G.A. Minutes 9-12-17
It’s summer again!!! At least that’s what it feels like when the Occupiers roll up on Peoples Plaza this evening. We’ve had marvelous summer weather all day; this evening the sky is partly cloudy, the temperature is in the high 70s with an occasional light southern breeze.
We are just beginning to set up the fire circle when The Boyfriend shows up. He is ranting and is really, really angry. We are taken back by the amount of bad and vulgar language spewing out of his mouth. Apparently, he was just sitting on a bench across the street in Lake Park Plaza. He wasn’t sleeping but he was resting with his eyes closed so he didn’t notice when the Duluth police officer quietly walked up and stood beside him. The cop grabbed The Boyfriend’s arm and yanked it so hard, the Boyfriend feared it had been pulled out of the socket. Then the cop told him to “move along”.
Once the ranting guy took a breath, an Occupier asks, “Did you get the cop’s name or badge number?” The Boyfriend answers, “Naw, but it was that black cop from Louisiana”. None of us know which cop that is but we do know that the cop is definitely out of the loop. Chief Tuscan and the rest of the administrators have very recently put out a new policy entitled Interactions with Persons Experiencing Homelessness. This policy instructs all DPD officers to treat people suspected of being homeless in the same manner that they treat the tourists or other citizens of Duluth who are suspected of being well off and important.
The Occupier tells The Boyfriend, “You could file a complaint about the cop’s abuse; we’d be willing to help you with it or we could do it on your behalf”. The angry man replies, “I just might do that!” He then continues to behave in a manner so surly and nasty that another Occupier has to tell him, “You know, we’re trying to keep a good vibe going around here. If you can’t help us with that, maybe you should leave for a while”. The Boyfriend does leave; throughout the evening we see him peeking occasionally through the bushes from the sidewalk but he never does come back to the fire. Maybe this is a sign of respect?
A large group of Anonymous folks arrive. Tonight is a special night for them as they are about to begin their Operation Black Snake Engaged. They will be calling attention to the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline that promises to pollute all the manoomin (wild rice) and the lakes, rivers and streams that drain into our big Lake Superior. This proposed pipeline will carry tar sands oil, the most destructive form of oil in existence.
Enbridge claims this oil is desperately needed in the world but the truth is that the only “need” this pipeline will meet is the “need” for Enbridge stockholders and CEOs to line their pockets with more money than they already have. Public hearings for this proposed pipeline will be held from September 26th to October 26th throughout the Northland. The public hearing in Duluth will be held on Wednesday, October 18th 1pm-4pm and 6pm-9pm at the DECC. The Occupiers and Anons plan to attend.
Although Line 3 is only a proposed pipeline, Enbridge is behaving as though it were already a done deal. They have mountains of new pipeline piled all along the proposed pipeline route; they also have much digging equipment and have even begun digging in some places. Water Protector Camps are springing up at various places along the route in order to monitor the behavior of the Enbridge workers. Water Protectors have also participated in at least 6 “lockdowns”. A lockdown is when Water Protectors chain themselves to oil company earth destroying machines in order to prevent the workers from using these machines and in order to force a general work stoppage. Every time Water Protectors can force a work stoppage it costs the oil company money. Money seems to be the only thing that oil companies understand.
The Anons plan to hold their Operation Black Snake Engaged for the next 2 weeks and to protest on the corner, march, make slogans with chalk and use any other non-violent methods they can think of to call attention to the proposed Line 3.
Some of the Anons are hungry so they chow down from the table before going out to the street. An Occupier says to the Anon that she usually drives home after the fire, “I’m gonna have to be out of here by 9pm tonight. I have to meet with Mayor Larson early tomorrow about what the City can do to provide 24/7 access to bathrooms for homeless people and others. I suppose it would be a good idea for me to get enough sleep in order to talk sense at the meeting”. “No problem”, says the Anon. He’s planning on staying out as long as his young body will allow.
A couple of well-respected Water Protectors from Fond du Lac enter the circle. They have made the effort to get to Duluth in order to participate with the Anons. The Water Protectors are friends with some of the Occupiers so stop in to say hello. They have not been in our fire circle before; they think it’s really cool.
An Occupier tells the Water Protectors, “My partner and I went out to Mukwa (Bear) Camp last Saturday”. A Water Protector responds, “Yeah, I saw you guys roll in just as I was leaving. I planned on coming back in time to greet you but things just didn’t work out that way”.
The Water Protectors and Anons go out to the corner; they plan on preaching to the cars for a while and then to go marching through the downtown area and Canal Park.
