G.A. Minutes 3-14-17
Another Tuesday evening, another meeting at Coney Island…. After a week of cold weather and snow, the weather people tell us things are going to slowly warm up. Tonight appears to be in transition mode with cloudy skies, little wind and temperatures in the low 20s.
Weather wise, everything appears to be kinda normal for this time of year. Some say that normal is boring but after all the crazy ups and downs of the last month or so, we think normal will work just fine.
Everything appears to be normal at Coney Island too. When the first few Occupiers arrive they find the same hipster working the counter, the back booth empty and a few customers in the other booths.
An Occupier comments, “I doubt we’ll have many folks showing up tonight. That flu bug that’s going around is pretty potent; it’s putting even the young ones flat on their backs for days”.
When more Occupiers begin arriving one of them exclaims, “Did you see that new video of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO that was made public today?” Most have seen it and they are stunned. To an Occupier who has not yet seen the video she explains, “It’s from the convenience store the night before Mike Brown was murdered by the Ferguson cop. It shows Mike talking with the store clerks; it’s obvious that they are well acquainted. They probably all grew up together in the neighborhood.
“Anyway, Mike shows them what appears to be a big, really nice bud of marijuana. All 4 guys behind the counter pass it around; they smell it, hold it up to the light, and then put it down on the counter. One of the clerks hands Mike what appears to be several cartons of cigarillos. Mike takes the cartons and begins to leave; he then turns around and gives the cartons back to the clerk. The clerk stashes them under the counter.
So after Mike is murdered the next day, the Ferguson cops put out the store video from earlier that day that shows Mike walking up to the counter, taking cigarillos and walking off without paying for them. The cops said it was proof that Mike had robbed the store. The thing is, the cops had the video from the night before, they just didn’t put it out”.
The Occupier who hasn’t seen the video is stunned too. The explaining Occupier continues, “I think the ‘night before’ video was obtained by the lawyer for Mike Brown’s family. So what do you think the cops did after the ‘night before’ video was made public?” No one knows. The explaining Occupier tells them, “They arrested the 4 guys who were working the counter that night”. Everyone groans.
After a moment of silence, an Occupier remarks, “I suppose you all know that our federal representative, Rick Nolan, is in town this evening. He’s answering questions and what have you at 4601 McCulloch St from 6-7pm”.
Another Occupier responds, “I think most environmentalists have pretty much given up on him. It’s apparent that he’s not going to listen to reason when it comes to mining and pipelines. He’s good on a lot of things but he just refuses to stop whoring for mining votes up on The Range. I believe he’s convinced that’s the only way he will continue to get re-elected. He’s wrong though. His stance just shows that he lacks integrity. Remember how Skip Sandman walked off with 16,000 of what were probably Nolan votes back in 2014? Skip had almost no budget. If any progressive candidate who offered integrity were to run against him, I believe all the progressives who don’t bother to vote in the off year elections would come running back to vote for the new candidate and Nolan would be toast”.
An Occupier brings a copy of the Northern Worker weekly activist calendar and passes it around. She says, “You know you guys can get a copy of this calendar sent to your email each week. Just contact Adam Ritscher and ask to be put on the email list”.
Among the many events listed in the calendar is the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management’s public comment period to be held at the DECC on Thursday March 16th from 5-7:30pm. The agencies are taking public comments about what effects sulfide mining will have on the BWCA.
An Occupier states, “I’m definitely going to the comment period. Maybe I should wear my old Forest Service jacket from when I used to work for them. Another Occupier answers, “Oh, please do. That would create a really nice effect”.
Another Occupier tells us, “I’m invited to attend an early morning meeting with some other Water Protectors tomorrow. I’m not sure what it’s going to be about but I’m guessing it has to do Enbridge. As you know, I’m not much of a morning person but this is too important to miss”.
The city official remarks, “I’ve also been invited to that meeting but will have to be somewhere else. Please inform them of my prior commitment”.
Another Occupier arrives. He’s just returning from A Day On The Hill. He went down to St Paul on a bus with many other Duluth activists. Their mission was to meet with our state legislatures and to explain our concerns. The arriving Occupier tells us, “In a way, it was kind of a waste of time. Our legislators Liz Olson and Eric Simonson are already on board with all our progressive values. I guess they at least received moral support for all their hard work anyway”.
The hipster staff dude goes out for a smoke while we keep an eye on the place, as usual. When he returns, a street guy is with him. They’re talking so we assume they’re friends. The street guy sits down in a front booth and the hipster calls someone on his phone.
