G.A. Minutes 10-17-17

G.A. Minutes 10-17-17
A large group of Anonymous folks are already out demonstrating on the corner when the Occupiers arrive at Peoples Plaza this evening. The Fire Magician’s truck is fixed now and we have all the regular supplies back too. Once the Anons see us, some of them come in to help with the set up.
As we are setting up, the Food Occupier confesses, “Sorry guys but I killed the soup that was supposed to be served tonight. I made it last night and foolishly left it sitting out on the stove overnight. When I checked it in the morning I found it had soured and I had to throw it away. The pot was too big to fit into my refrigerator so I talked myself into believing it would be o.k. on the stove. I don’t know what I was thinking but I doubt I’ll make that mistake again.
Fortunately, the weather is really nice tonight so lack of hot soup will not be as bad as it would have been if the weather was colder. The sky is partly cloudy and close to darkness, the temperature is in the mid-60s and there is little wind.
The Anon who has recently found out she is pregnant tells us she’s experiencing morning sickness. An Occupier who has knowledge of mid-wifery and home birthing assures the pregnant woman that morning sickness is actually a sign of good health. She explains that the sickness will pass after the first few months and gives a few pointers on how to cope with the discomfort.
As soon as the fire gets going we are joined by the partner of the Stylish Native Woman, the schizophrenic African American guy from the Skinner and a few other street folks. The city official has been gifting the Occupiers with various pieces of warm men’s clothing which they then bring to the weekly fires and distribute as needed. They’ve been holding onto one very well made flannel shirt which they’ve been saving for The Partner. They give it to him now.
We ask the Occupier who has gone back to college how things are going with his environmental science professor and he tells us, “Actually, once the teacher discovered that I wasn’t someone taking the course in preparation for starting a business to make money off of the climate crisis and sustainable energy, he relaxed and is now comfortable with discussing my ideas.
“Most of what I talk about is the very noticeable increase in violent storms and forest fires all over the world. The climate crisis isn’t on its way; it’s here, right now. I mean it was 106 degrees in San Francisco a week or so ago, for christsakes!” Another Occupier adds, “I used to live in San Francisco; if it ever reached 80 degrees people were in shock”.
The college Occupier continues, “Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the fact that Americans seemed to have lost some of the rights that we used to have. There used to be something called false arrest; I don’t think we have that anymore. What about entrapment? I don’t think that is illegal anymore either”. Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah, I think you’re correct. I don’t know where I was when those rights were taken away but we don’t seem to have them now”.
The Anons come in from the corner; they drop off their excess stuff and go off marching around the hood. An Occupier opines, “I imagine they started early this evening because they need to go in early in order to majorly participate in the No Enbridge Line 3 march, rally and Public Utility Commission hearing tomorrow”. The Occupiers will also be in attendance at the No Line 3 event.
An Occupier remarks, “I thought the Dismantle the Legacy of Racism; Build a Community of Peace march and rally on Saturday went really well. I’m told that about 250 people marched to the Civic Center. I wasn’t able to march but attended the program at City Hall. It was one of the best I’ve ever had the privilege of participating in. I’m looking forward to finding out what other anti-racist experiences will be forthcoming”.
Spiritual Man appears; he has a cold and feels miserable. Several of the Occupiers are just getting over their colds; they empathize. This particular cold that’s going around is fairly intense. Spiritual Man exchanges pleasantries but mainly he just needs to drink fluids, sit next to the warmth of the fire and rest.
Someone says, “Hey, did you hear about the 650 pound black bear that was trapped somewhere inside the city a few days ago?” An Occupier answers, “Yeah, I read about it. Our human culture is so messed up. People think they should be able to live anywhere they want to. They forget that wild animals are legitimate residents of this planet too. Take Ma’iigan (wolves) for example. People keep moving deeper and deeper into the woods, into the animals’ territory. Then they get really pissed off when a wolf eats their dog or one of their cows or sheep. Dumb. They don’t realize that the wild animals also need to have somewhere to live. This planet wasn’t made for humans alone”. Spiritual Man silently nods his head in agreement.
