hope that the official man gets a Tuesday night off soon so he can come to visit us. I miss hearing his point of view”.
The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “As usual, the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition meeting is on Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House. Everyone is welcome”.
An Occupier comments to another, “It looks like the cold, dark days of winter are upon us now. It’s time to try and track down the partner of the Stylish Native Woman. I don’t want him to freeze off any more of his appendages this winter. As a last resort, I’ll let him sleep on my living room couch”.
Another Occupier agrees, “You are so right. We have to make sure that The Partner is taken care of this winter. I’ll go down to CHUM and look for the Stylish Woman; she stays at CHUM once it gets too cold to sleep outside. It’s too bad that they won’t let her partner stay there too. He may be schizophrenic but he’s also a very decent guy”.
It looks like we have another busy week ahead of us. It’s only a little after 8pm but we decide to pack up, go home and rest up for the week ahead of us. Our old bones don’t bounce back as quickly as they used to however, we’re just bursting with life experience and wisdom. In fact, we’re all so damn smart we’re gonna predict that we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 11-28-17

G.A. Minutes 11-28-17
The weather is relatively mild this evening when we roll up to Coney Island, except when the wind blows. The sky is partly cloudy; the temperature is in the high 30s but when the strong, westerly gusts of air blast on through, the temperature quickly plummets to single digits or less.
The first couple of Occupiers to arrive at Coney Island are surprised to find that no one else is there yet. There are a few customers but no Occupiers or folks from the Anonymous crew. An Occupier remarks, “Damn, I hope tonight’s meeting doesn’t turn out like last week’s meeting; freezing cold outside and no shows up but you and me. Well, some of the Anons were here but after they left to ‘kick it’ in the streets, it was just you and I sitting, talking and waiting for others to show up. I didn’t even write any minutes for last week; it seemed kinda dumb to write minutes about you and me talking”.
As soon as the words are out of the Occupier’s mouth, a small group of Anons arrive. They say they’re not going out on the street tonight but will stay for the entire meeting. The group consists of most of the main organizers. One of them tells us, “We’ve had to ask a few members to leave our group. They were more interested in partying and drinking than in doing serious anti-capitalist work. We don’t have a lot of time for silliness so will have to part ways”.
Yesterday some of the Occupiers and some of the Anons attended the monthly open meeting of Socialist Action. The meeting is always held at a local pizza parlor; so we affectionately call these meetings Socialist Pizza. After the meeting the Anons went down to Bayfront Park to check it out and hold protest signs at Bentlyville. Every Christmas season the City of Duluth sponsors a gigantic Christmas light display with small bonfires scattered around, Christmas music and free hot chocolate. The display is located in Bayfront Park which is just outside our Duluth/Superior shipping harbor; it’s called Bentlyville after the original creator. Many people from the small towns dispersed all around The Great White North come to Duluth just to go to Bentlyville; many local people like to hang out there too. We ask the Anons how things went down at Bentlyville last night.
An Anons responds, “Things went really well. We had all our signs about sex trafficking with us seeing as a lot of that sex slavery originates from the ships that use our harbor. The response from the general crowd was very good. Many people smiled at us and gave the thumbs up sign; some even gave us money. It felt great to see that so many people actually had a clue”.
Another Anon says, “So you guys all know about the Pancakes Not Pipelines event at Central Hillside Community Center on Saturday from 5pm-9pm and the protest at the UWS Chancellors Ball also on Saturday from 5p-10p, right?” We all know and are planning to attend. An Anon adds, “We’ll go to the pipeline event first and then over the bridge to UWS”.
An Anon asks an Occupier, “Do the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Ordinance Coalition meetings still happen every Thursday 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House?” The Occupier replies, “Yup, things are pretty much down to the wire now. We want to have the City Council pass the ordinance before the end of the year. I think the proposed bill is in the hands of the City Attorney now in order to get the legal language together. I’m hoping we’ll have the language back in time for our next meeting this upcoming Thursday.
“Right now what the coalition needs is for many people to write letters to the editor of the Duluth News Tribune urging the Duluth City Council to pass the ordinance now. I wrote a letter a couple of days ago. Someone from the DNT called me today so I could verify that I actually wrote the letter and want it to be published. I guess that means they’re going to publish it. I don’t subscribe to the DNT and don’t have time to go down to the Main Public Library every day to look at the paper. If anyone sees my letter, please let me know”.
The Occupier who is a single parent and a college student reports, “My environmental science class is driving me nuts again. They keep talking about how we can responsibly use fossil fuels until sustainable fuels are ready for use. I get so pissed off! Sustainable fuel sources are available right now”. Another Occupier agrees, “I know what you mean. It seems that most of the so called common people believe that sustainable fuel sources will be a good thing but that they are still in the development stages. They don’t realize that SUSTAINABLE JUST ABOUT EVERYTHING IS AVAILABLE RIGHT NOW! It’s just a matter of changing one’s mind”.
The college student Occupier opines, “It’s the major media that are owned by the corporations, who put all these lies into the brains of the common folks. They haven’t been taught to do their own research in order to find out what is real. It definitely bums me out to realize that people who are in college master degree science classes don’t care to find out the truth”.
An Occupier changes the subject by asking the Anons, “Hey, do you know the big, young Native Water Protector from Makwa Camp (she tells them the guy’s name)?” The Anons answer, “Oh yeah, we know him. He’s a really great guy”. The Occupier continues, “Well, he’s staying at the home of our good friend, organizer and Water Protector for a little bit. He’s diabetic and has had some minor foot injuries that have turned into a major problem because he’s not able to put his feet up or keep them dry at camp. Because of my previous work in the medical field, I was asked last night to go to look at the young Water Protectors toes.
