G.A. Minutes 10-7-14
The weather report called for chilly temps and very strong winds. Their prediction turned out to be just a maybe this evening. We’re wearing warm clothes, the wind is mild and the temps aren’t very cold.
We arrive and before we even set up, an officer from the DPD walks up. He’s doing the macho walk, trying to look like he means business. He says, “You’d better not light a fire in that thing. You can’t have a fire in a city park.”
The Occupier who generally researches the laws for Occupy Duluth, thinks to herself, “Oh no! After an entire year of compliance with the actual law they’re gonna start this B.S. again?” What she says to the cop is, “Oh officer, I wonder if you are new here? We went through all this over a year ago and it’s been determined that we do have a legal right to have a fire here”.
The cop says, “I’m not new! I’ve been here for seven or more years and I’m telling you that you can’t have a fire in a city park!”
One of our regular street friends says to the cop, “You can’t tell them they can’t have a fire; they can do what they want around here”. The cop says to the street man, Mr.___ (calls him by name) you need to shut up. I’ll take you down in a minute. Walk away”. The man walks away. The Occupier knows what the cop was really saying was something like, “You’re just a lowlife homeless person. I can do whatever I want to do to you”.
DPD officer demands to see the Occupiers’ ID. The Occupier goes to her car and gets the packet of paperwork she has always carried in case an incident like this happened. She returns with the letter from the DPD chief of police which states DPD officers have been instructed to not approach the Occupiers when they are having their fires at CJM. It says the matter has been turned over to the Fire Marshall and the Fire Marshall told him our fire wasn’t allowed.
We always found the last part kinda funny as in the past all the fire people who were sent to our fires were supportive and complimented us on our safety precautions.
The Occupier hands the letter to the officer and he says to her, “I want your ID right now!”
The Occupier responds, “Sure. I’m not trying to disrespect you. You read that letter and I’ll go back to my car and get my ID.
The cop reads appears to be reading the letter and then talking on the phone. By the time the Occupier returns, more DPD squads are arriving. She gives the mean acting cop her ID. There are now four more cops consisting of two in separate squad cars and two on horseback. They all say the same thing (you can’t have a fire in a city park).
One squad cop is checking the other Occupiers’ IDs and acting like he doesn’t want to be there, while the other is acting all friendly and attempting to have a conversation with the paperwork Occupier. The mean cop is still acting mean and the two cops on horseback appear to not know their ass from a hole in the ground, at least when it comes to legal matters. The Occupier thinks, Oh great, the usual game has begun or to quote Yogi Berra, “It’s deja vu all over again”.
The mean cop says talks on his phone to somebody and says, “O.K., I’m going to call the fire captain and he will come down here and tell you that you can’t have a fire”. The cop who would rather be somewhere else leaves.
We sit and wait for the fire captain. We’re not too concerned as we’ve always had pleasant dealings with the Fire Department. An Occupier says jokingly, “I hope he doesn’t show up with a full fire crew, blocking the street, lights flashing and all that”.
No sooner are the words out of her mouth than the captain appears with a full fire crew, blocking the street, lights flashing and all that.
The captain politely greets the paperwork Occupier but this time there’s a twist. The Occupiers show him a copy of the fire ordinance for city parks. This ordinance clearly states the fire at CJM is legal.
The fire captain says, “I really like your fires and I wish you could have one but you can’t have a fire in a city park without a permit from the Fire Marshall”. When asked for the exact number of the code or ordinance, he says he doesn’t know it.
This is a different twist. The paperwork Occupier knows he’s quoting the law erroneously. She knows that law places a stipulation concerning a large number of people at an event but she doesn’t have a copy of that exact law with her.
Crap. She also knows if the Occupiers start up the fire without being able to show the true permit stipulation, at least one of them will be arrested and worst of all, their fire equipment will be confiscated. We don’t have time for that.
The Occupiers say they will have to get back to the captain on that one. All the so called officials appear quite happy. The fire people fall all over themselves providing phone numbers for the Fire Marshall and encouraging the Occupiers to call tomorrow. The captain says, “I’m sure it will be no problem. Just give her a call. She’ll email you a permit and then you’ll be able to have fires.
The Occupiers didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. They know that no City official is going to grant the Occupiers anything but a long walk off a short pier.
All the fire people and cops leave, except the mean cop. He remains parked across the street. The Occupiers begin to pick up the chairs but the paperwork Occupiers says, “No! We can’t leave now. We can’t let them think we’re a bunch of wimps and that they can win that easily. We have to stay now, at least for a while. It’s not that cold”.
The other Occupiers don’t appear too pleased but they put the chairs back down. We take out the sage bundle and dish. At least we can offer people the opportunity to smudge.
Throughout the rest of the meeting various DPD squads circle around the Memorial at regular intervals. It must be a slow night for them.
Another Occupier arrives and we tell him, “Hey, you missed all the excitement”. We relate the evenings’ events.
Various street folks arrive, sit in the circle, ask what’s going on, get an explanation and ask when we will have a fire again. We tell them we’re shooting for this upcoming Saturday. Soon the folks are cold and leave.
The Occupiers chat for a while about some miscommunication we have had regarding the inner workings of a few of our computers and also about the organizing strategy of trying to convince people in positions of power to fight for one’s particular cause vs the strategy of encouraging the people to demand power for themselves.
The regular street man who had attempted to defend us from the cops at the beginning of our meeting returns. He smudges and says, “Did you hear that little bitch cop say to me ‘You ain’t nothing but a N___(says N word) and I’ll do whatever I want to you?’” The Occupier realizes she had interpreted the cop’s words a little differently but says, “Yeah, I heard it. That’s the kind of thing that needs to be taken to the Citizen’s Review Board”. The man is not interested in taking it to the CRB.
The Occupiers are getting cold and they figure they have stayed long enough to make their point. They pack up and make plans to research the law (again) and return on Saturday.