Chicago Man rolls up. He sits down next to one of the street women and begins telling her about his deceased partner. It’s been almost 2 years since his partner passed away; he still grieves deeply.
Menagerie Woman rides up on her bike. She’ll sit with us by the fire for a bit and then catch a bus home. Bush Man has promised her homemade burgers and fries when she arrives.
The Stylish Native Woman checks in; she must have been on some sort of errand. She and her partner go off to their sleeping place. “Sleep well, pleasant dreams”, we say to them.
The pregnant Anon has remained in the circle while the others march. She talks about being afraid to give birth and thinks she will sign up for a C-section. The experienced Occupier explains that recovering from a C-section is painful and the recovery will also make it difficult for her to take care of her baby. The Anon appears to be getting most of her information from her inexperienced friends. The experienced Occupier hopes she will have the chance for a serious talk with the young woman before too long.
The Most Obnoxious Street Woman, Mr. Evil, Lil Bear and a few others are in the back of the Plaza sitting on a bench, probably drinking and talking and laughing quietly. We appreciate the fact that they take their drinking outside the circle without being asked.
The Anons return; they’re packing up their stuff and heading home in preparation for the next day. We say, “See you tomorrow”, as they leave.
An Occupier comments, “This so called Opiod Epidemic is sure a bitch, isn’t it? I hear it originated from Big Pharma but I wonder what its deeper purpose is”. Another Occupier responds, “Personally, I think it has something to do with population control. The so called leaders of this country think we have more people than they need and heroin is an easy way to off a bunch of them. Also, Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium and the USA just happens to have been having a war there for the last 16 years. The supply lines for shipping the stuff to us have been in place for a good while”.
When Spiritual Man gets up to get another cup of coffee, he puts some rocks that are shaped like hearts on the picture of the Woman Who Tells Good Stories which we always keep on the table. The rocks are meant to be an offering to her spirit.
A very straight looking middle-aged couple walks up and asks to sit down. We welcome them. After asking a few questions about what we are doing and getting a few answers, they tell us they are tourists visiting from the St Cloud/Brainard area. Apparently, fire circles like this don’t happen where they live. They don’t stay long; we think they will have a story to tell their friends and family when they get home.
Chicago Man groans and says, “Oh, I sure wish I didn’t have to go to work tonight. It’s my last night and then I get 3 days off but they want me to work at least one of my days off. I don’t think so! My co-workers and my customers at the big box store where I work are so creepy. They look at me like I’m something from another planet. They call me mean names and make fun of my long African braids. If I try to talk about it to my supervisor, she looks at me like I’m the one who’s crazy.
“People really need to take the time to get to know other people who they consider to be different than them. They seem to think that everyone from a particular group is exactly the same. The people I work with think that because I’m black, I’m supposed to be sagging my pants, slangin’ dope and saying motherfucker all the time. They don’t appreciate that I have my own style and personality.
“Black people and other people of color are mistaken too. Back in Chicago they think that all white people are rich and lead charmed lives without any problems. My deceased partner was white, so I knew a little about white people, but even I was surprised when I came to Duluth to find out that there were so many whites who were homeless or poor and on food stamps”. An Occupier adds, “The majority of people in this country who receive any type of government assistance are white”.
Chicago Man goes off to his slave job; many others go off to their sleeping places. Now it’s just the Occupiers and Spiritual Man who are in the circle. We sit in quiet camaraderie, watching the coals burn down.
As we begin to pack up, an Occupier gives Spiritual Man her stash of Ibuprofen and a package of tissues. She says, “I wish I had more to offer you”. Then the Occupiers go off to “power sleep”. Tomorrow promises to be a big day with the beginning of the No Enbridge Line 3 event starting at Peoples Plaza.