“His toes aren’t dead, they can be healed but he definitely has to take some time off to rest and heal. He said he feels like he’s slacking and he needs to get back to the camp because there’s so much work that needs to be done. I tried to get him to understand that there are many different requirements for being a warrior and one of them is to have common sense. One needs to get their priorities straight and to realize that taking care of oneself will benefit the people in the long run. If he doesn’t take care of his toes now they will need to be amputated; then he’ll be fighting the pipeline companies from a wheelchair. I’m just an old white woman who doesn’t know much about Native ways but I think the dude heard me. I’ll be sure to check on him again in a few days”.
An Occupier sarcastically remarks, “So what do you think of the Republicans new tax plan?” Everyone groans and laughs or laughs and groans. Another Occupier exclaims, “I think it’s a piece of crap! Various Republicans keep trying to tell the so called common people that the tax plan has all sorts of good things for them. All my trusted sources say that is a bold face lie. The tax plan will actually benefit a small portion of the 1%. Middle and working class people will actually have to pay MORE taxes. I guess He Who Shall Not Be Named can tell bold faced lies every minute of his day so the rest his crew figure they can do the same”.
It’s 8:50pm and the staff guys are cleaning things. An Occupier couple has invited the small group of Anons to stop in at their house before going home. We leave tips and pack everyone into our vehicles. Unless the January Thaw shows up next Tuesday, we’ll be back here, same time, same station.

G.A. Minutes 11-14-17

G.A. Minutes 11-14-17
The temperature is in the mid-40s this evening; all week long the weather people were forecasting warm temperatures along with rain all day and evening for this Tuesday. They got the warm temperatures right but it didn’t rain at all today.
WE COULD HAVE HAD A FIRE!!! Instead, we listened to the weather people and did not make preparations for a fire circle. Bummer; we’re at Coney Island once more. We probably won’t get a chance like this again until the brief January thaw that comes around each year. However, with all the climate change activity going on, we have no idea if we will be blessed with a thaw this season. Everything just gets curioser and curioser.
When the first Occupiers to arrive drive up they see a small group of Anons walking down the street, away from Coney Island. They figure the Anons must have showed up early, saw that no one was there yet and decided to cruise the hood. They’ll probably be back later.
As we are settling in, an Occupier comments, “I noticed that the City workers were putting up the annual gigantic Christmas tree in Peoples Plaza this afternoon. They was a big crane, other equipment and lots of people there. Maybe it would have been too difficult to have a fire tonight”.
Another Occupier responds, “I don’t know, remember last year when winter didn’t start until December? We just moved our fire over to the far west side of the Plaza so as to not have stray sparks falling on the tree. We would have been hard pressed to explain why we burned the big tree down”.
We all laugh and an Occupier adds, “Actually, I’m betting they spray that poor tree with tons of fire retardant chemicals; otherwise it would be too easy for some hater to take a lighter to the tree and start a major blaze. You’d think there must be a least one person working for City maintenance that realized the annual live giant evergreen could be a fire hazard”.
Another Occupier says, “I have no desire at all to burn down the City’s Christmas tree but as usual, I’m not looking forward to the holiday season. The actual day can be nice if you have pleasant friends and family to spend it with but all the capitalist crap we’re forcibly bombarded with for over a month before Christmas really gets me down. Also, it seems like each day closer to Christmas Day makes the drivers on the roadways more aggressive and deadly”. Everyone agrees that the capitalist system makes the holiday season unnecessarily stressful.
A small group of Anons roll in. We tell them about some of their crew that we saw as we pulled up. An Occupier says with concern to one of the youngest Anons, “Dude, I heard you were chased by Nazis with baseball bats the other night! Are you o.k.?” The Anon answers, “I’m o.k. I was able to out run them but it sure was fucked up. I was walking home up 1st Ave W. about a block up from CHUM when a black SUV full of guys pulled up to me. They were all wearing Nazis arm bands and identical Anonymous masks of a particular style; they jumped out carrying baseball bats and started swinging at me. I ducked, they missed and I started running; they chased me for about six blocks before I got away. I wasn’t wearing any of my Anon gear at the time but I think they knew who I was”.
Another Anon adds, “We’re pretty sure that this is the same group that harassed us last year. We have a picture of the car and the license plate. We gave it to the cops but we haven’t heard anything further from them. I wonder if they will investigate”.
An Occupier opines, “I can’t tell you if the cops will investigate or not but if they do, they’re not gonna tell you about it. They might say something to you six months or even a year from now. I’m guessing Duluth Anonymous has not been the only group these baseball bat psychos have attacked. Maybe the cops will take your report and combine it with other reports they’ve received. It’s hard to say. Damn! HWSNBN has every sicko in the country out and strutting these days”.
An Anon tells us, “We have the name of the owner of the black SUV. We’ll be doing our own investigating”.
An Occupier changes the subject by saying to another, “So how did your meeting with the Mayor about the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights go?” The questioned Occupier replies, “It went o.k. I guess. It was what they call a Stakeholders Meeting. That means a meeting between the HPB of R Coalition and representatives of all the City departments who are gonna have to make adjustments when the HPB of R Ordinance passes. Those government suit types speak a whole different language that I am just beginning to learn. I refuse to speak it but I need to know what it means.
“Anyway, our HPB of R folks consisted of the president of the Human Rights Commission, some heavy hitters from Loaves N Fishes and me. The City Human Rights Officer, Carl Crawford was there, DPD Chief Tusken too and a big group of suits way too numerous to mention. Mostly, it was just dialog between the HRC president and the mayor with the HRC president saying that we will be expecting compliance from the City when the HPB of R passes and the mayor saying that the administration is not at all opposed to a homeless rights ordinance but they need to be able to figure out exactly what they will need to do in order to comply.
