G.A. Minutes 10-30-18

G.A. Minutes 10-30-18

We’re meeting at Coney Island this evening just like we did last week. Last week it was raining but this evening the temperature is in the 40s with no forecast of rain. It’s too bad that the weather people didn’t let us know in advance that it was gonna be like this; over the past week, every day they forecast that it would definitely be raining tonight, except for this morning that is. Early in the day, the weather people reported there would be no rain in the evening. Wonderful….. When the Occupiers discussed the situation many hours ago, the Food Bringing Occupier commented, “There’s just no way I can have all the food ready to go by tonight. It takes me almost a whole day to make a big pot of healthy and tasty soup and gathering and preparing all the other stuff too? It’s not possible”. So that’s why we’re meeting at Coney Island again.

The first arrivals to the restaurant are a couple of Occupiers and a few people from the Anonymous crew. Among them is the Occupier who writes the meeting minutes; she tells us, “Well, as you probably know, I didn’t write any minutes from last week’s meeting; there were just too many people and they divided into too many small discussion groups for me to keep track of what was being said. I think most were talking about the City Council shut down but even so, there were so many different angles to the discussions, it was too much for me”.

In case you live on another planet (or maybe just don’t live in the Twin Ports area) you might not know that the City Council meeting on October 22nd, 2018 was shut down by a peaceful group of people who we may or may not know. All the folks involved in the shutdown were wearing Guy Fawkes masks or bandannas over their faces which obscured their identities. The Occupiers have adopted a Don’t Ask, Don’t Tell policy concerning the masked one’s identities; the actual issues surrounding the shutdown are much more important than who the disguised individuals where.

Anyway, much of Duluth was deluged, for the next several days, with the opinions of our citizens concerning the shutdown. There appeared to be two main camps; one camp was completely scandalized by the behavior of the those involved in the shutdown. This group said things like, “How dare they ignore all our City government’s principles and protocols! They all needed to get in line with all our other citizens and wait their turn for their three minutes to speak. Those masked people are nothing more than a bunch of thugs!” The other group who were basically in support of the shutdown said things like, “What does it matter? It was already a given that the majority of our City Councilors were going to vote in favor of letting the cops have riot gear. All those speeches given by Chief Tusken and all those so-called Comment Sessions were a sham. Tusken was pushing real hard to get that gear asap; government bureaucrats and elected official types are all afraid to go against the police. The only ones who will stand up to the cops are the same people who traditionally get their heads beat in by them. It was time to end the charade”.

Most of the Occupiers attended the October 22nd Council meeting; they observed that the Council Chambers were packed. It was standing room only with many peeps trying to listen from out in the hallway. They heard many different left-leaning chants with the main one being, “No Line 3! No Riot Gear for the DPD!” The Occupiers observed that after the initial shock of seeing the people doing the shutdown, almost all the regular people in the Chambers were chanting right along with the folks who took over the meeting. At our last meeting (without minutes) an Occupier told everyone, “Many people have been asking me for my opinion. What I have been telling them is that when people feel they are being completely ignored and marginalized, their only recourse is to throw a fit. All the other options have been tried and proved insufficient”.

After the disguised people took over the Chambers, all the City Councilors ran off and hid somewhere. After an hour or two of their space (actually it’s the general public’s space but most have forgotten that fact) being taken over, the Councilors returned, turned up their microphones real loud and defiantly (some councilors anyway) voted to approve the riot gear. The vote was 6 in favor, 2 opposed and one councilor not present. The Occupiers figured it would be something like that sooner or later and appreciate the 2 Councilors who kept the promises that they made to our marginalized communities. We think the absent Councilor MAY have voted against the gear but we have no idea what prevented her from attending the aforementioned session.

Meanwhile, back at Coney Island, an Anon remarks, “I wonder if we could start doing film screenings as a way to do fundraising and to hook up with more interested people?” An Occupier adds, “We used to do that years ago at The Zinema; they didn’t charge us any type of fee so we actually made money. After a while they changed management teams though and the new people required us to guarantee that a certain amount of moviegoers would turn up. We couldn’t do that so couldn’t do fundraisers there anymore. However, Peace Church is very generous with letting social justice groups use their big basement space. You’d need to have your own equipment for showing films and maybe a movie screen too; I can’t remember if they have a screen or not”. The Anon replies, “That’s good to know, I’ll check it out”.

The smokers go out for a smoke break and while they are doing so, the Stylish Native Woman and her partner come walking down the sidewalk. It appears that they are very tired; the smokers give them each a cigarette and invite them in to join the group. The couple accept the invite and take seats in one of our booths. The Stylish Woman looks rough but, as usual, she’s coherent and friendly; The Partner, who suffers from schizophrenia, is currently unable to speak but he’s calm and sort of collected.

When an Occupier asks the Stylish Woman how they’ve been doing, she sighs and tells him, “Not very well; I’ve recently been trespassed out of CHUM so now have nowhere to go to sleep when it’s cold out”. The Partner was trespassed from CHUM several years ago but until this past year or so, he was fit and strong; the Stylish Woman is considerably older than her partner and suffers from many things that most older folks are plagued with. When things on the street got to be too intense, she was always able to find a chair to sit in and a bed to sleep in at CHUM. Things at the CHUM can get really crazy too but are generally not life-threatening.

