G.A. Minutes 11-13-18

G.A. Minutes 11-13-18

It is really freaking cold tonight, the temperature is in the low teens and promises to go lower than that before morning. There’s a slight dusting of snow everywhere; it appears that winter has arrived and is planning to stay. We think most Duluthians are not real happy about this; there are a lot of advantages to living in Duluth but an overly long winter is not one of them.

Of course there are winter sports aficionados who live here too but we don’t have any friends who share that particular form of craziness. We believe it to be rather self indulgent, especially given the times we are living in. We do not wish to explain to our grandchildren why we were “fiddling while Rome burned”.

Anyway, the first group of people to arrive at Coney Island this evening consists of two Occupiers, two Anons, one straight-up Water Protector and a guy who is vaguely connected to Loaves N Fishes. We are just getting settled when the front door opens and a whole bunch of people come tumbling in. Now we are many and fill up several booths and many tables.

The Occupier who usually takes the meeting minutes sighs, “Well, I did it again for the second time in a month; I was unable to write minutes from our last meeting. When we have a big group like this, with everybody having good ideas about really interesting stuff and everyone talking at once, I just can’t keep up. Maybe if we all tried to focus on just one topic at a time and gave each person the time to express their view, we’d be able to accomplish more. We all agree and pledge to follow these guidelines. The cynics among us think “Good luck with that”.

A Water Protector comments, “The really good thing that happened at our last meeting was our discussion of The St. Paul Principles”. The St Paul Principles are a simple set of rules to be agreed upon between separate groups who have consented to work together toward a particular goal. The Principles are 1.) Our solidarity will be based on respect for a diversity of tactics and the plans of other groups. 2.) The actions and tactics used will be organized to maintain a separation of time or space. 3.) Any debates or criticisms will stay internal to the movement, avoiding any public or media denunciations of fellow activists and events. 4,) We oppose any state repression of dissent, including surveillance, infiltration, disruption and violence. We agree not to assist law enforcement actions against activists and others.

Everyone finds these principles to be clear and to the point. An Occupier has made copies of the short statement and hands them out to the group. She figures people will have an easier time remembering the principles if they can have a copy of them at hand; it will be especially helpful when one’s cell phone needs charging.

Changing the subject, someone remarks, “So I see that the trial of our fellow Water Protector, expert and teacher of traditional Native ways didn’t go as planned?” An Occupier answers, “No it did not; the plan was to bring in Anishinaabe treaty rights”. She explains to those who are unaware, “The MN DNR and other federal and state agencies have been saying that Native people are subject to the same hunting and fishing laws as the rest of citizens of the United States. However, that’s not true. The Anishinaabe bands signed treaties with the United States when they ceded much of their land over for general usage by the colonists. The 1864 or 1865 treaties, I can’t remember which, or maybe it was both, say that the Anishinaabe people shall maintain the rights to fish, hunt and gather in the ceded lands, whenever they want to, forever and ever and ever….. So that means that Ojibwe people can do these things at any time.

“The USA government regulators have been ticketing and giving fines to Native people for hunting and fishing outside the so-called official government ‘seasons’ for a very long time. Now days, Native folks are deliberately and visibly hunting and fishing out of season on ceded lands in hopes of being “caught” by some type of nature cop. The Native peeps can then bring their case into the US court system and argue for their treaty rights. That’s why, over a year ago, our friend the traditional teacher, threw a gill net out on a lake in one of the reservations up north during the off season. However, the court system used a cheap shot on our friend”. We say, “What a surprise!” She continues, “They just charged him with a few minor technicalities and didn’t address the trying to fish out of season issue.

“The United States court system does not want to try a treaty rights case because they know they would lose. Our US Constitution states that nothing, not even He Who Shall Not Be Named’s magnificent executive orders, supersedes a treaty. Even our wacko Supreme Court does not want to tackle the issue”.

Another Occupier adds, “But they still want the Natives to behave like the mindless, consumer slaves that they expect the white folks to behave like; so that’s why they have their minions give tickets and fines and stuff”.

An Anon quires, “Hey, you know what?” We say, “What?” He answers, “All those Native Chiefs and everyone behind them were really smart. Given the situation they were in, with their backs to the wall and all that, they still managed to find a way to preserve something for their people. Amazing”. A Water Protector explains, “Well, it’s about, you know, the SEVEN GENERATIONS”.

Another Water Protector opines, “Speaking about the seven generations, it’s been reported that Enbridge is now doing actual work on their despicable Line 3 tar sands pipeline out on the Fond du Lac Reservation. I think it’s time to put our boots on the ground”. Everyone agrees with him; another Water Protector begins to make a list of other groups who may be willing to put their boots on the ground with us.

We start a conversation about what type of action we should conduct first; then we look around and notice that, although we are taking up most of the back end of Coney Island, there are customers scattered around here and there. The staff people also come over regularly to see if we need anything.

A Water Protector suggests, “I think we need to have this discussion somewhere that is not so public”. An Occupier agrees, “Yeah, I think that’s a good idea. Seeing as Occupy originated as a movement where everyone is welcome, whenever Occupy Duluth holds a meeting we need to hold it in a space that is easily accessible to the general public. However, I think this Occupy meeting is now over?” Everyone agrees so we pack up and get ready to move to a more secure location.

The staff people are surprised to see us leaving so early; we don’t explain anything, we just clean up our mess, leave good tips and promise to see them back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

One thought on “G.A. Minutes 11-13-18”

    Saturday 17 November 2018, 1249 AM.

