G.A. Minutes 2-9-17

G.A. Minutes 2-9-17
It’s still winter here in Duluth and everywhere else in the Great White North.  It’s cold too.  A couple of days ago the temperature went up to almost 20 degrees and we got a bunch of snow.  After that it went back down into the teens with below zero temps during the night.  That’s where things are this evening as we meet up at Coney Island.
Everyone has seasonal affective disorder.  The last month or so of winter is always so hard to get thru.  Most people just drag around and whine a lot.  Those of us who pretend to be cheerful are really just faking it.  Winter is just too damn long around here.  
It’s a good thing that our city has so many remarkable features. That’s what keeps most of us here. The weather people say it’s going to get up into the high 30s tomorrow and things will start melting.  That would help a lot.
The non-hipster guy is working alone again.  Come to think about it, we haven’t seen any other staff people in a while. Maybe the non-hipster is the only person who works here anymore.  That would explain his frazzled behavior.  We miss the old hipster staff guys.  In an odd sort of way they were on our same wave length. 
As we’re settling in an Occupier says, “I have news.  The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights meetings are being changed to Thursday nights, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House.  That means we can have our meeting here on Tuesdays again if everyone is down with that”.  Everyone is down.
An Occupier has recently returned from several weeks in Europe.  He tells us about a fabulous high speed train he traveled on.  He saw many green energy innovations, none of which are in use in the USA.  He drank really good beer in Germany and thinks most Parisians don’t like Donald Trump or maybe it’s just Americans in general.  The Occupier doesn’t speak French so he couldn’t explain that the two are not interchangeable.
The city official will be traveling to Milwaukee, WI in a few weeks.  He’ll be giving some lectures about the creation of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial.  His radio show has been picked up by a third radio station.  His radio show is becoming quite a success.  With all that the city man does for our community, he has our immense affection and respect.
An Occupier comments, “I suppose everyone knows about the March in Support of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Women that will take place on Valentine’s Day.  It will leave from the Central Hillside Community Center at 4:45pm and march to People’s Plaza; stop there for a bit and then go down to the waterfront.
“I guess there’s been some questioning because some folks are confusing this march with the annual event that happens in Canal Park on May Day.  You know, the one where we put flowers in the water?  That event will still happen on May 1st.
Another Occupier arrives.  He reports, “Hey, did you hear that the U.S. Court of Appeals refused to reinstate Trump’s ban on immigrants and refugees?”  We all say, “Hurray!”
An Occupier adds, “That means this issue will probably go to the Supreme Court.  The ban is only good for 90 or 120 days so it will probably be over before it gets to court.  What would probably be best is if it would go to court before the ban has ended.  Then the court would still have only eight judges which would mean a four-four decision and the lower court decision would stand.  With all this evil shit going on, it would be nice to have something good happen in the government”.
Another Occupier remarks, “I’ve read several articles recently that suggested that although Trump totally sucks, he’s just the sideshow.  His antics are designed to distract us from what all his minions are doing behind the scenes”.
Someone agrees, “That’s probably true.  I think there will be some dark days ahead.  I also think that if we don’t panic, stay united with those of like minds and ‘keep our eyes on the prize’ things will turn out for the better in the long run”.
Another states, “Speaking of dark days, I see that the Army Corp of Engineers caved in and obeyed Trumpopath’s illegal order to give the final permit for Energy Transfer to drill under the Missouri River at Standing Rock.  I imagine they’re drilling right now.  The water protectors have several law suits filed but I imagine by the time a final court decision orders Energy Transfer to stop; the pipeline will already be finished.  I want to go out there but I know the corporations are coming for our water next. I think I need to stay here.
“I have a huge amount of admiration and respect for the water protectors at Standing Rock.  I wonder what they are planning to do now.  Some I have spoken with say they won’t be surprised if they are killed”.
Seeing as the city official will be out of town, he gives his tickets to the UWS/UMD Soul Food Dinner to some of the Occupiers. The dinner will be held in the Greysolon Ballroom on Saturday, February 25th at 6pm.  The event has been sold out and the Occupiers are grateful to receive these tickets.  The Soul Food Dinner has become an annual event for them.
An Occupier has a hole in the sleeve of his coat.  Another Occupier happens to be carrying a sewing kit with him.  He takes the coat and begins repairing the sleeve.  The rest of the Occupiers go outside for a smoke break (the non-hipster stepped out for his break a while ago). 
When they return, the staff guy is sweeping the floor and the coat is fixed.  All the other customers are gone.  We start packing up.
An Occupier says, “Before we leave I just want to tell you all that I’ve been asked by Idle No More to help out this weekend at a big conference for representatives from most of the Anishinaabe tribes in the northern watershed.  Also, Honor the Earth’s Sioux Chef Dinner still needs a few people to act as servers and such. It will be happening at Peace Church on Monday, February 13that 5pm.  If we can get there by 4:30pm that would be good”.
So with that, we all head out to go home and crawl under the covers.  When we wake up tomorrow the weather will be much warmer….right? 
We won’t be having a meeting next Tuesday as we will be marching for the murdered and missing women.  More than likely you will find us back at Coney Island on Tuesday, February 21st.   
G.A. Minutes 2-2-17
It’s Thursday again and we’re back at Coney Island.  The non-hipster dude is working alone again.  He’s still stressed out but doesn’t seem to care.  Although there are only a few customers, he’s running around like crazy.  Maybe being stressed is just his normal way of being.
Winter has definitely returned.  It snowed during most of the week and now temperatures are in the single digits with strong wind.  The street is devoid of pedestrians.  Everyone who can be indoors is indoors; many of those who cannot are hiding out in the parking ramps and the skywalk.  On nights like this, most of the security guards will turn a blind eye to the homeless ones as long as they are quiet, hidden and back out on the street before the business people arrive.