The single parent Occupier appears; he gets coffee, sits down and reports, “I read a newspaper article recently that said the City was gonna put up 5 new street lights in West Duluth and that it was gonna cost 3 million dollars to do so. 3 million dollars? I don’t understand why it should cost that much”. Everyone in the circle thinks that price is too much.
The big African American dude who was having girlfriend problems last week returns to the fire. He has a different woman with him this time. They get snacks, sit in the circle for a bit and then go to one of the back benches to chat. It appears they are getting to know each other. We kind of recognize the new woman but can’t remember where we’ve met her.
The Stylish Native Woman and her partner join us. It now gets dark a little before 8pm. They’re just stopping in to roll a few cigarettes then they’ll go off to their sleeping place.
A middle-aged, very pleasant Native woman is sitting with us tonight. We haven’t met her in the past but she gives off a very good vibe. When a conversation about protecting the earth gets going she offers, “Our Mother Earth is alive. She has been abused by humans for many centuries now and she is ill. All these storms, fires and such are happening because she is trying to heal herself”. An Occupier adds, “Hopefully she won’t have to rid herself of humankind in order to become whole again”.
A petite, Caucasian woman who visits our fire from time to time is also in the circle this evening. We think she may be some type of outreach worker. The petite woman opines, “The first thing one needs to do is to heal themselves”. She goes on to talk about meditation, yoga, a healthy diet and sobriety.
Menagerie Woman rides up; she’s finished donating plasma and is going to her Tuesday night movie. This time the movie is one that is currently popular; she expects it will be an extra-long one so she won’t be getting home until midnight. Seeing as Bush Man is already at home, he’ll need to take the dogs out tonight.
Taco Helping Man and his partner come up the stairs. Taco Man is talking about the same thing he always does. He speaks about how he wants to quit drinking and resume all the Native spiritual practices that he participated in before he became addicted to alcohol and drugs. He’s managed to kick his drug habit but the alcohol spirit just doesn’t seem to want to let him go. He is troubled by the large amount of Native people he knows who are lost in alcohol. He says, “Who will help the Indian people?”
The anguished look on his face when he talks about these things really touches our hearts. We tried to advise Taco Man to put his tobacco out and to pray. We don’t know why but he doesn’t seem to want to do it that way. None of the Occupiers are of Native heritage; we know that he needs a Native person with knowledge of Native spiritual practices to show him the way.
We remind Taco Man that the next Sobriety Feast will be tomorrow at the Central Hillside Community Center at 6pm. We remind him that there will be a vigil for The Woman Who Tells Good Stories this upcoming Friday at noon, also at CHCC. Taco Man’s partner is one of the sisters of the Woman Who Tells Good Stories.
When an Occupier tells the couple about Mukwa Camp their eyes brighten. Taco Man exclaims, “Could we go there?!? Could we pack up our tent and all our belongings and take them there?” We think there is definite possibility that they would be accepted at the camp. They are actually a well-meaning, peaceful couple. We think people at the camp would be willing to teach and help them. However, that’s enough information for now. They are both somewhat slow minded so we don’t want to overload them. The next time we see them we’ll talk about it some more. The partner reminds Taco Man that they need to go to their tent and go to sleep early tonight as she needs to go to an early Dr.’s appointment tomorrow.
An older African American man who occasionally attends our fires comes up. We think he may also be some type of outreach worker. He wants to know why we have this fire and we tell him about the people’s right to make use of public space. He wants to know more and after beating around the bush for a bit, we explain that we are Occupy Duluth. Now he gets it; he seems relieved.
The older black man and the petite white woman already know each other. They begin a private conversation about programs, grants and stuff like that.
Now we get a visit from The Most Obnoxious Street Woman. She has not attended our fire since we moved to Peoples Plaza. We don’t say anything but we think “OH NO!” We were hoping she’d forgotten that we existed. Funny thing though….. She’s not acting particularly obnoxious. This is very different. She’s still saying stupid stuff and teasing all the men but she’s not telling lies and trying to cause trouble. We have no problem with that.
The developmentally disabled man who lives at the Wet House stumbles in. It appears that he can still walk tonight but, as usual, he’s drunk. He starts saying stupid stuff and The Most Obnoxious Street Woman joins him. Great…..
Well, it is 9pm and this change in the dynamic of the circle gives us a good reason to pack up. So that’s what we do.
As we are driving out of the Plaza we see that Taco Helping Man and his partner have not gone back to their tent as they planned. They’ve hooked up with an older Native street man who is a confirmed alcoholic. This man has many cans of beer and they are all drinking it. We think the partner is not gonna make her Dr.’s appointment tomorrow. We think Taco Man will wake up feeling sick and berate himself for hours.
Oh well……Life goes on. We bid them all a goodnight and plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 9-12-17