    Yesterday I was asked to act as police liaison in a modest action to shut down the offices of Enbridge in Superior. I like to be useful when the cause is a good one and so I agreed.

    The action started early in the morning so we could be there before the start of business hours. A group of masked people with homemade banners showed up in a parking lot near the targeted building and quickly reviewed the plan, which needed some modification since the group was too small to complete the action as originally conceived. In good time we moseyed over the few blocks and approached the building from behind. The purpose of the autonomous action was to show opposition to Enbridge, and particularly to the rebuilding of Line 3, a pipeline running from the pumping station at Clearwater in NW Minnesota to the refinery in Superior Wisconsin, including the holding tanks and connections to other pipelines which take the oil sludge to the sea where it is refined and then loaded onto foreign ships to be shipped to distant lands. The company which mines the oil (tar sand, actually, a thick gritty muck which comes from Canadian tundra soils on stolen lands in Saskatchewan) is not American owned and in fact belongs to some of the worst international polluters anyone could ever hope to find. The profits from this oil do not stay in the United States but are mostly stored in off-shore banks where they can avoid the taxes, regulations, and fees normally assessed to domestic oil producers. None of this profit stays in Minnesota, and very little of it in North America, unless you count the temporary mining and transport jobs which will all disappear in twenty years when the oil bust finally saves what is left of us from our own selves. As per standard capitalist practice, the profits are privatized into the hands of a very few members of the ultra-wealthy, while the expense of trying to clean up the mess the companies leave behind is relegated to the public, which must suffer heavy taxation to make the places the corporations have been habitable again. Habitable is a relative term. The truth is that the majority of the pollution left behind is not cleaned up at all, but merely covered over with a little clean soil.

    This is a very serious matter. The pipeline promises to dump extremely toxic chemicals into the waterways that most Americans drink from. Few rivers so polluted have ever recovered the pristine condition they were in only a few hundred years ago. It isn’t only a small impoverished suburb of Detroit that is affected anymore. The pollution has already affected hundreds of towns and cities across our country in ways that cannot be remediated. Our wells are being poisoned by this toxic mess. Our children are drinking poisoned water. In many poor places the water is even so unsafe as to make it unusable for bathing or doing laundry. It isn’t only towns that get drinking water from rivers that are affected. The groundwater itself has been poisoned. If you drink water from a well or spring, you are almost certainly drinking a toxic brew.

    So the autonomous civilians I was acting with call themselves water protectors. This action was not a protest. It was a strike against a corporate monster which is poisoning us all for the gain of a very few. One may wonder what the uber-rich need all that money for. Isn’t it more important to leave a living planet for our children and grandchildren that for a handful of plutocrats to buy themselves more fabulous yachts? Why, they are amassing enough capital to buy themselves some very expensive new mansions indeed…..mansions on other planets and space yachts to get them there. Going into outer space is a very expensive endeavor. But why else could they feel justified in destroying our planet forever? There will be no planet B for most of us. We will be left here to breathe and eat the dust and smoke they leave behind. If anyone on Earth, our mother’s mother, is left alive to choke at all.

    So when the police arrived to ask us politely to stop blocking the doorways, did we stay to be arrested? No. We are so few. We are so pitiful and weak. We have only our bodies and our lives to throw against the monster. We don’t carry guns. We don’t build weapons of mass control or mass destruction. All we have is the moral compass and righteous indignation and courage to refuse to be silent.

    The police officer who came to us first wore stars on his collars. I guess he was a general of police or something. He was very nice. He said he had no option but to arrest us for trespass if we did not move away from the doorways and onto the public sidewalks. “You do have an option,” I said to him. He looked incredulous. I looked him face to face, eyes and all. He began to tell me he was sworn to uphold the laws of the State of Wisconsin. I replied that I had sworn an oath to uphold the Constitution of the United States. He didn’t want to argue and neither did I. But I have a higher calling than that. I have sworn to do what I can to protect the Earth, to protect life itself, and so I will, at whatever cost to my property and my life. So I said to him, “You should surrender. You should join us.” And he laughed. But for just a moment, just a little flicker, he considered it. I consider that in itself a victory. The plutocrats should tremble on their golden thrones. I have been dedicated to trying to protect the Earth and her waters for more than forty years, since before the first Earth Day. No one believed there was any danger back then, but I could already see the trembling groves of mature birch trees dying, the line where birch could thrive retreating. The world was changing. It has not done changing yet. The risk to our future becomes more clear to more people every day. Storms wreck our cities, fires burn our resorts, fires even burn our highways, our power lines, our security cameras. The ocean is rising, and it is acid in its heated gorge. The animals are suffering and dying. How long will it be before our population is all homeless refugees? So I say the same thing to all who read this, to all who will listen. You should join us. You should surrender. We will not treat you as badly as you have treated us. We will welcome you as lost brothers and sisters. We will share whatever we have left with you equally.

    Do you really believe your children will escape this disaster on plutocrat rockets? Those who do escape will only do so for a little while because this disaster was created by those who think they own the earth. The plutocrats themselves will carry the disaster like a plague with them, like a curse. We belong to the Earth, the Earth does not belong to us. Drop your pride upon the holy ground, step back and see what you have made. Is it good? Does it heal, or does it sicken? I have made my choice. You will have to make yours. Life or death? I am finished.

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