G.A. Minutes 1-26-16

G.A. Minutes 1-26-16
We are a small and somewhat sorry group of Occupiers tonight in the back booth of Coney Island.  Small because we consist of only those who live within walking distance of the café’. Sorry because we’re all really tired and we’re propping up our heads with our hands.
The new guy is working the counter again.  He tells us he’s the only one on staff tonight.  He’s got some lame commercial country rock radio station playing on the radio.  We’d like him to switch it over to KUMD but decide against it.  He doesn’t know us yet and might be offended. At least he’s not playing it very loud.
We all participated in the Save Our Sacred Waters, Stop the Enbridge Invasion rally and march yesterday in Superior WI.  The occasion was marked by a mild but continuous snow storm.
We expended a lot of energy chanting, marching and dancing.  However, we each experienced the event from a different vantage point so attempt to compare notes.   
One Occupier carried our rather unwieldy two faced CEO puppet throughout the event, another gave interviews to the media and interacted a lot with other protestors and the third was unjustly arrested just as the event began.
The Occupier who was arrested tells his story, “So when I got there, I asked the main organizers where they wanted me to set up our Occupy fire pit.  They asked me to go to an open public space a few blocks away that was near the second Enbridge office building everyone would be marching towards.
“I drove over there and started to unload and set up.  I had barely started when 2 Superior cops walked up.  They started asking me all sorts of questions like who from the rally told me to start a fire right where I was located and they told me if I start up the fire I’ll be arrested.
“I decided I would be polite but that I wasn’t going to give them any information.  They were playing the usual good cop/bad cop routine with the bad cop doing most of the talking.  The bad cop asked to see my ID; I explained nicely that I didn’t need to show them my ID if I wasn’t guilty of any crime.  That made the bad cop really pissed off; he said it was illegal to make a fire on private property.  Then he said the empty lot belonged to the City.  I guess he thought being City property makes the space private?
“Anyway, I asked him exactly what law I was breaking; he said, ‘I don’t remember but I can assure you there is a law’.  I still refused to show my ID so he cuffed me real tight, searched me, found my ID and asked me if the guy on my ID was me.  I didn’t answer so he put me in the back of the squad car and took me to jail.  He also confiscated our fire pit and a load of good firewood       
“It’s been a very long time since I was in the back of a squad car.  They’ve gotten really uncomfortable.
“When we got to the jail the rest of the officers and people there acted like they were embarrassed that I had been brought in.  The bad cop was trying to tell me if I didn’t verbally state who I was I would have to spend the night in jail.
“After he did all the paperwork and talked to some other cops he came back and told me he was going to release me.  All the other cops cheered. 
I am charged with failure to provide identification to a police officer.  If I choose to appear in court, my court date is February 10th at 1:30pm.  I’m surely going to court because I’m not going to accept guilt over bullshit.
“By the time I got out to the street the whole event was done.  I called a few folks to let them know what happened.  I told them I was part of the cops’ official ‘Catch and Release’ program. It kinda bummed me out that I missed the rally”.
Another Occupier adds, “It really pisses me off that they stole our fire pit and wood.  We need that stuff.  Now were gonna have to go through who knows what to get it back.   I checked this morning and found that the ordinance they charged him under states one must only show ID when found to be committing a crime or about to commit a crime.
“I couldn’t find any City of Superior ordinances that said anything about fires.  If the Superior fire department follows the WI Fire Codes, which they probably do, then a recreational fire on public property is not illegal.  I’ll do some more research before the court date”.
An Occupier reminds us, “Speaking of our marvelous judicial system, the Duluth 7 will be going to court this upcoming Thursday.  There will be a support rally for them at noon in front of the St Louis County Court House”.
A well-known and well respected local musician who has occasionally visited our fires arrives. He says he only stopping in for a minute and asks, “Did any of you go to see Bernie Sanders? I had a gig so couldn’t go”.  We tell him no, none of us attended.  We chat a bit and then our musician friend leaves.
One of the Occupiers comments, “I suppose there are a lot worse politicians than Bernie but I just don’t trust anyone from the Democrat or Republican parties”.
Another replies, “He has a few really good ideas but seems to be lacking in some areas.  I’m unclear where he stands on the whole Israeli Occupation but I hear he supports BDS.  I also think he’s too cozy with the ‘Merican war machine”.
An Occupier exclaims, “There were many local media pieces about yesterday’s rally.  Did you notice they all included the Enbridge official statement that we progressives are the ‘vocal minority’ and most of what we say is false?  They go on to say, ‘The people of the Twin Ports realize Enbridge is good for the community’.
“I don’t watch commercial TV but I’m told Enbridge just plasters the air waves with commercials about how wonderful they are.  Of course never mentioning what it is they really do”.
Another Occupier agrees, “Oh yeah, they have tons of commercials.  So does Polymet. Polymet even sponsors the big hockey tournament up on The Range”.
The first Occupier sighs, “And the majority of the community who don’t really know us are continuously told how violent we are.  Of course there’s no evidence of that because we are SO not violent.  I guess they do that because they can’t kill us all without looking bad.  At least not yet anyway”.  We all laugh.
Someone says, “Before I forget, I spoke with the main homeless outreach worker today.  She told me CHUM doesn’t close at 4pm anymore, it’s open until 6pm.  She also said that if a person who hasn’t been banned arrived late and really needed to be able to sleep there, they could call the outreach number (461-8505).  The outreach workers will try to get the person a bed.
“Also, we need to remind everyone that the Superior organizer is holding the first Forum on Racial and Cultural Understanding at the Superior Public Library on February 2nd noon – 2pm. Childcare will be provided”.
An Occupier remarks, “I think it’s so cool how we progressive types are from different cultures but we all get along”.
Another agrees, “Yeah, I know, like how in traditional Anishinaabe culture it’s considered impolite to say no.  When I’m working with a traditional person who I don’t know well and I ask them a question, sometimes they just don’t answer me.  I don’t know if they are saying no or if they didn’t hear me.
“I don’t want to be an idiot so I just go and ask one of my close Native friends what’s going on. They go talk to the traditional person and usually come back to tell me the answer is no but give me the reason why.  Then we all easily go on about our business.
“Of course, my Native friends who walk in both worlds have no problem telling me no whenever they need to”.  We laugh.   
The Occupier then says, “You know what?  I need to go home and get some sleep”.  She gets no argument from the others.
We check our pockets for spare change to put in the tip jar.  The jar is already very full.  It must have been a busy afternoon.  We stuff our few bucks in and head out into the unseasonably dull night air.
We hope to be a larger and more alert group by next Saturday.  If you join us, we could buy you a cup of coffee or some herbal tea or something.  You could bring homemade cookies….. Well, o.k. maybe not.  You never know though, an interesting conversation could happen.