G.A. Minutes 11-20-18

G.A. Minutes 11-20-18

A couple of Occupiers and a couple of Anons arrive together for our meeting at Coney Island this evening. Last week the weather was cold; tonight the temperature is about the same. Last week a slight dusting of snow covered everything outdoors; tonight there are 3 or 4 inches of snow in place of the dusting. We suppose that’s good for the hunters and skiers but for us it just makes driving or walking up and down the side streets a death defying experience.

The next group of folks to roll up are the Stylish Native Woman and her partner, the veteran homeless guy with the deep voice and his girlfriend and the long time homeless woman known on the street as Fox. We think this is great because every year we tell all the homeless and/or street people where we’ll be during the winter months and invite them to join us. It appears that some have finally taken us up on our offer. We ask them if they’re hungry but all have just come from eating dinner at the Mission. We pour them cups of the very boring coffee that is a staple here at the restaurant.

An Occupier says to the Stylish Woman, “So if you’re just coming back from the Mission, I guess that means you’ve been allowed to go back in there?” The Stylish Woman replies, “Yes it does; we’ve also been allowed back into CHUM. This past week was so incredibly stressful and none of it made any sense. We had to sleep outside for almost a week which was close to impossible; it was just too cold to be able to sleep. One night, a woman with mental health issues, who is a regular at CHUM came in drunk. They threw her out in the street; I don’t understand how they can throw women out especially at night when they know the woman has nowhere else to go. We let her sleep with us that night, hoping she could at least get some body heat.

I don’t understand how they could throw me out, at my age with my health problems. They know me too; I never cause any problems but I imagine they don’t like it when I stand up for my partner when he’s being treated unjustly. Anyway, we tried to talk with the CHUM staff to find out why we’d been kicked out but we could not get an answer. Then one day KBJR 6 showed up with a bunch of cameras and were trying to interview the staff and the residents of CHUM. They were asking about the fact that once the temperatures fall below freezing, homeless shelters are supposed to let everyone in, at least for the night. The staff said to the cameras that yes, they did allow everyone to stay there when it was very cold. A staff member came and told us that we were going to be allowed to stay at CHUM again. When we asked the lead staff person why we had been kicked out in the first place he told us that someone had reported we were shooting heroin and smoking marijuana in the bathroom”.

We say, “WHAT!?!!” An Occupier opines, “I wouldn’t think you even know how to shoot heroin”. The Native Woman answers, “That’s true, I don’t”. Her partner adds, “I’ve seen it done and I suppose if I had ever wanted to do it I could have but since I had my fingers amputated last winter, I doubt I’d be able do it now”.

Another Occupier explains. “I’ve been watching the goings on at CHUM from a distance for 5 or 6 years now. While they are certainly to be commended for even trying to do what they do, I’ve seen that some of their workers don’t treat the clientele fairly. They will throw one person out for “bad behavior” while allowing another person to display the same behavior without suffering any consequence at all. Management seems to back all accusations by the staff no matter what; I think they need more thorough staff training or maybe to only hire staff who are decent human beings”.

We all laugh. An Anon remarks, “Do you think there’s a test for that?” An Occupier continues, “I know that they hire their workers from the people who have been residents of CHUM and then “gotten their lives together” so one would think those workers would still remember what being homeless was like”. An Anon hypothesizes, “Sometimes when a person, who has never had power before is given some power, they might not know how to handle it at first”.

The Stylish Woman tells us, “Yeah, that’s kinda how it is; one worker tells you one thing and another worker tells you the opposite”. We know that, like many others, the Stylish Native Woman and her partner fight for bare survival every. single. day.

The girlfriend of the man with the very deep voice reports, “In just 3 more days I’m getting my apartment! I can hardly wait!” We congratulate her while realizing that the girlfriend being given an apartment is going to bring changes to their relationship. For a variety of reasons, that we don’t know about and don’t really want to know about either, the Housing Authority is not gonna let Mr Deep Voice live with his girlfriend. Still, we hope everything works out well for them.

Ms Fox gets a phone call and calls out to everyone, “Does anybody have $3 they can loan me for a bit?” An Occupier gives her the money and Ms Fox says to her phone, “Call my sister and tell her that I’m on my way and I have $3”. Off she goes.

The city official rolls in. After settling in, he asks an Occupier, “Are you and others from the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition still planning on showing up at the Duluth Transit Authority’s board meeting this month?” The Occupier responds, “Yup, I haven’t figured out what I’m gonna say yet but I’m planning on being there”. The official man advises, “Remember, the DTA is not connected to city government, it’s a privately owned service”. The Occupier smiles, “Oh, I didn’t know that; it changes my perspective somewhat. It wasn’t looking like I was gonna have much time to do research before the meeting so thank you for that information”.

The city man comments to another Occupier, “Hey, thanks for coming to the first public recording session of my radio show, what did you think?” The Occupier replies, “There were a lot of good ideas put out there, I just wish it had been longer”. Another Occupier confides, “During the question and answer session I had a question but I didn’t ask it because I didn’t want to disrespect you or cause a ruckus”. The city man answers, “Wow, what was it that you wanted to ask?” The Occupier tells him, “Well, it would have gone something like this….. Given that the Duluth school system has been recently discovered to have taken considerable federal funds that were specifically intended to be given to schools of mainly low income students and giving most of these funds to schools of mainly high and middle-income students. And, given that this misappropriation of funds has been going on for a long time. Under the administration of the current school board, can we really have hope of implementing any of the excellent programs and goals spoken about here tonight?” The official man exclaims, “Oh, you definitely should have asked that question! That’s exactly the type of thing we want to hear from the general public. The Occupier laughs, “I’ll remember that next time”.

