G.A. Minutes 7-17-18
The temperatures this past week have been elevated beyond what most folks living in the Great White North are able to handle. Everyday they’ve been in the high 80s or greater with night time lows in the 60s. Today we’ve been given a reprieve; the temperature remained in the 70s all day and overnight lows are predicted to be in the 50s. This is good; we need a break.
When the first Occupiers arrive at Peoples Plaza and drive their cars up on the sidewalk (because the big trees in planters are STILL blocking the entrance) one of the Occupiers laughs and comments, “I’m guessing we will get a lot of people visiting tonight seeing as this cooler air makes life tolerable for actual human beings”.
The big Native guy from the Anonymous crew is waiting; another Occupier rolls up just as the first Occupiers and the big Anon start to unload. We choose the same space in the middle of the Plaza that we used last week. Setting up the fire circle is quick and smooth. Just as we are finishing, a large group of Anons, Occupiers and street folks arrive. An Anon who is also a bad ass Water Protector from the Fond du Lac Reservation contributes all the fixin’s for s’mores. They will work perfectly for a dessert after finishing the PB+J sandwiches, pickles, chips, cookies, homemade potato salad, apple juice and whole bean coffee that the Occupiers have donated.
Just as everyone has their food and is taking a seat in the circle a Duluth Police Officer, who we have not met in the past, rides up on his bike. He surveys the area then says in a friendly tone, “Are you gonna light that fire?” We say, “Yes, just as soon as the sun goes behind the buildings across the street”. The cop answers, “Have a good night” and rides off. The sun goes behind the buildings and the Fire Magician lights the fire.
An Occupier says to one of the Occupier/Water Protectors, “So when is your actual trial?” An Occupier/Water Protector replies, “October 10th at 9am” The questioning Occupier exclaims, “I was so amazed and pleasantly surprised to hear that the court accepted your ‘necessity defense’. That is a miracle!” The real Ogichidaa (warrior) responds, “Yeah, we were all pretty surprised too. It’s still rare the courts will accept that completely legitimate defense. The judge said he was well aware that climate change is real and life threatening but he needs us to show how doing a lockdown on the front gates of Wells Fargo is connected”. Another Occupier opines, “Hell, that shouldn’t be at all hard to prove. Wells Fargo and all the other big banks are up to their necks in earth destroying investments. The reason for choosing Wells Fargo for our action was because it’s easily accessible at its downtown location and it’s entrance way is easily accessible too. Kind of a no-brainer, huh?” We all say, “For real” and pledge to attend the early morning trial in October.
The Anons get their signs and supplies ready to go out to the protest corner; tonight they are demonstrating to Abolish Ice. ICE stands for Immigration and Customs Enforcement. ICE attempts to kill or beat up and imprison brown skinned people who come from the south of the so called American continent. The south of the border people come to the USA in search of safety and/or a very low paying job. A few of them come seeking liberty and justice for all (good luck with that).
The Gardener arrives; he has a bunch of little fliers announcing the Anon’s event, “Bring The Noise Peoples Parade and Banner Drop”. The event is scheduled to take place on Friday, July 27th,4pm at Peoples Plaza. We all hope to attend.
A street friend informs, “Hey, did you guys hear that someone has purchased the 4th Street Market?” An Occupier exclaims, “No kidding? That is so wonderful! Living in a food desert really sucks; the only place to buy real food is at the Whole Foods Co-op next to the Ghetto Spur. Most folks in the hood can’t afford to go there”. Another Occupier adds, “I read that it was AICHO (American Indian Community Housing) that bought the 4th St Market building. Since they opened that high quality art gallery in their housing building they’ve been receiving a lot of attention, better funding too, I guess”. The street friend comments, “I sure hope they use the building for a grocery store. That would be really serving the community”. We all agree.
One of the neighborhood schizophrenic dudes is hanging around the outer edges of our circle as he does from time to time; he’s pretty much a fixture on the streets of the lower Central Hillside. Most people are kind of afraid of him because he has a really strong case of the illness; the fact that he looks like one of the old Furry Freak Brothers from the 60s doesn’t help either. We’d offer him a cup of coffee or something but even something as simple as that appears to be beyond his human interaction skill set. He’s not operating on all cylinders tonight; he stands perfectly still, staring straight ahead. He then yells some unintelligible things, throws his arms and fists into the air, flailing them about, throws himself on the ground, rolls around for awhile, jumps back up, stands still and starts all over again. No one has ever heard of him actually being violent toward anyone so we just let him be.
