G. A. Minutes 3-20-18

Today is the first day of spring. Yeah right….. around here that statement is considered to be a joke. The official first day of spring aka the Spring Equinox never brings weather that is even remotely spring like. This evening the sky is overcast, temperatures are in the mid-20s but a strong east wind makes it feel like it’s slightly below zero.

With climate change kicking in, we have no idea what to expect but we think it will at least get warmer soon and all the growing things will turn green and start growing again. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if what the man made weather alterations gave the Twin Ports area was an endless winter? Hey, wait a minute…..that’s not even funny. Forget I said that.

Coney Island has only 3 customers when the first Occupiers arrive. The customers consist of a young man, who we vaguely recognize, and his 2 young sons or little brothers. The staff guys appear happy to see us; probably because they know more people will show up to join us.

Speaking of more people, a few of the Anonymous crew arrive. They’re going to hold another Line 3 Resistance Rally on this upcoming Friday. They plan to meet up and rally on the corner of Lake Ave and Superior St at 1pm; then march down to Wells Fargo and US Bank and see how much trouble they can make without getting arrested. Some of the Occupiers hope to join them.

An Occupier announces, “Natives Against Heroin will be having another Fire Teaching on Saturday, March 24th, 2pm at the Central Hillside Community Center. I really enjoyed the last one so am gonna be sure to attend this next one too”.

Some of the Occupiers attended the memorial service for Ms. Community Cleanup held last Sunday at AICHO. An Occupier tells those who were unable to attend, “I went over around 4pm, figuring that things would have wound down by then and there wouldn’t be many people there anymore. I was wrong; the place was still packed. I swear that every homeless and/or street person in the entire Central Hillside was there. Many asked when we’re gonna start up our fire again. I just told them we’d start as soon as the weather got warm enough to allow us to be comfortable sitting in the circle”.

Another Occupier opines, “I was glad to see that Ms Cleanup’s partner was there; he looked kinda like a deer blinded by headlights but then he’s looked like that many other times . Someone sighs, “I sure do miss her; when she wasn’t drinking she was the sweetest person I knew”. We all agree.

An Anon comments, “I wonder when our organizer friend is going to have another fundraiser for Makwa Line 3 Resistance Camp. Maybe we could hold one ourselves and call it Pow Wows Not Pipelines? An Occupier laughs and replies, “Our friend said the food fundraisers were canceled until further notice, whatever that means. We probably could hold one ourselves but calling it anything to do with Pow Wows would not be a good idea. We’re a bunch of white people who have no business even thinking about holding a Pow Wow.

“Those types of gatherings, I don’t know if they were called Pow Wows in olden times, were an important part of Native culture for thousands of years before European settlers came over and ruined everything. Now days, a Pow Wow requires a shit load of money, almost a year of advance planing and a huge crew of paid staff to get everything done. That’s why they’re usually sponsored by the so called tribal governments. I do think we could ask our friend if he’d be willing to do another fundraiser and we could help him. I also think we need to make time to get out to Makwa again and see how things are going”. Most of us are interested in holding another fundraiser; all of us want to go out to Makwa again.

An Occupier remarks, “It looked like the fundraiser/ spaghetti dinner for Honor the Earth this past Friday at Peace Church was a success. We (nods toward her partner) got there at the tail end when the food was almost gone. You all (nods toward other Occupiers) were already there. I noticed that the donations basket on the table was overflowing with money. Seeing as most of the actual customers were gone, it was nice to just kick back with you and all the other usual suspects”.

The staff guys have a TV up on the wall in the back of the restaurant. It’s tuned to some channel that is broadcasting some type of annual Republican dinner. It looks like He Who Shall Not Be Named is the featured speaker. Fortunately, the sound has been turned off so we don’t have to actually hear his bs. An Occupier asks, “I wonder what they’re having for dinner?” Another Occupier snorts, “Probably roast immigrants and white rhino pudding”.

The Occupier who is a college student says, “I have to write a big paper for my Masters program; I hope you guys will help me. My thesis seeks to explain how poverty causes increased environmental pollution. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be bringing my recording materials to our meetings and hoping we can discuss my ideas and whatever ideas you all may have”. We say, “Sounds like a plan”.

