G.A. Minutes 8-27-13

G.A. Minutes 8-27-13

It’s hot again tonight, there’s just a few of us and we’re deliberately moving slow. The Memorial is about half full with people from the street. They’re all crammed together on both ledges, trying to get some shade. We’re pleasantly surprised to find a large garbage container sitting in the middle of the site. Someone from the neighborhood has donated it. It’s full of garbage and the Memorial grounds are clean. In the 10 years the monument has been in existence, we have not seen any type of garbage receptacle placed there. The City is responsible for the upkeep, so we know the lack of basic amenities is deliberate. We wonder how long it will be before the authorities have it removed.

As we are setting up, a man who has the lower part of one leg amputated is yelling at someone in the street. Upon closer examination we see a DPD vehicle. The officer in the driver’s seat has a camera and is taking pictures of the people on the ledge. Maybe he’s taking pictures of us too. The man yells, “Hey! Why you taking pictures? You know who I am! If you want to know something, you come over here and axe me”! He hops on a homemade cart type thing and rides towards the cops. They start to drive away but realize he’s going to chase them so they stop. The man talks to them for a while, then comes back. “They’re doing an investigation” he says. A woman says, “Oh yeah, probably about that girl who was smoking that stuff”. We have no idea what they’re talking about and we don’t ask. It’s impossible to keep track of all the happenings on the street.

The religious woman who had joined us last Saturday returns. She tells us her husband is drinking tonight so she needs a place of refuge. Strange as it seems, the Clayton Jackson MeGhie Memorial is a place of refuge for many, Occupiers included.

We notice a fog rolling in. At first it’s just touching the tops of the highest buildings. Soon it descends to the street. This is rather unusual and some of the street folks believe it must be smoke from a fire. The temperature drops about 20 degrees and the air is comfortable. Nice.

More Occupiers arrive and someone says they have just heard that the City Council is considering an ordinance which would make the Central Hillside Community Park a non-smoking area. An Occupier states, “We need to keep an eye on this. It’s a very bad idea and if it looks like they’re serious, we need to speak out”. CHC is the park most commonly frequented by homeless people so we know the real reason for this proposal is to make it easier to give citations to them. If they can’t pay off their citations and they accumulate enough of them the judicial system will put these homeless folks in jail. A cruel, expensive and inefficient way of keeping the un-housed out of sight of the “good” citizens of Duluth.

An Occupier attended a meeting recently. The topic of our ongoing harassment by the DPD regarding the non-existent ordinance about having a safe fire at the Memorial came up. A well-known Duluth community activist and business person suggested we take the problem to the Citizens Review Board. Everyone is very surprised as we were not aware the CRB had become operational. It was one year ago that the CRB became a legal reality and since then, every time we asked when it would begin to actually function, we were told the members were still studying the laws. We all think going to the Citizens Review Board is a good idea.

The man with the amputated leg comes to sit. He’s very friendly and asks what’s going on. He says he’s never seen us here before and we explain we’ve been coming to the Memorial 2 days a week for over a year now. He tells us he’s been gone from the street scene for at least 2 years and recounts the story of losing his leg. He’s pleased about what we are doing, begins to join our conversation when one of the guys working the street calls to him. He goes off to join them.

Someone reminds us we will be needed by Water Legacy to get petition signatures at Bayfront Pride Festival on this upcoming Saturday. Most of us will be there.

This upcoming Thursday is filled with events. Loaves N Fishes is having their next homeless training session starting at 5:30 pm at Concordia Lutheran Church, 2501 Woodland Ave. The Red Lake Urban Center is holding their weekly Annishenabe Drumming and Language Class starting at 3 pm. Community Action Duluth will hold their Big View dinner and discussion about the educational system at the new Lincoln Park location at 5:30 pm and the annual Mayor’s Welcome To Pride will be held at the Depot starting at 5:30pm.

The Mayor’s Welcome includes free drinks and free food and the food is reputed to be very good. We realize we can’t all attend every event. Some of us have our preferences. We’ll divide the events between us and jokingly say we’ll draw straws for the Mayor’s Welcome.

An Occupier tells us there will be another Public Utilities Commission hearing in St. Paul on September 4th. On July 17th a PUC hearing was held concerning the Alberta Clipper pipeline and the Enbridge request to increase its capacity. Many citizens were opposed to this request; however the PUC would not allow any public comment and then voted unanimously to allow the expansion. An appeal by the public was filed and on September 4th the appeal will be reviewed by …….guess who? The PUC…… wonderful.

One of the Occupiers suggests we get an article about each of our two friends who are running for City office published in the Hillsider. Someone questions if the Hillsider would be allowed to do this because of their 501c status. We’ll have to check on that. At least we could write a letter to the editor.

It’s getting dark but the man with many religions from last Saturday has just arrived and we enjoy talking to him. He seems happy to see us. Tonight he’s talking about the education system. He spent many years as an active parent in the Twin Cities school system. When he and his daughter moved to Duluth he was surprised to find our school system had the same problems, only worse. The Occupiers with experience in our education system converse with the man. They make plans to meet him and attend the Duluth Community Action together.

Now it’s really dark. The street and surrounding area is crowded and everyone is in a good mood. We’ll find time to play but not tonight. There are a lot of things that need to be done in the next week. We tell folks to expect us again next Tuesday.