A few Water Protectors arrive; they’ve had a stressful day. Their dog got lost for almost 24 hours. The young canine had recently met a new friend who was older and had been around the woods a few times. They went off chasing a rabbit and then couldn’t quite remember where it was that they started from. The dogs were in the general vicinity and with the help of neighbors and looking all night and day the dogs were found just before the group was scheduled to come and hang with us. A WP reports, “The poor things were freezing, dehydrated and had to be carried at first. We were so relieved to find them”.

After everyone is settled, an Occupier inquires of a WP, “Do you know the story of Chief Buffalo and his treaty land that sits under most of what is now downtown Duluth?” The WP responds, “No I don’t. I’m not Anishinaabe but I’m always interested in good information”. The Occupier explains, “During the process of making the Treaty of 1854, Chief Buffalo was given the right to reserve a parcel of land from the ceded territories that he would like to keep for himself and for his choice of members who had done special service for the tribe. A large part of the land that he chose is where the City of Duluth is now situated. This is written right into the treaty in the section that establishes the other reservations in Minnesota and Wisconsin”. Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, there’s this thing called the Ethnographic Study. The Duluth Indigenous Commission received a grant and hired a way cool professor dude from UMD to interview the elders and search historical records. He made the Ethnographic Study; I could make you a copy. You would have enough reading to take up your spare time for months. It’s a very interesting, true story. It turns into a sordid tale after Chief Buffalo dies just before the War Between the States, and in the ensuing confusion, his white son-in-law claims and then fraudulently sells the land, even though the treaty specifically states that the Government will prevent these lands from ever being sold”.

The smokers go out for a smoke and while they are doing so, the rest of the crew comes out too. They are carrying everyone’s packs and other accouterments. One of the non-smokers reports, “They’ve started their winter hours; they now close at 8 pm”. We say, “Oh, we didn’t know that”. As everyone is fixin’ to leave, someone calls out, “Is anyone going to the DECC on Thursday?” She doesn’t get an answer. It seems folks still haven’t decided whether to sit quietly and eat turkey, mashed potatoes and stuffing or to observe a day of mourning related to all the lies we’ve been told.

Anyway, we expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

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.

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.

G.A. Minutes 10-16-18

G.A. Minutes 10-16-18

It’s really cold tonight at Peoples Plaza; we were not expecting this. The weather people said the temperature would be in the high 30s and it is…. but this wind is definitely a killer! It’s coming from the west/northwest and it’s super strong, taking the air temps down by 20 degrees or so.

To make matters worse, when the first Occupiers drive up on the sidewalk at the Plaza’s edge there are no helpers obviously available. There are a couple of homeless appearing guys hanging out on the east ledge but they’re not making any moves that look like they’re gonna help us. The Food Bringing Occupier comments, “Well, we’re here now and it is what it is; let’s just start slogging away and see what happens”. So she and the Fire Magician begin slogging; at the rate they’re able to slog, setting up will take a long time.

After a while an African American homeless couple stop to help them. The female of the couple apologizes for being slow, she tells us that she’s recently been diagnosed with pneumonia. The male of the couple is seriously busting his butt though; he doesn’t stop until everything is up on the site. Once that’s done they begin to take their leave, saying they’re going off to find a sleeping place. The Occupiers notice that they have only one blanket between them; they’ve recently scored a couple of very good army blankets by way of the city official. The Occupiers give one of them to the homeless couple.

Just as the Food Bringing Occupier puts the final touches on the food table, a large group of Anon/Water Protectors and other Water Protectors arrive. They bring a shit ton of food too; it’s the kind of food that many street folks crave, like pre-packaged cheese burgers, chicken sandwiches and stuff like that. The Water Protectors also bring several big boxes of bananas. As soon as the favorite food goes on the table, the first wave of homeless ones appear and go to town on the preferred eats. They don’t stop until it’s all gone; almost everyone takes a banana too.

The Fire Magician has started the small charcoal grill to be used for keeping the homemade soup warm. Many Water Protectors stand around it, trying to get a bit of a heat source at least. Did I mention that it was cold this evening? The Fire Magician gets to work on getting a fire going in the fire pit; first birch bark is strategically placed, then kindling and finally the logs in a placement that seems to vary from fire to fire then WHOSH!… flames rise up. The Water Protectors quickly move to the real fire and say, “Yes! This is just what we need!” Once they are sufficiently warmed up they move away in order to let the other people get warm.

Another group of fire circle enthusiasts roll up; among them are Chicago Man, the partner of the gay, former street man, a couple of peeps from the Anonymous crew, several Occupiers and The Anarchist. Chicago Man has cut his hair short and naturally curly then dyed it blue. He opines, “I was feeling a little depressed so I thought I’d do something to make myself feel happy”. We think it looks really good. The former street man’s partner declares to one of the Occupiers, “You people inspired me to stop drinking and drugging”. We think, “Not to say that people can’t change and he does appear to be sober tonight but given the problems we had with him and his meth addiction last year, we’re gonna adopt a wait and see attitude with this one”.

An Occupier asks the Occupiers who are responsible for managing our firewood supplies, “So when are we going to go out to the country to get our yearly load of firewood?” The questioned Occupier replies, “Well, we called out there to make an appointment a few days ago. They told us they had received at least three times the amount of orders than they had received in the past. They said that as of right now they were completely out of firewood. They said they are currently working on procuring more and put us on their waiting list. No worries though, we have enough firewood left to see us through next spring”.

The Occupier who likes to report things reports, “Please remember that the trial for our Occupier/Water Protectors and the Water Protector from the southwest will happen this upcoming Friday, October 19th, 9am at the St Louis County Court House. I know I told everyone it was gonna happen on the 10th but I was obviously wrong. I’m not sure where I got the wrong date from; maybe I’m getting that Old-Timers Disease”. We all laugh.