An Occupier asks the Occupier who likes to reports things, “So what else is going on this week?” She reports, “Well, a bunch of the big Water Protector NGOs are sponsoring a party with several live bands at the Red Herring on Thursday, March 22nd, 6:30p-9p. I’m sure there will be a suggested donation. Then on Friday is the big Anon Divest Rally, Saturday will be the Fire Teachings at 2pm and then a group called March for Our Lives is sponsoring a march about gun control that will leave from the old Central H.S. on E 3rd St at 5:30pm. On Monday the Human Rights Commission will hold their yearly forum, 5:30p at AICHO. The HRC will be providing a free simple dinner for everyone who attends and the event is open to the general public”.

The Occupier who is a single parent laments, “This gun control thing has me confused. I know we need a way to keep crazed white supremacists from killing innocent people but I also think we’re gonna need our guns to fight the revolution. I’m not sure what the answer is”.

We all agree that gun control is a very important issue that warrants further discussion but it’s almost 8pm and the staff guys are cleaning everything so instead of starting a serious conversation we all get silly instead. We start making up various scenarios about guns i.e. a gun that when the owner points it at someone and hollers, ‘Freeze!’ the person who was getting hollered at would freeze solid and so would the gun owner. After a while all gun owners would be frozen solid and the rest of us could get down to the business of creating a better world where all could live in peace and harmony.

The staff guys are looking at us with an expression that says, “We know you all are f’ing nuts but we love you anyway”. We want them to continue to love us so we pack up, leave tips and head on out into the cold. We expect to be back here next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-13-18

G.A. Minutes 3-13-18

It may just be wishful thinking but we believe we’ve seen a few subtle signs of the beginning of spring this past week i.e. the sun crossing higher in the sky, the big snow piles slowly melting and getting smaller, little patches of exposed earth here and there, an occasional crawling bug making its presence known and people’s pets beginning to shed their fur. We take all this to mean winter may be on its way out. Good riddance to ya!

Tonight when the first Occupiers and Anonymous crew roll up to Coney Island there is still light in the sky. The temperature is in the high 30s without any wind. Sweet… guess we won’t have to freeze our asses off when taking a smoke break.

As we settle in, an Occupier asks, “Did anyone make it to the COW (Committee of the Whole) last night?” Another Occupier answers, “Yeah, I was there as were quite a few others from the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition. We had a good meal out on the steps of City Hall and then went in for the presentation of the HPB of R to the City Council. Technically speaking, our HPB of R was given to the Human Rights Commission a month or two ago; they unanimously approved it and then passed it on to City Council at last night’s COW.

“We’re pretty sure we already have more than enough Council votes to pass the Bill as a City Ordinance; the only hold up now is the City Attorney. He is tasked with turning the language of the Bill into proper legalese. As usual, when things have anything to do with the rights of regular people, the City is worried about getting sued. We think getting sued is pretty much a non-issue because we can’t even get homeless and street people to file a complaint with the Citizens Review Board or the HRC when their rights have been seriously violated. If the City and the Duluth Police Department train their employees to show homeless and street folks the same respect they show to everyone else there should very few problems.

“However, the City Attorney has the final say about what is considered to be legal in relation to City Legislative Codes and such. He doesn’t want the HPB of R to stand on its own as a new ordinance; he wants to fit all the 11 rights into various City ordinances that already exist. Of course, that will take a lot of research and more time too. The HPB of R Coalition is not happy about that and our spokespeople have made it clear to the City administration that we have already been jumping through their hoops for the last 5 years. We are not willing to wait even another half a year for the Bill to be presented to the City Council for a vote. If the work isn’t done right away, we may have to use “alternative methods”.

“Just between us, the City Attorney is supposed to be completely neutral concerning political issues; he’s just supposed to advise the administration and the citizens about what is legal and what is not. Unfortunately, the City Attorney for Duluth has made it clear over the years that he doesn’t want there to be an HPB of R in Duluth….ever. We think his new requirements are stall tactics. He hopes that we’ll be disheartened and give up.

“This City Attorney was appointed by the former mayor, Don Ness. The Ness administration was totally uninterested in anything having to do with homeless or poor people. Ness has another big job making lots of money now but I can’t remember what it is.