The Anonymous crew is out on the corner of Lake Ave and Superior St holding a #NO DAPL rally.  As she walks through the café door, an Occupier says, “I’m so glad the youngbloods are stepping up.  Ever since I contacted pneumonia a couple of years ago I’ve been unable to breathe while standing outdoors when it’s really cold”.  
As the first Occupiers arrive they are joined by a woman, formerly of the streets, who they have known for many years. She’s had her own apartment for a few years now and has still been struggling with addiction.  She’s had a very hard life but has not given up.  Fortunately she is highly intelligent, with great organizational skills and a kind heart.  We’re pretty sure she will be one of the lucky ones who survive and then go on to help others.
As more Occupiers begin to arrive the conversation turns to the hot topic of the past year or so, Standing Rock.  There was another confrontation with the cops yesterday.  This time it was with the National Guard and not the Morton County Sheriffs so none of the water protectors were seriously injured or maimed. Well over 50 were arrested though.  Their crime?  Setting up another camp on land stolen from the Standing Rock Sioux over 100 years ago.  Of course, although the confrontation was completely peaceful, the arrested water protectors will be charged with inciting a riot, assault of a peace officer or some other trumped (pun intended) up charge that carries expensive bail and a large fine.
As most people know by now, the Psychopath In Chief issued an executive order a few days ago aimed at the Army Corp of Engineers.  The order stated that the ACE must quickly finish the DAPL EIS and permit the pipeline to be finished no matter what.  The ACE has not yet responded, no permit has been issued and the executive order is probably unconstitutional but some of the water protectors believe Energy Transfer has begun drilling under the river anyway.  Each time any of the water protectors try to sneak a little peek at what’s being done, they are met with the rubber bullets and dangerous chemical sprays of the Morton County Sheriffs Department.  
The water protectors of Standing Rock have sent warning to the water protectors of northern Minnesota that we can expect to be next in line re: Enbridge (a major investor in Energy Transfer) attempts to build their water destroying pipelines across the waterways and wild rice beds that lie in the ceded territories of northern MN Anishinaabe tribes.  Many Native and non-Native people of northern MN are sworn water protectors; preparations began years ago but more are in the works.
Several of the Occupiers have been meeting with elders and almost-elders of the Fond du Lac band.  At this time the discussions in these meetings cannot be made public.  The Occupiers have been able to provide a few ideas as far as strategy goes but mainly they have been learning and receiving the wisdom from the legends and philosophy of Anishinaabe culture.
An Occupier comments, “I wonder how things went at the meeting between the Homeless Bill of Rights Coalition and the Human Rights Commission.  I really wanted to be there but our meetings at FDL happen at the exact same time as the HB of R meetings”.  None of the Occupiers who are present attended the aforementioned meeting.  We agree to ask around and to attend the HB of R meeting next Tuesday and the HRC meeting next Wednesday.
Another Occupier reminds us, “This upcoming Saturday, there’s going to be a rally in support of refugees, immigrants and against the “Trumpopath’s” ban of them.  It will start around 1pm and then at 3pm there’s gonna be a Forum on Polymet at the Zeitgeist.  On Sunday, our friend from the Green Party will be sponsoring a potluck and presentation about a Guaranteed National Income”.
Some of the Anonymous folks come through the door.  They are carrying signs and their sound system.  They appear to be at least halfway frozen.  We quickly order coffee for them.
The non-hipster staff dude needs to go out for a smoke.  We’ll keep an eye on everything until he gets back.   
An Anon reports, “We had at least 15 people show up for the rally”.  An Occupier responds, “In this weather on a week night, that is amazing”.
Another Anon tells us, “I was talking to a woman from the City’s Clean and Safe Team.  She told me that she is very opposed to the Homeless Bill of Rights”.  An Occupier opines, “She probably sees homeless ones as a big nuisance.  She might even find them scary.  Some of them actually are.  However, the homeless really can’t help it that they have to hang around on the streets.  They don’t have anywhere else to go or anything to do.  If I were homeless, I think I’d become a major drunk or dope fiend just out of boredom”.
The Anons begin talking among themselves about future plans for actions and such.  We just sit and listen; they have many good ideas.  We’ve noticed that many of the Millennials are turning into good, responsible revolutionaries.  This gives us a huge amount of relief.  Some years ago, most of us were worried there would be no one to carry on the work and the dream for a healthy planet and society once we all were gone.
The staff guy is sweeping the floor in a hurry.  He probably wants to go home.  We begin to clean up; the Anons gather up their stuff.  We notice that although they are dressed in layers, none of their clothing was made for actual winter weather. They’re planning on hauling all their stuff way up the hill.
One of the Occupier couples will somehow figure out a way to cram 3 Anons and all of their gear into a small car and give them a ride home.  It’s the least we can do.
The way things stand now, we plan to be back at Coney Island next Thursday.

G.A. Minutes 1-26-17

G.A. Minutes 1-3-17

G.A. Minutes 1-3-17
The Polar Vortex is visiting again.  It showed up a few hours ago and we’re told it won’t be leaving until Sunday.  Marvelous.  The temperature reads 8 degrees; when the wind blows it feels like it shoots down to well below zero.  Some of our homeless folks freeze to death in weather like this.
Things look calm and somewhat under control when we arrive at Coney Island this evening.  It’s very different than it was last week when we showed up for a meeting that never happened.
Last week we walked in to find the newly hired young African American woman hauling rugs around and sweeping the floor. She appeared to be stressed.  The newest hipster was behind the counter wandering around, completely flummoxed.
He told us a street man came in acting crazy, yelling, swearing and demanding to be allowed to charge his cell phone.  The hipster dude told him that if he wanted to charge his phone, he was gonna have to stop swearing and scaring the customers. So the swearing dude grabbed the glass tip jar off the counter, slammed it into the food prep and storage area and walked out.
