G.A. Minutes 9-25-18

G.A. Minutes 9-25-18

It’s raining; it’s been raining most of the day. The weather people report that it will rain off and on (mostly on) for the rest of the week. That’s probably good for our Mother Earth so we’ll have to accept it but still……couldn’t it just rain for a week starting tomorrow?

You’ve probably figured out that rain means we meet at Coney Island on W 1st St. If you did, you’d be right. As usual, the staff is pleased to see us even though they already have a lot of customers. We have enough peeps to fill up two booths and two tables; we’re a combination of Occupiers, Anonymous members, and Water Protectors. Very few street folks have ever attended our indoor meetings, probably because they don’t have any money and think the staff will throw them out. That wouldn’t happen but many of the homeless ones have PTSD related to the abominable way they have been treated by regular people over the years. Homeless ones are just like the rest of us; they have their own prejudices and misguided beliefs.

At around 6:30 pm, a few more Anons arrive; they tell us that it’s no longer raining. The smokers go outside to check it out and find that it’s true, it’s not raining. The sky is overcast but non-threatening. The Anons want to go down to the protest corner outside Peoples Plaza in order to bring the No Line 3 concept to the masses. An Occupier comments, “We are not equipped to create a fire circle for you all right now. It takes several hours of preparation before we can get everything together for a circle. An Anon assures her, “Oh yeah, we get that. We just wanta go down there anyway and attempt to create a ruckus”.

When everyone goes back inside, someone begins a conversation about yesterday’s City Council meeting. On the Council’s agenda last night was a vote to approve the Duluth Police Department’s request for $85,000 to purchase what we call Riot Gear. The DPD swears up and down that these face shields, clubs, body armor and whatever else is not Riot Gear but Personal Protective Equipment. They promise they will never use it against protesters who are exercising their constitutional right to free speech; they say it may never be used but just sit and rot on the shelf. They vow the gear will only be used if there is “violent, criminal, social unrest”. We don’t believe them. Fortunately, there a lot of other citizens in Duluth who don’t believe them either. A few activists discovered that last night the City Council was gonna vote on whether to approve the purchase of Riot Gear or not. Word quickly spread through the community; the turn out for the meeting was huge. It was standing room only with people sitting on the floor in the Chambers, the overflow went down both outside hallways.

A few of the most memorable moments were when a citizen commented, “So where is this violent, criminal, social unrest gonna happen? Has it ever happened before in Duluth? Oh wait, yes it has! Back in 1920, here in our very city, three innocent African American young men were hung (read lynched) from a light post. The Duluth Police Department did absolutely nothing to prevent the murder of these men”.

Another citizen opined, “So if we’re gonna spend $85,000 on a bunch of stuff that’s going to rot on the shelf wouldn’t the money be better spent elsewhere? $85,000 could help to fix our streets or other infrastructure; it could provide genuine assistance to disadvantaged youth or a couple of nurses in our schools. $85,000 sounds like a lot of money just to purchase more toys for the boys in blue”.

The crowd at the Council meeting consisted primarily of various groups of marginalized people. There were also folks from various non-marginalized groups and a good few reporters too. An Anon asks, “So the next Council meeting about Riot Gear will be on Monday, October 22nd. Who’s going?” Everyone raises their hand.

An Occupier says, “Tomorrow’s gonna be a busy day. The Citizens Review Board meeting is in City Hall at 5 pm; from what I hear, it will be another discussion about Riot Gear. Then, Honor the Earth’s Water Protector Update event will be at AICHO at 6 pm. We may have to split forces with some of staying until the end of the CRB and others leaving early in order to make it to the HTE happening on time. We all think that is doable.

On Sunday, September 30th, 4pm-7pm at Peace Church, some activists and others will attempt to hold a fundraiser for the two Water Protector/Occupiers and another Water Protector who volunteered themselves to be locked to the metal gates at Wells Fargo several months ago. An attempt will be made to raise enough money to purchase an airline ticket for the third Water Protector who is currently living in another state and possibly a little more to give to our saintly and angelic pro-bono attorneys to help cover their expenses.

Seeing as most of those involved in helping with the event are currently present, we think it might be a good idea to plan an agenda, assign roles and such. The only person not with us is the lead organizer; an Occupier calls her and she tells him, “Yeah, if someone can come and get me, I’ll come down”. Another Occupier makes the short drive to get her, then the lead organizer, one of the Water Protector/Occupiers and the Fond du Lac band member who has volunteered to MC the event put their heads together and come up with a plan. The rest of us offer suggestions if we have them and agree to take on our assigned tasks. We hope that many people will attend and support the Water Protectors who risk their safety and their freedom so the rest of us and the generations to come can have safe clean water.

Once we have agreed upon a plan, we notice our surroundings again. There are a lot of customers in the cafe’. Some have many tables pushed together like we do, some are sitting at the counter, others are up at the front placing their orders and another group are just walking around laughing and joking. This is good because many customers in the evening will encourage the owner to keep the place staffed and open during the cold time of the year. We understand how capitalism works; we just don’t like it very much.

It’s getting late; the Anons decide to postpone their ruckus making until next Tuesday because the majority of the cars will have reached their final destinations by now. Most of us will stop by one of the Occupiers homes for a little R&R before going to our warm, safe and dry sleeping places. Everyone is entitled to one of these; housing is a human right.

We hope to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.