“Anyway, Ness and all his buddies are from the privileged and spoiled fraternity boy world. Their main concerns are investments and making money, tourism and making money, big business and making money and bike and hiking trails and somehow making money from that too. When he was mayor, Don Ness was quoted as saying homelessness was just a “side issue”. It was evident that his administration wanted homeless and poor people to just ‘go away’ to some place where privileged people would never have to see them. It appears the current City Attorney feels the same way. You’d think they’d realize that we’ve already hung in for 5 years so won’t be ‘going away’”. An Anon remarks, “Gee, I noticed that Don Ness and the City Attorney weren’t too skittish about having a very expensive lawsuit against the Fond du Lac Band and our downtown casino even though they were certain to lose”.

Another Occupier adds, “That sucks! Hang in there, you know we’ve got your back. Last night I was listening on KUMD to the City Council meeting that took place after the COW so I got to hear Councilor Fosle make a fool of himself again”. Some of us laugh while others look puzzled. The Occupier explains, “They were having the first reading of the proposed Earned Safe and Sick Time Ordinance; a woman was speaking about her experience of being pregnant when she was only 19 years old. She was having a few health problems but didn’t get PTO time at her job and couldn’t afford to take unpaid time off so continued showing up for work; she ended up having a miscarriage.

“So Fosle tells her, ‘You should have thought about that before you became pregnant. It’s a matter of the choices you make’. I could hear the gasps and groans from the audience even though I was listening on the radio. Fosle is going to get a lot of flak about that ignorant comment for a long time to come”.
Someone adds, “Yeah, like there’s no such thing as an unintended pregnancy and only people who have big, glorious jobs are entitled to have a family or a life”.

The Anons report that their Line 3 Resistance Rally last Friday was quite successful. An Anon tells us, “A lot of people showed up; we basically just bounced back and forth between the 2 big banks playing our music and handing out fliers. As usual, a lot of cops showed up. We joked back and forth with some of them; we’ve noticed that as long as we don’t get too physically close to them; some of them actually treat us like we might be human beings”.

A few of the Occupiers attended Ishkode (fire) Teachings last Saturday at the Central Hillside Community Center. An Occupier comments, “It was nice and intimate; only about 7 or 8 people showed up. Skip lit the fire, we all put asema (tobacco) in the fire and said a prayer then we sat in the fire circle and listened to Skip tell the story of how the Raven/Crow gave fire to the Anishinaabe people. As it started to get colder, we went inside and just kicked it, talking about what it’s like to be addicted to hard drugs or to have a family member and/or loved one who is an addict.

“They’re going to start having a sweat lodge pretty soon. The plan is to attract neighborhood addicts that would like to go into a sweat. There are a lot of Native and other people who are addicts and would like to quit but the standard capitalist, white people and/or Christian treatment options just don’t work for them. Many people find the indigenous ways to be more effective”.

An Occupier says to another, “Did you find out what is up with the Sacred Fires going out?” The questioned Occupier responds, “Yeah, kinda. It didn’t happen at Makwa (bear) Camp; it was another camp. I’m told that there was only 1 person left in charge of the Sacred Fire; tending a Sacred Fire is a 24/7 job. One person cannot possibly tend the fire all by themselves so when it would go out, they would just relight it. That is a major no-no. I think that maybe the people who are leading that camp don’t really know what they are doing”.

Another Occupier queries, “I hear there was also something going on out at Makwa too?” An Anon groans, “Oh, that was just some silly shit. Someone called the police and said that the Water Protectors at Makwa had an assault rifle. The Cloquet police and the FDL police came roaring up; there were about 12 cop cars. It turns out that the guy who owns the camp land also owns some type of hunting rifle. He probably has had it for a long time because he used to live there kinda deep in the woods all by himself. Anyway, it’s been a long winter and living out there at camp makes it seem like it REALLY is never gonna be over. After the cops left, a few of the Water Protectors were crabby. No big deal; it’s all blown over now”.

The Occupier who likes to report things, reports, “Honor the Earth is sponsoring a Line 3 Resistance Spaghetti Dinner, Friday, March 16th from 6p-9p at Peace Church (1111 11th Ave E) and Superior Save the Kids and Ex-Prisoners Organizing are having a No DPD Riot Gear rally this Saturday the 17th 5p-6p down at Lake Ave+Superior St”. We all plan to attend these events.