“They call that type of dickering back and forth ‘pushback’”. We all groan and the Occupier continues, “So we’re all reading the introduction to the ordinance which is a description of all the various living situations that are considered to be homeless situations. Some guy from some City building department starts freaking out and says, ‘Wait a minute! It says people sleeping in abandoned buildings; it’s illegal to sleep in an abandoned or condemned building. This is going to make people think that it’s o.k. to sleep in condemned buildings. It’s not, it’s illegal!’ Then he goes on a diatribe about that particular sleeping arrangement being a safety issue.
“When he finally stops to breathe we explain to him that the couple of words in the introduction are just a description of where a homeless person might be sleeping. Illegality or legality is not an issue. Gehzz…. Stuff like that always happens when we meet with the suits. I swear they live on another planet.
“As all this stuff is going on, I tried to keep the human perspective alive by telling occasional stories about the actual life experiences of homeless people that I know. The time for the meeting went by without a whole lot being accomplished. That’s pretty normal. The mayor suggested that we have another meeting with less people in it and really get down to the details. They need to get their shit together soon because we’re expecting the ordinance to be passed before the end of the year”.
The conversation turns back to the white supremacy problem. We entertain the Anons with the story from about five years ago when a white supremacist group from down south announced that they were coming to Duluth to have a rally at City Hall. There was a big split between white progressives with the larger group planning to hold another event far away from City Hall and a smaller group supporting a confrontation with the racists.
We went with the group confronting the racists. It turned out that five people from Stormfront (the bigot group) showed up. Our anti-racist coalition had at least one hundred folks; we had banners, signs and music and Native Americans showed up to drum and pray. A big snow storm started and we chased the Stormfront away with massive amounts of snowballs. One of our Occupiers was arrested because she didn’t have very good aim and one of her snowballs hit a cop in the head. Once the racists ran off, we Occupiers were dancing and singing “We gonna chase those crazy ballheads out of our town!”
After hearing our story, the Anons are ready to get busy. They are going down to the protest corner outside of Peoples Plaza to do some thumping and jumping.
An Occupier comments, “I see that a lot of people are figuring out that the best way to get a corporations’ attention is to cost them some money. I can’t remember the details but I know that some local governments are suing the big pharmaceuticals for the damage and expense their pushing of narcotic medicines has caused. Some other groups are suing Remington for the damage mass murderers have caused because of easy access to the weapons that Remington produces. We say, “Good for them”.
Another Occupier asks, “Have you noticed that a lot of the corporations who are major polluters are running ads talking about how green and sustainable they are? Of course, it’s all a bunch of b.s. They’re trying to make money off of the word sustainable while continuing to destroy our Mother Earth”. We say, “Grrrr…..”
The clock is reading close to 9pm. The staff is washing everything down. We pack up, leave a few tips and head out. As we’re going out the door an Occupier suggests, “Hey, before we go home, let’s cruise by protest corner and beep our horn in support of the Anons”. Sounds like a plan.
Unless we’re struck by a surprise heatwave, we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday. You’d be welcome to join us if you like.

G.A. Minutes 11-7-17

G.A. Minutes 11-7-17
We’re at Coney Island again this evening. The temperature is already in the mid-20s and on its way further down. A moderate wind from the west is not helping at all; it’s dark too and we can’t see any visible stars so it’s probably cloudy. The weather people say it’s going to snow tomorrow and then go into slightly below zero temperatures. Great….. We didn’t expect winter to arrive so early and so suddenly. We didn’t even have time to exchange contact information with our most favored street folks.
Some of the Anonymous crew is outdoors by the side of the building when the first Occupiers arrive; others are inside Coney Island and have pushed several tables together so as to make room for a large gathering.
The Occupiers are slightly late as they stopped by their polling place in order to cast their votes in the City election. Some City Councilor and School Board positions are on the ballot along with a referendum asking to increase the City sales tax to pay for much needed repairs to our streets.
An Anon has brought a big pan of homemade fried chicken. It was left over from the nightly dinner served at Life House this evening. Fortunately, the Coney Island staff doesn’t mind them bringing in outside food. In fact, the staff guy adds an extra order of fries, at no charge, to their food and drink order. Sweet.
A new person is joining the Anons tonight; we don’t know where he came from, it seems he’s someone they met on the street. He appears to be a nice enough guy; he’s a college student who moved down from Virginia MN in order to study sociology at one of our local colleges. The Occupiers are all older than the Anons; the new guy keeps saying Ma’am and Sir to us until an Anon comments, “They’re with us”. The new guy becomes more relaxed after hearing that we are part of the Anonymous crew. That’s not completely true but no matter, we’re all working towards the same goal. Organizational names get in the way sometimes; in reality the Anons have strong bodies and great physical stamina. The Occupiers don’t have that anymore but we have a lot of life experience; each group uses somewhat different tactics but both are interested in saving humanity and Mother Earth.
An Anon tells us about the Million Mask March that most of them attended in St. Paul last Sunday. It sounds like there was a good turnout but it also sounds like there were more of various types of cops than there were Anons. Anyway, no one got their head beat in and they all had a good time.
Someone reminds us of when one of Bush Jr’s cabinet members said, “There are things we know and things we don’t. There are things that are unknown that that we know we don’t know and there are unknowns that we don’t know that we don’t know.” An Occupier laughs and adds, “And these guys were considered to be competent! I wonder what we’re supposed to consider all the people who work for He Who Shall Not Be Named”. We think Incompetent is too elevated a word for those bozos.
An Occupier reports, “The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights event last Thursday went well; there was pretty much a full house. When we asked actual homeless people which of the six porta potty sites that the City is offering they would find most suitable, the top two choices were that bus turn around space by the M+H gas station on W. Superior St and the Main Public Library Plaza. The other spaces chosen were Central Hillside Community Center, the Midtown Park Parking Lot, 1st Ave W. + W. Michigan St. and Lake Ave. + Superior St. So now I just have to email the Mayor and Parks N Rec with the choices and then we can start encouraging them to get those pottys set up”.