There were little bits of glass everywhere.  The hipster said, “I just called my boss; he says I have to close up.  I think he’s right because I can’t tell for sure if any of the food or drinks have glass in them.  I don’t want to take the chance by serving anything”. 
We hung around long enough to call the Occupiers who hadn’t arrived already and to help the hipster dude calm down a little. A few of us went across the street to the Chinese Restaurant in order to get something to eat.  Our meeting never happened.
The newest hipster is working alone tonight.  There are a few customers; he seems slightly flustered but is handling it o.k.  A friend of ours who is a well-known and well respected local musician is standing at the counter placing an order.  We invite him to join us.
An Occupier, who will be leaving for Europe shortly, has been working on planning for the People’s Inaugural to be held on January 20th (no surprise there).  He reports, “It was going to be held at the Red Herring but seeing as there was so much interest and support for the event, we decided to hold it at Sacred Heart”.  He gives us the tentative rundown of speakers and performers.
Our musician friend says, “I assume someone will be calling me”.  The Occupier replies, “Oh crap, no one has called you yet?  We need to take care of that right away because we were already saying we had enough white guys.  We want to make sure voices from all community members are heard”.
The musician has to move on to his next destination.  We chat a bit more and after he leaves the Occupier comments, “Gee, I hope he wasn’t offended because I called him a white guy”.  We all laugh because we know the musician is pretty much without ego problems.
We ask the hipster if he would mind putting KUMD on the radio.  He does and an Occupier tells us, “I’m sorry to have to let you know that last Tuesday was the last show the best DJ in the Twin Ports did.  He’s going back to college to get a degree in environmental studies so won’t have time to do a radio show anymore.  Someone else will be taking his place and I think they’ll be trying to play the same type of music”.  Another Occupier whines, “Yabut, it will be a very long time before they can find someone who can throw down the tunes like Steve-O does”.
An Occupier passes a flyer around.  It advertises an event sponsored by Woodland Hills.  Dr. Martin Brokenleg, a Native American, will be speaking on “Walking the Ancient Path of Purpose, Power, Achievement and Belonging”.  She explains, “I think I may have heard this guy speak before.  He was really inspiring.  He’ll be speaking on Tuesday, January 17th, 1:30pm at Mitchell Auditorium.  The event is free but they’re expecting so many people that they’re asking folks to register beforehand.  I registered myself and 5 guests.  So who wants to go?  We all do; maybe we’ll have to register someone else in order to accommodate everyone.
A few of the Occupiers have a meeting out at Fond du Lac on the same day.  They will attend the Dr. Brokenleg event and leave a little early.  One of these Occupiers reports, “The last meeting was small but very good.  Our friend, the FDL spiritual leader, started things out with a prayer ceremony; we had a potluck feast and began a discussion about Enbridge’s Line 3. There were a couple of FDL guys there who knew a heck of a lot about pipelines.  They are guys in their 50s or so.  One of them has spent most of his life working on pipelines and the other has spent most of his life taking care of the earth and wildlife around them.
“Several of the big, genuinely grassroots, Native groups are interested in working against Line 3.  I hear that the First Nations people are already kicking it.  It looks like we’ll be killing the Black Snake here too”.
An Occupier’s phone rings.  It’s an Occupier who has taken a leave of absence in order to raise a young child and to work closely on climate change issues.  He wants to know if he and some of our other friends can show a documentary film in the performance space of the artist co-op where one of the Occupier couples live.  He’s asking about Sunday afternoon. The couple thinks it will be o.k.  They agree to discuss logistics with the calling Occupier tomorrow.
The Occupier who lives in Superior exclaims, “Wisconsin is doing it again!  This time they’re trying to make it even harder for Wisconsinites to collect unemployment benefits.  They’ve taken away the 800 phone number that people used to call. Now the only way to apply for and/or monitor ones’ benefits is to go on a computer and do it there.  Believe it or not, there are still people who don’t know how to use a computer.  There are also people who live in rural places that don’t have internet access.
“The Scott Walker people do this shit on purpose!  Their main goal seems to be to utterly destroy the lives of regular working people.  I don’t understand why they think this will benefit the state of Wisconsin”.
Another Occupier adds, “I used to live in Wisconsin.  There were progressive people living there.  I wonder what happened to them.  Maybe they all moved to Minnesota like I did”.
The city official stops in.  Several of us missed his radio show last week.  It featured the new president of the Duluth NAACP. One Occupier has managed to find the show on The Cloud.  He agrees to send it to the rest of us.
An Occupier asks, “So what exactly is The Cloud anyway.  I know we’re supposed to send all our computer files, music, passwords and everything else to The Cloud for supposed safe keeping.  But what if it’s not there when we ask for it?  What do we do then?  Where is this cloud?  Who maintains it?  Who owns it?  Does the NSA have access to it?”
None of us know the answer to her questions, not even the city official.  She continues, “Well, I don’t think I’ll be sending any of my stuff to some stupid cloud that I don’t know anything about. I’ll just stay old school and use a jump drive”.
Someone changes the subject saying, “You all remember that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance is holding their next Anishinaabe Taco Sale this upcoming Friday from 9am-2pm and that they need us all to help, don’t you?”  We all remember.
Someone else asks, “Is everyone planning on going to Socialist Action’s Marxmas party on Saturday?  I go every year and have a great time”.  Everyone is planning to attend.
The hipster is sitting at the counter talking to a young woman. He’s probably done with his cleaning.  We know we should leave but nobody wants to go outside.  The Revolution will require us to be brave.  We clean up our mess and gather our courage to face the freezing cold that awaits us.
When we collect our tip money we notice the new tip jar looks exactly like the old one.  An Occupier jokes, “Right on dude! The crazy guy smashes your jar and you put another one up right in the same place.  ‘In your face!’
