G.A. Minutes 11-14-17

G.A. Minutes 11-14-17
The temperature is in the mid-40s this evening; all week long the weather people were forecasting warm temperatures along with rain all day and evening for this Tuesday. They got the warm temperatures right but it didn’t rain at all today.
WE COULD HAVE HAD A FIRE!!! Instead, we listened to the weather people and did not make preparations for a fire circle. Bummer; we’re at Coney Island once more. We probably won’t get a chance like this again until the brief January thaw that comes around each year. However, with all the climate change activity going on, we have no idea if we will be blessed with a thaw this season. Everything just gets curioser and curioser.
When the first Occupiers to arrive drive up they see a small group of Anons walking down the street, away from Coney Island. They figure the Anons must have showed up early, saw that no one was there yet and decided to cruise the hood. They’ll probably be back later.
As we are settling in, an Occupier comments, “I noticed that the City workers were putting up the annual gigantic Christmas tree in Peoples Plaza this afternoon. They was a big crane, other equipment and lots of people there. Maybe it would have been too difficult to have a fire tonight”.
Another Occupier responds, “I don’t know, remember last year when winter didn’t start until December? We just moved our fire over to the far west side of the Plaza so as to not have stray sparks falling on the tree. We would have been hard pressed to explain why we burned the big tree down”.
We all laugh and an Occupier adds, “Actually, I’m betting they spray that poor tree with tons of fire retardant chemicals; otherwise it would be too easy for some hater to take a lighter to the tree and start a major blaze. You’d think there must be a least one person working for City maintenance that realized the annual live giant evergreen could be a fire hazard”.
Another Occupier says, “I have no desire at all to burn down the City’s Christmas tree but as usual, I’m not looking forward to the holiday season. The actual day can be nice if you have pleasant friends and family to spend it with but all the capitalist crap we’re forcibly bombarded with for over a month before Christmas really gets me down. Also, it seems like each day closer to Christmas Day makes the drivers on the roadways more aggressive and deadly”. Everyone agrees that the capitalist system makes the holiday season unnecessarily stressful.
A small group of Anons roll in. We tell them about some of their crew that we saw as we pulled up. An Occupier says with concern to one of the youngest Anons, “Dude, I heard you were chased by Nazis with baseball bats the other night! Are you o.k.?” The Anon answers, “I’m o.k. I was able to out run them but it sure was fucked up. I was walking home up 1st Ave W. about a block up from CHUM when a black SUV full of guys pulled up to me. They were all wearing Nazis arm bands and identical Anonymous masks of a particular style; they jumped out carrying baseball bats and started swinging at me. I ducked, they missed and I started running; they chased me for about six blocks before I got away. I wasn’t wearing any of my Anon gear at the time but I think they knew who I was”.
Another Anon adds, “We’re pretty sure that this is the same group that harassed us last year. We have a picture of the car and the license plate. We gave it to the cops but we haven’t heard anything further from them. I wonder if they will investigate”.
An Occupier opines, “I can’t tell you if the cops will investigate or not but if they do, they’re not gonna tell you about it. They might say something to you six months or even a year from now. I’m guessing Duluth Anonymous has not been the only group these baseball bat psychos have attacked. Maybe the cops will take your report and combine it with other reports they’ve received. It’s hard to say. Damn! HWSNBN has every sicko in the country out and strutting these days”.
An Anon tells us, “We have the name of the owner of the black SUV. We’ll be doing our own investigating”.
An Occupier changes the subject by saying to another, “So how did your meeting with the Mayor about the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights go?” The questioned Occupier replies, “It went o.k. I guess. It was what they call a Stakeholders Meeting. That means a meeting between the HPB of R Coalition and representatives of all the City departments who are gonna have to make adjustments when the HPB of R Ordinance passes. Those government suit types speak a whole different language that I am just beginning to learn. I refuse to speak it but I need to know what it means.
“Anyway, our HPB of R folks consisted of the president of the Human Rights Commission, some heavy hitters from Loaves N Fishes and me. The City Human Rights Officer, Carl Crawford was there, DPD Chief Tusken too and a big group of suits way too numerous to mention. Mostly, it was just dialog between the HRC president and the mayor with the HRC president saying that we will be expecting compliance from the City when the HPB of R passes and the mayor saying that the administration is not at all opposed to a homeless rights ordinance but they need to be able to figure out exactly what they will need to do in order to comply.
