G.A. Minutes 2-6-16
It’s winter coats without hats and gloves again as Occupiers roll up to Coney Island this evening. The weather continues to be more like late March than early February. The weather people say the normal below zero temperatures and snow storms are going to return starting tonight. So far, it hasn’t happened.
The first Occupiers to arrive take the big back booth, as usual, and chat while waiting for others to arrive. We don’t expect to have a full house tonight as some have gone to the Take Back the Park vigil and march at Leaf Erickson Park.
This vigil and march has been hurriedly arranged by area feminist groups and their supporters. It is in response to a wacko misogynist blogger who called for a worldwide event in which likeminded wackos were called upon to meet up at appointed times and places. The misogynist blogger even provided code words (Do you know where the nearest pet shop is?) and responses (It’s right here.).
The blogger had the meeting place of Leaf Erickson Park in Duluth picked out for misogynists of the Great White North. As the word got out across the country, counter protests were organized; the blogger began receiving death threats and such. Apparently these threats scared him and he canceled the worldwide event. Just in case his cancelation is a deceptive technique, the Duluth counter protestors decided their event should still be held.
Of course, all the Occupiers are feminists but some of us feel these counter protests will provide more publicity to attention seeking wackos. However, we definitely support a chance for area feminists to get together in support of protection and respect for women.
An Occupier comments, “I’m betting most misogynists have a basic fear of women. Their threats and rantings are just a cover for their own perceived inadequacies”.
As we continue to wait, the Occupier from the East Coast entertains us with stories from her life. She tells us about camping in a park where she was able to watch large herds of elk. These elk became very noisy at sunrise. Their noise attracted a mountain lion and a pack of wolves. She watched these predators as they caught their breakfast.
She tells about a recent experience in front of the CHUM homeless shelter. She was walking up hill on an icy sidewalk when she slipped and fell. When she hit the ground her glasses and one of her boots flew off. She tried to get up but, because she couldn’t see well and was missing a boot, getting up wasn’t working too well.
Many people coming down the hill on their way to work just walked around her. No one stopped to help. Eventually, a worker from the CHUM center came out, helped her up, collected her missing items, brought her into the center and gave her a cup of coffee.
The eastern story teller laughs, “I guess all the working people thought I was homeless and drunk. I think the CHUM worker thought the same thing. I didn’t say much, just drank the coffee and thanked him”.
An Occupier states, “It shouldn’t have mattered if you were a homeless and drunk person. Those people passing by should have at least acknowledged you. Most people are so cruel to less fortunate ones”.
Another adds, “At least they didn’t take you to Detox. I’ve known some people who were locked up in Detox even though they weren’t under the influence of any substance”.
As the rest of the Occupiers appear, they find us in a conversation about the failures of various treatment programs. We think most are too short and when treatment is over, the client is dumped back into the same situation he/she was in before they were put into treatment.
An Occupier says to another, “Did you go to the All Nations feast today?” The questioned Occupier replies, “Yes, but I got there very late and all the food had been put away. I went into the kitchen and the cooks gave me what they could find.
“I was late because it took me a really long time to wash all the dirty dishes from Friday’s NDN Taco Sale. The taco sale went really well. We sold over 100 tacos”.
An Occupier has been under the weather for a week or more. She has heard about her Occupier brother’s arrest at the January Stop Enbridge rally but wants details. The arrested Occupier tells the story.
His initial court date is in Superior WI, February 10th at 1:30pm. Several Occupiers have previous experience with being arrested. One explains, “The first court date is just the arraignment. They ask you if you want to plead guilty or not guilty. Seeing as the whole thing was completely bogus, they may just drop the charges”.
Another Occupier agrees, “I’ve had plenty of experience with that. You expend all this energy and time to get to court and then find the charges have been dropped. You were completely innocent all along but there’s no compensation for the trouble the false charges caused you”.
An Occupier asks, “So, do you want to hear what happened at my meeting with the new City Councilor?” We do and the Occupier continues, “The Councilor suggested I ask to attend a CJMM BOD meeting. The Councilor will accompany me and I should bring some articulate supporters.
“There’s a rumor going around that the City has given the BOD the authority to “manage” the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. We need to hear what the BOD has to say about that and if they tell us the rumor is true; we need to ask for proof.
“If they claim they are authorized to “manage” we’ll need to see what kind of a job they are doing. If they’re not doing well maybe the City needs to take the job away. If we aren’t given an invitation to attend a meeting or if the BOD just doesn’t respond at all, that will show a lot.
“We know the real reason for the mess they have made relating to our small, safe and legal fires, has to do with the co-chairperson’s taking offense at something he imagined I had said about him.
“I used their required channel of communication last Thursday and requested an invitation to a meeting. I haven’t had a response yet but will wait a while longer. Personally, I see this as another way of calling attention to what the CJMM BOD is actually doing”.
Another Occupier remarks, “Well, I think that denying homeless and poor people the only chance they have to feel safe and relaxed by sitting around a small, safe and legal recreational fire is definitely incompetent management. Especially when the safe relaxation takes place in the neighborhood where they live and in a space dedicated to oppressed and marginalized people”.
Some of the Occupiers go outside for a smoke break. When they return they report that they were talking with the gray haired woman who has been a regular at our fires for years.
The gray haired woman told them she had just been confronted by the police. She said, “I was in the Holiday Center. I’ve been told in the past that the area is private property for customers only. I’m 73 years old and have to walk 13 blocks each way in order to get to the Mission for my meals and then back to my apartment. I usually get tired on the way back. Sometimes I have to use a bathroom. I always buy some kind of treat from one of their machines and then sit in one of their chairs to eat it.
“Tonight I used their bathroom, bought a treat and sat to eat, just like I always do. The police told me that a security guard called them. They were really polite and apologetic. Why would a security guard call the police on me? That really hurts my feelings”.
We know the gray haired woman to be always polite, well-spoken and friendly. She’s also always clean and reasonably dressed. Her biggest problem is a somewhat faulty memory.
The smoking Occupiers said to her, “What a jerk! The security guard obviously has emotional and/or mental health problems. Maybe he feels powerless in the rest of his life so his little piddley security position gives him the opportunity to abuse the general public. What a loser”.
As the smokers were saying goodbye to the gray haired woman, a group of young men walked by. They were carrying signs that said “Respect Women” “Women Are Our Mothers and Sisters” and stuff like that. These men were walking in the direction of Leaf Erickson Park.
An Occupier complains that he is being charged a “courtesy fee” by his phone company when he uses his bank debit card to pay his monthly phone bill. Another Occupier responds, “A courtesy fee? That sounds like something out of a Kurt Vonnegut novel”. We all laugh.
When we look at the clock we notice we’ve stayed at least an hour past regular closing time. One of the staff guys is rolling out the mop bucket. The workers at Coney Island are really nice. They’ve been playing good jazz on the radio too.
Time to call it a night. We clear off our table, put our coats on and some bucks in the tip jar. As we head out the door we see there’s a pretty steady snow falling. Hmmm….. Will it be winter again when we return on Tuesday?