G.A. Minutes 9-11-18

G.A. Minutes 9-11-18 Apparently it’s summer again, at least for tonight. When the first Occupiers arrive at Peoples Plaza the temperature is in the high 70s; the variable breeze that keeps us comfortable all summer has also returned. Sweet.

After consulting with the Occupier who brings most of the food, the Fire Magician decides to make a fairly good sized fire. That way we’ll still get the pleasure of smelling the smoke and watching the flames; if we make a big circle no one will become overheated.

The only person who is waiting to help the Occupiers upon their arrival is the Native old school skater and occasional Anon dude. He’s not drunk either; we’ve never seen him sober before. He’s a little older than most of the people who ride skateboards but he’s still young enough to easily haul out all the chairs and stuff and to begin setting everything up. Soon another Occupier and several peeps from the Anonymous crew roll up; the whole scene is together in a few minutes.

When we entered the Plaza we noticed a big brown guy with a full head of long, black curly hair yelling loudly at two young women. He screams over and over, “I want my money back!” The two young women just sit there on the east ledge, they don’t appear to be saying anything. The yelling guy doesn’t appear to be fixin’ to hit them; he’s just pacing back and forth hollering about his money. After a while the larger of the two women comes over to our circle and plunks down in one of the chairs; she exclaims, “I don’t havta listen to that shit!” This very blonde and voluptuous young woman has attended many of our fire circles this year. She works the overnight shift at a group home and drops in at Peoples Plaza most evenings before catching the bus to her job. The big brown dude is still yelling at the small young woman who remained listening to him; we’re told that she is his girlfriend. Marvelous. We figure we’ll keep an eye on the guy and if it looks like he’s gonna get violent, we’ll intervene. The chairs in the circle fill up quickly, those filling these chairs include four of the usual Occupiers, an equal amount of Anons, the city official, the tattooed occasional Anon and the Stylish Native Woman and her partner.

The Anons all go out to the protest corner to see if they can get a lot of support from the cars and passersby. The reactions they receive seem to vary from week to week.

An Occupier comments to the city man, “Oh good, I’m glad you stopped by before going down to Carmody’s for your fundraiser”. She gives him a donation from the group.

Street folks begin appearing as soon as the Food Occupier starts putting a few things on the table; she has to ask them to wait until she gets everything put out. There’s a big pot of bean with vegetable soup heating up on the little grill, the table has stay-awake-forever coffee, apple juice, cold water, pickles, chips, cookies, two pans of delicious goulash cooked by an Anon/Water Protector and….. “Oh crap!” says the food bringing Occupier, “I forgot to bring the hard-boiled eggs!”

Another Occupier hops in a vehicle and drives a few blocks up the hill to retrieve them. The very hungry street folks crowd close to the table; as soon as the Food Occupier gives the signal, they absolutely descend on the food. The hotdish is gone in minutes, the rest of the banquet in a few minutes more. In their haste, one of the starving ones knocks the sage and smudge dish to the brick pavement; it shatters into little pieces. The Occupier thinks to herself, “Oh no, I hope it’s not going to be ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS”. One of the Native people in the circle advises, “That broken dish will need to be buried somewhere”. The food Occupier packs up all the pieces and will bury them later in her garden. As for right now, she will have to use the dog water dish for a sage holder. Fortunately, so far this evening, there have been no visitors from the canine world.

Once the famished peeps get their provisions, most go off to the various ledges surrounding the Plaza. Things settle down and the Occupier keeping an eye on the table replenishes most of the food so all the just normally hungry folks can eat something too.

The Occupier who is a single parent has been working out of town for most of the summer. He’s back in town for the school year and attending his first meeting in several months. He asks, “I sent out a post about a proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution a few days ago, did any of you see it and if so, what did you think?” Many of us saw his post; someone responds, “Hell yeah, that’s a very good idea. Congresspeople should be required to obey every single law that all regular citizens are required to obey, no exceptions. We already pay them a lot of money and all most of them do for it is to follow the commands of the 1%”. An Occupier adds, “Yeah, it is a very good idea but I believe the problem is that in order for a constitutional amendment to become law, it has to be ratified by most of the states. I think that means that most of the congresspeople in each state have to vote for it. I don’t imagine the corporate whores are going to vote in favor of anything that takes away any of their perks”. We all shake our heads at the absurdity of it all.

An Occupier postulates, “I think all of ‘He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’s minions are in serious competition to come up with the most idiotic, ridiculous idea or policy imaginable. I hear that DeVos (secretary of education) wants to use taxpayer education money to purchase guns for public school teachers. That way, the teachers will be able to defend the students when a crazed shooter shows up at their school. Great idea, aye?” Another Occupier chuckles, “I wonder what kind of disability benefits teachers will get when they accidentally shoot themselves while practicing stopping an imaginary crazed shooter. Hell, the teachers could partner up and shoot each other then they could both get a vacation.” An Anon remarks, “Well if the teachers are gonna be carrying guns, I wonder what will happen to the kid who never does his/her homework?” Sometimes you gotta laugh just to keep from crying.

