G.A. Minutes 5-16-17
It looks like we won’t be having a recreational fire at People’s Plaza tonight. The downpour and thunderstorms started late Sunday night and there hasn’t been much letup since then. The weather people say it’s gonna continue until next Monday. Just great…… We feel like a bunch of little kids who were hoping to go outside to play.
It’s not raining when the first Occupiers roll up to Duluth Coffee however, it looks like it could start again any minute. One of those big wooden outdoor seating booths is taking up the parking spaces in front of the entrance. A few people are sitting in it.
We wonder why anyone would want to sit outside right on Superior St. where they would be inhaling all the exhaust from the steady stream of cars. We quickly realize the source of attraction. One can smoke cigarettes while sitting in the outdoor booth. For those who smoke, drinking coffee along with smoking is pretty much mandatory.
After ordering various types of coffee drinks we find a vacant table. There are only a few customers; as more Occupiers arrive we push another table over. One of the Occupiers who is charged with bringing the fire supplies when we have a fire comments, “Man, I was really hoping to have the brakes on the truck fixed by now. I left it at the mechanic shop two weeks ago but they’re still not done fixing it. I’ll go over there tomorrow to see what the holdup is. Hauling fire supplies is much easier with the truck”.
An Occupier brings up the latest fiasco with that He Who Shall Not Be Named guy. This week he’s being criticized for leaking top secret information to the Russian Ambassador. The Occupier remarks, “HWSNBN is gonna be impeached sooner or later; then we’ll be stuck with Pence. Another Occupier adds, “Maybe that was the plan all along. Pence is every bit as insane as HWSNBN but in different ways. The 1% realized Pence would never get elected on his own, so came up with a plan to slide him in as VP. Pence will push the same agenda as HWSNBN but in a more organized way”.
Someone else informs us, “Yeah, Pence is definitely insane alright. Remember when he said that women who have been raped should not be allowed to have abortions because that would cause a lot more women to try and get raped?”
A woman sitting at another table is aghast. Apparently she has been listening to our conversation. She exclaims, “WTF!!! As a woman who in the past had the misfortune to find it necessary to have an abortion, I refuse to tolerate a statement as ignorant as that”. We agree with her.
Bringing up another topic an Occupier says, “I sure miss our friend the Native Grassroots Organizer. What some of his BOD members did to him was just horrific”. Another Occupier concurs, “It sure was. He worked his butt off, unpaid for six years and really helped a lot of people. As soon as he was awarded a fairly large grant some of his own people stabbed him in the back. You know, that’s part of the trouble with 501cs, NGOs and all that stuff. They give an organizer a bunch of money and then they put all these restrictions on them so as to prevent them from doing work that is actually effective.
“The Native Grassroots Organizer always took the high road. Whenever the NGO folks tried to get him to do something shady or highly impractical, he refused. That pissed off a lot of people in the money crowd. I think they had been gunning for him for a long time”.
Someone replies, “Well you know, some of his former BOD members tell a different story”. The previously speaking Occupier answers, “I don’t believe them. I’m guessing that when the Native Grassroots Organizer chastised them about their less than exemplary work they were offended and decided to take revenge. I’ve known the Grassroots dude for many years. I’ve always respected him for his integrity and his compassion and understanding for the least privileged ones.
“I wished he would have stayed here and fought for his reputation and his work but I can understand why he didn’t. I talk with him occasionally; he says has a bad taste in his mouth for Duluth right now. I mean, he did such good work for so little personal reward for so long he just couldn’t start from scratch all over again. He’s down south hanging in a good music scene right now. I’m sure he’ll come back here again; I just don’t know when”.
The city official arrives. He tells us, “I can’t stay this evening; I’m on my way to a School Board meeting. I just wanted you guys to look at this letter that I’ll be presenting. It’s about the meeting the other week where the school board chairperson referred to all the people of color who were present as ‘you people’ and said that all we do is complain. We were very offended by the chairperson’s ignorance and we don’t want to just let it slide”.
An Occupier says to him, “I attended the Indigenous Commission meeting last night. Someone reported the school board incident to the Commissioners. They were very upset and don’t want to let it slide either. Some of them would like to appear on your radio show and participate in a discussion”. The city man states, “That is a good idea”.
A young man who appears to be a clean, neatly dressed hippie has been sitting in an easy chair since before we came in. He’s been sitting with his eyes closed and his hands raised in a praying position, occasionally he claps loudly. Now he suddenly jumps up and runs out the door. Stuff like this makes us feel as though we were in our own element.
The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “Things got a little wild at the Human Rights Commission meeting last Wednesday. I was there with another person from the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Ordinance Coalition. We were expected to report on the latest developments with the HPB of RO. We asked the commission to send a letter of support for the bill to the DNT and to the mayor. They voted yes, they would do that.
“The City Attorney was also at the meeting. He was there in order to advise the commission on changes to their by-laws. Once the Commissioners voted to send the letters, the City Attorney just freaked out. He said the commission should definitely not send the letters. If they did, they would be insulting the mayor and jeopardizing all future meetings with City departments.
“Everyone was really confused by his response and very few people agreed with him. I commented something like ‘If one spends all their time smoozing with the big guys, one will find their proposition very watered down and much different from what they originally asked for’. I was very impressed by how several people told the City Attorney in a very polite way to shut up, mind his own business and remember the reason he was asked to be present at the meeting. I wish I had those skills.
Unfortunately, it didn’t work. He just kept on yapping over and over about the same thing. I had to leave early so didn’t see how things ended. I’ll be interested to talk with my fellow Coalition members at the next meeting on Thursday”.
A street guy comes in and goes over to a table where a few middle aged women are sitting. With much animation, he appears to be telling them a story. A barista comes running out from the back of the café. She says, “I’ve told you before, you cannot come in here and harass our customers”. The street dude apologizes and leaves. One of the Occupiers who lives up the street says, “I recognize him. He’s one of the regular spare change hustlers on Superior St. I think he’s addicted to meth”.
The reporting Occupier continues, “The documentary The Secret To Being Black In Duluth is going to be shown again on June 11th. The original plan is to show it at Adeline Wright’s hair solon but her place only holds about forty people. There will probably be at least a hundred folks who want to see it”.
We’re surprised when the hip hop music that has been playing quietly in the background becomes really loud. It almost blasts us out of our seats. We look around and see we are the only customers left. We check the time; it says 6:52pm. We guess this is how they let customers know they are closing. They could have just told us.
We pack up, leave tips and head out. When we get outside we see it’s been raining. An Occupier asks, “Has anyone ever gone to the Coney Island up on W 1st St?” Some have been there. She says, “If it’s raining again next Tuesday, maybe we could go up there for our meeting. We’d be able to get food”. Another Occupier offers to go and check out the scene beforehand.
So…… We hope to be having a fire at People’s Plaza next Tuesday. If not, we’ll be at Coney Island on W 1st St or back at Duluth Coffee. Hope for a nice sunny day.
G.A. Minutes 5-16-17