We plan to bring the fire circle back to the Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 10-10-17

G.A. Minutes 10-10-17
It’s going to be another kinda weird evening again, although for a different reason this time. We’re at Peoples Plaza but the Fire Magician’s truck and all the fire supplies are up on a hoist in a mechanic shop. We’ve had to beg, borrow and steal everything except the firewood in order to make the fire circle tonight. Hopefully, everything will work out o.k.
There’s a good sized group of people already waiting when the first Occupiers arrive. Among those assembled are Chicago Man, Spiritual Man, a large contingent from Anonymous, Taco Helping Man and his partner, the older, Native, alcoholic who used to live in our former homeless camp and Mr. Evil. Everyone helps to set up the circle.
When we are finished, the Fire Magician starts up the fire. It’s going to be a cold night; the sky is overcast, and it’s almost dark already. The temperature is in the high 40s with an occasional chilly wind.
The flames roar; everyone pulls their chair up close. Spiritual Man asks, “So what was the most exciting thing that happened to you all this week?” An Occupier responds, “The benches are back!!” Everybody cheers. In case you haven’t heard, last Thursday the Duluth Police Department and/or some of the so called City leadership decided it would be a good idea to remove all the benches in Peoples Plaza and across the street in Lake Place Park. They thought removing benches would make all the homeless people leave the area.
What a bunch of lame brains. The homeless people have nowhere else to go. They’ll be made less comfortable but they’ll sit on the cement or on the planters; they won’t just leave.
Anyway, The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition folks jumped on the issue right away. They asked everyone to contact their City Councilors and the Mayor. Someone started one of those Change.org petitions; it was on its way to 1,000 signatures on the first day. People started discreetly dropping off old couches and easy chairs where the benches used to be.
By Sunday, DPD Chief Tusken decided that fighting about benches for homeless people was not a good thing to do. The benches were put back earlier today. Yes! Power to the People! Smash the State! ….. or something like that.
Tonight we’ve decided to try something different. There are so many hungry people out and about that the food we put out each week is generally all gone in less than an hour. We know we need to put out more food but our budget is quite limited. We’ve talked about having a small charcoal grill with a pot of soup or something on it.
We were recently gifted with a small charcoal grill. The Food Occupier has made a big pot of pinto beans with onions, a few fresh mushrooms, a little tomato sauce and salt. Simple fare but tasty and filling. The beans combined with one of our deluxe PB+J sandwiches can make a meal.
None of the Occupiers has much experience with charcoal but it seems like it shouldn’t be too difficult. The Fire Magician lays out the charcoal cubes, puts a little starter fluid on them and then a match. WHOOSH!!! Flames shoot up really high. The Food Occupier just happens to be sitting between both fires as they sprout gigantic blazes. Everyone is worried that she might catch on fire. She is laughing and thinking “This is so way cool!” Once the grill calms down, we put the big pot of beans on it. The soup is heated in no time and the street folks are delighted to be able to eat hot food.
One of the young Anon women tells us that she’s recently discovered she is pregnant. Her baby’s daddy is also an Anon. They are both barely into their 20s and a little taken back by this new development. However, they’re happy about it. They seem to be a well-meaning couple; we think they’ll do the best that they can.
An Occupier who has experience with these types of things offers a bit of advice. The father to be is Native so the Occupier tells the couple, “You know there are two major hospitals in Duluth. One has a practice of trying to take away the babies of young, unmarried women who are not from wealthy families, especially when the babies belong to people of color. The other hospital……not so much. If you’re going to have a hospital birth, please be sure to have it at the hospital that doesn’t try to take babies away”.
The Occupier who is a single parent rolls up. He’s coming from the Local Solutions to Poverty Candidate Forum that was held at Denfield H.S. this evening. He reports, “They didn’t really talk much about solutions to poverty. Joel Sipress talked a lot about the importance of raising the minimum wage and a few of the other candidates agreed that more low income housing is needed. Other than that, they didn’t have any solutions. It was kind of boring”.
