G.A. Minutes 2-20-16

G.A. Minutes 2-20-16
We think Duluth may be in the midst of a January thaw.  Daytime temperatures have been in the 40s and not much lower at night. 
Hey, wait a minute……. It’s February and if we remember correctly, most of January was a January thaw.  We’re kinda loving this new winter arrangement but it’s kinda scary too.
The weather changes are happening really fast and many people in more southern or coastal regions are experiencing fierce storms and fires.  We don’t want to catch a break at the expense of the suffering of others.
Coney Island is almost full tonight; there are lots of people on the street too.  We expect most of the Occupiers to be present tonight so it’s a good thing that an Occupier has arrived early and has been holding down the back booth.
One of the Occupiers has brought a jar of homemade applesauce as a gift for the Occupier who has court case pending in Superior WI.  The gift is actually from a Catholic Worker friend who has much experience in being arrested because of his righteous fight against nuclear weapons and such.  He also makes a mean applesauce.
The East Coast Occupier asks the Occupier who has a pending court case, “I haven’t been able to be around for a while.  So what’s going on with your case?”
The Occupier answers, “I have a pre-trial conference with the City Attorney and a status conference with a judge on March 9th”.  The questioning Occupier has experience with the court system.  She explains what he can expect to happen at these proceedings and says, “You really don’t need to say anything.  Just tell them you’re not guilty and that you want them to drop the charges.  You don’t need to elaborate”.
She continues, “I’d also like to know what happened at the meeting with new City Councilor”. The Occupier who attended the meeting explains, “The Councilor suggested I arrange a meeting between myself, the Councilor, some of our most articulate supporters and the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial BOD.
“I’ve been trying to do that but haven’t been having much luck.  I followed the CJMM BOD protocol and sent my request via their website.  I waited but didn’t get a response so I talked with the Duluth Human Rights Officer.  He told me that he and the other CJMM BOD co-chair were trying to figure out exactly who was monitoring their website.
“I emailed the HR Officer a few days later and asked him what avenue I should try next.  He told me the BOD co-chairs had changed and promised to forward my email to them.  That was last Tuesday and I haven’t had a response yet.  I’m going to the NAACP meeting tomorrow. One of the co-chairs is a member.  If he attends tomorrow, I’ll make an effort to speak with him.
 “Over the last few years, the CJMM BOD has been trying to maintain an air of exclusivity so I don’t know if I’ll even get a response or an invitation to their meeting.  I know many of them think Occupiers are the scum of the earth.  I was thinking that if we do get an invitation I would ask you to come along as one of our supporters”.
The questioning Occupier responds, “Oh for sure, I do a really good spiel about Radical Jesus”.
An Occupier who is fairly new to our group asks us how we deal with alcohol and drug abuse among the homeless and/or poor folks who attend our fires.
Another Occupier replies, “Well, we ask all people not to drink or do drugs while sitting in the fire circle.  Other than that, we know they are the ones living their own life so we figure it’s up to them what they’re gonna do elsewhere.  Of course, we observe those same rules at the fire ourselves.  We’re more concerned about the behavior of people in the circle than what substances they have in their bodies.  We don’t lecture or try to encourage them to stop using. Sometimes folks bring the topic up themselves and then we just join the conversation.
“When we had our homeless camp, we didn’t all actually live there.  At one point the homeless residents decided to make the rule that no substance abuse of any kind would be tolerated within the camp.  The Occupiers living at the camp just sort of went along with it.
“Many of us not living in the camp thought that rule would be unenforceable.  We thought trying to manage behavior was a better idea but seeing as we didn’t live there we didn’t think we should disagree.
“It did prove to be unenforceable and some campers began to spy on other campers.  What really took the cake though was when one of the Occupiers living in camp began trying to strictly enforce the rule while openly abusing stuff themselves.  That nearly caused a riot.  The Occupier apologized and left; we rarely see them anymore”.
Another Occupier comments, “I think mandatory drug testing by employers is unconstitutional unless it’s a question about a worker using while on the job”.
An Occupier answers, “Yeah, for sure.  It’s an invasion into a person’s bodily substances.  It’s got to be unconstitutional.  I’m guessing no one has brought the issue to the Supreme Court because the court has some extremely right wing conservative judges.  That may change now that Judge Scalia has passed away.  I sure hope so.  Employment drug testing needs to go”.