“Also, when we canceled our fire circle last Tuesday so we could attend the Riot Gear Open House Comment Session I was hearing a rumor that the City Council was gonna table the vote on approving or not approving the Duluth Police Department’s request for Riot Gear. I heard that same rumor last Thursday at the last Comment Session. So anyway, I emailed Em Westerlund, the Councilor for my district and she told me that to table the vote or not will be decided by a vote from the whole City Council at the beginning of the next Council meeting on Monday, October 22nd, 7pm in the Council Chambers in City Hall.

“So I guess we’ll just have to show up prepared to speak or whatever and if they table the vote we’ll probably just leave”. An Anon remarks, “I hope they table the vote. The DPD has been really pushy and manipulative throughout this whole process. They want riot gear and they want it NOW!” A Water Protector adds, “Yeah, and why now? It wouldn’t have anything to do with No Line 3 protesters and such would it? Chief Tusken says they would never use the gear for anything like that. He says he hopes they never have an occasion to use it and that it will just sit on shelves until it rots. Yeah right! I think that many cops are victims of arrested development; did you ever give a kid a new toy and then tell him not to play with it? I rest my case”. We all sigh and nod our heads in agreement”.

The Occupiers, Anons and Water Protectors begin a conversation about climate change. They take turns listing all the climate disasters that have taken place in the last ten or so years. Someone exclaims, “I don’t understand why the capitalists can’t see what is right in front of their noses”. Another opines, “I think they are blinded by greed. They just want more and more and more. More money, more stocks, more mansions, more sexual conquests, more whatever. Greed is a very powerful and dangerous force”.

The retired neighborhood man drops by. As usual he’s talking about voting, the upcoming elections and such. We converse with him as best we can but the two parties = one party ying yang is not our strong suit. For those of us who do vote, we know we’ll be voting for Skip Sandman for 8th CD and then for the other most progressive candidates on the ballot. An Occupier confesses, “I don’t even know why I vote anymore but I do”. The retired man finds her statement to be amusing. As usual, when the man takes his leave, he leaves us a generous donation. An Occupier says to another, “I guess we could say he is our Patron?” The other Occupier answers, “Yeah, I think we could; over the years, the majority of the money we’ve had in our treasury has come from him”.

For the most part, the homeless and street people in the circle have been just listening to our conversations while eating and keeping warm by the fire. Yelling Man and his girlfriend are here too; Yelling Man has been nodding off and on. He’s probably tired. We hear some guy across the street loudly cussing up a storm; he’s using every swear word known to mankind. Yelling Man goes to the top of the Plaza stairs and starts yelling at the swearing guy. He hollers, “Why don’t you come over here and say that?!?” The swearing guy screams even louder. An Occupier exclaims, “No, don’t get him to come over here; you go over there!” Yelling Man laughs, “Don’t worry, he has Tourettes Syndrome, I’m just messing with him. He’s not gonna come over here”. Yelling Man is the only one who finds this situation funny.

The chronically homeless man with the deep voice and the girlfriend with PTSD comes up asking for a bowl of our homemade tomato, rice and vegetable soup. An Occupier looks in the pot and sees that it’s almost empty. She tells the man, “There’s not much left and it’s probably cold but I will heat it up for you”. The deep voiced man replies, “That’s o.k., I’ll gladly take it just the way it is”. The Occupier scrapes the bottom of the pot and comes up with enough to fill his bowl; then that’s the end of the soup.

It’s a little before 9pm and most of the homeless ones have gone off to their sleeping places. The rest of us are huddled up close to the glorious warmth of the fire. We figure we’ll sit around and let the fire die down somewhat before packing up and calling it a night but then suddenly, KABLAM!!….. a huge gust of wind blows everything off the food table, sends burning embers flying around the circle and even knocks over a few chairs.

Yikes! Everyone runs around picking up all the stuff that is blowing around the Plaza. An Occupier opines, “I think Mother Earth and Father Sky are hinting that it’s time for us to leave”. We still have enough fire worshipers around to allow us to quickly pack up and then jump into our vehicles.

This time of year we never know if we’ll be able to hold a Tuesday fire circle or not. Everything is up in the air (yeah I know, bad joke). If you don’t find us at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday, we’ll be up at Coney Island on 1st St.


G.A. Minutes 10-2-18

G.A. Minutes 10-2-18

The weather people were correct this time; it has rained every day except one since our meeting last Tuesday. The precipitation was not of flood-like proportions, however everything in Duluth is very wet. The weather folks promised us a full day of no rain just for today and evening; then it goes back to raining forever. The sky is gray, the temperature is in the mid-50s and there’s not much of a breeze. So far, they’ve kept their promise.

Anyway, as usually happens, the Food Bringing Occupier and the Fire Magician are the very first people to arrive for our Tuesday fire circle at Peoples Plaza. The space looks completely empty so they walk up the stairs and onto the Plaza in order to check things out. Yup, it is completely empty; there are not even any street people sitting on the benches or lying under the trees. The Food Bringing Occupier looks confused and says, “WTF? Oh wait, I almost forgot, it’s the first week of the month. Many of the street folks receive monthly, small, government checks; they can afford to treat themselves to whatever floats their boat for a few days at least. I’m used to a reduction in street peeps every first of the month but this makes it look like EVERYBODY got paid”.

An empty Plaza means the first Occupiers are gonna have to set up the fire circle themselves. The Fire Magician starts hauling out the fire pit, firewood and related items; the Food Bringing Occupier slowly pulls out a couple of chairs, drags them up the stairs and begins setting up a circle. She’ll continue doing this until someone else shows up and relieves her of the job. After about fifteen minutes or so, another Occupier, some regular peeps from the Anonymous crew and some occasional Anon peeps arrive. They finish the job while the Fire Magician gets a big fire going and the Occupier with the mild case of OCD sets up the food table.

Oh, and Fireproof Man is here too; he’s wearing a neon-lime green hijab. We think it might be his own personal version of rain gear or something but it certainly does look like a hijab. Whatever…. we’re grateful that he doesn’t offer to help with the set up.