Another Occupier remarks, “Yeah, candidates running for political office don’t like to get too specific about anything. They’re afraid of losing votes and campaign donations. Our election system is really messed up”.
Chicago Man has been talking about how much he hates his job and how most people are big pains in the ass. A handsome young man of indeterminable ethnicity sits down next to him. The young man is a friend of most of the Anons. It’s obvious that the two men are well acquainted; they talk about some family members. When Chicago Man mentions his problems, he says, “Well, I only have myself to rely on in terms of financial support so I have to keep the job whether I want to or not”. The young guy gives the man from Chicago a list of other places that are currently hiring and assures him that these places will have better pay and working conditions. When the young dude leaves to go off with the Anons, it’s evident that Chicago Man is in a better mood.
An Occupier has gone back to school for a Master Degree. He talks about some of his classes. He informs us, “I think I’m taking an environmental science class that was created in the 70s. The professor keeps saying that we have plenty of time to get a handle on climate change. He allows me to respectfully disagree with him but refuses to debate the issue. He keeps saying that we need to give the corporations time to adjust”. Another Occupier comments, “Fuck the corporations!” An Anon is passing by the circle; he hears what the second Occupier just said. He smiles at her and says, “Thank you”.
Menagerie Woman rides up on her bike. She’s finished with her usual Tuesday night activities. She getting some juice and then going off to the casino. She remarks, “Last week I won four dollars!”
The Most Obnoxious Street Woman and her partner appear. The woman is not being obnoxious again tonight. We could get used to this. They’re hungry and partake of several bowls of soup. The partner reports that they have just been kicked out of the nearest liquor store. They were trying to decide what they wanted to buy when the clerk told the partner that he had thirty seconds to decide; he then ordered them out of the store. This couple is multi-racial so we figure it must have been some racist kind of thing or maybe the clerk thought they were fixin’ to rob the place. Maybe both things; whatever it was, the clerk was in the wrong.
We don’t even bother to offer to help them file a complaint. We know that they won’t do it. Most street folks are so used to being mistreated that they just accept it. They figure that if they complain, they’ll just end up in jail. Most of the time they’re right. In the long run, the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights aims to change that. After eating, the couple has to go off to catch a bus to the next closest liquor store.
It’s only 8:30pm but the Anons are taking off. They leave en masse so they’re probably going marching. Suddenly, there are only Occupiers at the fire. Someone opines, “This is like old times at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial”. It is.
The College Occupier asks, “I have a lot of homework this week. What do you think are the most important events needing attendance this week?” Another Occupier responds, “The Human Rights Commission is going to do their first reading of the final draft of the legal language for the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights tomorrow at 5:30pm, 4th floor, Mayors Conference Room in City Hall. We need bodies to show up and just sit there so they will see that many citizens of Duluth support the HPB of R.
“Then, of course, there’s the march and rally to Dismantle the Legacy of Racism on Saturday starting at 10am. We need a really big turnout for that”.
The older burned out Native dude makes an appearance. He states, “I need to find Lil’ Bear. His girlfriend has my girlfriend’s phone and I need to get it back”. An Occupier imparts, “He was here earlier but he left with the Anons. They went that way”. The burned out guy answers, “O.K. Miigwitch (Thank you)” and heads out toward the west end of Superior St.
A young street couple who we haven’t met in the past comes up the stairs. They are clean, stylishly dressed and well spoken. The man is nice looking, the woman is exceptionally beautiful. They are both quite hungry and gratefully consume several bowls of bean soup. They are trying to find a place to sleep for the night. Once they have eaten, they go off to look for a place that is not already taken.
An Anon who wasn’t present when the rest were in the Plaza arrives. “Where is everybody?” he asks. We tell what we know and he tells us that he just got a new job two days ago down in Canal Park. There are no buses running down there when his shift is over so he has to walk two and a half miles to his home. He says, “I got here as soon as I could. I was hoping they would wait for me”.