Pretty soon a Duluth police officer arrives. It’s one of the younger cops but we know he’s not a new recruit because we recognize him. He’s wearing a short sleeved uniform but also has on gloves. He’s got his chest all puffed out and his arms hanging far apart from his body like a lot of men do when they’re trying to look more muscular than they actually are. He also looks kinda nervous.
So, we’re curious as hell but we stay back in our booth. It’s best to not mess with a cop who looks nervous. The cop stands away from the guy in the booth but begins asking him questions. The cop gets on his phone and then he goes behind the counter and grabs a bunch of paper towels. He appears to be handing the paper towels to the guy in the booth. Then a bunch of other men who aren’t wearing any kind of uniforms come through the door. They just stand around talking with the cop.
Eventually, an ambulance arrives. The paramedics stand around talking for a while. We hear the street guy say that whatever it is that has happened involved some guy named Mike. We find this amusing as at least one third of the males who live in Duluth are named Mike.
The paramedics put the guy on a stretcher and all the various involved people go outside and stand around talking some more.
The staff guy tells us that the street guy had been stabbed in the shoulder and was bleeding profusely. The staff guy didn’t personally know the stabbed guy but he saw that the guy needed help.
Once the doorway has cleared of talking people, some of the Occupiers go out for a smoke break. We see a fire truck parked weirdly at the corner. As the ambulance pulls away, an Occupier nods toward the street and says, “Must be a slow news day”. We see a camera person from one of the local TV channels packing up. We agree as someone getting stabbed in the shoulder around here is really no news at all.
When we return to the café we find the staff hipster dude is in quite a bit of distress. The paper towel mess complete with what he describes as a bloody disaster has been left behind. That means he will be expected to clean it.
A couple of the Occupiers are medical professionals. They take a look at the booth and the floor. They see there is actually very little blood but realize most people who don’t work in the medical profession get really freaked out by any amount of blood. The Occupiers advise the staff guy as to how he can safely clean it up with equipment he already has on hand. The building manager arrives to help with the cleanup; he carries a big mop. The Occupiers assure them that everything will be o.k.
Once the dust has settled, the Occupiers resume their conversation. One Occupier says to another, “Hey, you went up to Bemidjii the other day for the comment period for Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper. How did it go?” The questioned Occupier replies, “Oh, we really rocked it. Enbridge was trying to keep the event secret but we brought a busload of people from Duluth, 2 busloads came from the Twin Cities and another busload from somewhere else. There were also a lot of Native people from various reservations.
“There was a lot of security and they sort of searched people before they entered the big public comment room. Many people made public comments in person; Native women did a jingle dress dance out in the lobby and a large crowd chanted out there too. Basically, we let Enbridge know we are not asleep”.
An Occupier reports, “It appears there is good news in the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Ordinance department too. A couple of days ago the main organizer for the HPB of R Coalition received a call from the mayor. She told him that she has always supported the HPB of R but was waiting for all the various governmental departments to weigh in and hadn’t wanted to appear to be pushing her influence on them.
“However, the departments appear to be trying to ignore the issue so she thought it was time for her to get involved. Also, the Human Rights Commissioner has been given a part time assistant so that makes him more inclined to support the HPB of R. too.
“She also told the main organizer about a resolution that was going before the City Council yesterday in support of the process of City agencies and City Councilors working with the coalition to get the ordinance worked out. We all showed up yesterday and spoke in favor of the resolution; the councilors voted unanimously in favor of it.
“We know that a resolution has little power behind it and that Mayor Larson is giving a State of the City speech on Monday, March 20th, 5:30pm at Lincoln Middle School, 3215 W 3rd St and she probably will want to brag about her support of homeless people.
“She could just be using smoke and mirrors but at least her public support will make all the governmental departments have to meet with us so that helps.
“It really sucks that people in power can make things happen or not happen just according to how they feel. It’s not right”.
Changing the subject, an Occupier says to another, “I’m really sorry I missed your movie event at U.U. That flu bug really got me and I ended up in the ER that evening”.
The Occupier responds, “Bummer. It was a Michael Moore movie entitled ‘Who Do We Invade Next?’ I strongly recommend that anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, try to do so”.
The hipster guy has cleaned up the mess but is barely started with his final regular cleanup so that he can go home. We try to put extra tip money beyond what we normally leave. Maybe that will help him to feel better. He has a hard and sometimes stressful job.
We expect to return next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 3-14-17