Changing the subject, another Occupier comments, “We had a good time going out to Makwa (Bear) Line 3 Resistance Camp yesterday, didn’t we?” Several other Occupiers nod in the affirmative. The Occupier continues, “It looks like they have quite a few people living there. Of course it was cold, so most of the people were inside individual handmade structures with pipes from wood stoves sticking out. Most structures were made from thick canvas; it looked kinda like a village for giant Hobbits. It’s definitely not a party camp, it’s a working camp and there’s plenty of work to be done. Like everyone else in the Northland, they didn’t expect winter to arrive quite so soon; they’re having to do some catching up.
“When we arrived with our load of firewood, many people came out to help unload it. They were happy to receive it; it didn’t look to me like they had a lot of firewood. I’m gonna try to think of ways to get them more wood.
“So when everyone started to unload the wood, I decided to act like some kind of ‘spring chicken’ and help them. Of course, I slipped on a piece of ice, landed on my hip, bounced off and landed full face in a pile of snow. It didn’t hurt at all when it happened but I’m certainly moving slow right now”. We can’t help but laugh.
An Occupier adds, “I think the answer to finding more firewood for Makwa Camp is to have the funds. Just about everything boils down to money these days. The City doesn’t want to open the heated public bathrooms to the homeless because it would cost too much money; we can’t have a decent educational system or more public housing because there’s not enough money etc. etc. However, there’s always enough money to give to rich people who already have enough and don’t really need any more”.
Another Occupier comments, “If our so called leaders don’t have enough money, they could stop having wars. There’d be enough money to go around then. The country of Costa Rica disbanded their army in 1948. Since then they’ve been spending their money on the needs of the people. Although Costa Rica has a standard of living much lower than ours, the country ranks #1 in the World Database of Happiness every year”.
Someone remarks, “Well, I see that Bernie Sanders is still kicking it in the Senate. If he runs again in 2020, maybe we could score big on the Happiness Index too”. An Occupier replies, “There were many good things about Bernie but I don’t remember that he ever spoke about ending war or disbanding our military. I think he did chastise Israel a bit at one point. I guess the fact that Bernie is Jewish would make him not want to criticize Israel too much”. Another Occupier opines, “I’m not Jewish so I don’t know anything for sure but I think being Jewish and supporting Israel are two separate things. I know many people who take their Jewish religion very seriously but they don’t support Israel at all. As to Bernie…..who knows?”
One of the Occupiers is a college student at the University of Wisconsin – Superior. Another Occupier says to the student, “It sounds like things are really hopping over at UWS these days”. The student Occupier answers, “Oh yes they are! The stupid administration is closing down 25 majors and minors and a graduate program too. These are really important programs like Broad Field Science, Chemistry, Journalism, Political Science, Sociology, Theatre and the Art Therapy Master Program. They say students have too many choices and are overwhelmed by them. Bull! I think it’s just another step toward Scot Walker and his minions’ dream of privatizing the whole WI University system.
“I wasn’t able to attend the sit in yesterday but I did go to a couple of the meetings. At one of them I asked the Chancellor if she was also gonna cut administrative positions. She gave me a dirty look and didn’t answer my question”.
An Occupier agrees, “I wanted to attend the sit in but went out to Makwa Camp instead. I wonder how all of this will play out. Please keep us posted”.
The Anons are bundling up in preparation for hitting the streets. There’s quite a few of them tonight. We notice a new woman who looks familiar to us; upon closer observation we realize she is Half Naked Woman. She visited our fire circle at Peoples Plaza one evening in the summer. She was really drunk and wearing a long skirt with a slit that went all the way up to her waist; she wasn’t wearing any underwear either. To top it off, she was crawling all over every man she could find and making them very uncomfortable. It’s hard to believe that the woman we see before us is actually the Half Naked One. Tonight she is all bundled up like the rest of the Anons; she’s calm and talking like a so called normal person.
The Occupier, who is a single parent and a college student too, brought his youngest son along with him this evening. As we’ve been talking, the boy has been eating hot dogs and playing with a cell phone. Now his father says to him, “You have political ideas too, don’t you? Why don’t you tell my friends some of them?”
The boy rolls his eyes then reports, “I think there should be accurate labeling on food and I think they should serve us better food for our school lunch”. His father says, “I’d better take off now; he has to go to school in the morning”.
We think it’s time for the rest of us to go home too. This cold weather makes us long to wrap up in warm blankets and hibernate until spring. Unfortunately, we can’t do that because the 1% has no intention of hibernating. We need to be ‘woke’.
The weather people say the temperature will be in the 40s next Tuesday; they also say it will be raining. We’ll probably be back here at Coney Island.

G.A. Minutes 10-31-17

G.A. Minutes 10-31-17
Winter is trying to stick its mean, ugly head into our city. Late into the night last Thursday winter snuck in while most of Duluth’s citizens were sound asleep in their beds. It left 5 or 6 inches of heavy, wet snow behind.
We don’t think that was very funny. About 80% of the snow has melted by now but the temperature hasn’t been out of the 30s since then. It’s way too soon for all this to be happening; some of the leaves on the trees are still green. We still want to have a couple more fires before packing it up until spring. It’s not fair…..
We’re at Coney Island this evening; the temperature was 30 degrees at 6pm. Our fire pit isn’t big enough to actually keep people warm at temperatures below 30. So here we are.
This Coney Island is rather strange; not at all like the old Coney Island. It looks like a gigantic ice cream parlor from the 50s; the booths are small but they don’t care how many tables we push together in order to accommodate everyone. Oh wait…both Coney Islands have, or had, hot dogs. Unfortunately we’re not particularly looking for hot dogs. They don’t have hipsters and street people constantly running in and out and they don’t have a good sound system with great music playing. However, it’s what we’re stuck with for now. We don’t have a lot of spare time to go hunting for another place that has low prices, feels comfortable and has staff people who are non-judgmental. If someone were to know of such a place; it would be nice if they’d let us know.
