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.