The city official rolls in; he passes out fliers for his event Soles to the Poles. It will be sort of a primer for people who have never voted before or haven’t voted in a long while. Soles to the Poles will take place on Saturday, October 13th 1p-5p at the Duluth NAACP Branch in the Washington Center (310 W 1st Ave W).

We all take fliers and put some out on the table with our other literature. Unfortunately, we don’t expect many of our street visitors to take one; most homeless and/or street folks don’t see any value in voting. After many years of abuse, neglect or what have you, a sizable amount of them have internalized deep feelings of low self-esteem and/or little sense that what they think or desire is of any value. We think if every single street and/or homeless person (including felons) in the Central Hillside and West End were to vote we’d have a different sort of City government with a very different set of priorities. That would be nice.

A Water Protector/Anon has made a delicious hamburger, noodle and cheese casserole; she sets it on the table just as the OCD Occupier finishes getting all the usual things put out. The Occupier takes a seat in the circle and seemingly out of nowhere, three or four small groups of young people appear. They are ravenously hungry, each filling several bowls of everything that is offered. We don’t believe the young ones can possibly eat all the food they are taking; perhaps they’re going to bring some of it to other hungry folks? As the neighborhood street youngsters load up their dishes they keep repeating, “Oh, thank you, thank you! This is so wonderful etc.” Once these teenagers have taken as much as they can feasibly carry they vanish back to wherever they came from. We notice the casserole has pretty much vanished too. Hopefully there will be lots of young ones able to sleep well tonight because their bellies are happy and full.

The Occupier who is a single parent remarks to the city official, “I’m told that my son, who is a freshman at UWS, will be interning at the campus radio station where your weekly show is broadcast”. The official man responds, “That’s good to know, I’ll be sure to pay extra attention to him”.

A big pot of homemade tomato-rice soup with other vegetables has been heating up on the small charcoal grill. There’s also a big loaf of homemade whole grain bread to go with it. Those of us who missed the casserole will just have to fill up on soup and bread. That’ll work.

The Occupier who lives in Superior tells us, “I see that OSHA fined Husky Oil $83,000 for the safety violations that led to those fires and the explosion last April. $83,000?!? That’s almost nothing to Husky; it’s about the same as one dollar would be to one of us. Just think of all the citizens in Superior who could have been killed! If the wind hadn’t switched, tens of thousands of people across the bay would have been evacuated. As usual, the fossil fuel industry gets a pass. The mayors of both Duluth and Superior demanded that Husky remove that super deadly tank of hydrogen fluoride from the refinery in Superior and replace it with something safer; Husky said, ‘Nope, not gonna do it. It would cost us too much money to replace it’. So far, they’ve gotten away with it. Apparently, not spending extra money is more important than the lives of the 100,000+ people who live in the path of the refinery. What a crock of shit!”

Another Occupier changes the subject, “It sounds like there’s gonna be some action around the Duluth Police Department’s request (read demand) for riot gear next week. I don’t know all the particulars but I’ve heard there will be a Riot Gear rally next Wednesday, October 10th at Denfeld H.S. That’s all I know right now but I’ll investigate and let everyone know asap. I think this is something we need to be involved in”. We all think so too.

An Occupier comments to the city man, “I’ll be coming and bringing a few others with me to your Duluth Transit Authority board of directors meeting on the last Wednesday of this month in order to talk about the possibility of you all helping out with warming stations for all the homeless folks who can’t go to CHUM when the winter weather gets too dangerous for them to be outdoors”. The official man replies, “Wait a minute…. I think the date has been changed”. He looks at his phone then continues, “The BOD meeting has been rescheduled for the fourth Wednesday, October 24th 5:30 pm at 2402 W Michigan St in the boardroom. I’ll be happy to see you all there”.

An Occupier asks an FDL Water Protector, “So how are you all coming along with signatures for the referendum?” She responds, “Not bad, we’re over halfway there”. Another Occupier quires, “Referendum?” The Water Protector explains, “If we can get three hundred signatures from Fond du Lac band members who actually live on the rez then we can put a referendum on the ballot to override the Tribal Council’s decision to allow Enbridge to build their Line 3 Pipeline on our land”. The Occupier exclaims, “Really?!? That is so wonderful! I would love to help you but I’m just an old Chimookikwe (white woman) who lives in Duluth”. The Water Protector tells her, “No worries, there will be plenty of things that you can do”.

The Anons gather up their signs and music and get ready to go out to the protest corner. It’s warm here next to the fire but out on the corner…..not so much. As they leave, someone comments, “There are more female Anons than usual tonight”. We all think that is a good thing.

Fireproof Man has been bopping in and out of the circle all evening; he’s still talking his “word salad” but we’re beginning to notice that if we listen closely, we can make out entire sentences that he says. Now it seems like he’s trying to make some kind of bed out of the chairs in the circle. It doesn’t work very well and he falls on his ass. He seems a little embarrassed and tries to cover this up by arranging all the chairs in kind of a square with three chairs pushed very close together, a big space then three more chairs etc. etc. When he goes to lie on a back bench, an Occupier puts all the chairs back into a circle; she sighs, “That guy is so weird!” A middle-aged street woman who has become a regular at our fire circle this year reports, “Oh, he’s always like that. Every once in a while he gets sent to Miller Dwan; when he gets out he talks and acts normal for a few weeks then he goes back to being like he is now”.

A guitar player who lived in our homeless camp over the summer about six years ago and who has remained a friend ever since drops in. He states, “I’m on my way to somewhere but I thought I’d stop by to see how you guys are doing”. We all exchange info about what’s been going on in our lives since we last saw each other (probably about a year ago). The guitar player opines, “You know that all this crap with He Who Shall Not Be Named is just meant to distract citizens from what is going on behind the scenes like trying to steal our social security, taking over the Supreme Court, militarizing the police forces, more wars and stuff like that. Now there’s all these questions about how HWSNBN got elected; I think that’s because the “shadow government”, or whatever it’s called, was bound and determined to get him placed in the president position. Citizens who are easily entertained will spend their time watching and listening to HWSNBN’s antics while the 1%ers steal the few rights and freedoms that we still have.