The clock says it’s 3 minutes til closing time; as we pack up an Anon asks an Occupier, “Do you have time to help us get that mattress?” The Occupier replies, “Sure, now would be a good time”. One of the Occupier couples has a mattress that needs a home; one of the Anons has a new home that needs a mattress. Funny how things work out sometimes. So, after packing up and bidding everyone good night, most of the crew goes home; the rest go off to haul a mattress up the hill.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-6-18

G.A. Minutes 3-6-18
The city of Duluth Mn dodged a bullet yesterday. A big snow storm was moving northwest (really); it pretty much covered the whole state. We were prepared to get a ton of snow dumped on us again but the whole storm passed about 10 or 15 miles south of us. There was some very strong east wind but not any snow. Whew! We’ve already accrued all the snow that we need this winter and are hoping to just slide peacefully into the beginning of spring in a month or so. It could happen.

So this evening as the Occupiers roll into Coney Island, the weather is a little chilly with temperatures in the low 20s and remnants of the cold east wind. At least no one had to wear their winter boots tonight. We can handle this; we all have homes. Our unsheltered homeless ones…..that’s another story.

This evening there are a few Anons and our friend the socialist, feminist organizer waiting for us when we arrive (slightly late). After we move some tables around, our friend the organizer reports, “Socialist Action will be sponsoring the Women’s March this year. It will be on Thursday, March 8th of course, 5:30pm starting from Peoples Plaza.

“Also, the location of the Socialist Pizza gathering, 6”30pm on every last Friday of the month has been changed to the Building for Women on 1st Ave E + E 1st St. The group has just become too big to fit into Luce’ so we’ll just meet at the BW and order pizza to be delivered. S.A. is planning on holding an Earth Day Rally too on Sunday, April 22nd. I don’t have any details yet but I will have them soon”.

An Occupier remarks, “I’m so glad you stopped in tonight. We don’t get to see you as often as we’d like and you’ve given us some good information; we’re totally down with supporting and participating in all the the events”.

The Anons agree; they’re also psyching up for their Line 3 Resistance rally and march this upcoming Friday, starting around 1pm at Peoples Plaza. An Anon mentions, “A lot of people have told us they’re gonna join us. Peeps from out of town have promised to step up too. Of course, we’ll go bother the big banks again; their customers need to realize what the money they put in these banks is being invested in. The customers probably work really hard for the money they earn and deposit in Wells Fargo and US Bank. Many of them don’t want to work in order to pay for earth destroying ventures that companies like Enbridge create. We’re just trying to get the word out”.

An Occupier says,”I just heard a little while ago that 2 Sacred Fires went out somewhere around here. That’s all I know right now; I’m guessing it had to be at one of the Line 3 Resistance Camps. Does anyone know more?” A few of the Anons have been given the same information but no one knows anything further. Someone comments, “Well, being a white person, I’m not completely knowledgeable when it comes to Native ways but I believe having or letting a Sacred Fire go out is not good. It has something to do with losing one’s power I think”.

Another Occupier announces, “Do you all know that Natives Against Heroin are going to do Ishkode (fire) teachings this upcoming Saturday, 2pm at the Central Hillside Community Center? An Occupier replies, “No, I didn’t know that. I’m sure it will be interesting and if it’s anything like the opening event NAH held a couple of weeks ago, it will be packed”. Many of us plan to attend.

An Occupier says to another, “So how you feeling these days?” The questioned Occupier tells him, “The surgery was pretty creepy and then I slept for a day and a half. After that I was still tired for days but I tried to get a few things accomplished between naps. Tonight is my first time out of the house; I feel pretty much back to normal now. I suppose you noticed I didn’t put out any minutes from last week’s meeting. Another Occupier adds, “No problem, we would have been worried about you if you had put minutes out. You’ve been through a lot so deserve a rest”.