So a few Occupiers are sitting in a booth waiting to see if others will show up. We know a few of us are at choir practice, another is studying for his mid-terms. An Occupier tells the others, “We had a pretty good meeting with Mayor Larson yesterday. It was myself and two other organizers representing the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition Bathroom Committee (pretty fancy title, don’t you think?). The mayor and a person from Parks N Rec were representing the City.
“The City is acting like they know that the HPB of R is gonna be passed by the City Council so they want to get a head start on the ‘entitled to 24/7 use of public hygiene facilities” right. The Parks N Rec woman made a big map of all the suitable for porta-potty placement areas. At the last meeting, we gave them our map of potential placement areas that we picked after consulting with lots of actual homeless people. The City’s map and our map overlapped quite a bit.
“On Thursday, November 2nd, 5:30p-7:30p at the Central Hillside Community Center, we’re going to hold an event for homeless people. We’ll have free food and hold a discussion about the HPB of R again and show folks both the maps. We’ll be asking for their input one more time. It appears that the HPB of R Ordinance will become a reality before the new City Council members take their seats at the end of January. I sure hope so; we’ve been working on this thing for four flippin’ years”.
Changing the subject, another Occupier comments, “I hear that some folks are pushing Enbridge to change the route of Line 3”. An Occupier replies, “As far as I’m concerned, we don’t want their pollutin’ ass pipeline anywhere in our state; anywhere in the world actually. Anyway, I doubt Enbridge is even considering changing the route. They’re so used to being given everything they want; this Water Protector thing is really giving them fits. It remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to use the old tried and true method of having the police and military beat everyone’s heads in. We really don’t know yet but we do know this is Minnesota, not North Dakota. I really admire the Native young bloods and their allies for putting their bodies and lives on the line to save our sacred water”.
Someone else says, “Speaking of Water Protectors, we finally have a new load of wood; we have it all stacked and everything. We filled up the trailer with some of it and want to bring it out to Makwa (bear) Line 3 Resistance Camp; but the weather’s been so bad on the days we’ve had available to go there that we haven’t been able to get it to them. We’re gonna try again on Sunday”.
A fairly large group of folks from Anonymous walk through the door. They are well bundled up against the cold. They push a couple tables up to our booth; most of them order chocolate malts. They’re trying to raise funds for gas so they can all go down to the annual Million Mask March in The Cities on November 5th. An Occupier gives them a small donation.
An Anon, who we don’t see often, asks us, “Do you have any idea what happened to All Nations and its director? The director is a really good person; I consider him a friend but I don’t know what happened to him”.
We tell the guy the sad story about how The Director chastised two of his staff members because they had not taken care of their assigned duties while The Director was out of town. Because these staff members neglected their duties, a man lost custody of his children and will not be allowed to have contact with them until they turn eighteen. A person lost their housing and a young woman who was trying to leave town in order to escape domestic violence was left to fend for herself. Anyway, the staff members wanted revenge for being chastised so they pulled a few strings here and there and then informed The Director that the All Nations Board of Directors had fired him from his job.
We tell the Anon that the Director was crushed; he created All Nations and worked his butt off for six years in order to keep it going. We were hoping he would stay and fight for his job but he decided to leave town instead. He’s down south with some of his family.
The Anon asks, “Do you think he will ever come back here?” An Occupier opines, “Yes, I think he’ll come back someday; his immediate family is still here but he has many irons in the fire down where he’s at now. We’ll just have to wait until he’s ready to return”.
Another Anon exclaims, “Oh, so that’s why you guys avoid working with the couple who is trying to set up the Maii’gan (wolf) Line 3 Camp!?” An Occupier agrees, “Yeah, that’s about it in a nutshell. It’s a character issue. We prefer to work with organizers of good character. We think that may be lacking in the leaders of that camp.
The Anons are ready to go off again. They plan to put flyers about No Line 3 all around. We say our goodbyes and hope they will be able to fundraise enough gas money so they can all go down to the Million Mask March.
An Occupier asks, “Have you guys heard about a Makwa Line 3 Resistance Camp event that one of our friends is trying to organize. It’s supposed to be a fundraiser for the Camp. Water Protectors who are currently living in the Camp will be at the event to explain to folks what they are doing. Our friend is planning the event for November 11th at the CHCC”.
Another Occupier responds, “No, I hadn’t heard about that event; I’m going to reserve November 11th on my calendar and hope it actually happens. Maybe we can help him with the event”.
The Occupier who reports things reports, “Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance is going to have another Anishinaabe Fry Bread Taco Sale at the Washington Center on Friday and of course, they need our help. Everyone agrees to help.
The place is empty except for the Occupiers and one customer at the counter. A man comes in with a small child who is dressed up to look like a hotdog. We think the man must be friends with the staff guys. The child is very young and doesn’t appear to know where he is or why he is there. We think he doesn’t know that tonight is Halloween or why he is dressed as a hotdog. The child is handling it well though. Unfortunately, no one has any candy to give to Hotdog Child.
On that note, we think it’s time to go. It sure would be nice if we could go to Peoples Plaza next Tuesday. We’ll just have to wait and see. If the Plaza is a no go, we’ll be back at Coney Island on the aforementioned Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 10-24-17

G.A. Minutes 10-24-17
The Occupiers who usually bring most of the supplies are exceptionally late when they roll up on Peoples Plaza this evening. Everyone was beginning to get worried.
