G.A. Minutes 7-14-15
It’s unseasonably cool this evening. We’re at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial and there’s a cool breeze with temperatures in the high 60s.
The fire will be welcome once the sun goes down. We’ve decided to start having the fire again as we know we are within our legal rights. We’ve also contacted both the DPD and the Duluth Fire Department and are in the process of filling complaints concerning their illegal harassment of our fire.
Many neighborhood street folks are on the back ledge. A few are regulars; a few are former regulars and the rest are folks we haven’t met yet.
A Native man, who we don’t know, respectfully takes the sage bundle and individually smudges all the people in space, Occupiers included.
All our chairs fill immediately. An Occupier has brought a book of high quality poems. He reads a few. The neighborhood people appreciate these poems and ask him to read a few more.
Miss Community Cleanup arrives laughing and making her usual noise. She tells us she has been in a treatment center for a while. She looks above her head up in the sky and points “Look at that, she says.
We all look up. There is a strip of rainbow right above our heads. It’s very short.
No one has ever seen anything like that before. Even the Occupier who is a scientist hasn’t seen anything like that.
Ms. Cleanup says, “Now that is some kind of rainbow!” She spots a couple of park rangers passing by, goes to talk, and then leaves with them. The rainbow vanishes.
The sun is behind the buildings and the air is a little chilly so we start up the fire.
A heavyset, middle aged Native man we have seen around asks to speak. He tells us he is Lakota Sioux from South Dakota. He owns a few parcels of land in the Black Hills. He wonders if we know why the government is trying to buy his land.
We tell him about fracking and about the big corporate push to suck every drop of oil and gas out of the earth. We explain about the Native groups and multicultural coalitions that are fighting against the earth destroying corporations. We inform him (he probably already knows) that the government works for the corporations. We give him information about a local Lakota friend of ours who may be able to put him in touch with some of the groups fighting to save their lands.
The man tells us, “Land in the Black Hills is sacred. I will never sell it”.
An Occupier gives the latest “Fire Report”. She comments, “I’ve been talking with an assistant fire chief. He’s been trying to arrange a meeting between him, myself and the fire marshal. He’s had trouble contacting her. The last message I received from him said the fire marshal told him we need a permit to have these fires. Of course, that’s not true. The assistant chief is on vacation until next week so I can’t do anything until then. I plan to fill out the DPD complaint form tomorrow”.
She continues, “I went to the Human Rights Commission last week and when it was over I had an interesting conversation with the other co-chair of the CJM BOD. He was vaguely aware of what his co-chair (who likes to call himself the CJM president) had done to us on the 4th of July.
“I filled him in. He said he is completely aware that the CJM BOD has no legal jurisdiction over the Memorial space. He supports our fires in an odd sort of way. He’d rather we didn’t have to have them at CJM but he realizes poor and/or homeless people have nowhere else to go. He gave me a history of the previous downtown spaces where folks were able to go in the past. Apparently, they were not bothered by the police in those places.
“The City has now taken over all those spaces. CJM is the only public space left in the downtown area. The CJM co-chair thought if the City, BOD, whoever, wanted us to not have fires at CJM they would have to provide a public space in the immediate downtown area where people could meet and continue the activities we now enjoy at CJM.
“I told him it was my personal opinion that his idea could be doable providing that the space met all the necessary requirements and that it was legislated as a permanent space that could not be taken away. Anyway, that’s something that could happen years from now. Right now we have to deal with right now. It’s good to know we have some support from somebody from the BOD though”.
Another Occupier reports the INM/NWA NdN Taco Sale was a heck of a lot of work but very successful. There is going to be a big Workers Rights March in the Twin Cities tomorrow. Some people from Duluth are looking for someone who has a dependable vehicle and would be willing to drive down. There will be a Water Ceremony in Canal Park in memory of the anniversary of the huge Enbridge tar sands pipeline spill in Kalamazoo MI., Friday July 24th at 3:30pm and the vigil for the recently murdered woman and the Respect Your Mother Earth Festival will both be happening on Saturday July 25th.
The man from the long term homeless couple who fought a couple of weeks ago at our meeting arrives. He sits for a bit and then says, “I’m gonna go get my wife. She’s a little drunk though”. An Occupier jokes, “Oh no!” The homeless man laughs and replies, “She’s not that bad.”
He leaves but returns quickly. He’s shaking his head and looking frustrated. He rejoins the circle. After a while he says, “I served my country. I was in the Viet Nam war. I was a helicopter pilot and mechanic. During my time I crashed 3 helicopters. I still have terrible nightmares and flashbacks. I hate it when the medical helicopters fly over our neighborhood. I didn’t want to do a lot of the things I did over there. They made me do them. I served my country though”.
He packs up his things and states, “I’m gonna go off to bed now. I guess I’m gonna be cold tonight”.
Several of the regular people in the circle have wandered off but their backpacks and other belongings are still beside their empty chairs. An Occupier remarks, “Oh, oh. They forgot their stuff”.
Another replies, “Don’t worry. That just means they trust us. They know we’ll keep an eye on their things until they come back”.
Throughout the evening we’ve noticed quite a few squad cars driving by. We don’t know if they’re monitoring us or if they’re looking for someone. At approximately 9pm we get the answer. 2 squads pull up and 2 DPD officers get out and walk towards us. A big fire truck pulls up too.
These guys are more calm and polite than the cops who harassed us on the 4th of July. Unfortunately, they’ve got the same trip going on. Officer McShane (#420) remarks, “I suppose you know what this is about. You can’t have a fire here”.
An Occupier asks, “Why is that?” Officer McShane replies, “The owner of this space doesn’t want you to have a fire”.
The Occupier asks, “So who is the owner?”
Mr. McShane answers “The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Board”.
The Occupier responds, “Actually that’s not true. The owner of CJM is the City of Duluth”. Officer McShane looks perplexed.
Officer Hurst (#484) says, “We have a direct order from Deputy Chief Tuscan to put your fire out every time you have it. I’m going to look up the memo he sent us”. Officer Hurst pulls out his computer tablet and walks over to the wall.
When he returns an Occupier questions, “Did you find the memo?”
The officer says yes he did find it and the Occupier says, “May I see it please?” Officer Hurst looks questioningly at Officer McShane. Officer McShane states, “No, don’t show it to her”.
The Occupier then says, “Can you at least tell me when you received this memo?” After some conversing they agree that they received the memo about a week ago. The Occupiers exchange eye contact. They think that’s probably not true.
Captain Lattner of the Duluth Fire Department walks up. He has another guy with him. This time they are not dressed from head to toe in firefighting attire.
Officer McShane says, “So you guys can put out the fire yourselves if you want to or we can have these fire guys do it”. An Occupier replies, “Please have the fire guys do it”. So that’s what they do.
Officer McShane comments, “You’re welcome to stay here, you just can’t have a fire”. They thank us for being so nice and polite and then they leave.
As soon as they all leave, all the street folks return. They’re pissed off. We sit around for a while to assure them that we are not going to give up.
As we are packing up, a well-known area reporter and media person pulls up. A few Occupiers go over to talk with him. He’s pissed off too.
Apparently he has been observing our meetings and fires from a distance for quite a while. He tells us, “I really wanted to come over while the cops were here but I was so mad I knew I would start ranting and quoting all the laws that make what they were doing illegal. There are fires in public spaces all over town all the time. The cops don’t bother them. You guys are being set up!”
We already know that. The reporter then gives us some good advice. We’ll have to keep his advice secret for now. It looks like this crap is going to go on for a while. We’ll try out the advice and let you know later.
We’ll be back at CJM on Saturday and of course, we’ll start up the fire.