G.A. Minutes 12-15-15
Winter is here, sort of. It’s been alternating between snow, rain and sleet all day and into the evening. Temperatures are in the low 30s but there’s a strong east wind so it feels much colder. We’re reminded why we decided to move indoors until spring.
We’re at Coney Island again after being absent for about a week and a half. During the time we were absent we were quite busy. We did a lot of cooking and took care of all the food for the Honor the Earth Miigwetch Tour, worked hard at a very successful Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NDN Taco sale and worked and participated in the Holiday Show at the Washington Studios Artist Co-op.
There are no customers at the Coney Island café when we arrive. That’s probably a good thing because we have many Occupiers and friends present tonight. We fill up the big back booth, spewing out into the isle.
The first thing we do is to update our Catholic Worker friends and others concerning the latest developments in the ongoing saga of our campfires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.
We tell them about the letter we received from the Deputy Chief of the Duluth Fire Department and about the responses from Deputy Chief Tuscan re: the 4 complaints we filed against the Duluth Police Department.
The Occupiers are amazed government officials are willing to put in writing that they are going to ignore the law and obey the commands of unidentified City employees and (presumably) wealthy community members. The Catholic Workers are not surprised; they’ve been around the block more than a few times.
An Occupier comments, “So the question is, where we go from here? I think one thing we need to do is show these letters to as many influential progressive type people as we can. I’ve already contacted 3 City Councilors and have a meeting tomorrow with an incoming Councilor. Maybe some of these folks would be willing to get on board and help us”.
A visiting member to our meeting responds, “Well, if you could get them to arrest you then you could take it to court”. The Occupier agrees, “I know, but they do not want to arrest us. Maybe that’s because they have orders not to? At least some of them must realize we’re not doing anything illegal”.
Another Occupier jokes, “Yeah because if 1 of us punched a cop or lit up a big joint we could get arrested but then we’d be getting arrested for that particular behavior and not for the fire. That wouldn’t help”. Everyone laughs.
An Occupier says, “I also think we should contact a good writer, preferably someone who works for a high circulation alternative newspaper or something. They may be willing to get the story about our fires out to lots of local people”. One of the Catholic Workers knows a very competent writer and gives the contact information to the Occupier.
Someone else has a suggestion. We all think it’s a pretty good one. If things develop in a certain way we intend to use it.
Our friend, the City official, arrives. An Occupier gives him a copy of the Deputy Chief’s letter. Our friend tucks it into his pocket, intending to study it later.
The friend explains some of the history of CJMM to the visitors. He also tells about an important African Heritage project that he has become involved in recently.
Somehow the conversation turns to the ill-fated Unfair Campaign of a few years ago. One of the Catholic Workers was involved in the initial stages of that campaign. She explains how the project was intended to show white folks the origins of racism against people of color. Local people of color tried to explain to the campaigners that their project would backfire. The POC stated that they (POC) would be the ones who would take the brunt of the backfire.
That’s exactly what happened. Several anonymous and threatening racist incidents occurred shortly after the Unfair Campaign put up its first billboards. The Campaign took down the billboards and was unable to come up with any alternatives.
An Occupier reports, “I received an email from someone who works for Adbusters the other day. They contacted me though the Facebook page we don’t use anymore. It seems they are trying to find out what all the Occupiers around the country are doing now.
“Seeing as I wasn’t sure the email was actually from Adbusters, I just asked them to join our current page, Occupy Duluth, and we could take it from there”.
Our City official friend has to leave. An Occupier says to him, “We’re doing our Christmas Night dinner again this year. You’re welcome to stop by”.
An Occupier who hasn’t been around in a while asks, “So what is Catholic Worker anyway?” One of the Workers answers, “Well, it doesn’t have anything to do with the Catholic Church. It was started in the 30s by Dorothy Day. Dorothy was very interested in politics but found working with socialists, communists and what have you to be lacking a spiritual component.
“Dorothy Day then joined the Catholic Church. She soon realized she would be unable to pursue her political ideals while working in the church, so she founded Catholic Worker”.
The Worker goes on to tell us some of the many successful actions accomplished by Dorothy and her cohorts. She explains Catholic Worker is anti-capitalist with a preference for living communally.
An Occupier states, “You know I felt like Dorothy Day. In my youth I worked in the movement in the San Francisco Bay Area. I found discussing Marx and Lenin all day to be interesting at first but after a short while I was really missing a spiritual dimension and genuine companionship. I dropped out and did other things but when the first WTO protests started happening I was thrilled and excited.
“If I hadn’t been raising a child, I would have left for Seattle immediately. I had to wait for over 10 more years for Occupy to arrive but I’m where I want to be now”.
A man we don’t know who appears to be homeless, walks in, uses the bathroom and walks out again. He gets no flak from the Coney Island staff…….Cool.
The clock on the wall says it’s closing time. We have a lot more to talk about but will continue here, same time, same station on Saturday.