G.A. Minutes 8-17-13

G.A. Minutes 8-17-13

We’re back after being gone 2 weeks. We’re a bit nervous because things at the Memorial and on the street had been pretty weird at our last few meetings. It appeared as though many folks were suffering withdrawal symptoms from lack of synthetic drugs. Tonight there are a lot of street people around but everyone seems in a good mood. Many say hello as we set up.

We’ve been very busy during our sabbatical so there’s a lot to talk about. An Occupier reports that the Wolf Walk is coming up on Oct. 12 and the Northwoods Wolf Alliance is calling for endorsements from local progressive groups. Everyone gives happy octopi except one occasional Occupier. He says, “I don’t think I have enough knowledge about the wolf hunt to make an informed decision but if there are too many wolves, don’t they kill all the deer”? A couple of regular Occupiers are educated in biology and general science. They explain how predator and prey, if free from human interference, naturally balance each other. They explain dead wolves have very little practical use and the people sanctioned to kill the wolves are sport hunters who kill mostly for sadistic reasons. Others explain the deep spiritual connection between the wolf and the Anishenabe. The occasional Occupier agrees and supports the Wolf Walk. We’ll notify the Northwoods Wolf Alliance of our endorsement.
A man carrying a couple of cameras arrives. He says he’s a graphic artist and asks if he can take a few pictures for his own use. With our permission he takes some pictures. He becomes involved in our discussion so sits down to join in.

After receiving an invitation from our allies, several Occupiers attended the Gimaajii community meeting held last Tuesday. Things were tense in the beginning but turned out better than expected. The Occupiers arrived and as requested, waited outside for Idle No More and others before entering. INM folks appear. Among them is the man who is directly challenging the director of the Gimaajii Center. He is a former Gimaajii employee and of Anishenabe descent. Earlier in the year he resigned his post in protest of Gimaajii management’s opposition to Native principles. He was then illegally banned from the Center. Many Anishenabe have since been banned from their own cultural center. The INM man has come to speak in support of the many Native people who cannot or will not use the Center. There are 2 DPD officers at the door and they inform us that they are there to make sure the INM man doesn’t enter the building. Some of the Occupiers stay with the man while others go inside to check out the scene.

INM and Occupy begin a civil dialogue with the police. The cops tell us if the man won’t leave, they will ticket him for trespassing. If he tries to enter the building, they will arrest him. The man asks his friends, “What shall I do”?

An Occupier says, ”It’s up to you dude but if you don’t stay and get a ticket or get arrested, you won’t have anything to take to court to publicize all this nonsense”.

The man tells the police he is not going to leave and explains to them just what has been going on at Gimaajii this past year. The cops look hesitant and say, “Look at it from our viewpoint. We have been told we have to follow the law and we have to do what we are told”. They walk over to talk with some street folks and when they do, the man and all his friends walk into the banquet hall and sit down at a table. There are many other people in the room. The DPD officers come back to the doorway and see the man sitting at the table. 5-0 looks stressed. They walk to the other end of the room where the director and her staff are sitting. They speak with the director and then walk out into the hall. They hang around for a while, eventually they just leave. Everybody gets to eat some really good food. After eating, the program begins. A professional moderator oversees the questions from the audience.

People from INM do all the speaking; Occupy is only there for support. The man and many others air their grievances and receive assurance, from the moderator at least, that a new director of Native heritage will be hired and all concerns will be addressed. It’s a start at least and so far, no one had to go to jail.

On August 5th some Occupiers helped out at a Water Legacy phone bank. The phone calling went very well and everyone had a good time. On August 6th they drove around to various locations to visit and drop off literature for one of the candidates running for City office.

An Occupier reports on the latest news concerning the Occupy National Gathering. It seems that all hell has broken loose. Someone, it seems like the National Gathering folks don’t know who, put up a website proclaiming the National Gathering was in coalition with Idle No More and something called the Turtle Island Movement. The website made much use of INM and Anishenabe slogans and manner of speech. INM got wind of this and was understandably very upset. Indigenous people around the world have a lengthy history of having their possessions and culture expropriated by white people. When INM confronted the National Gathering people, they (INM) were insulted and told they were nothing but “wannabes”. The National Gathering people began to argue amongst themselves and it seemed there were people in the group who had not met each other. Across the country, Occupys and others are withdrawing their support for the Gathering. We are saddened by the demise of the event however; Occupy Duluth will also withdraw support. This conversation leads to a discussion of trolls and NSA spying.

As we are talking a squad car pulls up and parks. There are many people in the Memorial and on the ledge. They stay put but we notice all the people who appeared to be “working the street” are gone. The cop sits there for about half an hour then drives off. The street workers return. Oh well……. So much happens around here we can’t keep track of everything.

Another Occupier reports on the Water Legacy forum of August 7th. He says all information was accurate and very well presented. On August 8th we participated in the Candidates of Color event. Both of our friends who are running for City offices are people of non-European ethnicity therefore; Candidates of Color. We all worked very hard for this event and it was quite successful. An Occupier says she is certain we fed at least 150 people before we ran completely out of food.

Someone tells us a well-known local activist has been injured in a bicycle accident and will be home bound for a while. We make plans as to how we will help this activist until he can return to his normal activities.

The dreaded subject of winter is introduced. We know we will have to find an indoor public space to meet when the weather forces us inside. Everyone agrees we did not like meeting in the skywalk but right now we have no ideas. We don’t want to think about this but know we will have to.

The meeting agenda has been dealt with and some Occupiers leave. Others want to stay, watch the little fire, smell the sage and enjoy the wonderful weather. Very many people are on the ledge and in the street. Everyone appears content and friendly. Most are not visibly intoxicated. All manner of ethnicities are present. Go figure. Once there are some empty chairs, many sit to chat. It’s a very pleasant evening.