G.A. Minutes 6-13-17
There was very heavy rain and strong wind during much of the day; the weather people predict more for this evening, night and tomorrow. We conferred with each other a couple of hours before our meeting time. The weather map showed many big storms coming from the west and heading straight for our neck of the woods.
One of the Occupiers who normally brings much of the food for the fire circle stated, “You know, there’s a certain amount of preparation that goes into feeding everyone. If we get rained out as soon as we get there, what am I supposed to do with 2 dozen hard boiled eggs?” We decided to hold tonight’s meeting at the Coney Island up on W. 1st St.
This new (to us anyway) Coney Island is a little different than the old one that we used to meet at before it closed. For one thing, it’s 3 or 4 times larger; the décor isn’t old fashioned and cool and there’s no music playing. We expect the clientele will be different too.
This eatery is located very close to the CHUM and to Life House so we imagine some street folks will be around but the big downtown Holiday Inn is only a block up the street. Tourists frequently step out to tour the neighborhood. Oh well, we’ll just have to make due for now.
The place can probably seat at least 100 customers but when we arrive we see there are only 3. The 2 young people who are working the large front counter are quite friendly. When we explain that we expect more people and may need to push some tables together, the young man responds, “No problem. Just make yourselves at home”.
The city official is the first to arrive; he’s a bit out of sorts this evening. He tells his story, “Now you know I’m not the sort of person who ever gets violent but today I really had the urge to smack somebody. I know 2 twin sisters who were adopted from Africa and brought to live here in Duluth when they were just little babies. Their adoptive parents are well respected community members. The girls are very sweet and innocent; they’re 12 years old or so now; just entering their teenage years”. Most of the Occupiers know these girls and their parents and agree that they are good people.
“So anyway, these 2 young girls go into a recently opened sandwich type shop in our downtown area. They order and pay for their lunch and sit down to eat it. Suddenly the owner of the new shop comes stomping out and accuses the girls of stealing. Because nothing like this has ever happened to the girls before, they’re rather confused. The owner growls, ‘Show me what you took!’ The girls still don’t understand so they show him what they are eating.
“Their mother comes in to join them and she’s just flabbergasted when she realizes what is going on. She hasn’t had this type of experience related to her daughters either. She didn’t know what to do. When she asked me for advice later, I told her to hire a lawyer. I hope she does.
“I posted about the incident on my blog. Later on when I was at my job I expressed my frustration and my anger about the event. One of my co-workers had seen my post on my blog. He told me he thought I was over reacting, should not be displaying so much emotion in front of the general public and that the incident was really no big deal after all. When I told him that the adoptive parents of the African girls were white people he appeared to change his tune. He seemed to think that maybe the girls HAD been mistreated. I had to leave in order to refrain from choking him. You know, statistically, the junior high and high school students in this country who experience the highest level of mistreatment from adults are black girls”.
An Occupier has just returned from the public hearing about the Enbridge Line 3 that was held today at Fond du Lac College. He tells us, “It was wonderful. The place was full; mainly of FDL tribal members speaking against the pipeline. They had a round dance and beautiful drumming and singing. FDL just owned that hearing”.
Another Occupier shows us a flyer she received today from one of our Native organizer friends. The flyer tells about an Expungement Clinic hosted by the Legal Service of NE MN. It’s free of charge and will be held in the Ordean Building every first Tuesday of the month starting on August 1st and continuing until August of 2018. She says, “I’m guessing that none of us have any records that we need expunged but it’s still good information to have in case we run across someone in need of the service”.
The Occupier who reports things gives her report. She tells us, “Do you all remember that very popular band from about 10 or 15 years ago called Azure Du Jour?” Many of us do remember. The reporting Occupier continues, “Well they’re doing a reunion performance on Saturday, June 17th, 6pm-10pm at the Red Herring”. We say, “Wonderful!” Many of us were big fans of the band.
“Also, this weekend is Juneteenth weekend. The celebrations will be held in Duluth on this Saturday afternoon and in Superior on this upcoming Sunday afternoon. Another thing that will be going on Saturday, June 17th is Reclaiming Our Socialist Heritage sponsored by the Twin Ports Democratic Socialists of America and happening at 6pm at Norway Hall”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior asks, “I’ve been hearing a lot about something called the alt-right over the last few months. Does anybody know what it is? Another Occupier answers, “Oh that just means the white supremacists. Some right wing pundit came up with that term when He Who Shall Not Be Named started getting a lot of attention for his presidential campaign. I think the pundit was trying to make the white supremacists look not as dangerous or evil as they really are. I think we all need to make a conscious effort to always use the term white supremacist instead of alt-right. We need to call them what they really are”.
The city official opines, “When someone says white supremacist I believe most people think of the KKK. That’s one type of white supremacist thinking but there are other more subtle manifestations of the same thing. You know, like when white folks who are not necessarily really hateful but they still subconsciously see a person of color as less intelligent, less educated, less honest, less competent or what have you than a white person. Then there’s institutional white supremacy such as the slightly hidden ways the educational system, banking system, housing system, judicial system and all the other systems making life more difficult for people of color”. We say, “Ain’t that the truth”.
On that note, the city man has to leave. We say our goodbyes and as he heads out the door an Occupier reminds us, “He’s going to be the keynote speaker at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Day of Remembrance on Thursday at noon”.
Another Occupier goes on a rant about how totally wacked the entire world is. When he comes up for air someone else adds, “It took me a long time to admit it but I believe we are living during a very important time in the history of the world. Things are very precarious and we need to pay careful attention and try to help things in a good way”.
An Occupier agrees, “Remember the indigenous prophecy that says now is the time for the spark that lights the 8th fire. If the 8th fire is lit then all the good teachings and good ways of being will come back. If not, it will mean the destruction of the earth. I think it means that the people living now are the ones who are responsible for bringing about the change in the hearts and minds of the people of the earth that will cause them to remember that the earth and all the living things in it are sacred. I know the prophecy is meant primarily for indigenous folks; our job is mainly to assist the carriers of the spark in whatever way they ask us to. Personally, I’m down with that”. The rest of us are down with that too.
Changing the subject, an Occupier says, “Want to hear something really weird?” We do. He continues, “HWSNBN’s wife Melania is from Slovenia, a formerly communist country. Her father was a fairly important dude in the Communist Party. So now Melania is moving into the White House. I was watching a news report that showed some of the move in. Melania’s father was there; he was just hanging out and wandering around.
“So all the politicians in DC are worrying themselves to death about Russia and communists but no one bats an eye at the communist in the so called First Family. I thought that was funny”. We all crack up; we think it’s funny too.
It’s about 8:30pm. The place is empty and the 2 staff people (they do not appear to be hipsters) are washing everything. They keep looking over at us. The hipsters from the now defunct Coney Island taught us what that means. We pack up, leave tips and head out.
It has not rained yet but it looks like it wants to. However, the east wind is super strong. Strong enough to have blown over our fire pit. We think we made the right decision. If the weather gods allow it, we’ll be back at People’s Plaza next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 6-13-17