G.A. Minutes 2-13-18
There are actually 6 or 7 customers when the first Occupiers arrive at Coney Island this evening. This is a big deal because we haven’t seen that many customers in the place during an entire evening any other time since we started meeting here in late October.
We want there to be customers during our weekly visits because that’s what will convince the owner to keep his eatery open on Tuesday evenings. If the owner were to close early during the winter, we’d be pretty well screwed. Finding a somewhat comfortable space in the Central Hillside that is open to the public, not too hard on our very limited budgets and where they won’t call the cops if we stay longer than a half an hour is no easy feat. We know because we’ve been looking for such a place for about 6 years.
Ideally, the place would be free, have good music on the sound system, palm trees, excellent organic food and a well-paid, happy staff who were members of a restaurant co-op or very progressive union. We found a place like that a few years ago, it was called Jefferson Peoples House but it closed after not very long. It wasn’t free and didn’t have palm trees but all the rest of the stuff was there.
JPH was run by a group of young people most of whom lived in the same communal house and took turns staffing the coffee house after they finished working their other jobs that paid their bills. The young people just worked for tips in order to keep the place afloat. JPH had a mellow revolutionary atmosphere; the staff would listen to our discussions and chime in when they could. We think it closed because it was located a little over east from our Hillside and that made it difficult to access for Central Hillside folks who didn’t own cars. The co-op workers never did get enough customers to make it possible to just break even. It would be nice if some people would try doing something like JPH again. No, not the Occupiers…….don’t even go there.
Anyway, we find a booth next to a couple of empty tables and start settling in. We need to wait a while before ordering food or drinks because the front counter is busy with the other customers who are placing their orders.
We don’t expect many Occupiers or members of the Anonymous crew to join us tonight; today was a very busy day for all of us. The 2 Occupiers and the man from Makwa (Bear) Line 3 Resistance Camp had their pre-trial hearing today. A pre-trial rally was held for them at noon in front of the St Louis County Court House. The annual March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and in Support of the Lifegivers was held today, also at noon.
One of the Occupiers is one of the people who were arrested for chaining themselves to a Wells Fargo entry gate several weeks ago; he tells us, “I was surprised at the large number of folks who attended our pre-trial rally. When the court came back into session we went in and all entered pleas of not guilty. Our next court date is April 11th. I then caught up with the Indigenous Women’s March. By the time I found them there were only a few Indigenous women marching with a good sized group of Anons. They marched all over the place. They were still marching when I went home for dinner”.
An Occupier who has been unable to make our meetings for several weeks asks, “So what are you charged with?” The Occupier/Water Protector responds, “Obstruction and trespassing”. Another Occupier exclaims, “How can you be charged with trespassing when you were all chained to the gate but were sitting inside the skywalk which is public property?!?” The responding Occupier says, “That’s a good question. I’ll have to ask one of our pro-bono attorneys”.
The Occupier who has missed meetings inquires, “So I guess you all are gonna use the necessity defense, right? Isn’t that where a defendant admits that they may have committed an offense but they were compelled to do it in order to prevent an even greater offense that was happening or about to happen?” The innocent until proven guilty (or so The Man tries to tell us) Occupier agrees and the inquiring Occupier continues, “Does anyone know if that defense has ever been successful in the past?”
Another Occupier replies, “I don’t remember the details but I know that some Water Protectors used it fairly recently and won their case”. An Occupier looks at his cell phone and reports, “The necessity defense has been used many times over the years but very few defendants were victorious. Among the few cases that ended in acquittal was the case of a woman who was being battered by her drunken husband. She had been drinking too but jumped in the family car and drove away in order to avoid further battering and possibly death. The police stopped her and when she went to court she used that defense, explained her reasoning and was found not guilty. The Occupier/Water Protector opines, “Everyone has to just keep using the necessity defense when protecting Mother Earth and her children until the courts start looking at it as normal”.
An Occupier comments, “I was listening to the City Council meeting on KUMD last night when I heard a bunch of people speaking in support of the nibi (water) and the manoomin (wild rice) and against the Polymet sulfide mine. I didn’t even know the topic was going to be presented last night. I’m sorry I wasn’t there”. The Occupier/Water Protector tells her, “It really didn’t matter because the place was totally packed. All the seats in the chamber were full and lots more folks were filling the hallway. I didn’t hear about it until my attorney told me; it was a more middle class crowd than we generally hang around with”. The listening Occupier answers, “Oh cool, it’s great when we don’t have to do everything ourselves”.
An Occupier says to the radio listening Occupier, “Hey, you’re a smoker and you smoke menthols; what did you think of the City Council’s vote to ban menthol cigarette sales except for in tobacco shops?” The smoking Occupier explains, “I buy my smokes over in WI where they’re cheaper so it doesn’t affect me personally but I guess I’m an expert on the subject. I didn’t think the day would ever come when I would agree with Councilor Fosle on anything but I do. The supporters of the ban say they presented the ordinance in order to prevent young people from beginning to smoke. They say that young ones are attracted to smoking menthol. That may or may not be true but I don’t think the ban will achieve its stated goal. Kids already can’t buy cigarettes so they ask their slightly older friends to get cigarettes for them. If they want menthol then that’s what they’ll ask for. Also, all the convenience store owners are really pissed but the tobacco shop owners are dancing in the aisles. I bet there will be some more tobacco shops opening in our city within the next year”. After her words, all the smokers go out for a smoke break.
When they return, someone remarks, “So are we still down with helping out at Skip Sandman’s NDN Taco Sale Fundraiser at AICHO from 10am-2pm on Friday, February 23rd? We are all down. Someone else sighs, “There are so many things going on Friday the 23rd; I’m gonna have to choose just a few. There’s the taco sale then the Standup for Immigrant Rights demo at Lake and Superior at 4:30p and Socialist Pizza 6:30p at Luce’.
“Also, the NAACP is having a Groundwork of the Revolution Freedom Fund Dinner at Clyde Iron at 6p. The tickets are $60 a piece but they have some free or reduced fee tickets for people like us”. An Occupier opines, “Well I think I’ll go to Socialist Pizza; I don’t really like dressing up so if I don’t go to the NAACP dinner maybe someone else who likes dressing up will be able to go in my place”. A few of the Occupiers do like to dress up; maybe they’ll go to the dinner.
All the other customers are gone and the place looks very clean. We take the hint and head for the door. We plan to be back here next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 2-13-18