“Also, I think I know the real reason why the cops get bent out of shape when people protest while wearing masks or bandannas. It has nothing to do with identity, they don’t want you all to wear masks because the masks make it difficult for them to effectively gas you. Your eyes, mouth and nose are covered so you won’t absorb the gas adequately. Anyway, I’d better be on my way; I just wanted to stop in and see how you were doing. It looks to me like you’re doing really well. Keep it up, my friends”. The guitar player used to live in Duluth but he doesn’t live here anymore, that’s why we so seldomly see him.

A guy with dark hair and eyes, who we haven’t met in the past, appears in our circle. He tells us that he is a college student in some type of science related field. Some science-minded Occupiers get into a conversation about time and energy or something like that. The rest of us sit and listen. It sounds like the dark haired guy is trying to impress the science Occupiers with his massive knowledge and brilliance; when he realizes that that’s not working very well, he gets up to leave. As he walks away, he calls over his shoulder, “By the way, I do stand up comedy every Friday night, 8pm at the Dublin Inn”. Go figure.

Suddenly, a strong, cold wind launches an attack on the Plaza. Brrrr!….. Everyone zips up their jackets etc. We push all the chairs up close to the fire. The Anons return from the corner; the wind is just too cold.

A veteran, tall, slender street woman, who we have known for many years, steps out of the shadows. She asks if we still have coffee and we say, “Yah, for sure, just help yourself”. The tall woman reaches for the coffee carafe; Fireproof Man leaps out from the Nether World (or wherever it is that he goes) jumps in front of her, grabs the carafe and ceremoniously pours himself a full cup of coffee. The woman exclaims, “Hey, weird dude! Whatdaya think you’re tryin’ to do?” Fireproof Man then attempts to pour hot coffee down the woman’s arm. She jumps back and Fireproof Man runs away. The slender woman yells, “Do you want to get your head bashed in?!?” Fortunately, there is still a little coffee left so she is able to get some at least.

On that note, we figure it’s time to pack up. The Anons scurry around and get things packed up quickly; they’re getting to be experts at this. We don’t know if the veteran street woman will beat up Fireproof Man or not but if she does, we’re not gonna stick around to defend him. Come to think of it though, we’ve not known her to be particularly crazy. She just hangs out with a couple of her brothers; her brothers are also very tall. They’re generally a pretty peaceful family; as long as you don’t mess with them, that is. The veteran woman is known to pack a really hard punch but all she really wants is for people to give her the respect that she and all women deserve.

If it doesn’t rain, we’ll be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

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.

G.A. Minutes 9-18-18

G.A. Minutes 9-18-18

It feels like a typical evening in autumn here at Peoples Plaza; except that all the tree leaves and other growing things are still green. Hopefully, they’ll stay that way for a while longer. Tonight the temperature is only in the low 60s but a strong northeast wind and an earlier sunset make it feel much colder. Warm clothes and a seat close to the fire, while not required, are a very good idea.

The Plaza is completely empty when the Fire Magician and the Food Bringing Occupier roll up on the sidewalk outside of the Plaza. The Occupiers both groan and slowly start the process of hauling the fire circle supplies up the stairs and onto the site. A veteran street woman, who we have known since the days of our first fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, walks up and asks if we’d like help. This woman goes by the street name of Fox and is more than likely a senior citizen however, she is quite physically fit and limber. The Occupiers say, “Sure, that would be great”. So Ms Fox then calls out to a couple of guys on the street, “Hey, get off your asses and come over and help us”. The guys comply and soon all the basics are in place. When they have finished helping, the street folks all walk off. Another Occupier arrives; he finds very little left to do.

As the fire roars up, the partner of the Stylish Native Woman drops in. He’s cheerful and reasonably coherent this evening. He wants to know the difference between birth records and genetics. Years ago he explained to us that he had been adopted at a very young age; although he is now close to forty years of age he still knows nothing concerning the origins of his birth, birth parents, conditions for adoption or related information. It’s possible that The Partner’s severe and unmedicated mental illness has been a barrier to his discovery of these facts.

An Occupier explains to The Partner that finding out his birth circumstances would require much time, effort and searching through old court records in order to gain the knowledge he desires; or he could hire someone to do it for him. However, there is no guarantee that the records he needs could ever be found. If The Partner just wants to know what his ethnic origins are then he would need to give a saliva sample to a reputable genetic laboratory and wait to receive the results. Unfortunately, a genetic test for one’s ethnic origins is unable to supply any information about who the actual people who gave him his genetic makeup where. She tells him that going both routes at the same time would probably produce the best results but would cost a lot of money. The Partner replies, “Yeah, money is usually the problem; the little bit that I get in disability each month seems to disappear really fast”.

