G.A. Minutes 1-30-16
The weather tonight feels more like March than like the end of January. We had a big snow/sleet/ice/rain storm last night. That was pretty much like March too. We think this is pretty nice in the short term but realize it does not bode well for years and decades to come.
As a few of the Occupiers are entering Coney Island, an unknown young man asks them for $1. He says he’s a recent arrival from Nevada and has come to visit his children. He’s been to CHUM already but has no desire to stay there. An Occupier gives him $1 and everyone wishes him well.
There are 2 hipster guys on staff tonight. They are non-stressed and appear to have everything under control. As usual, some of the regular evening customers are present. There are some not as regular folks too.
The Occupier who is a member of the Duluth 7 tells us what’s been going on in his life since he last attended our meeting. The Duluth 7 are a group of serious activists who had allowed themselves to be arrested during our Stop the Enbridge Invasion occupation of an Enbridge office last November. It’s officially called the Duluth 4 now as 3 of the arrestees accepted a plea bargain. The remaining arrestees have pleaded not guilty to charges of trespassing and are scheduled for trial sometime in April.
These Duluth 4 are hoping to argue their case on the grounds of Necessary Defense. Necessary Defense basically means one had to commit a minor legal violation in order to protect themselves and/or others from a greater danger. We all agree Enbridge tar sands pipelines are definitely a greater danger.
He recommends that we research Tim DeChristopher and the Environment Civil Disobedience Center for a deeper understanding of the concept.
The Occupier tells us in order to have a trial instead of accepting a plea bargain, the Duluth 4 will have to except harsher punishment should they lose. They will also have to forgo a trial by jury.
We have a brief discussion about the fact that the majority of court cases don’t go to trial anymore. Most non-wealthy defendants are forced to accept some type of guilty plea rather than risk being found guilty of crimes larger than the one originally charged. This includes defendants who are completely innocent of any and all charges.
The Occupier who is single parenting 3 children expresses concern about an increase in residential utility taxes which is about to be passed by the tax regulators. The utility tax on ordinary households will be increased in order to reduce the tax paid by big corporations.
The Occupier parent is an employee of a major “big box” store. He exclaims, “Being a single parent is almost impossible. Working 40 hours a week, coming home, making dinner and helping the kids with their homework doesn’t leave you enough time for a full nights’ sleep. On your 2 days off you do the laundry, do the shopping and clean. Where is the time for your own life? Along with this is the constant worry “Am I going to be able to make the rent payment this month? Is the car going to break down? Etc.etc” Some of the Occupiers have been single parents. We all emphasize with his situation.
Another Occupier states, “I have a sort of weird story to tell. I was at the Citizens Review Board meeting on Wednesday. I’m sitting at a table making small talk with the commission members when I see the senior Deputy Police Chief walk in. I notice he looks carefully over the sign in sheet appearing to put a face to each name. He looks at me for a while. I’m sure he recognizes my name because it’s on all the numerous complaints about the DPD that we’ve filed. Judging by his response to the last one we filed, directed specifically at him, I know he knows who I am.
“So anyway, he puts the sheet down, walks over and plunks himself down right next to me. He puts out his hand and says, ‘Hi, I’m blah, blah, blah’. I’m thinking you must think I’m really dumb but I tell him my name and shake his hand. He sits next to me for the entire meeting whispering comments in my ear.
“He makes the announcement that he’s been appointed Interim Police Chief by the new mayor. He says he’s throwing his hat in the ring for the position of permanent Chief. At one point the CRB president asks for suggestions from community members about what type of qualities are important in a Police Chief.
“Seeing as I was the only grassroots community member present, I gave a little speech about transparency, accountability, fairness, inclusiveness and so on. Basically everything the Interim Chief has not shown to us.
“The I.C. doesn’t get the irony at all. When I’m finished he says loudly, ‘Well said! Well said!’ The rest of the cops in the room soundly agree. Give me a break!” We all laugh.
An Occupier reports, “I’ve applied to be on the hiring panel for the new police chief candidates. The main homeless outreach worker has done so too”. She looks at another Occupier and comments, “I think you should apply also”. She explains the process to him.
Another Occupier announces, “I have some bad news. Our fire pit and wood are gone. I called the Superior Public Works Department and was told that the Superior police ordered our stuff thrown into the landfill. We’re gonna have to buy a new fire set up”.
Someone replies, “Wait a minute; our fellow Occupier is charged at the last Stop Enbridge rally with Failure to Show ID to a Police Officer. So, not showing an ID is only a violation if one is committing a crime or about to commit a crime. The police are erroneously saying that starting a fire in a public space is a crime. Our fire pit and wood is their supposed evidence and they’ve thrown it away?” We shake our heads in disbelief.
An Occupier reminds us, “Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance has another NDN Taco Sale coming up on Friday. I assume we’re all down with helping out?” We are.
The staff guys are wiping off the tables and sweeping the floors. An Occupier’s phone rings. Friends are asking when he will be leaving and coming to meet them. It’s that time again.
As we are collecting tip money and getting ready to leave, an Occupier says, “I’ve got a proposition for you all. I’m meeting with the new City Councilor on Monday, going to the Forum on Racism and Cultural Understanding on Tuesday, making NDN taco meat on Wednesday, going to the INM/NWA pre-taco meeting on Thursday and working the taco sale on Friday. If we don’t have a meeting here on Tuesday evening, I might get a chance to get started on that letter to the editor that I’m supposed to write”.
We accept her proposition. It looks like we won’t be back to Coney Island until next Saturday. It will be February by then…… wow.