The Occupier who has been out town for the summer asks a Water Protector/Occupier, “So what’s the latest news about your charges from doing that Wells Fargo lockdown?” The questioned Occupier tells him, “Well, the judge has accepted our “necessity defense”. He said that he definitely knows that climate change is real but he wants us to show him why disrupting Wells Fargo business will aid in saving the planet. We were denied a jury trial but will be having our actual trial in front of the judge on Wednesday, October 10th at 9 am. The returning Occupier opines, “Showing all the bazillions of dollars that Wells Fargo has invested in the fossil fuel industry shouldn’t be very hard to prove, I think”. The Water Protector/Occupier responds, “I know, that’s what everyone says”.

Changing the subject, the Reporting Occupier reports, “The annual vigil and press conference for The Woman Who Tells Good Stories will be held next Monday, noon, at the Central Hillside Community Center. We all hope to be there; we need to keep the story-telling woman’s memory alive as someday the truth will be found.

Chicago Man drops in. An Occupier exclaims, “Dude, we haven’t seen you in several weeks; I was beginning to get worried about you”. Chicago Man pantomimes “I can’t talk” and points to his throat. Apparently, he has a sore throat. He starts whispering to folks but gives up and starts talking anyway. We know him to be a very talkative person.

Of course, Fireproof Man shows up again; he may be planning on becoming a regular guest. He starts talking in his “word salad” language and the Yelling Man from the east ledge, who has been yelling off and on throughout the evening, starts yelling at Fireproof Man saying if he doesn’t stop talking his “word salad” language, Yelling Man will beat him up. Wonderful. As Fireproof Man stands at the table getting coffee and stuff, the partner of the Stylish Woman walks up to him, calls him by his given name and they start having some type of conversation. We are all amazed. An Occupier thinks to himself, “Oh, this is great; The Partner understands Fireproof Man. The Partner could be our clue to unraveling the mystery”.

A young street man, who we’ve not met in the past, is trying to pour himself a glass of apple juice. He’s a little shaky but he succeeds; he comments, “This is me without drugs. I haven’t taken any drugs in three days”. We congratulate him and he goes off into the shadows. An Occupier asks some of the street folks sitting beside her, “Was he talking about prescribed drugs or recreational drugs?” One of the folks replies, “It could be recreational drugs; there’s been several big local drug busts recently”. The other street person adds, “It could be prescribed drugs too. Doctors just give people new drugs and send them on their way; there’s very little in the way of monitoring going on. Both prescribed and recreational drugs can really fuck you up if not monitored correctly”.

An Occupier confesses, “I’m really confused about all this social media monitoring going on these days. Where does one draw the line between freedom of speech and hate speech? I want to be able to easily express my opinions but I don’t want to hear rantings from fascists and Nazis and such. However, I’m guessing that my freedom of speech is dependent on a Nazi’s freedom of speech too?”

Chicago Man chimes in, “I saw a Nazi once. It was back when I was working the night shift at the big box store. A big guy wearing shorts came walking through the door. He had a big swastika tattooed on his leg. I said, ‘Oh no honey, there is no way I’m going to interact with this guy’. I told my co-worker that I had to go to the bathroom and I hid until I knew that the Nazi was gone. I am seriously afraid of that shit”.

Another Occupier reports, “Remember when the porta-potty across the street got removed and I said I would be talking to a person from the City about it? Well, I did and it turns out she’s a personal assistant to the mayor. Anyway, she said the mayor is willing to put up another potty in the area but she wants the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition to choose the next spot. I went to the HPB of R meeting a few days ago and we came up with a list of eight possibilities”. The HPB of R Coalition Occupier reads off all the possibilities on the list; we think that one of the spots behind Pizza Luce’ or the one at the entrance to Lake Place Plaza, directly across from the Norshor Theater are the best choices. The Occupier continues, “I emailed our choices to the City woman yesterday, now she’s gonna see what spots are actually owned by the City and get back to me on that. I hope the whole process doesn’t take too long because a potty that’s easily accessible in the Peoples Plaza area is very much needed”.

Someone remarks, “I wonder why all these flags are flying at half mast; it can’t be John McCain because he’s already been buried”. An Anon tells him, “It’s 9/11. Today is the anniversary of 9/11, you know, the Twin Towers and all that”. We all say, “Oh right! We can’t believe that we’d forgotten”.

Most of the street folks have gone off now, the rest of us are just chillin’ around the fire. The young, schizophrenic dude with the blonde, spiked haircut rolls in, only he doesn’t have blonde spiked hair anymore. It looks like he’s letting his hair just grow out natural; it’s still kinda short but it lays down on his head and is kinda red-brown. Anyway, he doesn’t say much, just gets whatever is left on the table and sits quietly listening to the conversation. He has the same big goofy grin on his face as per usual.

We hear an ambulance come roaring down the street; an Occupier states, “I believe that’s the first siren we’ve heard all night”. Another Occupier answers, “Come to think of it, I think you’re right”. Hmm… Many evenings we have sirens blaring back to back all night long.

