G.A. Minutes 11-29-16

G.A. Minutes 11-29-16
So we’ll be doing weekly Tuesday night meetings at Coney Island during the winter months.  Except it doesn’t seem to be winter right now.  It was winter at this time last week but it has rained for the last four days.  All the snow has washed away and temperatures are in the upper 30s.  We may have been able to have a fire tonight.  Who knows?
An Occupier comments, “I called the National Weather Forecast this morning to find out what the weather would be like this evening.  The recording said a 50% chance of…… that’s all; it just said chance of….. Then it went on to tomorrow’s forecast.  Climate change is getting scarier by the day.  Nobody knows what is going on”.
Things look a little different at Coney Island tonight.  The regular hipster is not present.  The newest hipster, who was trained in a month or two ago, seems to be supervising a tall not very hipster looking guy who appears to have never worked in a food serving type job before this. 
Both of these guys appear quite flustered and confused.  Two of the small booths have a couple of people in them and they have ordered food.  The guys are both frantically looking in all the drawers behind the counter.  They appear to be having a hard time getting even the coffee maker to work.
Our back booth is empty so we put our stuff in it and go back to the counter to order food.  Eventually the tall non-hipster dude arrives.  An Occupier asks, “Is there chicken salad tonight?”  The dude gets a real panicked look on his face and runs to a booth where the supervising hipster is serving folks. The Occupier jokes, “I wish he hadn’t run away so fast.  I coulda showed him where in the refrigerator to look for it”.
Our orders are always pretty simple.  Basically we just need something with fruit or vegetables that won’t kill us but will calm our not having had dinner yet hunger pangs.  We joke with the staff guys, they relax a little; we figure they’ll be o.k. now.
We are many this evening so squeeze in tight and start a conversation about the really horrible and highly illegal things the cops are doing to the water protectors out at Standing Rock.  An Occupier remarks, “If the water protectors could all change their names to Bundy they’d be treated really well”.
The staff hipster brings our food to us.  Our orders have been seriously mixed up.  We politely explain what it was that we actually ordered and he takes our food back so as to get things straight.  When he returns, everything is still wrong but….Whatever. 
We don’t come here for the exquisite food anyway.  We come here because we can comfortably talk and relax in a neighborhood space.  No one harasses us or acts like they’re afraid of us.  Sometimes a few of our street friends stop by. We thank the hipster dude and eat what he has given us.  No problem.
A friend of one of the Occupiers comes through the door.  She brings some things for the folks at Standing Rock.  She has owned and worked a produce farm out in the country for many years.  She knows what people need for survival in harsh winter conditions. 
Several of our friends and maybe an Occupier are planning to drive out to SR this upcoming weekend.  They will be able to take the farm woman’s gifts along with them.  We thank her for helping to protect the water.
An Occupier inquires, “So everyone knows about the Support Standing Rock – Defund the Big Banks rally this Thursday, December 1st, 11am-3pm at People’s Plaza, right?”  We all say, “Right”.  The Occupier continues, “The elders are asking that we make the entire month of December a No DAPL month of action.  So far, here in Duluth, we’ve got the first day covered”.  We laugh.
An Occupier adds, “Our friend the Native CHUM worker and a lot of our other friends from the local Native community were out at the SR camps for the Thankful Feast and a few days more.  Our CHUM friend said everything was real peaceful there.  He also said not all the cops out there mistreat the water protectors.  Many of the police from outside of the area are respectful and accommodating.  It’s the Morton County Sheriff’s Department who are the main abusers”.
Another Occupier reports, “The first reading of the Homeless Bill of Rights Ordinance is going to be Monday, December 5that City Hall.  At 4:15pm people are going to march from CHUM to City Hall for a rally on the front steps.  At 5:15pm we’ll go up to the council chambers for the reading of the proposed ordinance.  We need as many bodies as we can possibly get. The City Council needs to see that there are a lot of citizens who support the Homeless Bill of Rights.
“December 5th is also the day that the Army Corp of Engineers has asked the Standing Rock Oceti Sakowin youth camp to move from its current location to a so called “free speech zone” away from the DAPL construction sight.  The folks in the youth camp have no intention of leaving.
“There are several things wrong with the AC of E’s request. For one thing, the land the youth camp is on is the property of the Standing Rock tribe.  It does not belong to the AC of E despite their claim that it does.  Also, there is no such thing as a “free speech zone”.  Freedom of speech is a right belonging to citizens no matter where in the USA they happen to be. Lastly, the water protectors absolutely have to live where they can keep an eye on the DAPL construction sight.  Morton County cops and construction workers can’t be trusted even as far as one can spit.
“There will be a really lot of people coming from across the country to watch the backs of the water protectors on December 5th.  It may be a day of action across the country too; I don’t know.  If there’s an action here, we may have to split into groups in order to cover everything.  We’ll have to wait and see”.
An Occupier changes the subject, “I’m going to the Citizens Review Board meeting tomorrow.  If anyone wants to come along, please do”.  We all groan.  Someone replies, “I thought some of the Review BOD members said they were gonna fight for more control over the CRB”.  The first Occupier answers, “Yeah, I know they did.  I haven’t seen any evidence of anything changing yet except for all the upper echelon cops playing musical job changing.  I just go to the monthly meetings to keep an eye on the cops and to goad the Commissioners into taking a stand on anything that helps poor people.  I’m usually the only person from the Duluth citizenry in attendance”
One of our group had a recent encounter with a police officer; he asks, “What exactly is the policy concerning a citizen who would wish to view the film from a police officer’s body camera?”  An Occupier explains, “In Duluth a citizen may view the film from an officer’s body camera when the film is of an encounter in which the said citizen participated.  Even then, the film can only be viewed after it is finished being held as part of an investigation.
“The citizen must submit a request to view the film and then wait to be told when and where to go in order to view it.  Of course, the citizen can’t have a copy of the film”.  We all say, “Of course”. 
The Occupier resumes, “Each cop has to turn in their camera after their shift.  Theoretically, the cops are unable to tamper with the film on their body cameras.  Of course, the upper echelon cops or the D.A. would never tamper with the film”. Again we say, “Of course”.
Another Occupier opines, “That’s why it’s so important that regular people continue to film cop/citizen incidents no matter how many cops are wearing body cameras”.  Someone adds, “Once Trump and his cronies take the reins, I’m betting the laws about citizens filming cops are going to change drastically”.
On an optimistic note, someone responds, “Yabut, what about the vote recall that will go on in at least three states.  Maybe they will find enough irregularities to change the winner of the election”.
An Occupier replies, “Yeah, they probably will.  They’ll probably find a lot more than just irregularities.  Even so, they’ll just sweep it all under the rug, the same as they did in 2000. When it comes right down to the wire, the 1% doesn’t even try to maintain the illusion of a democracy”.
A member of one of the Occupier couples tells us, “We’re going to have our usual Christmas Day thing again this year. Except we’re going to use the Occupy fire pit and hold the fire in the back yard of our artist co-op.  When the sun goes down we will go into the house and have our usual simple Christmas feast.  It should be fun”.  We all agree, it should be fun and we all plan to attend.
We are now the only customers.  The non-hipster guy has gone out for a smoke.  The hipster guy is cleaning the counter.  We take the hint.
With so many of us in the booth, we’ve made quite a mess. We clean it up, settle the bill and leave some good tips.  As we say goodnight, the hipster dude calls out, “When you return next Tuesday, we’ll do a much better job.  I promise”.

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