G.A. Minutes 1-23-16

G.A. Minutes 1-23-16
We’re happy to see that the lights are on at Coney Island as we begin arriving this evening.  Last Tuesday we found everything dark and a sign on the door apologizing for needing to close early.  We figured the afternoon guy just didn’t show up for his shift again.  The day guy gets really pissed when that happens.  Can’t blame him for that.
Everyone is wearing winter coats tonight but minus the hats and gloves.  There’s been a reprieve from the dead of winter; it looks like temperatures will be in the 20s and 30s for the next week or so.  We expect to go back into the deep freeze again in February but with climate change becoming more noticeable every year, we can’t be sure.
As we wait for more Occupiers to arrive, the Occupier recently arrived from the east coast tells us stories about her many years spent in homeless outreach.  She’s led a very interesting life.
As the conversation morphs into the topic of homelessness in Duluth, we tell her about the CHUM main homeless shelter.  She is shocked at hearing the many rules homeless people must follow in order to be allowed a space at CHUM. 
“So if it was winter and for some reason or other I was unable to make it to the shelter until after 4pm then I would not be allowed in?  I’d have to fend for myself in the cold?” she asks.
“Well yeah, you would if you hadn’t stayed at CHUM the night before.  If you had stayed the night before then you would have until 9pm to get back in,” we answer.
“CHUM is pretty big on the ‘homeless ones taking their own personal responsibility’ idea.  It’s pretty much a one size fits all situation.  Of course, that works out better for some folks than for others”.
The east coast Occupier is shocked.  The rules at homeless shelters back east are not as strict.  Another Occupier explains, “Yeah, that ‘MN Nice’ that you hear about is real. It can really bite you in the ass”.
The Occupier who has written the letter to the Duluth News Tribune arrives.  We pass around copies of the letter.  Everyone thinks it’s very good.  We’re not surprised as he’s an excellent writer.  He agrees to make one minor technical change and then send it in right away.  He figures it will take the DNT a month or so to actually print it.
Another Occupier has agreed to write a letter to the Reader.  She passes around a copy of a rough draft.  She tells us, “right now I’m just working with word count and a general tone.  The actual letter might not turn out like this.  Considering all the things we have going on, it’s going to take me a while longer but I’ll get on it as fast as I can”.
An Occupier tells a funny but sad story.  He’s been aware of a homeless person sleeping in the basement of his apartment building as of late.  The Occupier is busy working and raising three children so hasn’t had time to interact with the basement sleeper.  He had planned on just letting the guy go on about his business.
However, the basement contains storage units belonging to each of the apartment building residents.  This morning the Occupier noticed all the storage units had been ransacked.  The homeless guy was the culprit. 
The Occupier comments, “I felt really bad but my storage has a lot of my life memories in it.  I kind of know this guy though so I know he’s not gonna leave my stuff alone just because I ask him to.  I had to call the police to get him to stop”.
It turns out basement sleepers’ name is Bernie Sanders.  The Occupier has to call the police and tell them Bernie Sanders has been sleeping in his basement and the Occupier wants him to leave.
When the cops arrive they think they’re “being had”.  Everything turns out o.k. in the end though.  Bernie Sanders has a particular classification that will get him immediate help for his homeless situation.  The Occupier agrees to assist the cops in making sure the guy gets housed ASAP.
We make a few lame jokes about why Bernie Sanders may have come to town a little early.  These jokes do not deserve to be repeated.
The next 2 days will be taken up with Stop the Enbridge Invasion events.  We will all be going to the traditional Anishinaabe drum ceremony and feast tomorrow, 5pm at Peace Church.  After the feast we will participate in direct action training in preparation for the rally and march on Monday, January 25th starting at noon in front of the Douglas County Court House in Superior WI.
An Occupier states, “I was at a small meeting in Superior last week.  One of our friends was saying Enbridge recently held a meeting for the general public of Superior. About 150 people showed up and almost every one of them was opposed to the Enbridge pipelines.  Of course, there was no mention of this fact in the media”.
Another Occupier asks, “Did you hear that our friend, the Native spiritual advisor, is going to run for County Commissioner of District 3?”  Someone replies, “Oh good. Most of the County Commissioners are serious rednecks and they have a lot of power.  It would be such a relief to have another person of good character in one of those seats”.
“I have some bad news”, an Occupier tells us, “I have it on good authority that a particular Deputy Police Chief will soon be offered the temporary position of interim police chief as soon as Chief Ramsey leaves”.
Everyone groans.  Somebody responds, “Oh no!  That will be terrible!  He will be completely opposite from Chief Ramsey.  He does a good job of speaking on camera and in public but behind closed doors he tries to intimidate regular folks.  He’s a bully”.
Another adds, “You can forget about cops being required to treat poor and/or homeless with any kind of respect.  I know they don’t actually do it much now but they’ll be much worse under that particular Deputy Chief.  We need to find out what we can do to bring this fact to light.  I’m sure we’re not the only ones who feel this way”.
An Occupier states, “Sorry to change the subject but remember the Duluth 7 go back to court on Thursday, January 28th.  There will be a support rally at noon in front of the St. Louis County Court House.  Those folks were brave to offer themselves up for arrest at our last Stop the Enbridge Invasion.  We need to be there to back them up as they decide to plead guilty or not guilty”.
Several hours have passed and our attention is beginning to wander.  As we speak, a major winter storm is descending upon the east coast.  The Occupier from the east comments that the past 3 or more winters in New England have produced more snow than ever before.  She asks if Duluth is having normal winter weather this year.
We tell her that we don’t actually know what is normal anymore.  The conversation moves on to indigenous prophecies around the world, sustainable agriculture, eating food native to ones’ locale and climate change refugees.
An Occupier exclaims, “Well, you know the good old slogan of ‘Merika……  ‘We don’t HAVE refugees, we MAKE them’”.
There’s a different guy at the counter tonight.  It’s 8pm but he doesn’t lock the door or anything.  Maybe he doesn’t know he’s supposed to close?
We talk a while longer then decide to call it a night.  We’ll be hooking up for the next 2 days and then, providing that the staff shows up, back here again on Tuesday.

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