The Food Occupier sticks her head out of her car window and exclaims, “Today was a difficult day. This afternoon my computer crashed and we spent way too long trying to fix it without any luck. After that, we ran around like crazy trying to get all the fire circle stuff prepared. The Fire Magician left his phone in the house then locked all his keys in the truck. He had to walk a long way in order to buzz me at the front door so I could go and let him in. Dealing with that took more time; sorry we’re late”.
The Occupier steps out of her car and remarks, “Oh my god, it’s cold already!” She puts on another layer of warm clothing. The sky is dark and partly cloudy; the temperature is in the low 40s and the wind is very strong. The weather people tell us to expect gusts up to 45mph. We’ll need to weigh down many things on the table.
A few of the Anonymous crew are already out on the protest corner; more are arriving from all directions. We start a large fire right away; the strong wind shoots the flames high into the air. The Food Occupier has made another big pot of soup; this time it turned out well enough to serve. It’s a slightly different version of her pinto bean and vegetable concoction. The Fire Magician gets the charcoal grill up and running and the soup is hot in no time.
The first folks in line to eat are the older Native street woman who likes to fight when she’s drunk, the 60 something Native guy who lives with his sister up on the top of the hill when he’s not drinking and the younger cousin of the Infamous Street Woman. We’ve known these people for many years; they’ve spend the majority of their lives hanging out and living in the street. Behind them are 5 or 6 more folks that we’ve met in the past but don’t actually know. Once everyone else has been served, the Occupiers serve themselves.
The older Native woman who likes to fight has a new sweetheart again. She appears to be a serial monogamist as she changes boyfriends approximately once a year. Her new boyfriend is somewhat drunk but pleasant and wanting to have a serious conversation with us. He asks, “So are you guys Republicans or Democrats?” We tell him that we think Dems and Repubs are really the same party as they are all under the thumb of the corporations. The new sweetheart replies, “Oh, so you guys must belong to the Green Party then”. We answer that those of us who still vote will cast our ballots for Green Party candidates when possible but none of us belong to any political party. This surprises Mr. Sweetheart; he’s not opposed to this concept, he just didn’t realize one could be a community organizer without belonging to an official political party.
Someone has brought flyers and put them on the table. The flyers tell about Community Connect; a semi-annual event in the Central Hillside where homeless and poor people can get connected to all the social service agencies. Most of the street folks have been on housing, healthcare, legal aid and other lists for a long time. They generally are forced to live on the streets for 3 years or so before their number comes up. If they miss any of their scheduled agency appointments, it will take much longer. In the meantime, they just have to figure out how to survive until they qualify to have some sort of roof over their heads. Sometimes they die while waiting.
However, Community Connect also offers free foot care, haircuts, winter clothing and lunch. This time the event will be held on Thursday October 26th 11am-1pm at the Damiano Center. Most of the folks in the circle are planning to attend; a few of the Occupiers will be taking advantage of what Community Connect has to offer also.
The Anons come in from the corner; they then go off marching through the downtown. The street folks are gossiping about something as a big gust of wind blows a lot of the stuff on the table to the ground. We quickly set everything right then sit back down to listen to the folks from the street. Apparently we didn’t notice that the burning sage had been blown out of its dish; started some of the flyers on fire then ignited the tablecloth. Oh well…. we all laugh as we smother the minor blaze.
Mr. Sweetheart opines, “The real problem in this country is that we give all our money to foreign countries; that’s why we don’t have enough for our own people”. An Occupier replies, “Actually, I have no problem with giving aid to the people in foreign countries who need it. The problem is that the money is never given to the people who really lack it. It’s given to the dictators and elites of a country with the provision that they put some in their pockets and use the rest to buy American weapons and such”.
An Occupier says, “The No Enbridge Line 3 rally and the Public Utilities Commission hearing last Wednesday just rocked didn’t it?” We agree and she continues, “The newspapers and TV stations said the hearing was closed down early because of ‘extremist environmentalists’. That’s not how things really went down. There was a great rally here at Peoples Plaza with many, many people. Then a round dance in the main intersection with the police stopping traffic for it and a march to the DECC for the PUC hearing with the police leading the way. When we got to the DECC we all went in. The drummers, singers and dancers led the way and continued singing, dancing and drumming once inside the building.
“When the hearing started, the cops told the Native folks to be quiet. That just made them sing and drum louder. A lot of people don’t understand that most of the young Native Water Protectors are veterans of Standing Rock. They are non-violent but have been so horribly abused by the North Dakota police and hired security goons that they are pretty fearless.
“The cops closed all the doors to the hearing room and one of them told a jingle dress dancer she couldn’t go into the hearing room while wearing her jingle dress. That didn’t go over too well. It’s kinda like if the police were guarding the doors to a big event in a Catholic church. If one of the cops told a Catholic official who was trying to enter that he couldn’t go in as long as he was wearing his long robe and silly looking hat. That wouldn’t go over too well either.
“Anyway, I was already in the hearing room having just finished speaking. The leader of the women’s singing group was testifying when I heard a lot of screaming and yelling going on outside. The judge stopped the hearing, the cops backed down, let the people in and things calmed down for a while.
The judge was pulling names of people wishing to speak out of a box; a guy from a miners’ union up on The Range spoke; he ended by saying’ God bless America and God bless mining!’ The judge called out a Native woman’s name then looked up and said, ‘Oh, you’ve spoken at a previous hearing; I recognize your face. You’ll have to go to the back of the line’.
That’s when all hell broke loose. An African American/Native dude started chanting ‘Racism! Racism! You let the tobacco chewing, good ol’ boys speak but not us? She can’t speak because you recognize her face? Racism! Racism!’ The rest of the Native Water Protectors took up the chant too.
