G.A. Minutes 10-20-12

G.A. Minutes 10-20-12
We’re at the Memorial again. Fire’s going, snack are set out. We have a good amount of Occupiers. Throughout the meeting we have many folks from the street stopping by to see what we’re about. One Occupier has a good line, when asked what Occupy is trying to do, he says, “We’re trying to take over the government. So far we’re not doing very good.” This makes the people laugh and breaks the ice.

We talk about our stuff situation. A certified letter has been sent to the property manager. The letter requests that we arrange a date and time to go to the Ballroom and take all our stuff out. We will await her response. An Occupier has some of our camp stuff sitting in his living room. It’s kind of smelly. Tomorrow some Occupiers will go to his house and get everything.

We tried to get a room at UMD so we could show the Democracy Now presidential debate. We were unable to get the room so will have to settle for showing the debate at an Occupiers’ home. We won’t be able to open the event to the general public as the home is too small to accommodate a lot of people.

An Occupier tells us about the Wolf Walk that took place earlier in the day. It was quite successful. We talk about the wolf killing situation. An Occupier states she read an article that explained the wolf laws in Wisconsin. It stated it is very easy for farmers and ranchers to claim a wolf killed one of their livestock. The state then pays them decent money for their supposed loss. This explains the huge increase in reported kills by wolves over the last year. Some of the street people are astounded. Someone explains the deep spiritual connection between wolves and the Ojibwe people of our region.

A rather aggressive street person comes to talk with us. He is upset and says he has been sitting on the back wall of the Memorial with his friends every night for years. About a month ago, he began seeing us making a fire and sitting there talking with folks. He says making a fire is disrespectful to the Memorial and he is also angry because the Occupiers never came over and introduced themselves. We attempt to explain to him that we have contacted the Memorial BOD and our city official friend so have verbal permission to be there. We explain we have the fire to provide warmth for ourselves and as a way of inviting other people to come over and hang out with us. He’s not having any of it. He thinks we should have asked him personally. He’s very animated and does have a point of sorts so when he stops to take a breath, we apologize. He swings into a lecture about the history of the civil rights movement. We listen but as this whole thing has gone on for a very long time most of the Occupiers say their good-byes and leave. A few Occupiers remain, all the street people have gone. Eventually the aggressive man walks off.

We realize it is very close to 10pm and we remember that at the end of our last meeting we had said to the DPD Sargent we would leave the Memorial by 10pm. We don’t know if his demand is legal but we had agreed to it. We put out the fire and begin packing up. At exactly one minute after 10pm we are hit by a huge light from a squad car. Two other squad cars pull up immediately and all the cops jump out of their cars and come running at us. They have kind of an “Ah ha! We caught you!” vibe about them. One of them says, “You are in a city park after 10pm. Show me your I.D.s.” We tell them we think the Memorial is not a city park and one Occupier gives the cops his I.D. One Occupier states she has an I.D. but it is in her car. The third Occupier states he’s not sure it is legal for the police to ask for our I.D.s.

With that, the cops pounce on him, handcuff him and begin searching his entire person. One of the cops patting him down says, “I smell something funny. Smells like dead meat.” They throw all the contents of the Occupiers’ pockets on the floor. The biggest cop comes very close to stepping on the Occupiers’ cell phone. The female Occupier walks over and bends down to pick up the cell phone. One of the smaller cops says, “Ma’am, please don’t step behind my partner.” The big cop realizes someone is behind him, he turns and jabs her in the ribs with his billy club. She cries out. The smaller cops seem to realize that things are getting a little too rough and attempt to de-escalate the situation.

As usual, we now have two nice cops and one mean cop. The Occupiers say, “We would have been gone already if you guys hadn’t come along. This is a cheap shot.” The nice cops laugh and a friendly banter begins. The cops allow the Occupiers to finish packing up their things and taking them to their vehicles. The one Occupier is still handcuffed and the mean cop is taunting him about all the tickets and fines the Occupier is going to receive. One of the nice cops, who appears to be in charge, says, “Do you understand that when a person is doing something illegal, an officer has the right to ask them for their I.D.? It’s only when a person is just minding their own business that they have the right to refuse to give I.D.” The Occupier says he understands. The cop says,”O.K., uncuff him. We’re not going to give him any tickets.”

The mean cop is clearly upset by this. The female Occupier asks the cops for their names and badge numbers. The nice ones say, “Of course. Certainly.” They are Officer Keast #475 and Officer Roe #479. The mean one says, “No! I don’t like your attitude.” The Occupier realizes that it is illegal for the officer to refuse to give his badge number. She decides to say nothing and notes that his badge number is 413. She’ll find out his name later. With that, the Occupiers leave. As they head out they notice that the aggressive street man is back again. He’s ranting something about cops being racist. The occupiers say to him, “You know that as soon as we leave, the police are going to jump on you. You’d better split while you have a chance.” He doesn’t heed the occupy advice, and they hope he will be o.k. They know they can’t stay to see how things turn out.