The Occupier who has been through a lot exclaims, “Something truly marvelous happened to me in the midst of all this. A friend of the city official just GAVE me a computer; no strings attached! The friend is getting ready to move across the country and didn’t want to ship his computer. He was thinking of just putting it in a free store but the official man remembered that my computer crashed so hooked me and the computer-giving man up. Now I have a new computer and it works just great! It would have taken me many months to save enough money to buy even a refurbished one. I am a very happy camper”. Another Occupier responds, “I sure miss having the city official at our meetings”. The Occupier with the new computer tells him, “Yeah, me too but he’s busy with his radio show and lots of other good things”.

An Occupier laughs and tells us, “I somehow got into an argument with some woman on Facebook. She was telling me that cobalt is a very rare metal. It’s mandatory for the creation of cell phones, computers and stuff like that. She said that MN has a lot of cobalt up north where Polymet wants to open a sulfide mine. She tried to tell me that it was o.k. to let Polymet destroy our precious clean water and manoomin beds because at least they will pay all the miners up north a living wage to work the mine. She said otherwise the mining companies will continue to get cobalt from African mines where they have child slave workers. I didn’t even know what cobalt was so had to look it up and then I came to this meeting”.

Another Occupier suggests, “I think the Facebook woman’s argument is lame. There is plenty of cobalt in all the old computers and cell phones that just get thrown to the trash heap to rot and pollute the earth for a bazillion years. All those old broken things can get recycled and the cobalt can be reused. The miners can have decent jobs recycling the old stuff and doing other earth sustaining things and the child slaves can just go to school. It just takes a new way of thinking in order to save our Mother Earth”.

The feminist organizer remembers, “Oh, I forgot to mention, the WI legislature is debating a bill that would take 650 million taxpayer dollars and build a new prison”. We all groan; she continues, “Superior Save the Kids and Lake Superior Ex-incarcerated People Organizing are sponsoring a rally against the creation of a new prison next Monday, March 12th at 4:30pm at the corner of Belknap and Hammond Ave in Superior. It’s right next to the Douglas County Court House”.

An Anon is monkeying with his phone; he finds a very clear picture of a Duluth Police Officer and passes it around. He says, “That is a picture of the cop who was really throwing people around at one point during the lockdown at Wells Fargo a couple of weeks ago. He was being cruel; he grabbed me and smashed me into a wall”. An Occupier smiles and replies, “It’s good that you got the full face picture of the cop. I watched that hour long video of the lockdown and the part where the cops got out of line was in it. I have that video and you have that picture. I know I’m always preaching about filing complaints with the Citizens Review Board but every time we let police brutality slide it tells the offending cops that they can do whatever they want. If you want to file a complaint, I’ll be glad to help you”.

Somebody asks, “So what did you think of the Community Meeting About Riot Gear or whatever it was called that we went to last Wednesday?” Everyone is quiet for a bit; then an Occupier opines, “The Duluth News Tribune said that community sentiment was evenly divided but it didn’t look that way to me. I thought a lot of people spoke against supporting the DPD purchasing $125,000 worth of riot gear. SURJ really rocked it with their statistics and analysis about the effect police have on poor people and people of color. Just about all of the people who spoke in favor of riot gear where family members of cops; they had no idea what it’s like to be on the receiving end of what cops do. I think the people are more in danger from the cops than the cops are from the people.

“However, who knows what the DPD is gonna do? If they can’t get it now, they may quietly purchase it next year. Government folks are not to be trusted”.

Another Occupier agrees, “It seems to me that what is really happening with all the nation’s and the world’s police forces getting militarized is that the 1% has stolen so much of the land and resources that there’s not a heck of a lot left to steal. In order to steal the little bit that’s left, the 1% is not gonna be able to allow the so called middle classes to maintain the standard of living that they have been used to. The poor will be made even poorer and then almost all the people will take to the streets. The 1% is trying to get the police force prepared to protect them from the masses. It remains to be seen how many cops will actually kill their own people”.

An Occupier adds, “There will be a shit ton of climate refugees too. You know, climate change, also brought to you by the 1%? I do believe though that if enough people can get their heads together and decide to help one another and to live a different way, the violence and doom will be lessened considerably”. We all hope she is right.

A member of one of the Occupier couples proposes, “I think we should quit early and all go over to our house and relax”. Sounds like a plan. We pack up, tip and say goodnight to the staff guys and head out.

Unless we are blessed with a surprise early spring (don’t count on it) we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.