All of a sudden, a large group of people come up the stairs. Word must have gotten around that we have hot food. Among this group is Spiritual Man, the male from the regular multi-racial couple who have visited our fire for many years and the young couple who left to find somewhere to sleep. We give them all bowls of beans.
Spiritual Man is acquainted with the beautiful young woman. As they chat she comments, “I don’t know how we’re going to be able to keep carrying all this stuff”. Spiritual Man answers, “Well, I have my backpack here. We could put some of your stuff in it and I could follow you and your partner to where you’re going”. The woman replies, “I know you mean well” and proceeds to tell about the many times she trusted someone and they ripped her off.
Abruptly, she stands up and heads off down the street. As her partner begins to go after her, Spiritual Man pulls him aside for a quick minute and says, “You need to get her off the street, man. If you don’t, she is one that will definitely be targeted”.
The male of the regular multi-racial couple seems sad this evening. He sighs and tells us, “Well, we had to break up. She went back to doing drugs again. I hated to do it but I just had to let her go. I wish her well but I can’t let her ruin my life. I’m too old to have to start over again”.
An Occupier sighs and replies, “I’m so sorry. I know she was clean and sober for over a year. She told me that it was the first time in her entire young life that she hadn’t been using something. It was quite obvious that she loves you. I hope she will miss you so much that she will decide to try and get clean again”. The male adds, “She was doing real good but then her father died; her brother died shortly after that. I guess she just couldn’t cope with the pain”.
So it’s now at least 10:30pm; well past time to go in and live to fight another day. The Anarchist rides up on his bike just in time to help us pack up. He’s always helping people.
It had better not rain next Tuesday because we intend to be back at Peoples Plaza with more soup.

G.A. Minutes 10-3-17

G.A. Minutes 10-3-17
It’s been kind of a weird day which is now being followed by kind of a weird evening. We’re meeting at Coney Island on 1st St because we had a serious rainstorm that began late Monday evening and lasted until mid-morning today.
Because we need to do food preparation and such, we generally make a decision as to where we’re gonna meet by around noon of our meeting day. When the rain stopped around mid-morning, the sun peeked out for a bit and then it clouded over again. The weather map showed there was more rain to come but was not definite about whether it was gonna come here or not.
Also, the Fire Magician’s truck is in the shop waiting to get its front end repaired. The fire pit, chairs, table and other fire circle stuff are in the truck. In order to meet at Peoples Plaza, the Magician would have needed to get someone to drive him to the repair shop, get the truck and then bring it back to the shop the next morning. That seemed like way too much of a hassle when we didn’t know if it was gonna rain again.
So here we are at Coney Island. This Coney Island is different than the one we used to go to (until it went out of business) on Superior St. It’s much bigger but doesn’t have healthy food options. The staff is accommodating and non-judgmental just like the old place but it doesn’t look like they employ hipsters. That means no way cool music on the sound system. Bummer.
What we really would like is a hippie type soup kitchen with very affordable prices, non-alcoholic, comfortable, accepting of all types of customers that employs friendly, intelligent and witty staff people who are well paid and treated so well that they just love working there. It would have palm trees and be run by the IWW too. Well, it could happen.
Anyway, we don’t expect to have a lot of Occupiers in attendance tonight. The first rehearsal for Echoes of Peace Choir is happening this evening; some of the Occupiers are members of this choir. Seeing as the choir hasn’t rehearsed for a while, we expect they’ll run late.
An Occupier starts by apologizing to the others, “So I suppose you’ve noticed that I didn’t write any minutes from last week’s fire circle? Most of you know that I was laid up in bed with a cold for several days last week. I’m still pretty low energy; with all the things going on right now, I just was unable to catch up. Too bad because, with the exception of the cops showing up several times to harass the Anonymous crew for wearing their masks, I thought last week’s meeting was pretty mellow”.
