G.A. Minutes 6-29-13

G.A. Minutes 6-29-13

It’s been one of the few truly warm and sunny days we’ve had so far this summer. The temperature is in the high 60s as we set up the chairs. We’ll be having a “courtesy fire” tonight. Small with just enough smoke and flame to be visible, no need to keep warm this evening.

An Occupier needs to move some furniture to his new home so others go to help him. There are just a couple of us left sitting at the Memorial. We discuss whether to proceed with the agenda or perhaps postpone discussion until more Occupiers are present. A wolf howl sounds from up the hill; a couple of the main organizers from Idle No More are on their way down. This is great!

There are not many progressive organizers in our area and the few in existence are overburdened. They rarely find time to just talk. Tonight that’s just what we’ll do.

Our conversation begins with a discussion of vegan and vegetarian diets and the reasoning behind our various choices. We speak of our past personal experiences with abuse and homelessness. We speak of our frustration with the petty quarrels and ego trips between activists who we are working with and of the importance of our work.

An Occupier has been offered an opportunity to video tape political discussion at a local TV station. She would like to share the opportunity with INM and others of like mind. We talk of the possibilities that could result from this collaboration. The TV station has also offered to provide training in the use of video equipment and video production. Some of us are interested but realize our schedules are already too full. We wonder if some of our unemployed youth could be engaged. We’ll give the matter further thought and keep our eyes open for possible candidates.

An Occupier has been contacted by a fellow organizer from another city. The organizer is interested in the subject of the Alberta Clipper pipeline and wants to form a coalition. The Occupier has been to an INM meeting very recently. At that meeting she was authorized to begin working on this issue. She receives further encouragement from the INM folks at the fire and they promise to connect her with a well-known person who will give her detailed information.

A round dance is scheduled to take place in a few days. One of the very young INM members is taking charge of the organization of the event. One of the INM leaders will be meeting with the young one tomorrow. We discuss what we know so far about the plans and agree to touch base quickly after tomorrow’s meeting.

As we have been talking, people from the street have been coming up to get their coffee and lemonade. Apparently they have sensed we are deep in serious conversation. They get refreshments and continue on their way. Finally, a Native elder comes to sit with us.

She introduces herself and tells us something of her life. She speaks of past involvement in actions in support of the homeless. She tells us the elders in the neighborhood are very unhappy about ongoing gang activity. She says the structure of extended families is being threatened. She says, “I’m homeless and a little bit drunk. People say to me, “If you’re homeless, how come your clothes look so good?” I tell them,”Damiano is just up the street. Just because you’re homeless doesn’t mean you have to look like a bum.” She calls a young man over and bids him to sit and then she leaves. We tell the young man we are Occupy and INM. He is interested.

An Occupier explains she has recently been talking with a well-known homeless outreach worker. The worker has met recently with the Chief of the DPD. The Chief assured the worker his department will not harass homeless persons anymore. However, the worker continues to hear many reports of police harassment of the homeless. We have heard of beatings and the destruction of tents and other personal property.

The outreach worker and the Occupiers made a plan. We will ask homeless people who are being harassed to surreptitiously look at the officer’s badge number or the number on his squad car license plate. Then they should report the numbers to the outreach worker or to the Occupiers. We will then give this information to the Chief of the Duluth Police Department so he will know which officers are disobeying orders. The young man smiles and says, “Sure, I’ll spread the word”.

The Occupiers who were moving furniture have returned. Unfortunately, they’ve missed the meeting. It’s almost dark and way later than we realized. We all have things we must do tomorrow. We head out with plans to meet again on Tuesday.

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