G.A. Minutes 4-30-16
The sun is still shining on the People’s Power Plaza when we arrive. An Occupier observes, “Every time the sun shines a little bit longer in the evening here. I guess I didn’t notice it so much when we were at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial”.
Another Occupier states, “It’s because the surrounding buildings are taller here than they were at CJMM. It will take a while to get used to being here at the Plaza. Some things will be different; I think we’ll be interacting with a wider variety of people. Hopefully everyone will mix well. We’ll just have to wait and see”.
It’s been raining almost all week but tonight the sky is clear. There’s still a cold east wind but it’s not as strong as it’s been during our last several meetings. Temperatures are in the low 40s.
As we begin casually setting things up we notice a police squad car sitting across the street. We assume we’re being watched; we’re used to that. At this point, the cops probably don’t know how they’re supposed to respond. Eventually they’ll get instructions from their bosses. Except for the brand new recruits, most are aware we have become quite a hand full for the so called City rulers. Maybe they’ll decide to just leave us alone. Like that’s ever gonna happen.
The Spin Collective is practicing again. This time they have the full troupe, the music is loud and they’re working with actual fire. For a while we just sit and watch. They’re really good.
An Occupier comments, “I’m guessing we won’t have many street folks visiting this evening. Many received their small government checks today so they’ll be renting motel rooms and getting extra high for a few days”.
The first people to come to sit at our fire are two young girls who are probably still in high school. One is decked out very stylishly; the other is wearing the requisite low hanging pants, big shirt and stocking cap worn by all self-respecting young ghetto youth. The stylish girl is wearing little flip flops; her toenails are painted the same color scheme as the design on her jacket.
They tell us they are residents in the same foster home. They’ve been allowed to go out tonight but have a 10pm curfew. The problem is, when you’re under 21 there’s really not any place to go around here. They don’t have skate boards or any money so their options are few.
They’re hungry though so we feed them our organic PB+J sandwiches, juice, coffee and cookies. Then they scoot up close to the fire and tell us their plans about what they’re going to do once they graduate from high school. Hopefully they are connected to Life House or a similar place. We hear that once a child in foster care reaches the age of 18, the system just puts them out to fend for themselves.
An Occupier reminds us that Friday May 6th is the date of the next Idle No More/Northwoods NDN Taco Sale. Our help will be needed again and we all plan to be there.
An Occupier says to another, “I see the letter to the editor that you sent to the Northland Reader was published this week. I hope many people will read it and realize what’s going on when they pass by here and see our fire. Maybe it will help keep the cops off our backs”. The published Occupier replies, “Yup, I’m hoping for that too”.
An Occupier reports, “I went to the Mayor, Emily Larsen’s Duluth Police Chief Candidate Forum on Wednesday. There were only about 50 people in attendance. The attendees consisted mainly of community organizers and members of the police force.
“Deputy Chief Tusken was schmoozing everybody as usual. He called me by name, put his arm around me and patted me on the back. Before he put his hat in the ring for the police chief position, I couldn’t get him to give me the time of day. What a lame brain.
“So anyway, the chief position has been narrowed down to the last two candidates, Deputy Tusken and a police chief from Wyoming named Brian Kosak.
They both had to sit on the stage at Lincoln Middle School and tell about themselves and answer questions from the audience. The questions were asked in open mic style.
Tusken told about growing up in Morgan Park, going to Denfield H.S., introduced his mother who was in the audience and all boring good ole’ boy stuff like that.
The other guy, Kosak, had a more interesting story. He was born in Duluth to a family with seven older children. When he was still a little baby, his mother died from leukemia. I’m guessing that was in the late 40s or early 50s. The dad was left having to care for seven kids and a new born baby. A neighbor couple, the Kosaks, offered to adopt the baby and the biological dad agreed.
“The Kosaks moved to Arizona shortly thereafter. About a year later, the biological dad had a work related accident and ended up having a brain injury. The seven kids were all put in various foster homes.
“So life goes on and Chief Kosak goes to college in Arizona, becomes a cop and then a police chief in a small town of Mexican immigrants in Colorado.
“One day he gets a phone call from a guy who claims to be his biological brother. Turns out all the seven children have found each other and then decided to look for their baby brother. Kosak finds he has a whole passel of siblings living in Duluth Mn. He introduced all his seven siblings who were sitting together in the audience. When the police chief position in Duluth came open he applied.
“Kosak appears to be about 10 years older than Tusken; Kosak has better hair and knows how to better wear a suit too”. We all laugh.
The Occupier continues, “So I go up to the microphone to ask my question. I brought copies of all the letters we received from Tusken concerning the four complaints we filed last year about the behavior of the DPD.
“I just read the stupid things he said and told both of the candidates that I felt these responses were unresponsive and inappropriate and that they made me feel bullied and dismissed as unimportant. I said that responses like that damaged the rapport between the DPD and low income citizens of Duluth.
“Tusken managed to keep his cool but his face and neck turned all red. He asked me if I had copies of all the letters and said, “I apologize profusely”. Of course, Kosak had no idea what I was talking about. He just told about the Citizens Advisory Board in Cheyenne, Wyoming where he is currently the chief.
“Most of the other people who asked questions were people of color. They mainly asked questions about racism and racial profiling. They got the standard ‘MN nice’ responses.
“I thought Kosak had one interesting comment. He may have read it in a book somewhere but he said if he had a cop who had racism coming from his brain that was o.k. because it could be fixed but if he had a cop who had racism coming from his heart he would want to get rid of that cop. He said that if one has racism coming from one’s heart then one could know that something was illegal or wrong but that one would do it anyway.
“When the whole thing was over and I went up to give him the copies of the letters, Tusken put his arm around me and said, ‘You know I love you and adore you but I have to do what the City Attorney tells me to do’. I’m thinking, you just met me in person two months ago, so what’s with this love and adore bs?
“The mayor is the one who makes the final decision on who gets the job. She said she’ll make an announcement in about a week”.
Another Occupier opines, “It would be a good idea to hire the guy who isn’t part of the Duluth good ole’ boy network”.
The Occupier who went to the forum answers, “I agree but I don’t know if our new mayor will have the courage to do that. All Tusken’s buddies would probably be pissed off and she’s our first female mayor and all that. She talks a good game but we have no idea how she plays”.
A big fire truck goes cruising towards Canal Park; the wind picks up and the cops are buzzing around. The cops appear to be stalking people. They silently sneak around and when they see a particular vehicle they turn on their lights and swoop right in on it. Our view of the main intersection is partially blocked by big bushes but we can still tell they are playing their 5-0 games.
Our friend the city official comes running by. He is accompanied by the man from Senegal. They are carrying bags of groceries and shivering. The official man says, “I have no idea why I went out with no coat on this evening. It wasn’t this cold when I left the house. We’re going to try and hail a cab, this wind is just too much”.
When they leave, Spiritual Man drops by to grab a sandwich and say hello. He too is not dressed warmly and doesn’t stay long.
The fire truck comes back from wherever it went and drives slowly past. This makes the East Coast Occupier nervous; she says, “When they come over here I may have to stand in front of the fire and ask them not to put it out”.
Another Occupier informs her, “Oh, don’t worry about them. They actually like us. For several years at CJMM they would routinely drive by our fire. They would beep and we would wave. They won’t put out our fire unless they are ordered to do so”.
We are letting the fire die out so we’re getting cold too. As we begin to pack up, someone asks, “So is everybody going to the Day of Remembrance for Missing and Murdered Indigenous People tomorrow at 1pm in front of Amazing Grace?”
The answer is, “Yes everyone is going”. If it doesn’t rain, we’ll be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.