The schizophrenic dude who lives in the Skinner Apts takes a seat. He’s been attending our fires for many years and he’s always pleasant and kind. He doesn’t follow conversation very well but when he does speak up his words are coherent. We figure he must have a mild case of the illness or he’s compliant with his medication regime…. whatever. The Skinner dude has been around so long that we feel like we kinda know him. This evening his behavior is a little different; he’s drunk but that’s nothing new, he’s displaying an attitude that seems a little aggressive and angry…..Weird…..Anyway, he’s brought a big bag of Chinese restaurant food and puts it out for everyone to help themselves; a lot of people do so.
It looks like Skinner Man is rolling with the old school skateboarder guy. The skateboarder guy is so seriously drunk that he has even lost his skateboard. The two of them sit very close together, talking softly. The bare chested Skater Man pulls out a bottle of alcohol from somewhere and prepares to take a swig; an Occupier says firmly, “No man you can’t do that here, we don’t take drugs or use alcohol in the circle; that causes trouble and brings on the cops”. Another Occupier adds, “Dude, you Native, you know the score. You gotta take that shit outa the circle”. The two drunk friends stumble off together towards the east benches. As they are leaving, we hear Skinner Man tell Skater Man, “Hey, what’s wrong with you? Don’t go diggin’ in my bag and helping yourself”.
Chicago Man appears; he tells us that one of his uncles just died. Mr Windy City takes some food then sits and tells us about his family. One of the occasional Anons is stringing a long, industrial type extension cord from the back of the Plaza all the way to the chair he is sitting on in the circle. Some of us casually watch him do this; when he finally finishes, he plugs the cord into something that connects to his cell phone and then he starts playing video games. Oh well…..Ya gotta do what ya gotta do.
As the sky darkens, the bike cop rides in again, he asks, “Everybody alright here?” We say, “We sure are” and he rides away. An Occupier comments, “Why is he here?” Another Occupier answers, “They always do that. This one is a new guy so he’s probably a little scared or worried or something about us. They want us to believe that even though they may not be physically here, their power is ever present”.
After the cop leaves us, he rides over to the Plaza’s east side and finds Skater Man lying flat out on the cement ledge. Skater Man, with an assist from the cop, attempts to stand and walk but ends up face down on the Plaza floor. Somebody from our fire goes over to see what’s happening; he returns saying, “Skater Man is asking to be taken to the hospital”. More squads and an ambulance drive up. We turn our attention back to the fire because we’re pretty sure that incapacitated guy will just be taken to the hospital. There are a lot of people in the Plaza and on the street who are watching and besides, the cops can’t do anything worse to Skater Man than he hasn’t already done to himself. Once the dust has settled, we observe someone assisting Skinner Man in walking down the stairs and up the hill to Skinner Man’s apartment.
An Occupier reports to the others, “I went to the Human Rights Commission last week and told them about our dilemma with the entrance to the Plaza being blocked so we can’t get our vehicles in, so we can unload. The Commissioners were thinking of ideas as to how they could help us when the Human Rights Officer suggested, ‘I’m guessing that what has happened is the the person who was the building maintenance manager has retired and there’s another person in that position. Let me make a few calls and see what I can find out.’ So that’s where things stand now; I’ll give him a week or so then ask if he’s been able to find out what’s up”.
The FDL Water Protector comes off the corner and joins the circle. She and the big Anon tease each other and tell jokes. The Water Protector tells us about her work out on the rez with Natives Against Heroin. She speaks a bit about her life too; she’s a very good storyteller.
The rest of the Anons come down off the corner and into the circle; all the chairs are taken so some are sitting on the ground. The beloved mother of a couple of the Anons turns up. She’s come to give them, their music speakers, and their signs a ride home.
We figure that’s as good a cue as any; some of the occasional Anons offer to stay and help us pack up. When the food bringing Occupier goes to clean up the food stuff, she laughs, “OMG, there is not even a crumb or a drop of food left. Everything has been eaten. Cool”.
After everything has been packed up, an Occupier and an occasional Anon stand talking. When the Anon turns to leave he says, “Gi-ga wabamin! She calls back, “Gi-ga wabamin!” There’s a spiritual aspect to the phrase but basically it means “See you later”. Actually, we’ll see each other at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.