G.A. Minutes 3-12-16
We aren’t even wearing winter coats tonight; it’s 6pm and still 50 degrees outside. Light coats work just fine; if a person had a half way decent sleeping bag and a secret outdoor sleeping place, a full night’s sleep would not be out of the question.
The street is full of traffic and the sidewalks are full of people. This is the best weather we’ve experienced since last autumn. We know it will cool down again in a few days but this is a well-deserved break from cabin fever.
Coney Island is almost full too. The East Coast Occupier is in the back booth already; a young man from the street has joined her and they are eating big plates of French fries.
We don’t know the young man; he looks hesitant when the first Occupiers begin to enter the booth. We say, “It’s o.k. man, you’re welcome to stay”. He stays put but as we start out conversation it’s obvious he’s not interested in what we are talking about. He finishes his fries and departs.
Several of the Occupiers attended a lecture at St. Scholastica last night. The speaker was a woman social scientist who had done a lot of top notch research on civil disobedience. The results she presented were encouraging. Some of the conclusions reached suggested that non-violent resistance was more effective than violent resistance, when a movement reaches a critical mass of 3.5 of the population in support of the ideals of a revolution, victory is assured and the tipping point for any revolution is when the police or military will no longer obey the commands of their masters.
The Occupier tasked with managing communications between the various government entities opposed to our small, safe and legal recreational fire at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial has paperwork to hand out again. This time she has copies of emails between herself and one of the City Councilors who is helping us.
The Councilor’s emails state the Acting Police Chief informed them the City Attorney’s office has reached consensus that fires will not be allowed at CJMM now or in the future. The Councilor believes a letter from the City Attorney is in the final drafting stage and will be forthcoming. Our friend suggests we begin considering alternative locations for our fires.
An Occupier asks, “Well, they can’t just make up rules like that when all the ordinances, statues and codes support out right to have the fire”.
The tasked Occupier replies. “Well, actually they can. CJMM is the only public space of its kind in the whole United States. Therefore, there are no rules that take precedence over whatever rules they want to have. As long as they don’t go against the normal established laws of the land like murdering people, blowing the place up or stuff like that anyway.
“I think they plan to make rules forbidding just about everything. Like no swearing, no spitting, no eating, no smoking, no loitering blah, blah, blah”.
Some of the Occupiers begin laughing. The questioning Occupier asks, Well, how are they gonna enforce those rules?”
The tasked Occupier replies, “I know, that’s why we’re laughing. They’re not gonna be able to enforce them. They’ll expect the cops to do it. The cops don’t have time and they’re gonna be pissed. I received a letter a few months back from former Police Chief Ramsey. He said he didn’t like it when people continuously called the police to take care of all the madness at CJMM. He said having the cops always there ordering the street people around wasn’t good for their image. It makes them look like “big meanies” or something like that.
I mean, WTF, CJMM is right on the main route between CHUM and the Mission feeding place. It’s the only place on that route where people can sit, rest and just chill and visit. Having a cheap liquor store on the next corner doesn’t hurt either. They aren’t going to be able to enforce their new rules. I betting things will get even worse”.
Another Occupier agrees, “Our fires are actually good for the CJMM site. When we are there most of the madness ceases. People who are unable to be respectful leave and everybody else joins the circle. Non-crazy street people who are afraid to frequent CJMM come out and join in too. Everyone just sits, talks and watches the fire”.
The tasked Occupier adds, “I think the BOD and/or the City Attorney have to take the rules before the City Council for approval. If they do that, we should all go and speak before the Councilors vote”.
An Occupier remarks, “If the BOD succeeds in getting their rules passed and then the shit hits the fan during the summer, I wonder if the BOD will have enough sense to realize that our fires were not the problem.”
Another Occupier opines, “Probably not”.
The tasked Occupier states, “So now we have to decide if we’d rather fight the cops or have a community recreational fire”.
Consensus is easily reached. If forced to choose between fighting cops and doing homeless outreach, we’ll take the outreach.
The tasked Occupier continues, “There’s just one thing that bothers me though. Our friend said they received this information from the Acting Chief of Police. We know that the Acting Chief is not to be trusted. We know he will sometimes say things that aren’t true in order to get his own way. We need to find a way to find out for sure if he is telling the truth”.
An Occupier responds, “I could write a letter to the City Attorney under the Freedom of Information Act demanding to be given all the information regarding fires at CJMM blah, blah, blah. I have an attorney friend who will help me with exact wording”.
We all answer, “Good idea”. We then discuss possible options for neighborhood public spaces that would be suitable for our fire circles. We narrow it down to 3 possibilities and plan to check them all out very soon. We also pick a probable date for resuming our fires.
An Occupier reminds us that Nekima Levy-Pounds will be speaking about Black Lives Matter Monday, March 14th, 7pm at UMD Kirby Center. He suggests that we arrive early as the event will be crowded.
Another Occupier reminds us that one of our friends, Deb Topping, from Idle No More is running for a seat on the Fond du Lac Tribal Council. She’s having a Meet n Greet on Thursday, March 17th, 4p-7p at the Hillside Community Center. Winona LaDuke who is running for Tribal Chairperson at White Earth will be joining Deb at the event.
Deb and Winona will also sponsor a Water Ceremony at Loons Foot Landing, Superior WI at noon on that same day. Our friend Deb Topping is one hell of a fighter for Mother Earth, Native rights and many other good things. Those of us who are able will attend and support her events.
The place is empty and one of the staff guys is beginning to mop the floor. As usual, that’s our clue. We bus our table, gather money for the tip jar and say goodnight.
As we exit Coney Island, we are greeted by a street woman who we know well. She’s with a different man again but that’s normal for her. We’re sorry to see that she’s completely smashed. That’s kinda normal for her too.
The East Coast Occupier has not previously met this street woman. As the intoxicated woman staggers on down the street, an Occupier explains, “We really like her. She’s kind hearted and intelligent. She had a really rough childhood living out on the rez and ran away to Duluth in order to escape her family. She’s bored and unhappy with living the street life. When she’s sober and drug free she talks about wanting to stop using and travel the “Red Road”.
“Her addictions are so heavy that she starts using again before she can find a space in a treatment facility. I’m trying to hook her up with a female Native healer who is a friend of mine. So far, things haven’t come together but I’m gonna keep trying. According to the Native way of thinking, it will happen when the time is right”.
Another Occupier comments, “The whole addiction treatment system pretty much sucks. A person has to wait for a long time to get into treatment, if they don’t die before they get in, they get treatment and then they’re dumped right back into the same situation they were in before they went in. They’re just supposed to remember whatever is was they learned in treatment and not ever use again”.
Another Occupier says, “Yeah, I’ve noticed how well that works”.
On that note, we part company, with plans to be back here on Tuesday.