A couple of young guys who occasionally roll with the peeps from the Anonymous crew arrive; they’re laughing and talking about video games or something. As we listen and try to figure out what they’re talking about, a street officer from the Duluth Police Department comes up the stairs. We exchange polite greetings then the officer says, “It looks like you’ve got a pretty good thing going on here, the only problem is that fire. You’re gonna have to put that out; it’s illegal to have a fire in a city park”. An Occupier politely explains, “Actually, this fire is completely legal. It conforms to the requirements of the particular City ordinance related to fires in city parks, to the MN Statute related to fires in city parks and to the International Fire Codes related to recreational fires. I have copies of all the paperwork if you’d like to look at them”

Another Occupier opines, “Officer, it would be wise to listen to her; she’s been studying this stuff for years”. The Occupier who keeps the records reaches into the bin and takes out the file folder that she always brings along to the fire circles and hands a copy of the City ordinance to the cop. The Occupier explains that the particular section that addresses our particular fire situation is outlined in yellow but of course the cop doesn’t listen to her and reads the first line of the ordinance, he says, “Hey, wait a minute, it says right here,’fires are not allowed in city parks’!” The record keeping Occupier replies, “Yes, that’s true but look at the next line that has been yellowed over, it says, “exemptions” (one of the exemptions describes our type of fire to a t). The officer does so then exclaims, “Well, I think this ordinance is open to interpretation!” The Occupier doesn’t think it is open but decides not to waste her time arguing; she answers, “Well here’s a copy of the MN Statute” and hands it to him. “ a MN Statue always trumps a City Ordinance The cop does the same thing with this legal paper too; he grumbles, “… it is unlawful to have an open fire without obtaining written permission from the commissioner…” Trying really hard not to roll her eyes, the Occupier suggests, “Try scrolling down a few lines to where the sentences are covered in yellow, where it says ‘exemptions’.

Another Occupier comments, “We’ve been holding these fire circles in downtown Duluth for six years now; we kinda know what we’re talking about”. The officer retorts, “Six years!?! I have never seen you here before!” The record keeping Occupier thinks to herself, “Then you must be the most unobservant policeperson who ever lived” but she offers to show the cop a copy of the International Fire Codes and keeps her thoughts to herself. It appears the police dude has had enough paperwork; he responds, “I guess I’ll have to research these laws myself; I normally work the Lincoln Park beat so don’t get around here much. Have a good evening”. He walks to his squad car and drives off. An Occupier scoffs, “Oh yeah, I’m sure he’s gonna go straight home after work and start researching legislative codes. Cops just love doing that type of shit”. We all laugh.

Once the cop leaves, more people join the circle. They include an Occupier, the chronically homeless man who watched us from afar for many months before joining us a few weeks ago and his girlfriend, an Anon, the very tattooed occasional Anon and the Stylish Native Woman.

The lentil and vegetable soup heating up on the small grill is ready to eat; almost everyone takes a bowl. The Occupier who is a college student inquires, “Did anyone see that people protested at the Enbridge office in Superior today and then blocked traffic on a bridge?” We all say, “No kidding!?! We did not know that, tell us more”. The student Occupier states, “It was just a tiny little blurb at the end of the 6pm newscast on one of the commercial TV stations. I saw it as I was going out the door to come here. I’ll do some research and try to have more information next week”.

The city official pops his head into the circle and reports, “I was just riding by on the bus on my way down to Carmody’s for another one of my fundraisers when I saw a cop over here. I immediately got off the bus and came over to see if everything was o.k. An Occupier tells him, “It was just the usual ying-yang that cops who don’t know us try to lay on us. Once he figured out that we weren’t intimidated by him, he left. The official man looks relieved, “Oh, that’s good. I’ll just be on my way then”. The city official is always watching our backs.

The veteran young homeless guy minus dreadlocks and Chicago Man stop in. Chicago Man announces he will be moving into an apartment of his own in just a few more days. He enthuses, “I’ve been on the waiting list for over a year, I complied with all their guidelines, saved my own money for a deposit and now I’m finally getting an apartment. I’m kinda tired because I’ve been packing for days but I’M SO EXCITED!!!” We are all happy for him.

The short haired young homeless guy reports, “It looks like I’ll be going off to rehab again. I pissed off my p.o. and she wants to send me off to a treatment program that lasts for a year. I guess that’s what I’ll do then; I sure don’t want to go back to prison”.
He’s about to tell us more but…KABOOM!!! We hear a very loud explosion and all the sparks, flames and burning wood come flying out of the fire pit. We Are Stunned. One of the younger Anons sheepishly says, “Oh, I’m sorry”. One of the homeless ones sighs, “I tried to tell him that you can’t throw a used up lighter into the fire but everything just happened too fast”. An Occupier adds, “I’m just glad that no one was hurt”. Everyone picks up the hot wood and embers and puts them back in the fire pit; the Fire Magician sweeps up the ashes. “Same as it ever was”. We all sit watching the fire start up again and waiting for our heart rates to go down…..then we’re back in business.

Apparently, we are the hottest action going on the street now. Many, many street folks join us; the food supplies are running low but we still have organic pb+j sandwiches and lentil soup. That’ll work. Among the new arrivals to the circle are the DD and/or TBI guy who lives at the Wet House and the big, brown, yelling guy who made so much noise last week. There are so many people tonight that Wet House Man is unable to dominate the conversation; he just sits and laughs. The big brown guy is not currently yelling but he sure is hungry; he chows down on everything he can find.

We had noticed a few weeks ago that the Stylish Woman was using a small walking stick; we know that she is up in age and walking is sometimes difficult for her. When she goes to the table to refill her coffee cup someone compliments her on the beauty of her stick. She replies, “It was gifted to me by the brother of a very dear, old friend of mine. My dear friend crafted this stick himself and when he died recently, his brother told me that my friend had wanted me to have it”.

An Occupier asks, “Does anyone remember that book by Rachael Carson called Silent Spring?” All of the Occupiers and most of the Anons are familiar with the book. The Occupier remarks, “I believe Silent Spring came out in 1971. Among other things, Ms Carson asked us to notice that most of the environment in the US was then devoid of song birds. She hypothesized that this was because of the extensive use of pesticides, especially DDT. Also, the water in many rivers and bays was spontaneously bursting into flames, because there were oil spills all over the place and nobody, including the government thought oil spills were any big deal. That was before we had the EPA or OSHA or any of that stuff. I believe that Silent Spring made a major contribution towards the preservation of our Mother Earth”. An Anon observes, “Yabut, all that environmental regulation has been pretty much kicked to the curb over the years by the stinking servants of the 1%”. The Occupier responds, “Yeah, I know”.