The hipster answers, “Yeah, but now when someone puts money in it, I take it out and put it in my pocket.  I’m thinking, if you’re gonna rob me, why not take the money in the till?  That’s not my money.  My tips are what I survive on from one day to the next”.
All of the Occupiers have homes now.  That means we probably won’t freeze to death before next Tuesday when we plan to return to the Original Coney Island.

G.A. Minutes 12-20-16

G.A. Minutes 12-20-16
We’re having a bit of respite from the Polar Vortex right now.  The weather people tell us to expect milder weather until after Christmas Day.  That would be nice; we hope they actually know what they’re talking about.
Temperatures are in the mid 30’s with not much of a wind. Everything is kinda slushy so we wipe our feet as we enter Coney Island this evening.
A group of people are in the back booth already.  It sounds like they’re having some type of meeting.  We take the slightly smaller booth in the middle of the café; we’re not expecting many Occupiers tonight so everything should be just fine.
The hipster guy who used to be the newest staff member is working and the tall non-hipster guy is working too.  The tall guy is now the newest staff member; he’s still in training.  It looks like he has a little more confidence now but still requires supervision so he doesn’t accidentally kill someone or set the place on fire.
As we place our orders and settle in, an Occupier comments, “I think it would be a good idea to push the Duluth Police Department to sign a non-aggression pact with all the Twin Ports and Fond du Lac water protectors. That way, when the time comes that we need to do serious direct action in order to protect our water from Enbridge and Polymet, we won’t have to be hit with rubber bullets, attack dogs and water cannons”.
Another Occupier responds, “That would be nice, wouldn’t it?  However, I don’t think the DPD would sign something like that.  I’m sure Chief Tuscan would give a speech saying that the DPD would never behave in such a manner unless they were protecting us from ‘outside agitators’ blah, blah, blah.  Besides, with all the work we already have to do I don’t know if we have enough water protectors to spare a few to push for a non-aggression pact.  It’s a good idea though”.
The newest hipster has already brought all our orders; they were correct.  Now he’s hovering saying, “Is there anything else at all that I can do for you?”  An Occupier asks, “Would you be willing to change the radio station to 103.3 KUMD?”  The hipster says, “No problem” and immediately and easily does it.  Now were listening to the best music DJ in the Northland.  We feel like we’re at home again.
For the past two weeks the radio has been on some wacko rock station with lots of commercials.  The new staff people were so discombobulated that we figured if we asked them to change the station, their heads would blow up.  So we just suffered.
An Occupier asks, “Does anyone know what’s going on with the evil Polymet sulfide mine project these days?” Another Occupier replies, “Well, I think they’re in the permit application process right now.  Polymet has to apply to the MN DNR for twenty permits to mine.  I’m not sure if they have to apply for each one separately but I do know that they’ve applied for the first one and a decision will be handed down soon.  Then there will be a public comment period.  If you want more information you could check out Water Legacy.  They and Paula Macalbee are the main watchdogs on this.
Of course, we all know the MN DNR is in the back pocket of Polymet and all the other murderers of Mother Earth so they won’t actually listen to anything the various water protectors have to say.  They’ll just follow the process until the end; grant all the permits and give Polymet permission to destroy our water and manoomin.  Then it will be time for us to put our bodies on the line”.
The first Occupier exclaims, “I just don’t understand what is wrong with these people!  They know their mines and pipelines are going to pollute and destroy all the water and land on the earth.  They are going to wreck the entire planet and cause the death of the human species.  Yet, they continue their vicious ways in order to get some more stupid money.  What is wrong with these people?!?”
An Occupier tells her, “Well, you see, it works like this,” he puts his fingers in his ears and yells, “I can’t hear you! I can’t hear you!  La la La la!  La la La la!”  We all laugh.
Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, and all the unemployed miners up on The Range want any kind of mine or pipeline they can get just so they can have high paying jobs. What about giving them and a bunch of other people high paying jobs cleaning up all the messes already made by industry and mining?
Changing the subject somewhat, an Occupier says, “Seeing as the Standing Rock elders are asking everyone to campaign for people across the country to take their money out of all the big banks that are bankrolling the Dakota Access Pipeline, do you think we should ask the City of Duluth to divest from Wells Fargo?”
Another Occupier opines, “That’s a really good idea.  The City Council just approved a resolution in support of Standing Rock so it follows that they wouldn’t want to keep their investments and such in a bank that enables Energy Transfer to destroy the water at Standing Rock and brutalize the S.R. water protectors.  Let’s pass your idea around and see if others want to step up”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior arrives.  He’s tired and stressed out.  He is the single parent of three boys and is trying to make a good Christmas for them while also complying with all the things expected of him by the various aunts, uncles and grandparents.  We get him a cup of coffee and he tells us, “Christmas is supposed to be a time when one shares warm and happy fellowship with family and friends.  Instead, our culture and the media demand we buy lots of presents. 
“I’ve managed to get each of my boys two nice presents a piece.  Then I have a few small things for them to give to the relatives.  That’s the best I can do.  I don’t know if I’m gonna be able to make the fire on Christmas Day.  I have to drive the boys to several places across MN and WI”.
We say to him, “Don’t worry about it man.  Just do what you gotta do.  We know that you would like to be with us but it just can’t be helped”.
An Occupier reports, “After all the children were grown, my family decided to do Christmas without presents, decorations or any of the other capitalist trimmings.  That was over ten years ago and it’s been wonderful.  We just all got together at Brighton Beach and made a big fire in the fireplace out there.  When the sun went down we went to someone’s house for a good potluck dinner.  That’s where the idea of having a Christmas Day fire circle came from”.
Another Occupier informs us, “A couple of us have been invited to a small feast out at FDL tomorrow.  Some of the heavy hitting FDL organizers will be there.  The plan is to have a prayerful meal and then start to lay the groundwork for the upcoming battle with Enbridge’s Line 3.  We’ll have more to report to you all at our next meeting”.
