G.A. Minutes 8-22-15

G.A. Minutes 8-22-15
     The Occupiers have had to confer via the internet during the day to decide whether we should hold a G.A. at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial tonight.
     The weather people are broadcasting tornado warnings throughout the area.  We decide to chance it.  As far as we know, a tornado has never touched down in Duluth.
     There are grey skies; a strong north wind is blowing while the clouds are moving rapidly across in a southwest to northeast direction.  Something is going to happen but not right away.
     The first couple of Occupiers arrive. We set out a few chairs and sit and watch the sky. A few neighborhood African American folks on the back ledge do the same.
     We hear a woman screaming across the street.  The screams come from a street woman who we have been vaguely acquainted with for several years.  She is screaming at a man who generally accompanies her when she is out and about.
Up until about a year ago we observed her working the “night shift” on the corner as we packed up after our meetings.  We’d assumed the man was her pimp.
     We haven’t seen any signs of obvious drug dealing or sex trafficking on the corner of CJM for a long time.  We figure the business has moved somewhere else.
     Anyway, the man begins screaming too.  The couple crosses the street, going to the back ledge.  An Occupier comments, “If she’s trying to get away from him she’ll have to make a big ruckus that gets noticed by everyone.  If he gets her alone, her chance of escape is over”.
     The couple begins hitting each other.  No one from the back ledge attempts to intervene.  In fact, everyone comes to stand by the Occupiers.
     As one Occupier goes to get more chairs, he and the other Occupier exchange looks that say, “Should we call the cops?”
Suddenly the other Occupier says, “Oh, what is wrong with me?”  She goes to her car, gets the smudge equipment, fires up the sage bundle and lets the smoke fill the entire space.
     The male of the fighting couple comes to sit in the circle.  He complains to the other African American men sitting there.  He says that although the entire argument is completely his woman’s fault, he knows if he puts his hands on her he’ll be the one going to jail.  The other men agree with him.  However, they don’t appear to feel much empathy.
     The fighting woman stomps off one way while the fighting man stomps off in the opposite direction.  A woman from the ledge says, “Maybe now we can have a little peace”.  Most of the neighborhood folks go back to the ledge.
     Another Occupier and an occasional Occupier arrive.  They attended a local memorial service for Julian Bond earlier in the day.  They tell us about it and we have a short discussion about revered man’s legacy.
     One of the Occupiers asks, “So we’re going to the Citizens Review Board meeting on Wednesday?”  Another answers, “Yup, that’s correct”.
      We laugh because last week we had been misinformed.  We canceled our regular Tuesday meeting and showed up at City Hall at 7pm.  The room was dark and empty but we thought we were the first ones there.  We turned on the lights and took seats.  After a while we started wondering why everyone was so late.
     Just as we were about to make a phone call, two of our City official friends peeked in to see what was going on.  “You have the wrong night”, they said.
     Everything turned out o.k. because they stayed to talk for a while and gave us some good news about the Committee of Black Minnesotans and Voices for Racial Justice.   
     An Occupier tells us she recently attended another class about white privilege.  Among the other class participants was a young, well known and respected African American college teacher.  She and the teacher had a discussion about the problems Occupy and the rest of the neighborhood has continuously had with the CJMM BOD.  The teacher had been a member of this BOD in the past.
     She told him, “As far as we can tell, the real problem the BOD has with us is based on the fact that we welcome everyone at our meetings, including homeless and other street people.  In fact, the majority of the people who regularly attend our meetings are homeless and other street people.  They enjoy the fires, food and conversation.  They also don’t have much else to do in the evenings”.
     The teacher responded to her, “You’re absolutely correct.  When I was on that BOD I constantly argued with most of the other members about the “quality” of the people who frequented CJM.  Most of the other members said they were disgusted by the fact that poor neighborhood people spent time at the Memorial.  They wanted the space to remain empty except for suitable tourists and wealthy people, whom the members could take, show them the space and then solicit donations for the CJMM scholarship fund.  “I finally resigned from that BOD because I just couldn’t tolerate the arrogance and elitism of most of the members”.
     The Occupier continued, “I was really glad to hear the teacher’s words.  I really didn’t think we were imagining things”.
     Another Occupier reports he’s been making phone calls on behalf of Northwoods 350. There are two Public Utility Commission hearings coming up on Tuesday August 25th11am and 6pm at the McGregor High School and Wednesday August 26th 11am and 6pm at the Carlton County Transportation Building.  These hearings will be accepting public comments concerning the proposed Enbridge pipeline Line 3.
     Someone replies, “When are we just going to go with all renewable energy sources? I’m getting tired of waiting.  All the technology is there, it’s just a matter of doing it”.
     Someone else pantomimes sticking a syringe into her arm and says, “They just don’t want to get off of that oil”.
     Raindrops are beginning to fall; it’s just a matter of time until the storm hits.  We start a conversation about gardening in order to take up the time while we wait.
     The short middle-aged white guy who’s been coming around lately arrives.  He grabs the sage bundle and begins smudging everyone.  Several of the Native women say, “I don’t want to be smudged right now.  I’ve been drinking”.
     Thunder and lightning arrive.  They bring occasional bits of rain with them.  The Occupier who is well versed in science explains the calculation for determining how far away the storm is.
     We wait for a lightening flash, then count the seconds until we hear thunder.  We have it all wrong but we have fun doing it anyway.  Then…. A big flash of lightening and the thunder right after it.
     An Occupier states, “Oh, oh here it comes.  Time to go”.  Everyone scurries to pack up. The street folks join in and help.  The folks who live in the HRA apartment building on the corner are going to stand under the trees on the back ledge.  They want to watch the storm.  They’ll probably get wet but it doesn’t matter.  They don’t have far to go to dry off and they don’t have anything else to do anyway.
     We plan to be back on Tuesday.        

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