The Woman continues, “Also, a few weeks ago, I was walking up the hill, everything was wet and I slipped and hit my head on the cement. When I woke up I was lying in a pool of blood and it was raining. An ambulance came and took me to the hospital; they kept me there, told me that I’m diabetic and that I had a collapsed lung. So they put a tube in my side and an IV in my arm and let me rest for a while. When they were done, they told me I was o.k. and that I should leave. Also, today I was permanently trespassed from the Mission so have nowhere to get regular meals either”. We say, “WTF!?!”

We have always known the Stylish Native Woman to be soft spoken, caring, intelligent and peaceful. We ask her for details and she explains, “Tonight I had finished eating, took my tray, my dishes and a cup to the washing area. I put the cup up on the shelf like I’m supposed to and started to walk away. I heard a crash and turned around to see what it was; one of the workers accused me of throwing a glass against the wall, then he told me that I was trespassed from the Mission forever”. This makes no sense to us; we know that The Partner is kind and completely harmless but his schizophrenic hallucinations can get to be a bit much at times. However, the Stylish Woman causing a problem? That’s very hard to believe.

On an individual basis, the Occupiers have tried to offer help to the couple in the past. However, the couple are very self-sufficient and although they are always grateful for the offers, they prefer to take care of their own problems. The Occupiers silently vow to look for one or both of them whenever we cruise the neighborhood.

Suddenly, the front door swings open and a whole bunch of Water Protectors, Anons and Occupiers roll in. We quickly push more tables and chairs next to the booths that we’ve been sitting in; once everyone is settled a conversation about Operation Safe Winter starts up; #opsafewinter is something done every year by the Anons. They collect warm clothing, blankets and stuff like that, crank up their music and start a big fire in their fire pit in front of Lake Place Park. As the homeless and/or street people cruise by, the Anons offer these folks things that will help them keep warm. Of course, this stuff is very well received, an Anon reports, “Last year I gave a guy a whole package of new white socks; he was so happy that I thought he was gonna cry”.

The Water Protectors and some of the Anons are planning a trip down to the Wall of Forgotten Natives Camp in Minneapolis in a few days. They’re in the process of collecting things to bring to this camp. The Wall of Forgotten Natives Camp started out when a few Native homeless ones put up a tent next to a wall beside a freeway; from there more homeless Natives came and pitched tents too. The camp just kept growing and growing. We’re told that there are around 250 people camping along the wall now. We hear that some type of loose organizational structure has been formed.

We don’t know much about the politics or what kind of response the camp is getting from the City of Minneapolis but maybe those who will drive down there in a few days will bring us back some answers. We figure that if the City government is fairly liberal then the Mayor, City Councilors and whoever else will act all friendly and concerned and what not. They’ll make big speeches and promises and plans; they may even find housing for a few chosen ones. However, once the campers guards are down, the City will send in its cops and wrecking crew to demolish the camp. Then the campers will be back out on the street, right where they started.

That’s the way things have gone, historically, here in the Belly of the Beast. Someday, somewhere, a camp will be demolished but the people will quickly build a new one, when that one is demolished they will build it again. This concept will spread across all parts of the country and mark the beginning of the end of so-called real estate and many other evils of the capitalist system. That will be nice.

Someone says to a Water Protector/Occupier, “I hear that your trial, stemming from the lockdown at Wells Fargo, went well”. The WP/Occupier responds, “Yes, it went very well”. Our lawyer’s presentations and the witnesses they brought with them were amazing. The Prosecution didn’t have much to say at all. Now we have to wait for the judge to make his decision; he said he would make it before Christmas. I find it hard to believe that any judge would find us guilty of wrongdoing but I know that some judges are corrupt so we can’t take anything for granted”.

An Occupier reports, “The city official told me that the Duluth Transit Authority buses will be free on November 6th, which is mid-term voting day”. Another Occupier comments, “Oh cool, I hope the word gets out to all the bus taking people. Maybe some folks who had decided not to go to their voting stations will change their minds”.

The Occupier who is a single parent opines, “I think we should restart the CCC (civilian conservation corps) like they had during the Great Depression. Our country’s economic system is always going up and down. When the economy is up, most people are able to find jobs doing all the things that need to be done. When the economy is down, there are very few jobs although there are still all the things that need to be done. If we had a CCC program, the government could hire people who need jobs and all the things could still get done”.

Another Occupier laughs, “The economy goes up and down because we live under a capitalist economic system. If we had a different economic system things would stop going up and down”. The single parent laughs too, “Yeah, that is the bigger picture, isn’t it?”

One of the Water Protectors has a really big desire to make banana bread. The rest of us have a really big desire to eat banana bread. The problem is that the Water Protector who wants to bake doesn’t have a loaf pan. He’s also about to head out of town for a bit. An Anon/WP has a loaf pan that he can use but she’s not going out of town. Maybe, whoever can be the first to hook up a loaf pan with the traveling Water Protector, will be the one who gets to eat banana bread?

We’re starting to get silly now; the staff is beginning to clean up. We don’t know if they’ve had a lot of customers or not; we’ve been kinda in our own world for a few hours. We pack up, pick up around the tables we have used, help to replace them where they were when we came in, leave tips and head out to our various abodes. We think we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday but if we get some tolerable weather we’ll be building a fire. Your guess is as good as ours at this point. We shouldn’t be too hard to find though.