G.A. Minutes 3-4-14
Tonight we’re at the Amazing Grace Café. We’re glad to be here, especially because they have good food. Those of us who haven’t had dinner can order homemade soup and healthy sandwiches. Those who aren’t hungry can still have coffee that’s as good as the fresh ground whole bean fair trade stuff we serve at our other meetings.
Unfortunately the same disadvantages to meeting at the Café remain. The place is packed and the band is tuning up as we arrive. The weather has improved somewhat but it’s still too cold to meet outside. We have no other ready alternatives so we’ll just have to make the best of it.
One of the Occupiers hasn’t been around for about a week so he begins telling us what he’s been up to. He met a woman who is dying from cancer. She would not be dying if she had been diagnosed earlier but seeing as she couldn’t afford medical insurance early diagnosis wasn’t possible. He also has an uncle who is having prostate surgery. This uncle thought something was wrong with his body for a good while but could not see a Dr. until ObamaCare kicked in. By that time he already had prostate cancer so is having the diseased prostate removed. If it hadn’t been for ObamaCare he probably would have died. The Occupier says, “What is wrong with this country? One can’t even get medical care if they don’t have enough money”. Most of us have personal stories to tell of times when we had no medical insurance.
The Occupier tells us about a recent meeting he attended at the Community Action Duluth office. The topic of the gathering was the discipline system in current use by the public school system. Specifically the question of whether teachers have the right to search a student’s locker whenever they choose. Apparently the opinions of the people at the meeting were evenly divided with half thinking a search was o.k. under any conditions and the others thinking the teacher would need to notify the parents beforehand.
This leads us into a discussion about the civil rights of students in the public school system. Another Occupier says she thinks she remembers a big debate many years ago concerning the rights of Americans under the age of 18. She thinks she remembers the issue being taken to the Supreme Court and that the case was decided in favor of the people under the age of 18. One more Occupier says, “You know, I think we still all have a lot of civil rights on paper but in reality the cops, courts and government just do whatever they want to and so far no one has been able to stop them”.
An Occupier has questions about what is going on with the Anti-Sex Trafficking groups. He says there seems to be a lot of money being put into that issue right now. An Occupier who has been spending time working as an ally to our friends in main grassroots Indigenous Anti-Trafficking groups answers, “Yeah, there is a lot of money being put into this issue at the moment but as usual it just a fad. All the money is going to the big professionals who have no life experience of having been trafficked or having friends or family members being trafficked. The big groups that consist mostly of white people just use the money to pay themselves good salaries, have nice offices, go to conferences etc. No help of any value is being given to the trafficked women and when the fad is over, everything will be the same as it was. Statistics show that at least 80% of trafficked women are Native American with African American women coming in 2nd and white women in the rear. Yet no money is being given to Indigenous anti-trafficking workers.
These workers are the people who have actual life experience with trafficking and know what the victims need. The white groups are working more or less from a Christian world view while a lot of the trafficked women are coming from a different spiritual perspective. The typical kinds of things offered by the non- Indigenous groups are many times offered under the punishment method i.e. ‘if you make a mistake you’re out of here’. Indigenous culture does things differently. It’s been proven that for Indigenous women the Indigenous method works. Personally, I believe that so many cops, judges and politicians benefit one way or another from trafficking that they don’t want to see it stopped.
An Occupier says, “I just don’t understand why a person would want to sell themselves or want to buy another human being.” The Occupier who has been working with trafficking says, “The women being trafficked are almost always forced into it. It’s not something they want to do. The ‘Johns’ generally have some type of pornography addiction. Some think the answer would be to legalize prostitution but that has proven to not be the answer. Under legalization the pimps and johns get a break but things stay the same or get worse for the trafficked women”. Another Occupier says, “I guess the real answer is to have a different type of society where people have no interest in those types of behavior”.
The conversation then shifts to the subject of climate change and the destruction of our planet. An Occupier says that only 3% of the water on earth remains fit for human consumption. We question why the billionaires would want to pollute that remaining water with mines, pipelines and such. The only answer we can come up with is the power of greed.
The Occupier who is about to become a member of the Duluth Human Rights Commission reports the first draft of the Homeless Bill of Rights was presented to the commission at the last meeting. Members of Loaves N Fishes were present at this meeting. The Occupier says she thinks the only way this thing is going to get off the ground is if Loaves N Fishes plays a leading role in the formulation of the resolution and/or ordinance. She says the commission president appointed committees to study homeless issues. She doesn’t think this was a good idea as it will just cause things to drag on forever. She thinks it would have been a better idea to define main homeless issues and then to ask for experts in these areas to make some sort of presentation and then answer questions from the commission members. However, because she is not yet a commission member, she didn’t say anything. She hopes she will be able to provide some direction once she becomes a member.
There are a few announcements for the week. Tomorrow at noon our friend, a well-respected local organizer, will be making a presentation about sex trafficking of Indigenous women at the UWS Student Union Rm 201. On Thursday, March 6th there will be a Solar Forum at the Pilgrim Congregational Church 6:30 pm – 8pm. An Occupier reminds us the Bee Hive Collective; a group of environmental artists will be giving a presentation at Prove Gallery on Saturday March 8th at 7pm. Would we like to attend as a group? Everyone says yes.
As we are about to move on to the next topic a server walks up to our table and informs us they are now closing. We look around….. How strange, the band is gone and the place is empty. We didn’t even notice. We quickly pack up and plan to meet again Saturday at Prove Gallery.