Many of the Occupiers attended Honor the Earth’s Support Standing Rock fundraiser at the Red Herring last night.  Someone comments, “Man, it was less than standing room only.  We were all packed in there like sardines.  It was cool how everyone could barely move but still were friendly, smiling and polite.  I bet they raised a lot of funds”.
Someone else agrees, “It was pretty cool.  I enjoyed listening to Winona LaDuke speak; the performers were excellent too.  It’s a good thing that they put glasses by the water fountain; there was no way I was gonna attempt to order a drink from the bar”.
We’ve stayed later than usual.  There have been customers in and out all evening so the staff folks are just beginning to clean up.  The newest hipster tells us he’s been working a lot recently.  He’s looking forward to Coney Island being closed for a few days for the holidays.  He needs a break.
We clean up our mess, put tips in the jar and head out with plans to meet up at the fire circle on Sunday and back here on Tuesday.   
G.A. Minutes 12-13-16
It should come as no surprise that we are back at Coney Island again.  We have a visitor too.  It’s called the Polar Vortex.  No one is very happy about this and we have no idea how long it will be around.  It sounds like we’re going to be stuck with it at least until the end of the week.  Marvelous.
As we walk through the door, the outside temperature reads 3 above zero.  We notice a small sign on the door that says Bathroom For Customers Only.  That’s never been there before.  Hmmm… 
Things don’t look too promising behind the counter either.  The non-hipster trainee is in charge tonight and it looks like he’s training someone else in.  A cheerful, probably non-hipster, young African American woman takes our orders. 
When an Occupier asks for her usual order (chicken salad wrap, easy on the chicken and lots of veggies) the young woman admits she doesn’t know how to make that.  She asks the non-hipster guy but he doesn’t know how to make it either.  The Occupier explains how it is done then takes a seat in the back booth with the rest of the crew.
After a very short time both staff members come to our booth carrying everyone’s orders.  They have almost everything right except the salad wrap appears to be from another planet.  No worries, at least it has all the correct ingredients.  Once the servers have returned to the counter, the Occupier takes the whole thing apart and rearranges it so as to be able to get it into her mouth instead of her lap.  It’s all rather amusing in an odd sort of way.
An Occupier announces, “On January 20th the Red Herring will be throwing an inaugural ball.  We should all go”.  Another Occupier adds, “The way things are looking right now, I don’t know if there will even be an inauguration.  With voting recounts, possible defections of Electoral Candidates, Russian hacking and massive conflicts of interest everything is up in the air.  It’s kinda like the circus from hell”.  Everyone nods in agreement.
An Occupier comments, “I was watching a video today of the Standing Rock Water Protectors cutting down some of the razor wire that the Sheriff’s Department had put across the bridge on the main highway that leads past the camps and into Cannon Ball. The protectors worked for a little while and then the cops showed up.  They had an armored vehicle equipped with water cannons and that ear drum blowing machine.  The cops aimed assault rifles at the protectors.
“A water protector said to the cops, ‘I don’t know why you guys are so worked up. We’re just trying to clear off the highway on our reservation land so people will be able to get through on the highway.  We’re just trying to help’.  The cops didn’t know what to say about that but they didn’t budge from their positions. 
The Occupier who had watched the video said  the stand-off went on in blizzard force wind for about forty or so minutes.  The cop  in  a white stocking cap face mask seemed to be acting as some kind of spokesperson, but he would not unmask or give any clue to his identity.  He did not answer when the protectors asked what his position was, by what authority and in what capacity did he represent the crowd of thirty or forty uniformed men behind him.  He could not answer and even turned his back to the water protectors.   Eventually the water protectors agreed among themselves  they  had made their point.  The police are constantly watching.  They will respond in minutes in force to the least provocation.  If there is no work going on at the pipeline, who are the police protecting with this illegal barricade? The protectors went back to their warm tipis.  I imagine the cops had to stay out by the bridge to defend stuff from who knows what”.
The city official arrives.  He’s bundled up from head to toe just like the rest of us.  He’s followed by a man who is vaguely acquainted with one of the Occupiers.  The man asks to join us and pulls up a chair.  The man begins spouting platitudes one after the other. We listen for a while then resume our conversation.  Once the vaguely acquainted man is not taking center stage any longer, he leaves.
An Occupier continues, “I was really glad to see the water protectors are still protecting everything at Standing Rock.  I’m a little confused as to what’s going on out there right now.  I imagine you all saw the video put out by Standing Rock Chairperson Dave Archambault.  He says the fight is over and everyone should go home.  Did you see the statements put out by several of the elders stating the chairperson does not speak for them and people should stay at the camps because water protection is still needed?”
We have all seen Mr. Archambault’s video; some of us have seen the elder’s statements.  An Occupier reports that she has been sent pictures of a big warehouse stuffed with brand new generators and many other good things that were mailed out to the camps.  These things were not distributed but ended up in a warehouse owned by the chairperson and possibly the Tribal Council.
Someone says, “It seems that everyone not at the camps is confused about what’s going on right now.  Some of our Native friends and fellow organizers are going out this upcoming weekend to try and make sense of everything”.
Someone else adds, “I’ve observed that when tribal governments try to follow the white man’s rules they usually become corrupted and sell out their people to the interests of the wealthy white people”.
The city official interjects, “Whenever a group uses that top down, Robert’s Rules type of leadership structure, corruption is sure to follow”.
An Occupier tells us, “I received a message from the Superior Organizer today.  She said that one of the members of the Indigenous Commission is in the hospital in Bismarck and is due to be released soon.  The Superior Organizer was wondering if anyone would be available to bring the Commissioner back to Duluth.  I gave her the phone number of one of our friends who will be going out to the camps this weekend.  I know the Commissioner went out to Standing Rock about 10 days ago but I have no idea why she’s in the hospital.  I hope she’s o.k.”  