As we are packing up to leave we hear yelling coming from the east ledge again. This time it’s the small girlfriend of Yelling Man; she’s screaming something and chasing the formerly spiky blond guy around the ledge. The young dude is yelling at the top of his voice, “BUT I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!” We know that the no longer blond schizophrenic dude has become quite streetwise since he got kicked out of CHUM at the beginning of spring. We’re gonna let him handle this one himself.

Some of the Occupiers and Anons will go over to the Occupier couple’s home for a bit of R&R before calling it a night. We plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 9-4-18

G.A. Minutes 9-4-18
We’re having some pretty strange luck these days or else the weather people enjoy making fun of us. Last Tuesday they told us it wasn’t gonna rain and we ended up getting soaked while attempting to have a fire circle outside in the rain. This Tuesday they told us it would most definitely be raining all day and night so we came to Coney Island. The rain stopped around 3pm and although it’s been looking like it’s gonna start up again any minute; there is not and has not been even one drop of water from the sky. We imagine there are street folks at Peoples Plaza who are waiting for us but we are not at all prepared to start a fire now. Bummer.

The staff guys actually remember us and seem pleased to see us; they even remember what our usual food orders are. We have almost two booths worth of people consisting of three Occupiers, four people from the Anonymous crew and one city official. The city official is organizing a fundraising event for the trip to the Legacy Museum. It will be held at Carmody’s Irish Pub in downtown Duluth from 6 pm ’til around 8:30 pm on Tuesday, September 18th. We’ll probably be holding a fire circle at that time; an Occupier comments, “We’ll have to send someone down there with a donation”. This time of year we have to take everything one week at a time. Last year, winter closed our fire down in mid-October; some years it doesn’t arrive until late November. We just don’t know; apparently, the weather people don’t know either.

The city official comments to an Anon, “Did you see the new entryway at our neighborhood Wells Fargo building?”

The Anon laughs, “Yeah, I did. It’s all encased in glass now. I guess they want to have only one public entryway to their bank; when the ‘terrorists’ show up they want to be able to see them right away so they can close the entryway before the ‘terrorists’ get inside”.

An Occupier adds, “ I went to the Citizens Review Board last week; one of the cops said that the higher-ups in the Duluth Police Department had a meeting with the local Wells Fargo officials concerning ideas for protecting themselves against ‘terrorists’.

Another Occupier suggests, “What a bunch of stupid shit! I don’t suppose Wells Fargo will ever realize that if they’d stop investing in earth destroying activities and ripping off their members, ‘terrorists’ wouldn’t bother them anymore”.

Changing the subject, an Occupier tells everyone, “I’m thinking that it might be a good idea for me to file an official complaint with the Human Rights Department concerning our problem with the Mn Power Company, their contracted security department and the blocking of the public entryway when we need to briefly get our vehicles up in Peoples Plaza so we can unload. I brought a copy of the HR form. As you can see, it’s supposed to be filled out by one singular person and then the person is supposed to present all their witnesses. I could fill out the form if you guys are willing to sign on as witnesses”. Everyone is down with her idea.

The smokers go out for a smoke break; as they are smoking, the retired neighborhood man strolls by. He stops to chat and tells us, “I was down at the Plaza looking for you all and now here you are”. We explain about the confusion with the weather forecasters and make other small-talk. The retired man is still interested in the inner workings of the establishment Democratic party so we can’t go very deep with him. Still, if one doesn’t speak about religion or spirituality, he’s a pretty nice man. If one mentions anything having to with the ethereal world, the retired man goes ballistic. He doesn’t believe in any of that crap and he doesn’t think anyone else should either. So like I said, we can’t go very deep with him.

When the smokers return, they find the rest of the group just kinda slouched in their seats, some with heads resting on their arms. Everyone is tired and meetings at Coney Island are usually less exciting than the ones at Peoples Plaza. The dark, almost rainy day doesn’t help either. Actually, we do need to rest and relax; we’ll be gearing up for the International Climate March on Saturday. It’s being led by the Sierra Club so it’s possible they will be able to turn out a large crowd.

An Anon remarks, “Some of us will be getting together on Friday to make a banner and some new signs for the march”.

The march will form at 10 am from AICHO and leave for the Civic Center at 10:30 am. A rally will happen there and then the march will head out for the Harvest Festival at Bayfront Park; ETA 12:30 pm. We hope to all meet up at Bayfront once the march is finished.

The reporting Occupier reports, “There’s a sort of emergency meeting of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition at 6:30 pm on this upcoming Thursday. They’re planning an event for later on in the month”.

Another Occupier, who can’t stop yawning, sighs, “Guys I’m gonna have to head out; I can barely keep my eyes open”. Everyone else feels the same way. We don’t have much packing up to do; we just gather our belongings and say goodnight to the staff guys.

As we are about to head out the door, an Occupier asks one of the staff guys, “I hear there was a murder last Thursday right in this general neighborhood?” The staff guy answers, “There sure was. A guy shot another guy and the man who got shot fell down right in front of our door. We called 911 and they arrived immediately but by the time they got him the few blocks to the hospital, the injured man had died”. We all shake our heads in sadness. Stuff like this doesn’t happen very often in our Central Hillside but it does happen. So we’re off to rest and do good things; we sure hope we will be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.