“They call that type of dickering back and forth ‘pushback’”. We all groan and the Occupier continues, “So we’re all reading the introduction to the ordinance which is a description of all the various living situations that are considered to be homeless situations. Some guy from some City building department starts freaking out and says, ‘Wait a minute! It says people sleeping in abandoned buildings; it’s illegal to sleep in an abandoned or condemned building. This is going to make people think that it’s o.k. to sleep in condemned buildings. It’s not, it’s illegal!’ Then he goes on a diatribe about that particular sleeping arrangement being a safety issue.
“When he finally stops to breathe we explain to him that the couple of words in the introduction are just a description of where a homeless person might be sleeping. Illegality or legality is not an issue. Gehzz…. Stuff like that always happens when we meet with the suits. I swear they live on another planet.
“As all this stuff is going on, I tried to keep the human perspective alive by telling occasional stories about the actual life experiences of homeless people that I know. The time for the meeting went by without a whole lot being accomplished. That’s pretty normal. The mayor suggested that we have another meeting with less people in it and really get down to the details. They need to get their shit together soon because we’re expecting the ordinance to be passed before the end of the year”.
The conversation turns back to the white supremacy problem. We entertain the Anons with the story from about five years ago when a white supremacist group from down south announced that they were coming to Duluth to have a rally at City Hall. There was a big split between white progressives with the larger group planning to hold another event far away from City Hall and a smaller group supporting a confrontation with the racists.
We went with the group confronting the racists. It turned out that five people from Stormfront (the bigot group) showed up. Our anti-racist coalition had at least one hundred folks; we had banners, signs and music and Native Americans showed up to drum and pray. A big snow storm started and we chased the Stormfront away with massive amounts of snowballs. One of our Occupiers was arrested because she didn’t have very good aim and one of her snowballs hit a cop in the head. Once the racists ran off, we Occupiers were dancing and singing “We gonna chase those crazy ballheads out of our town!”
After hearing our story, the Anons are ready to get busy. They are going down to the protest corner outside of Peoples Plaza to do some thumping and jumping.
An Occupier comments, “I see that a lot of people are figuring out that the best way to get a corporations’ attention is to cost them some money. I can’t remember the details but I know that some local governments are suing the big pharmaceuticals for the damage and expense their pushing of narcotic medicines has caused. Some other groups are suing Remington for the damage mass murderers have caused because of easy access to the weapons that Remington produces. We say, “Good for them”.
Another Occupier asks, “Have you noticed that a lot of the corporations who are major polluters are running ads talking about how green and sustainable they are? Of course, it’s all a bunch of b.s. They’re trying to make money off of the word sustainable while continuing to destroy our Mother Earth”. We say, “Grrrr…..”
The clock is reading close to 9pm. The staff is washing everything down. We pack up, leave a few tips and head out. As we’re going out the door an Occupier suggests, “Hey, before we go home, let’s cruise by protest corner and beep our horn in support of the Anons”. Sounds like a plan.
Unless we’re struck by a surprise heatwave, we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday. You’d be welcome to join us if you like.

G.A. Minutes 11-7-17

G.A. Minutes 11-7-17
We’re at Coney Island again this evening. The temperature is already in the mid-20s and on its way further down. A moderate wind from the west is not helping at all; it’s dark too and we can’t see any visible stars so it’s probably cloudy. The weather people say it’s going to snow tomorrow and then go into slightly below zero temperatures. Great….. We didn’t expect winter to arrive so early and so suddenly. We didn’t even have time to exchange contact information with our most favored street folks.
Some of the Anonymous crew is outdoors by the side of the building when the first Occupiers arrive; others are inside Coney Island and have pushed several tables together so as to make room for a large gathering.
The Occupiers are slightly late as they stopped by their polling place in order to cast their votes in the City election. Some City Councilor and School Board positions are on the ballot along with a referendum asking to increase the City sales tax to pay for much needed repairs to our streets.
An Anon has brought a big pan of homemade fried chicken. It was left over from the nightly dinner served at Life House this evening. Fortunately, the Coney Island staff doesn’t mind them bringing in outside food. In fact, the staff guy adds an extra order of fries, at no charge, to their food and drink order. Sweet.