On another note, the city man remarks, “I don’t know why the Mayor and all the big City officials have to serve alcohol at all their big City functions.  Alcohol has been a big problem in communities of color.  Having alcohol served at these City functions does not help us.  Personally, I’ve never had an alcohol problem but I don’t attend the functions just out of general principle”.
An Occupier exclaims, “Having to hang out with all those ‘suits’ and they’re all drunk?  I couldn’t handle it.  It seems that alcohol is almost mandatory with those folks”.
An Occupier will be leaving for Europe in a few weeks.  He’s going on vacation with his two adult sons.  He says, I think we’ll be going to Germany and France.  I’ll try to check out what they have going on in the way of alternative energy sources.  I think most European countries are more advanced than the USA”.
Another Occupier reminds us, “The Red Herring is sponsoring a benefit for Standing Rock next Monday December 19th from 5pm to 1am.  There will be lots of live music and a silent auction.  Winona LaDuke will give a presentation.  I’m betting it will be a good time”.
The city official has bundled up again and is going off to catch his bus.  As he leaves he calls out over his shoulder, “I forgot to mention, the DTA is hiring bus drivers right now. They pay a decent wage too.  Spread the word”.
We have been sitting in the very back of the Coney Island Café all evening but still, every time the door opens we feel a blast of very cold air.  We have no desire to go back into it. 
It seems like we have no choice.  The new staff members are probably not going to let us spend the night in the place and besides, it would still be cold outside in the morning. Many other people on this planet have to endure discomforts much worse than ours. We bundle up and brace ourselves for the short walks we will be required to tolerate.
Barring any unforeseen circumstances, we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.  
G.A. Minutes 12-6-16
I’m gonna stick my neck out and say it may actually be winter now and for some time to come.  The skies have been overcast for like ever; the temperature is in the low 20s and the wind is mean and nasty.  The weather people say it’s gonna get colder every day for as far as they can see.  It’s the dark time of the year too.  Arghhh….
However, it’s warm inside Coney Island.  The most recently hired hipster is working.  He has another new trainee.  This time it’s a young hipster woman.  Within a few minutes it becomes obvious that she has done this type of work many times before. This is good because we have many things to talk about tonight.  We’re glad we won’t need to help her do her job.
Everyone is excited by the news about Standing Rock.  Last Sunday the Army Corp of Engineers announced that they were withholding the permit for Energy Transfer to drill beneath the Missouri River in order to finish the pipeline.  They said they were going to do an environmental assessment on other possible sites that the pipeline could use. 
Everything is kind of up in the air right now but whatever they end up doing, it’s going to take a while.  Energy Transfer isn’t going to have a pipeline ready for use before December 31st. That’s the date they promised all their refineries they would send out their first oil shipments.  The refineries will have to get oil from another company.  Energy Transfer is going to lose a lot of money.  There’s more to the story but we’ve found in the past that the best way to get a corporation to change its ways is to cost them a lot of money.
An Occupier comments, “Energy Transfer put out a statement saying they were going to go ahead and drill under the Missouri anyway.  They will just pay the $50,000 a day fine until they’re done.  What are the Water Protectors going to do if the company does that?”  Another Occupier replies, “I think Energy Transfer is bluffing because they’re finally worried.  Just going ahead and drilling will be very difficult to do.  They’re going to need to find a contractor to supply the workers.  The contractor would have to be willing to blatantly defy the US Government and possibly be arrested and sued out of existence”.   
Some Occupiers begin exchanging ideas as to what they think Standing Rock should do next.  One Occupier opines, “In actuality, we don’t have anything to say about it.  We just need to wait for the elders and the water protectors to figure out their strategy.  They’ll then tell us what they need us to do”.
Our good friend, the city official arrives.  He has inside information for us.  He tells us, “Remember when Dr. El Kanti was here and scheduled to speak at a lot of places including both the high schools?  Well, the head of the school board and the principal of Denfield H.S. got together and cancelled one of Dr. El Kanti’s speeches.  The head of the school board was throwing his weight around saying he needed to put a stop to the things Dr. El Kanti was saying.  I called someone in the school system who has as much power as the school board leader.  Once the dust settled, the school board guy told me personally that he had no problem with Dr. El Kanti and that all the speeches would go ahead as planned”.
An Occupier remarks, “What a bunch of morons.  I suppose because Denfield is the high school with the most students of color, they didn’t want students of color to get information showing them that the only race is the human race”.
Someone asks, “So what did you all think of the horribly long City Council meeting that we went to last night?”  Someone else replies, “I thought the folks representing the Homeless Bill of Rights Coalition presented the plan really well.  I wish there was more that had been figured out about how to implement the right to 24 hour access to hygiene facilities.
An Occupier explains, “Oh there is the beginning of a plan figured out.  I and one of the Social Action members have been scoping out the parts of the city most frequented by homeless people.  We also interviewed many people who stay at CHUM. We made a list of good places where we and homeless folks think porta potties could be placed.  We also called around to porta potty companies to get price estimates.
“However, I wasn’t on the panel so when the Councilors began asking about specifics I didn’t think it would be a good idea for me to jump up from the audience waving maps and price estimates.  All the information has been sent to Councilors Westerlund and Sipress though.
“I didn’t think it was such a good idea for the Councilors or the mayor or whoever it was to send the bill back to the Human Rights Commission.  The HRC already had the thing for at least a year and didn’t do anything.  I go to all their meetings; they have some very interesting discussions but they don’t really do much.  I guess I’m going to have to recruit lots of people from the coalition to attend with me.  If we do that consistently, we can make them do the work”.