“The judge had been acting like a cheerful kindergarten teacher all night long. She said, ‘If you won’t be quiet, we’ll just stop the hearing until you are’. Of course, that was the absolute wrong thing to say. Louder chanting commenced; the judge said, ‘If you won’t be quiet, I’ll have to shut this hearing down. The Native Water Protectors chanted, ‘Shut it down! Shut it down!’ Other Water Protectors joined in. The judge said, ‘I declare this hearing hereby canceled!’
The people from Enbridge ran out of there so fast I bet they thought their pants were on fire. All the rest of the suits left shortly and things quieted down. I and another Occupy Water Protector stayed around for a while because there were lots of cops outside the building and we wanted to make sure that the Native young bloods were not harmed.
“The cops just stood around; they talked with those who wanted to talk. No one was harassed; there was no violence. If this had been North Dakota, the piggies would have beaten the kids heads to a pulp. That’s not to say the cops won’t be violent with us at a later date. We are very serious when we say we don’t want Enbridge’s earth and water destroying pipeline on our lands.
Many people don’t understand that most folks who live on the reservations are very poor. Many live on less than $5,000 a year. They have had their land, culture, language and children stolen by the dominant culture. The gathering of manoomin (wild rice), maple syrup, medicine and such is all they have left. They use the foods and medicines provided by the Creator for bare survival. Now Enbridge wants to take that away too?!? We don’t think so!”
Another Occupier comments, “I thought the Native Water Protector/Anonymous takeover of Wells Fargo yesterday was pretty cool too”. The first Occupier answers, “Yeah, I saw the video of the takeover. It was well coordinated; you all did a good job. Some of us were unable to be there as we were busy stacking all the wood that we hauled in and also making tonight’s soup. I sometimes wish I could be at least two places at once”.
The newly pregnant Anon arrives; she shows us a picture of the ultra sound she had taken today. No one can actually see anything we can recognize but we “oohh and aahh” anyway. The Anon tells us, “It’s twice the size that it was two weeks ago”.
The multi-racial couple who are regulars at our fire appear. We’re pleased to see that they are back together again. The woman reports, “Well, I had a little relapse when my father died but I’m back on track again”.
The strawberry blonde homeless guy who has serious mental health issues has become a regular at our fire circles this year. As he sits telling harmless jokes an Occupier whispers to another, “Do you think that nice insulated vest that we have left over would fit him?” She says to the blond guy, “Do you have any warmer clothes than what you are wearing?” When he says, “No, everything I had got left behind when I got kicked out of CHUM” she nods to the other Occupier who goes to get the vest and gives it to the homeless guy. Mr. Strawberry Blonde is then a very happy camper.
The pregnant Anon and the woman from the multi-racial couple are talking about Child Protection Services. The Anon turns to an Occupier and states, “I think you are right. I’m only two months pregnant but the people at the hospital I’ve been going to already want to bring CPS into the picture. I’m gonna change hospitals”. The Occupier replies, “You can get all the services and programs that the bad hospital is offering at the good hospital too. The difference is, the good hospital will treat you like a human being instead of a criminal”.
Just then, a huge gust of wind sends everything flying. It even knocks over some of the stuff that is weighted down. It’s only a little after 9pm; the homeless ones have gone off to their sleeping places. We think this may be a sign that we need to take our sorry asses home too.
As everyone leaves, three Occupiers agree to stay and do the packing up. A youngish guy of indeterminate ethnicity appears out of nowhere. He has long dark hair and a beard. The wind makes the temperature seem like twenty degrees or less but this guy is not wearing a shirt or any other covering on his upper body. He’s sagging his pants too.
He starts grabbing chairs and stacking them in the back of the truck. He doesn’t say a word but is quick and efficient. He has all the furniture put away in a minute or less. When we turn to thank him, we find that he has disappeared. Did we hallucinate the whole thing? The chairs are all stacked neatly in the truck so it must have happened. We’re sure we didn’t do it.
Whatever…….. this time of year is kind of iffy but if the weather gods allow it, we’ll be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 10-17-17

G.A. Minutes 10-17-17
A large group of Anonymous folks are already out demonstrating on the corner when the Occupiers arrive at Peoples Plaza this evening. The Fire Magician’s truck is fixed now and we have all the regular supplies back too. Once the Anons see us, some of them come in to help with the set up.
As we are setting up, the Food Occupier confesses, “Sorry guys but I killed the soup that was supposed to be served tonight. I made it last night and foolishly left it sitting out on the stove overnight. When I checked it in the morning I found it had soured and I had to throw it away. The pot was too big to fit into my refrigerator so I talked myself into believing it would be o.k. on the stove. I don’t know what I was thinking but I doubt I’ll make that mistake again.
Fortunately, the weather is really nice tonight so lack of hot soup will not be as bad as it would have been if the weather was colder. The sky is partly cloudy and close to darkness, the temperature is in the mid-60s and there is little wind.
The Anon who has recently found out she is pregnant tells us she’s experiencing morning sickness. An Occupier who has knowledge of mid-wifery and home birthing assures the pregnant woman that morning sickness is actually a sign of good health. She explains that the sickness will pass after the first few months and gives a few pointers on how to cope with the discomfort.
As soon as the fire gets going we are joined by the partner of the Stylish Native Woman, the schizophrenic African American guy from the Skinner and a few other street folks. The city official has been gifting the Occupiers with various pieces of warm men’s clothing which they then bring to the weekly fires and distribute as needed. They’ve been holding onto one very well made flannel shirt which they’ve been saving for The Partner. They give it to him now.
We ask the Occupier who has gone back to college how things are going with his environmental science professor and he tells us, “Actually, once the teacher discovered that I wasn’t someone taking the course in preparation for starting a business to make money off of the climate crisis and sustainable energy, he relaxed and is now comfortable with discussing my ideas.
“Most of what I talk about is the very noticeable increase in violent storms and forest fires all over the world. The climate crisis isn’t on its way; it’s here, right now. I mean it was 106 degrees in San Francisco a week or so ago, for christsakes!” Another Occupier adds, “I used to live in San Francisco; if it ever reached 80 degrees people were in shock”.