Changing the subject, an Occupier tells about a previous visit to Idaho.  She says, “They have this really sick wolf hunt thing going on.  A bunch of them surround a pack of wolves and just start blasting the wolves with big hunting guns.  The local churches even provide the “hunters” with sandwiches and stuff before and after “the hunt”.
“I never saw such a thing and thought it wasn’t a fair fight for the wolves.  However, there were a lot of people around, they were pretty creepy and most of them were carrying guns.  I kept my mouth shut and just got out of there as soon as I could”.
Another Occupier adds, “Actually we are pretty familiar with wolves.  They’re called Maii’gan in Anishinaabemowin.  We work a lot with local Native groups.  The wolf is a sacred animal for Ojibwe people and plays a major part in their creation story.
“We did a lot of Stop the Wolf Hunt actions before the wolves were put back on the Endangered Species List.  Idaho is the worst state for wolf murder.  Most of the people are ranchers or farmers.  They don’t understand that everything is connected.  They don’t realize the importance of top predators for the maintenance of the entire ecosystem.  They believe God gave man dominance over everything on earth so they think anything that interferes with their ranching or farming needs to be eliminated.  Then there are also some pyscho blood lust types who just really get off on killing living beings.
“At this point I have no idea how we are going to go about changing their hearts and minds”.
Someone remarks, “I think that that takeover of the nature preserve in Oregon was about something like that.  It really pissed me off when the major media kept calling those people ‘Occupiers’.  Maybe they were ordered to use that word?”
Changing the subject again, someone comments, “Man, it was really a bummer that Gloria Dei church burned down on Thursday.  I always thought the people in that church were really nice”.
Someone else agrees, “Yeah, they held a free breakfast for folks in the neighborhood, they opened their basement for many homeless conferences and such and some of them would just walk around the streets giving food and hats and mittens to people who looked like they needed it.
One time a woman even walked up to me and gave me stuff.  I didn’t want to embarrass her so I just said thank you and took the stuff”.
 We laugh and know that once the fundraising events for Gloria Dei begin we will be in attendance.
A new guy is training in this evening to be a hipster staff person.  He looks the part as he’s dressed in black with an earring in one ear.  He’s been hovering over us all evening, making sure our coffee cups are full, bringing food and generally making sure we have everything we could possibly need.  Eventually he starts chatting with us.  He tells us about some of the other places he’s worked and says, “The pay at the big super market was better but I don’t want to work for corporate enterprises”.  We think he’ll fit into this place just fine.
It looks like the staff are starting to clean up and get ready to close but suddenly we hear a man yelling very loudly.  There’s three staff on duty tonight and they individually try to speak politely with the screaming guy but he just keeps screaming.
We can’t see the screamer because he’s in one of the front booths.  We wonder if it’s someone we know.  The staff has a conference behind the counter.  The regular counter guy goes walking to the kitchen; he’s talking on his cell phone.  We assume he’s calling 911.
Suddenly things are quiet.  We assume the screamer has passed out.  We figure that calling the cops is about the only thing the staff can do.  They need to go home, they have no idea who the screamer is and they aren’t about to take him home with them.
We think it’s probably time for us to leave.  As we gather our stuff an Occupier exclaims, “Oh wait, one more thing.  I’d like to go to that MPCA listening session up at UMD next Tuesday. Are you guys down with that?”
We are down so we quickly make plans for who will pick up who at what time and all that.  As we are saying goodnight to the staff and leaving extra tip money so there will be enough to share with the training guy, two police officers walk through the door.
The head staff guy says, “Officers, this man has been very polite, unlike most of very drunk people we deal with”.  The passed out guy is a very elderly and ragged looking person who we don’t believe we’ve seen before.  One of the cops calls him by name and says, “I haven’t seen you in years!  So how are you doing?”
We recognize one of the officers but they are both on a mission so don’t notice us.  Good, no reason the cops need to know we are wintering at Coney Island.
The passed out guy sort of wakes up a little; he’s not able to talk.  The cops try to get him to stand up.  The guy is like a cooked noodle.  The cops each take an underarm and drag the guy out to their squad car.
An Occupier opines, “I guess they’ll take him to Detox”.  Another Occupier responds, “He’s way past Detox.  I hope they know enough to take him to the hospital”.
On that note, we go off with plans to attend the MPCA listening session on Tuesday and plans to meet up here again next Saturday.   

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