An Occupier asks the Occupier who lives in Superior, “Say, I hear that there was another explosion at the Husky Oil Refinery last Saturday?” The Superior Occupier explains, “As you know, I live pretty close to the refinery. I was kinda distracted with doing something at the time but I do remember that I thought I heard one loud “Boom!” After a while I went outside to look and the sky was covered with smoke. Of course, the Husky Company is saying it was just a small propane tank that fell over; small tank my ass! I’ve been inside that refinery; that tank was huge”.

The reporting Occupier reports, “Before I forget, I want to remind everybody that the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition is holding a free dinner and brainstorming session at AICHO on Thursday of this week, 5p-8p. We’re starting Phase ll of the HPB of R which will attempt to tackle the issues of p;aces where homeless folks will be able to legally camp, the right to eat and share food freely in public spaces, the right to use and move freely in public spaces, the right to twenty four hour access to hygiene facilities, the right to equal treatment by City staff and the right to speak with an advocate or street outreach worker when questioned by police. I hope you all will attend and invite as many homeless and street folks as you can. We need all the ideas and advice that we can get”.

A very large middle-aged white woman and her much younger and smaller white boyfriend have been sitting in our circle and next to the table for a while. They haven’t spoken much but have been listening to the conversation. The big, brown, previously yelling guy comes over from the east ledge and goes to the table to get more food. The large woman looks at him and then down at the floor; she takes her purse and a bag and moves them in front of herself and close to her feet. She states, “I always like to keep track of my bags”. The big brown dude tells her, “You moved your bags because you thought I was gonna steal them! I don’t steal! Not all black people steal!” The white woman sputters something unintelligible; the black guy responds, “You know what you were really thinking, you stupid, fat, ugly white BITCH!!!” He takes his food and walks back to the east ledge.

The large woman is speechless; an Occupier opines, “He does have a point you know. Black people experience suspicion and racism on a daily basis. It could very well have been a coincidence that you moved your stuff when you did but he’s been given so much crap all his life; it’s understandable that he went ballistic”.

A young man with a very impressive, large and well organized backpack sits down. He tells us his name and also the fact that he is a Water Protector from a Native American band living on their ancestral lands near the Canadian border. The young man has spent the last several years visiting and helping out at various resistance camps all over the United States. He’s finally on his way back home and ended up stuck on the streets of Duluth until morning. The traveling man and one of the Water Protector/Anons have many friends and acquaintances in common; they settle down for a chat.

The Occupiers have only one dilemma, the fire is dying but we could throw a couple more logs on it and sit and watch it burn for another hour or so OR we could just watch it burn out now. It’s a little after 9pm; the consensus is to let it burn out now. So that’s what we do.

Once the fire is seriously waning, we begin to pack up. The Water Protector from the Canadian border will spend the night in the apartment of some of the Anons. While all this is going on, the big, brown dude comes over and takes a seat next to the Food Bringing Occupier, he sighs, “You know, I’m really sorry; I shouldn’t have used the words that I did. I mean, just look at me. I know I got white in me”. He removes the hood of his hoodie and shakes out his beautiful, long, thick and wavy black hair. He reports, “This all looks red in the sun. I gotta go back to the ledge; that’s my girlfriend lying over there on the bench, she’s so drunk she can’t even stand up. I havta go take care of her”. Off he goes.

So, everyone is ready to head off to their various abodes. We expect to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

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.

G.A. Minutes 8-28-18

G.A. Minutes 8-28-18

Of course, the big tree planters are blocking the vehicle entryway again when the first Occupiers arrive at Peoples Plaza this evening. This is despite the fact that they were moved earlier in the day to accommodate the Farmers Market folks. Fortunately, a group of young ones from the Anonymous crew are already present and waiting for us. They all pitch in and the fire circle set up is quickly finished.

When the Food Bringing Occupier and the Fire Magician were leaving their apartment building up the street they noticed a heavy mist in the air; at the Plaza the mist has become a very light rain. When the Occupiers and Anons hold an impromptu conference about the evening’s plan, as most of us have not brought rain gear, an Occupier opines, “Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s just a little bit of moisture; the weather people say it won’t rain anymore tonight. This stuff will soon pass”. So the Fire Magician makes a big, roaring fire and then a smaller charcoal fire in a little grill. We have a big pot of pinto bean soup that needs to be heated up. One of the Anon/Water Protectors, who is a very good cook, has brought a tasty noodle hamburger casserole too. Along with all the other usual fixins, we’re gonna be well fed tonight.

The Plaza appears to be almost empty of street and/or homeless peeps but as soon as the fire roars up, many appear from wherever they were and take seats in the circle. The Anons gather up their signs and music speaker and head out to preach to the cars; because of the rain, there are few people walking on the sidewalks.

The Native man who used to help with the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance Anishinaabe Taco Sales arrives. He rolls some cigarettes from the tobacco pouch and tells us that his partner has the flu so has decided to stay inside tonight. It sounds like his partner may have gotten into Women’s Transitional Housing in a big building a bit east of Central Hillside. This will be good for both of them; he won’t be able to live there with her but will be able to visit, rest,eat, take a shower and stuff like that. Another good thing is that Taco Man doesn’t appear to be drunk or unhappy tonight. That’s a good sign.

Fireproof Man is here again too; he’s wearing some really strange looking goggles that have yellow lenses. He’s still talking in “word salad” but doesn’t appear to be interested in “becoming One” with the fire. He gets food and coffee and takes off to somewhere else; we have no problem with that.

The city official and one of the Occupiers roll up; they’re dressed head to toe in rain gear. They’re people who know how to plan ahead. The city official is deep into a fundraising drive in order to raise money for travel costs for the group of high school students he’d like to take to Montgomery, Alabama. He and many others would like the students to see the Legacy Museum. The museum is newly opened and is the only museum in the world to show the history of lynching in the USA.