The college Occupier continues, “Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the fact that Americans seemed to have lost some of the rights that we used to have. There used to be something called false arrest; I don’t think we have that anymore. What about entrapment? I don’t think that is illegal anymore either”. Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah, I think you’re correct. I don’t know where I was when those rights were taken away but we don’t seem to have them now”.
The Anons come in from the corner; they drop off their excess stuff and go off marching around the hood. An Occupier opines, “I imagine they started early this evening because they need to go in early in order to majorly participate in the No Enbridge Line 3 march, rally and Public Utility Commission hearing tomorrow”. The Occupiers will also be in attendance at the No Line 3 event.
An Occupier remarks, “I thought the Dismantle the Legacy of Racism; Build a Community of Peace march and rally on Saturday went really well. I’m told that about 250 people marched to the Civic Center. I wasn’t able to march but attended the program at City Hall. It was one of the best I’ve ever had the privilege of participating in. I’m looking forward to finding out what other anti-racist experiences will be forthcoming”.
Spiritual Man appears; he has a cold and feels miserable. Several of the Occupiers are just getting over their colds; they empathize. This particular cold that’s going around is fairly intense. Spiritual Man exchanges pleasantries but mainly he just needs to drink fluids, sit next to the warmth of the fire and rest.
Someone says, “Hey, did you hear about the 650 pound black bear that was trapped somewhere inside the city a few days ago?” An Occupier answers, “Yeah, I read about it. Our human culture is so messed up. People think they should be able to live anywhere they want to. They forget that wild animals are legitimate residents of this planet too. Take Ma’iigan (wolves) for example. People keep moving deeper and deeper into the woods, into the animals’ territory. Then they get really pissed off when a wolf eats their dog or one of their cows or sheep. Dumb. They don’t realize that the wild animals also need to have somewhere to live. This planet wasn’t made for humans alone”. Spiritual Man silently nods his head in agreement.
Chicago Man rolls up. He sits down next to one of the street women and begins telling her about his deceased partner. It’s been almost 2 years since his partner passed away; he still grieves deeply.
Menagerie Woman rides up on her bike. She’ll sit with us by the fire for a bit and then catch a bus home. Bush Man has promised her homemade burgers and fries when she arrives.
The Stylish Native Woman checks in; she must have been on some sort of errand. She and her partner go off to their sleeping place. “Sleep well, pleasant dreams”, we say to them.
The pregnant Anon has remained in the circle while the others march. She talks about being afraid to give birth and thinks she will sign up for a C-section. The experienced Occupier explains that recovering from a C-section is painful and the recovery will also make it difficult for her to take care of her baby. The Anon appears to be getting most of her information from her inexperienced friends. The experienced Occupier hopes she will have the chance for a serious talk with the young woman before too long.
The Most Obnoxious Street Woman, Mr. Evil, Lil Bear and a few others are in the back of the Plaza sitting on a bench, probably drinking and talking and laughing quietly. We appreciate the fact that they take their drinking outside the circle without being asked.
The Anons return; they’re packing up their stuff and heading home in preparation for the next day. We say, “See you tomorrow”, as they leave.
An Occupier comments, “This so called Opiod Epidemic is sure a bitch, isn’t it? I hear it originated from Big Pharma but I wonder what its deeper purpose is”. Another Occupier responds, “Personally, I think it has something to do with population control. The so called leaders of this country think we have more people than they need and heroin is an easy way to off a bunch of them. Also, Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium and the USA just happens to have been having a war there for the last 16 years. The supply lines for shipping the stuff to us have been in place for a good while”.
When Spiritual Man gets up to get another cup of coffee, he puts some rocks that are shaped like hearts on the picture of the Woman Who Tells Good Stories which we always keep on the table. The rocks are meant to be an offering to her spirit.
A very straight looking middle-aged couple walks up and asks to sit down. We welcome them. After asking a few questions about what we are doing and getting a few answers, they tell us they are tourists visiting from the St Cloud/Brainard area. Apparently, fire circles like this don’t happen where they live. They don’t stay long; we think they will have a story to tell their friends and family when they get home.
Chicago Man groans and says, “Oh, I sure wish I didn’t have to go to work tonight. It’s my last night and then I get 3 days off but they want me to work at least one of my days off. I don’t think so! My co-workers and my customers at the big box store where I work are so creepy. They look at me like I’m something from another planet. They call me mean names and make fun of my long African braids. If I try to talk about it to my supervisor, she looks at me like I’m the one who’s crazy.
“People really need to take the time to get to know other people who they consider to be different than them. They seem to think that everyone from a particular group is exactly the same. The people I work with think that because I’m black, I’m supposed to be sagging my pants, slangin’ dope and saying motherfucker all the time. They don’t appreciate that I have my own style and personality.
“Black people and other people of color are mistaken too. Back in Chicago they think that all white people are rich and lead charmed lives without any problems. My deceased partner was white, so I knew a little about white people, but even I was surprised when I came to Duluth to find out that there were so many whites who were homeless or poor and on food stamps”. An Occupier adds, “The majority of people in this country who receive any type of government assistance are white”.
Chicago Man goes off to his slave job; many others go off to their sleeping places. Now it’s just the Occupiers and Spiritual Man who are in the circle. We sit in quiet camaraderie, watching the coals burn down.
As we begin to pack up, an Occupier gives Spiritual Man her stash of Ibuprofen and a package of tissues. She says, “I wish I had more to offer you”. Then the Occupiers go off to “power sleep”. Tomorrow promises to be a big day with the beginning of the No Enbridge Line 3 event starting at Peoples Plaza.
We plan to bring the fire circle back to the Plaza next Tuesday.