G.A. Minutes 5-28-13
It’s cloudy and somewhat cool at the Memorial this evening. Things start out strangely, is this an omen as to what the night will bring?
As we drive up we notice quite a few people sitting on the back ledge. By the time we have unloaded a few things from our vehicles, a squad car has pulled right onto the Memorial and all the folks on the ledge quickly leave. The place is empty as we uncomfortably enter. Everything is unusually clean and it appears as if the place has been cleared out so the white folks can have their fire. We don’t like that.
A few more Occupiers roll up, everybody greets each other, we put the coffee out and as we start up the fire some street people begin to arrive. This is better. A woman from the ledge shouts out, “Occupy Duluth!” and gives a power salute. Many of the men from the ledge come over, introduce themselves and shake hands with all the Occupiers. A few sit down at the fire.
An exceptionally intelligent man who we remember from our fires last fall sits down also. He says, “So what’s the conversation about tonight?” An Occupier begins to explain about INM, treaty rights, the evils of the Canadian Harper government and the worldwide struggle to save our Mother Earth from destruction by the corporations. The man is listening with interest when suddenly a small group of street people, unknown to the Occupiers, comes walking up the avenue. The people on the ledge certainly know them.
The two groups begin yelling at each other and all the people, including most of the men sitting with us at the fire, take off running down the street. A few of the men stay, they say,”Ain’t none of my business. I’m staying where it’s peaceful.”
Squad cars squeal up from all directions, then the fire truck and finally an ambulance. The Occupiers attempt to stay focused around the fire. Some people start drifting back, they are very excited. After a little while all the people from the ledge return. No one from their group has been arrested. Apparently, this is a victory of sorts.
Everyone begins to reenact the event again and again. There is much laughter; things get so loud we can’t hear ourselves at the fire. A DPD officer pulls up, gets out and talks to the people. It appears he has the beginning of a black eye. They laugh and tease him about it. He does not look pleased. A man at the fire says, “They should not tease the officer like that. They may find themselves alone in a dark alley with him some night”.
One Occupier appears to be very upset by the violence being laughed about and another Occupier says to him, “Most of these folks lead very boring lives. They have nothing to do but hang around, get drunk or high, go to the feeding centers for meals and try to keep out of detox or jail. A big fight is something that relives their boredom.”
Eventually the excited people wander off and things quiet down. We get many more visitors. An older gentleman who had been a regular at our fires last year arrives. We are very happy to see him again. A young man who has just moved to Duluth from a small town in Wisconsin sits down, our friend from Mississippi stops by and a street man tells us his story.
He had a problem with drugs a few years back and now is going through the court system. He expects to be sent to prison. He believes this is unfair. He appears to be in his late 20s and states this is the first time he has ever been arrested for anything. “It seems like they should give me a slap on the wrist and tell me not to do it again. If I do it again then they could rightfully punish me. I should at least be given a chance,” he tells us.
We agree with him and talk about the corruption of our justice system and the fact that rich people don’t pay the same price for crime as the rest of us do. We all know corporations are making a lot of money from running our prison system, this is why many people are sent to prison for minor offenses.
A group of three young men and one young woman arrive. We recognize one of the men from somewhere. He says, “You guys are Occupy aren’t you? I’m Idle No More.” We realize he is one of the young INM drummers. He tells us that all in his group are members of the same biological family. Another of the young men gets a chair for the young woman and says, “This here is my sister and nobody had better touch her”. The drummer laughs and says, “What’s wrong with you man? This is Occupy, they’re non-violent.”
An Occupier says, “You know, we were just talking about treaty rights and how they may be our only means of defense when it comes to saving the land, air and water from the corporate polluters”.
The drummer and an Occupier, who is also a drummer of European tradition, have a lengthy discussion about the types of material used for drum skins, the origins of the particular type of drum Native people are playing these days and many other things related to drumming. We all talk about Native fire rituals and one Occupier says she has tried some of these rituals and found they had no effect.
The drummer says gently, “That’s probably because they are not meant for you”.
She says, ”Yeah, I figured that’s probably what it was”.
We notice it’s getting dark, check the time and realize it’s very close to our imaginary curfew. We ask everyone to please come back and talk with us again. “Every Tuesday and Saturday night at 6pm unless it’s raining”.