G.A. Minutes 9-10-13

G.A. Minutes 9-10-13

Today is primary election day for Duluth City Council at large and Duluth School Board candidates. Some of us arrive late; we made the extra effort to vote for our friends who are running for some of these City offices.

Luckily we’re not going to need to clean up the Memorial grounds this evening. A small group of young men brandishing brooms and garbage bags are just completing the task. One has a YMCA badge around his neck. He appears to be the leader. We thank the men and invite them to have some homemade lemonade and sit with us. The guy with the badge says,” O.K. boys, I think we can rest for 10 minutes. An Occupier notices the big garbage container is missing. The men say there was no container on site when they arrived. We’re not surprised; we figured the City would remove it quickly. The street people of the neighborhood enjoyed the luxury of a trash container at CJM for about 2 weeks. There is a concerted effort in Duluth and in all American cities to deny homeless people the ability to comfortably congregate in any public space.
An Occupier informs us one of our friends who is running for City office is having a post primary election gathering. Our friend’s message to us is, “You guys should end your G.A. early and come and get some free food”. We decide to just play it by ear and see how things go.

One of the Occupiers has completed the task of composing the wording for the complaint we will file against the Duluth Police Department. She brings copies, everyone reads them and with the exception of a few minor changes in grammar, they approve the wording. The Occupier will complete the complaint form; get a few signatures from other Occupiers who have agreed to sign as witnesses and then deliver the official complaint to the DPD and to the Human Rights Commission.

The Occupier who was having trouble with his internet and television access is still having trouble. He wants to be able to just plug his T.V. into the wall and watch the free channels. The cable company tells him that is not possible. They tell him he has to pay $30 a month in order to receive any service at all. “What about my right to access information? What about my right to be educated?” he says. Of course this leads to a discussion of the grand corporate rip-off of the entire world.

The sun has set and the air is cool. Time to start the fire. We know we are inviting a visit from our latest Officer Friendly. Oh well…… somebody’s got to stand up for the people’s right to use public space.
Almost everyone attended the Resist Tar Sands event yesterday. It began with a 4:30pm press conference in Canal Park. We were forced to move twice during the conference as almost all the area is owned by various businesses and each threatened to call the police, accusing us of being on their private property. It appears Canal Park has been completely taken over by businesses catering to tourists. With the exception of the Amazing Grace Café, the general public is no longer welcome. How strange that the business people are more concerned about being indirectly associated with a moment’s mild controversy than concerned about the fact that our beloved Lake Superior is threatened with irreversible damage from Tar Sands oil.

However, in spite of the harassment, the press conference went well. When we were done we grabbed a quick bite to eat and headed up to Teatro Ziccone for an evening of speakers and discussion. Many environmental groups from across northern Minnesota attended. We were especially pleased to make face to face contact with many of the Occupiers from Occupy MN. Plans for several more resistance gatherings were begun. It’s wonderful to know that many people are concerned and working on the Enbridge pipelines issue. We definitely need the help. Most people living in our Twin Ports area are unaware of the Enbridge tar sands menace.

One of the Occupiers has not had a chance to vote. He runs off to do so and when he returns, says his polling place was completely empty except for the workers. All of the Occupiers had that same experience when they cast their ballots earlier in the day.

As we’ve been talking we’ve noticed the occasional squad car drive by. Sometimes they appear to be in a hurry; other times they slowly cruise past. We’ve got the flames going fairly high tonight so we’re sure they can see the fire. If they decide to stop, we are prepared. We have copies of the real definitions of the city ordinances they quoted us during their last visit.

The LSS homeless outreach workers who visited us during our last meeting are back tonight. We are all pleased to see each other. They sit down and we begin a meaningful conversation about the educational and judicial systems and many other things too numerous to mention. The air is just cool enough to make the fire feel comforting, the workers are smudging, street folks are getting their drinks and visiting. Everyone is in a good mood. Guess we’ll forget about the free food offer and just sit and relax for a while.

Off on the back ledge some African American men are harmonizing. They defy all stereotypes, sounding like a bunch of drowning cats. We don’t laugh, neither does anyone else. It’s all good.