A new person is joining the Anons tonight; we don’t know where he came from, it seems he’s someone they met on the street. He appears to be a nice enough guy; he’s a college student who moved down from Virginia MN in order to study sociology at one of our local colleges. The Occupiers are all older than the Anons; the new guy keeps saying Ma’am and Sir to us until an Anon comments, “They’re with us”. The new guy becomes more relaxed after hearing that we are part of the Anonymous crew. That’s not completely true but no matter, we’re all working towards the same goal. Organizational names get in the way sometimes; in reality the Anons have strong bodies and great physical stamina. The Occupiers don’t have that anymore but we have a lot of life experience; each group uses somewhat different tactics but both are interested in saving humanity and Mother Earth.
An Anon tells us about the Million Mask March that most of them attended in St. Paul last Sunday. It sounds like there was a good turnout but it also sounds like there were more of various types of cops than there were Anons. Anyway, no one got their head beat in and they all had a good time.
Someone reminds us of when one of Bush Jr’s cabinet members said, “There are things we know and things we don’t. There are things that are unknown that that we know we don’t know and there are unknowns that we don’t know that we don’t know.” An Occupier laughs and adds, “And these guys were considered to be competent! I wonder what we’re supposed to consider all the people who work for He Who Shall Not Be Named”. We think Incompetent is too elevated a word for those bozos.
An Occupier reports, “The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights event last Thursday went well; there was pretty much a full house. When we asked actual homeless people which of the six porta potty sites that the City is offering they would find most suitable, the top two choices were that bus turn around space by the M+H gas station on W. Superior St and the Main Public Library Plaza. The other spaces chosen were Central Hillside Community Center, the Midtown Park Parking Lot, 1st Ave W. + W. Michigan St. and Lake Ave. + Superior St. So now I just have to email the Mayor and Parks N Rec with the choices and then we can start encouraging them to get those pottys set up”.
Changing the subject, another Occupier comments, “We had a good time going out to Makwa (Bear) Line 3 Resistance Camp yesterday, didn’t we?” Several other Occupiers nod in the affirmative. The Occupier continues, “It looks like they have quite a few people living there. Of course it was cold, so most of the people were inside individual handmade structures with pipes from wood stoves sticking out. Most structures were made from thick canvas; it looked kinda like a village for giant Hobbits. It’s definitely not a party camp, it’s a working camp and there’s plenty of work to be done. Like everyone else in the Northland, they didn’t expect winter to arrive quite so soon; they’re having to do some catching up.
“When we arrived with our load of firewood, many people came out to help unload it. They were happy to receive it; it didn’t look to me like they had a lot of firewood. I’m gonna try to think of ways to get them more wood.
“So when everyone started to unload the wood, I decided to act like some kind of ‘spring chicken’ and help them. Of course, I slipped on a piece of ice, landed on my hip, bounced off and landed full face in a pile of snow. It didn’t hurt at all when it happened but I’m certainly moving slow right now”. We can’t help but laugh.
An Occupier adds, “I think the answer to finding more firewood for Makwa Camp is to have the funds. Just about everything boils down to money these days. The City doesn’t want to open the heated public bathrooms to the homeless because it would cost too much money; we can’t have a decent educational system or more public housing because there’s not enough money etc. etc. However, there’s always enough money to give to rich people who already have enough and don’t really need any more”.
Another Occupier comments, “If our so called leaders don’t have enough money, they could stop having wars. There’d be enough money to go around then. The country of Costa Rica disbanded their army in 1948. Since then they’ve been spending their money on the needs of the people. Although Costa Rica has a standard of living much lower than ours, the country ranks #1 in the World Database of Happiness every year”.
Someone remarks, “Well, I see that Bernie Sanders is still kicking it in the Senate. If he runs again in 2020, maybe we could score big on the Happiness Index too”. An Occupier replies, “There were many good things about Bernie but I don’t remember that he ever spoke about ending war or disbanding our military. I think he did chastise Israel a bit at one point. I guess the fact that Bernie is Jewish would make him not want to criticize Israel too much”. Another Occupier opines, “I’m not Jewish so I don’t know anything for sure but I think being Jewish and supporting Israel are two separate things. I know many people who take their Jewish religion very seriously but they don’t support Israel at all. As to Bernie…..who knows?”