Another Occupier adds, “Oh that reminds me; I printed out copies of the MN Statute about not concealing one’s identity when in a public place. The Anons could give a copy to any cops who come to harass them. Most of the time cops have no idea what a law actually says. They just listen to what their supervisor tells them; usually the supervisor doesn’t know anything either. Many times though, the cops just make things up and then expect citizens to obey them.
“MN Statute 609.735 has so many loopholes in it that the Anons can easily slide through. The street cops will be pissed off and will try to act intimidating but as long as the Anons remain firm but respectful the cops will eventually leave them alone. I hear the Anons will be marching tonight and will probably stop by here but of course, I forgot to bring the copies”.
Just as we are speaking of the Anons, a good sized group of them roll in. They have their masks and some signs; they’ve been marching around the downtown area. They may have decorated a few buildings along the way or maybe they didn’t. Some things are better left unspoken.
The Coney Island staff have assured us that we can go ahead and slide more tables together when more of our people show up; so that’s what we do. One of the crew has tried to dye his hair red but it didn’t actually turn out the way he wanted it to. His hair color is more of a rose pink and he’s not too pleased about it. It actually doesn’t look too bad and we try to assure him of this. We don’t think he believes us.
They’re making a pit stop to get something to eat and also to see what’s up with us. An Anon asks, “So what do you have going on for the rest of the week? The Occupier who reports stuff answers, “Tomorrow is the weekly planning meeting for the Dismantle the Legacy of Racism; Build a Community of Peace march and rally that will take place on October 14th at 10am starting at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial and marching to the Civic Center for the rally. It looks like there will be lots of people attending; the organizers are planning other anti-racist events to take place over the next year or so.
“I’ll be going to the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition meeting on Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House. I’ll also have to find the time to make the taco meat for the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance Anishinaabe Frybread Taco Sale on Friday at the Washington Center from 11am-2pm. They need people to help at the sale so anyone who can help will get one of their delicious tacos for free.
“Monday, October 9th is Indigenous People’s Day and there will be an event at noon at the Civic Center. There’s a lot more things going on this month but these are the main things I know about that will happen before our next meeting”.
An Anon adds, “Remember that the Public Utilities Commission will be holding a public hearing concerning Enbridge’s Line 3 at the DECC all day and evening on Wednesday, October, 18th”. All the Occupiers plan to attend.
Another Anon asks the Fire Magician, “So what’s up with your truck?” The Magician responds. “Well, it runs fine and its o.k. for driving around town and on the freeway but we’re running low on firewood and need to go out to the country to get more. That will entail driving on bumpy dirt roads while pulling a trailer. The shocks and the front end need some work before we can do that. The mechanic guy says he’ll have it fixed by early next week.
“Once that’s done we’ll go get more firewood; maybe some of you would be willing to help us stack it up when we get back. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to get enough so we can bring some out to Mukwa (Bear) Line 3 Camp too”.
The Anons are ready to hit the streets again. As they get ready to leave, the city official arrives. We don’t get to see him as much as we’d like to these days. He’s very busy with organizing all the musical events for the annual Martin Luther King event in January. Then there’s his weekly radio show and he’s started teaching a course at one of our local 4 year colleges.
He tells us about the latest developments for the MLK event. The yearly event has always been sponsored by our local NAACP chapter. Over the years and across the nation, the NAACP has been considered to be far too conservative for many African Americans, especially the youth.
When Black Lives Matter and other groups organized primarily by African American youth came on the scene, the national NAACP leaders put out a directive to all the local chapters saying they needed to become more current and responsive to the requirements of the youth. Our local Duluth NAACP chapter is attempting to follow this directive. We think this may be why they asked the city official to take charge of the music for MLK.
However, when the city official explained his initial plans to the MLK planning committee, some of the elders were nervous about the many changes being made. The official man had to tell them that his acceptance of the task they have given him was sort of a “take it or leave it” deal. When he put it that way, the elders decided to take it.
Everyone is tired tonight; we’ve all been working hard. We decide to head out and get some rest in preparation for the week ahead. We very much hope to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.