Another Occupier wants to know, “There is gonna be access to shower facilities too, isn’t there?”  The Occupier working on the H.B. of R. responds, “Yeah, but we haven’t figured that out yet”. The first Occupier suggests, “What about the empty showers at the Washington Center?  After the swimming pool was closed down, all those showers have just been sitting there not being used.
“Also, I’ve seen that in some cities they have taken old buses and converted them into portable shower facilities.  Our DTA can only use a bus for so many years and then they have to sell it and get a new bus.  They sell their old buses for around $5,000”.  The H.B. of R. Occupier remarks, “Those are good ideas.  I’ll present them to the coalition”.
Another Occupier reflects, “It was so great that the City Council voted almost unanimously for the resolution in support of Standing Rock.  The people who spoke in favor of the resolution blew me away with their eloquence”.    
Changing the subject, an Occupier says to the city official, “So what do you think about having to deal with ‘The Donald’?”  The official states, “It will probably suck but at least things are out in the open now.  For a long time people of color have been reporting that racism still exists and that it is all encompassing. Political correctness has kept a lot of the racism hidden from many white folks.  Now everyone can see that things have not improved much.  Maybe actual changes will be made”.
An Occupier asks, “Do you guys want to hear about my latest scandalous experience?  We say, “Yes, please”.  The Occupier tells us, “I was at the latest Citizens Review Board meeting the other day.  Someone brought a copy of this month’s Zenith newspaper.  In it was an article about various types of citizen/police overview groups across the country.  A Duluth police department communications officer was interviewed and quoted as saying, ‘Duluth has a Citizens Review Board but it doesn’t have any power and can’t see most of our records’.
“The CRB Commissioners went ballistic.  I kid you not, they were screaming at the only cop who was present.  One said, “So where is the Chief?!?  He hasn’t been here since he officially was given the job!  Where’s the lieutenant?!  Where’s the sergeant?!  Another yelled, “So if we have no power, why are we doing all this work?!?  I’m this close to telling you where you can stick it!”
The only cop who was there is a middle aged dude who has just been appointed to his position.  I’m betting that he was there because he’s too low on the totem pole to be able to send someone else in his place.  He says, “Well gee, I don’t know. I’ve never even heard of the Zenith and I didn’t know there was an article in it”.   
After they calmed down a little, the Commissioners asked me to give them my truthful opinion.  I’m usually the only person from the actual general public who attends the meetings.  They seem to think I have my finger on the pulse of the community or something.  Anyway, I just told them I thought the general perception in the community is that they don’t have any power”.
Another Occupier adds, “Actually it’s pretty cool that it went down like that.  Maybe the Commissioners will fight to gain more power now.  After all, some of them said at the beginning of the year they were going to do that”.
It appears the staff has finished all the cleaning.  We were so busy talking we didn’t even notice.  Time to leave.
We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.   

G.A. Minutes 11-29-16

G.A. Minutes 11-29-16
So we’ll be doing weekly Tuesday night meetings at Coney Island during the winter months.  Except it doesn’t seem to be winter right now.  It was winter at this time last week but it has rained for the last four days.  All the snow has washed away and temperatures are in the upper 30s.  We may have been able to have a fire tonight.  Who knows?
An Occupier comments, “I called the National Weather Forecast this morning to find out what the weather would be like this evening.  The recording said a 50% chance of…… that’s all; it just said chance of….. Then it went on to tomorrow’s forecast.  Climate change is getting scarier by the day.  Nobody knows what is going on”.
Things look a little different at Coney Island tonight.  The regular hipster is not present.  The newest hipster, who was trained in a month or two ago, seems to be supervising a tall not very hipster looking guy who appears to have never worked in a food serving type job before this. 
Both of these guys appear quite flustered and confused.  Two of the small booths have a couple of people in them and they have ordered food.  The guys are both frantically looking in all the drawers behind the counter.  They appear to be having a hard time getting even the coffee maker to work.
Our back booth is empty so we put our stuff in it and go back to the counter to order food.  Eventually the tall non-hipster dude arrives.  An Occupier asks, “Is there chicken salad tonight?”  The dude gets a real panicked look on his face and runs to a booth where the supervising hipster is serving folks. The Occupier jokes, “I wish he hadn’t run away so fast.  I coulda showed him where in the refrigerator to look for it”.
Our orders are always pretty simple.  Basically we just need something with fruit or vegetables that won’t kill us but will calm our not having had dinner yet hunger pangs.  We joke with the staff guys, they relax a little; we figure they’ll be o.k. now.
We are many this evening so squeeze in tight and start a conversation about the really horrible and highly illegal things the cops are doing to the water protectors out at Standing Rock.  An Occupier remarks, “If the water protectors could all change their names to Bundy they’d be treated really well”.
The staff hipster brings our food to us.  Our orders have been seriously mixed up.  We politely explain what it was that we actually ordered and he takes our food back so as to get things straight.  When he returns, everything is still wrong but….Whatever. 
We don’t come here for the exquisite food anyway.  We come here because we can comfortably talk and relax in a neighborhood space.  No one harasses us or acts like they’re afraid of us.  Sometimes a few of our street friends stop by. We thank the hipster dude and eat what he has given us.  No problem.
A friend of one of the Occupiers comes through the door.  She brings some things for the folks at Standing Rock.  She has owned and worked a produce farm out in the country for many years.  She knows what people need for survival in harsh winter conditions. 
Several of our friends and maybe an Occupier are planning to drive out to SR this upcoming weekend.  They will be able to take the farm woman’s gifts along with them.  We thank her for helping to protect the water.
An Occupier inquires, “So everyone knows about the Support Standing Rock – Defund the Big Banks rally this Thursday, December 1st, 11am-3pm at People’s Plaza, right?”  We all say, “Right”.  The Occupier continues, “The elders are asking that we make the entire month of December a No DAPL month of action.  So far, here in Duluth, we’ve got the first day covered”.  We laugh.