The young man who has recently lost his dreadlocks drops in too. He tells us he has to call his P.O. (parole officer) everyday now. When he calls, he’s put into a type of lottery system. If he wins, he doesn’t have to go into her office and is free for the rest of the day; if he loses, he has to go in and provide a urine sample that is then tested for drugs or alcohol. If the test comes back positive for any of these substances he will be sent back to prison for almost two years. He never knows if he’s gonna win or lose and is smart enough to stay straight just in case. He reports, “I kinda like my P.O.’s system because if I still want to use, I can do that on the weekends. The rest of the time I stay straight; things look really different from this perspective”.

The rain has become slightly stronger; we say, “Oh well……..whatever”. We can afford to do that; we all have homes to go to later where we can take off our wet clothes, take a shower, put on dry clothes and whatever else we see fit to do. The homeless ones can’t do that, they’ll be wearing their wet clothes until the clothes dry on their bodies. That’s a perfect prescription for catching a cold or worse.

Anyway, most of the homeless folks quickly disappear. A few of them run to the Mn Power building where they take shelter under a small overhang at the base of the building. They’re not doing anything, just standing there being protected from the rain. About five minutes later, one of the tall African American Duluth Police Department officers arrive; he doesn’t look too happy. He talks to one of the homeless folks for a bit then leaves. The people attempting to take shelter come over to the fire; we give them hot soup. They inform us that the cop said he was real sorry to have to do it but the Mn Power security assholes had called the police and demanded that the sheltering people be removed from standing next to the building.

Someone exclaims, “You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me!” Shortly thereafter another cop comes walking up to the circle. She seems kinda nervous and softly states, “I’d like to contribute to the next meal you guys put on” and hands an Occupier some money. We tell her thank you and then she leaves. We suppose it just goes to show you, some cops have limits on how mean they are willing to be.

As the homeless people who were not allowed to keep out of the rain eat their soup and pb+j sandwiches, the male of the group sits next to an Occupier and begins to explain himself a bit. He states, “I’ve been watching you guys and your fire for at least a month now”. The Occupier informs him that she has noticed him hanging around the edges of the Plaza. He continues, “I wanted to see what you all were up to, if you were for real. I’ve concluded that you probably are for real. I’m always paranoid about people who come around us out here because they usually have some kind of ulterior motive. I’ve been living on these streets for a long time; people who have houses to live in always tell me that I should go stay at CHUM. Not everybody can stay at CHUM. The Occupier opines, “Yeah, I’ve noticed that sometimes CHUM closely resembles a psych ward”.

The new homeless friend replies, “The best thing we ever had was Graffiti Graveyard. Some people didn’t like to go there because they said it was dangerous. Well, it was dangerous but so what? Veteran homeless people know how to handle that shit. Regular people complain about the fact that there are so many homeless people on the streets. That’s true but Graffiti Graveyard kept a lot of unhoused folks off the streets. The City made a big mistake when they closed it down about five years ago.

The man’s girlfriend is sitting a bit away from the man and chowing down like she hasn’t eaten in a week. The man confides, “I’m trying to take good care of her but she makes it very difficult. She says that I’m going to abandon her but that’s not true; when she says or does stuff that makes me angry I always walk away so I can calm down and not yell at her. I never walk more than a block away and I’m watching her the whole time. If she were to be in danger, I’d be right there. I’m always watching her back. I suppose that you’ve noticed that I have a very deep voice?” The Occupier nods in agreement. “I can’t help that, it’s the way I was born. Whenever I have any emotion in my voice she accuses me of yelling at her. I’m not yelling at her; I’m actually a naturally kind person”.

The Occupier suggests, “It sounds like your girlfriend might have PTSD”. The frustrated man replies, “She’s from a very small town outside of Duluth. I know that her father kept her locked in her room most of the time and that he was very abusive. She’s not with her father now though; she’s with me. She should just put all that stuff behind her”. The Occupier answers, “It doesn’t work that way; people with PTSD can’t just put their past abuse out of their minds. They need to face their past; they need to get therapy or counseling and talk about what happened to them. If they don’t do that, their PTSD just gets worse and worse”.

The Anons return from the corner, they are cold and wet and stand up close to the fire. One of them reports, “Hey, the porta potty across the street is now gone. WTF?” The man who was refused shelter from the rain expounds, “A few nights ago someone stole all our clothes and stuffed them down the hole of the potty”. An Occupier remarks, “How awful! I received a message a few hours ago from my contact in the City Planning Department. It said that she wanted to talk with me about the porta potty on Lake Ave and Superior St. I’ll take a guess that the potty was removed because the porta potty company said they weren’t gonna keep putting potties there only to have them destroyed. I’ll call the City woman back tomorrow and see what’s up”.

An Anon cries out, “That is so sick! Why would anyone want to deny the homeless ones a place where they can go to the bathroom? These damn HWSNBN supporters are seriously fucked up; just because The Moron pulled a lot of dirty tricks that made it appear like he was actually elected to be the president, they think they rule the country now and can do anything they want to”.

An Occupier inquires of an Anon, “I think I’m gonna file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission about the Mn Power Company’s security guards denying us the passage of our vehicles onto the Plaza. If I do that, would you be willing to sign on as a co-complainant?”. The Anon responds, “Yeah, I could do that”.

The Occupier who reports things reports, “Remember that the Anons are having an event, this Friday from 1p-7p here at the Plaza. They’ll be silk screening t-shirts and doing other art stuff. Then, I told you wrong last week; Socialist Pizza is this upcoming Friday, 6:30pm at the Women’s Building”.

We are all thoroughly soaked. All the street people are gone; they’re smarter than us, they’ve gone somewhere to keep as dry as possible. It’s only 8pm but we decide to pack up. We don’t want word to get around that we don’t have enough sense to come outa the rain.

We expect to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.