One of the Occupiers is a college student at the University of Wisconsin – Superior. Another Occupier says to the student, “It sounds like things are really hopping over at UWS these days”. The student Occupier answers, “Oh yes they are! The stupid administration is closing down 25 majors and minors and a graduate program too. These are really important programs like Broad Field Science, Chemistry, Journalism, Political Science, Sociology, Theatre and the Art Therapy Master Program. They say students have too many choices and are overwhelmed by them. Bull! I think it’s just another step toward Scot Walker and his minions’ dream of privatizing the whole WI University system.
“I wasn’t able to attend the sit in yesterday but I did go to a couple of the meetings. At one of them I asked the Chancellor if she was also gonna cut administrative positions. She gave me a dirty look and didn’t answer my question”.
An Occupier agrees, “I wanted to attend the sit in but went out to Makwa Camp instead. I wonder how all of this will play out. Please keep us posted”.
The Anons are bundling up in preparation for hitting the streets. There’s quite a few of them tonight. We notice a new woman who looks familiar to us; upon closer observation we realize she is Half Naked Woman. She visited our fire circle at Peoples Plaza one evening in the summer. She was really drunk and wearing a long skirt with a slit that went all the way up to her waist; she wasn’t wearing any underwear either. To top it off, she was crawling all over every man she could find and making them very uncomfortable. It’s hard to believe that the woman we see before us is actually the Half Naked One. Tonight she is all bundled up like the rest of the Anons; she’s calm and talking like a so called normal person.
The Occupier, who is a single parent and a college student too, brought his youngest son along with him this evening. As we’ve been talking, the boy has been eating hot dogs and playing with a cell phone. Now his father says to him, “You have political ideas too, don’t you? Why don’t you tell my friends some of them?”
The boy rolls his eyes then reports, “I think there should be accurate labeling on food and I think they should serve us better food for our school lunch”. His father says, “I’d better take off now; he has to go to school in the morning”.
We think it’s time for the rest of us to go home too. This cold weather makes us long to wrap up in warm blankets and hibernate until spring. Unfortunately, we can’t do that because the 1% has no intention of hibernating. We need to be ‘woke’.
The weather people say the temperature will be in the 40s next Tuesday; they also say it will be raining. We’ll probably be back here at Coney Island.

G.A. Minutes 10-31-17

G.A. Minutes 10-31-17
Winter is trying to stick its mean, ugly head into our city. Late into the night last Thursday winter snuck in while most of Duluth’s citizens were sound asleep in their beds. It left 5 or 6 inches of heavy, wet snow behind.
We don’t think that was very funny. About 80% of the snow has melted by now but the temperature hasn’t been out of the 30s since then. It’s way too soon for all this to be happening; some of the leaves on the trees are still green. We still want to have a couple more fires before packing it up until spring. It’s not fair…..
We’re at Coney Island this evening; the temperature was 30 degrees at 6pm. Our fire pit isn’t big enough to actually keep people warm at temperatures below 30. So here we are.
This Coney Island is rather strange; not at all like the old Coney Island. It looks like a gigantic ice cream parlor from the 50s; the booths are small but they don’t care how many tables we push together in order to accommodate everyone. Oh wait…both Coney Islands have, or had, hot dogs. Unfortunately we’re not particularly looking for hot dogs. They don’t have hipsters and street people constantly running in and out and they don’t have a good sound system with great music playing. However, it’s what we’re stuck with for now. We don’t have a lot of spare time to go hunting for another place that has low prices, feels comfortable and has staff people who are non-judgmental. If someone were to know of such a place; it would be nice if they’d let us know.
So a few Occupiers are sitting in a booth waiting to see if others will show up. We know a few of us are at choir practice, another is studying for his mid-terms. An Occupier tells the others, “We had a pretty good meeting with Mayor Larson yesterday. It was myself and two other organizers representing the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition Bathroom Committee (pretty fancy title, don’t you think?). The mayor and a person from Parks N Rec were representing the City.
“The City is acting like they know that the HPB of R is gonna be passed by the City Council so they want to get a head start on the ‘entitled to 24/7 use of public hygiene facilities” right. The Parks N Rec woman made a big map of all the suitable for porta-potty placement areas. At the last meeting, we gave them our map of potential placement areas that we picked after consulting with lots of actual homeless people. The City’s map and our map overlapped quite a bit.
“On Thursday, November 2nd, 5:30p-7:30p at the Central Hillside Community Center, we’re going to hold an event for homeless people. We’ll have free food and hold a discussion about the HPB of R again and show folks both the maps. We’ll be asking for their input one more time. It appears that the HPB of R Ordinance will become a reality before the new City Council members take their seats at the end of January. I sure hope so; we’ve been working on this thing for four flippin’ years”.
Changing the subject, another Occupier comments, “I hear that some folks are pushing Enbridge to change the route of Line 3”. An Occupier replies, “As far as I’m concerned, we don’t want their pollutin’ ass pipeline anywhere in our state; anywhere in the world actually. Anyway, I doubt Enbridge is even considering changing the route. They’re so used to being given everything they want; this Water Protector thing is really giving them fits. It remains to be seen whether they’ll be able to use the old tried and true method of having the police and military beat everyone’s heads in. We really don’t know yet but we do know this is Minnesota, not North Dakota. I really admire the Native young bloods and their allies for putting their bodies and lives on the line to save our sacred water”.
Someone else says, “Speaking of Water Protectors, we finally have a new load of wood; we have it all stacked and everything. We filled up the trailer with some of it and want to bring it out to Makwa (bear) Line 3 Resistance Camp; but the weather’s been so bad on the days we’ve had available to go there that we haven’t been able to get it to them. We’re gonna try again on Sunday”.
A fairly large group of folks from Anonymous walk through the door. They are well bundled up against the cold. They push a couple tables up to our booth; most of them order chocolate malts. They’re trying to raise funds for gas so they can all go down to the annual Million Mask March in The Cities on November 5th. An Occupier gives them a small donation.
An Anon, who we don’t see often, asks us, “Do you have any idea what happened to All Nations and its director? The director is a really good person; I consider him a friend but I don’t know what happened to him”.
We tell the guy the sad story about how The Director chastised two of his staff members because they had not taken care of their assigned duties while The Director was out of town. Because these staff members neglected their duties, a man lost custody of his children and will not be allowed to have contact with them until they turn eighteen. A person lost their housing and a young woman who was trying to leave town in order to escape domestic violence was left to fend for herself. Anyway, the staff members wanted revenge for being chastised so they pulled a few strings here and there and then informed The Director that the All Nations Board of Directors had fired him from his job.
We tell the Anon that the Director was crushed; he created All Nations and worked his butt off for six years in order to keep it going. We were hoping he would stay and fight for his job but he decided to leave town instead. He’s down south with some of his family.
The Anon asks, “Do you think he will ever come back here?” An Occupier opines, “Yes, I think he’ll come back someday; his immediate family is still here but he has many irons in the fire down where he’s at now. We’ll just have to wait until he’s ready to return”.
Another Anon exclaims, “Oh, so that’s why you guys avoid working with the couple who is trying to set up the Maii’gan (wolf) Line 3 Camp!?” An Occupier agrees, “Yeah, that’s about it in a nutshell. It’s a character issue. We prefer to work with organizers of good character. We think that may be lacking in the leaders of that camp.
The Anons are ready to go off again. They plan to put flyers about No Line 3 all around. We say our goodbyes and hope they will be able to fundraise enough gas money so they can all go down to the Million Mask March.
An Occupier asks, “Have you guys heard about a Makwa Line 3 Resistance Camp event that one of our friends is trying to organize. It’s supposed to be a fundraiser for the Camp. Water Protectors who are currently living in the Camp will be at the event to explain to folks what they are doing. Our friend is planning the event for November 11th at the CHCC”.
Another Occupier responds, “No, I hadn’t heard about that event; I’m going to reserve November 11th on my calendar and hope it actually happens. Maybe we can help him with the event”.
The Occupier who reports things reports, “Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance is going to have another Anishinaabe Fry Bread Taco Sale at the Washington Center on Friday and of course, they need our help. Everyone agrees to help.
The place is empty except for the Occupiers and one customer at the counter. A man comes in with a small child who is dressed up to look like a hotdog. We think the man must be friends with the staff guys. The child is very young and doesn’t appear to know where he is or why he is there. We think he doesn’t know that tonight is Halloween or why he is dressed as a hotdog. The child is handling it well though. Unfortunately, no one has any candy to give to Hotdog Child.
On that note, we think it’s time to go. It sure would be nice if we could go to Peoples Plaza next Tuesday. We’ll just have to wait and see. If the Plaza is a no go, we’ll be back at Coney Island on the aforementioned Tuesday.