An Occupier adds, “Our friend the Native CHUM worker and a lot of our other friends from the local Native community were out at the SR camps for the Thankful Feast and a few days more.  Our CHUM friend said everything was real peaceful there.  He also said not all the cops out there mistreat the water protectors.  Many of the police from outside of the area are respectful and accommodating.  It’s the Morton County Sheriff’s Department who are the main abusers”.
Another Occupier reports, “The first reading of the Homeless Bill of Rights Ordinance is going to be Monday, December 5that City Hall.  At 4:15pm people are going to march from CHUM to City Hall for a rally on the front steps.  At 5:15pm we’ll go up to the council chambers for the reading of the proposed ordinance.  We need as many bodies as we can possibly get. The City Council needs to see that there are a lot of citizens who support the Homeless Bill of Rights.
“December 5th is also the day that the Army Corp of Engineers has asked the Standing Rock Oceti Sakowin youth camp to move from its current location to a so called “free speech zone” away from the DAPL construction sight.  The folks in the youth camp have no intention of leaving.
“There are several things wrong with the AC of E’s request. For one thing, the land the youth camp is on is the property of the Standing Rock tribe.  It does not belong to the AC of E despite their claim that it does.  Also, there is no such thing as a “free speech zone”.  Freedom of speech is a right belonging to citizens no matter where in the USA they happen to be. Lastly, the water protectors absolutely have to live where they can keep an eye on the DAPL construction sight.  Morton County cops and construction workers can’t be trusted even as far as one can spit.
“There will be a really lot of people coming from across the country to watch the backs of the water protectors on December 5th.  It may be a day of action across the country too; I don’t know.  If there’s an action here, we may have to split into groups in order to cover everything.  We’ll have to wait and see”.
An Occupier changes the subject, “I’m going to the Citizens Review Board meeting tomorrow.  If anyone wants to come along, please do”.  We all groan.  Someone replies, “I thought some of the Review BOD members said they were gonna fight for more control over the CRB”.  The first Occupier answers, “Yeah, I know they did.  I haven’t seen any evidence of anything changing yet except for all the upper echelon cops playing musical job changing.  I just go to the monthly meetings to keep an eye on the cops and to goad the Commissioners into taking a stand on anything that helps poor people.  I’m usually the only person from the Duluth citizenry in attendance”
One of our group had a recent encounter with a police officer; he asks, “What exactly is the policy concerning a citizen who would wish to view the film from a police officer’s body camera?”  An Occupier explains, “In Duluth a citizen may view the film from an officer’s body camera when the film is of an encounter in which the said citizen participated.  Even then, the film can only be viewed after it is finished being held as part of an investigation.
“The citizen must submit a request to view the film and then wait to be told when and where to go in order to view it.  Of course, the citizen can’t have a copy of the film”.  We all say, “Of course”. 
The Occupier resumes, “Each cop has to turn in their camera after their shift.  Theoretically, the cops are unable to tamper with the film on their body cameras.  Of course, the upper echelon cops or the D.A. would never tamper with the film”. Again we say, “Of course”.
Another Occupier opines, “That’s why it’s so important that regular people continue to film cop/citizen incidents no matter how many cops are wearing body cameras”.  Someone adds, “Once Trump and his cronies take the reins, I’m betting the laws about citizens filming cops are going to change drastically”.
On an optimistic note, someone responds, “Yabut, what about the vote recall that will go on in at least three states.  Maybe they will find enough irregularities to change the winner of the election”.
An Occupier replies, “Yeah, they probably will.  They’ll probably find a lot more than just irregularities.  Even so, they’ll just sweep it all under the rug, the same as they did in 2000. When it comes right down to the wire, the 1% doesn’t even try to maintain the illusion of a democracy”.
A member of one of the Occupier couples tells us, “We’re going to have our usual Christmas Day thing again this year. Except we’re going to use the Occupy fire pit and hold the fire in the back yard of our artist co-op.  When the sun goes down we will go into the house and have our usual simple Christmas feast.  It should be fun”.  We all agree, it should be fun and we all plan to attend.
We are now the only customers.  The non-hipster guy has gone out for a smoke.  The hipster guy is cleaning the counter.  We take the hint.
With so many of us in the booth, we’ve made quite a mess. We clean it up, settle the bill and leave some good tips.  As we say goodnight, the hipster dude calls out, “When you return next Tuesday, we’ll do a much better job.  I promise”.

G.A. Minutes 11-22-16

G.A. Minutes 11-22-16
It’s beginning to snow as we arrive at Coney Island this evening.  The weather people say it’s going to keep on snowing until tomorrow afternoon.  You just can’t win with winter.  When there’s a lot of snow, driving and walking are treacherous. Slippery streets can cause a driver to uncontrollably slide sideways and or spin out while simply attempting to get from one place to another.  When walking, slippery sidewalks and paths can cause broken bones and such.
When winter temperatures are super cold it doesn’t snow but getting one’s car started may be problematic.  Walking or just being outside in way below freezing weather can kill you.  In fact, Duluth has already had its first cold weather death of the year.  A street person, who was vaguely familiar to the Occupiers, was found dead from hypothermia last Sunday morning.   
Everything appears to be unchanged as we cruise into our winter headquarters.  There is only one customer, the same friendly hipster is behind the counter and best DJ in the Twin Ports area is casting his spell from up at KUMD.  The back booth is empty; it has probably been waiting for us.
We’re just settling in as the city official arrives.  We haven’t seen him in over a week.  He’s been busy with his various regular responsibilities and also with managing the itinerary for the visiting scholar, Dr. Mamoud El Kanti.
The official asks, “So what did you all think of the speech that Dr. El Kanti gave in Duluth last Thursday?”  We all thought the professor’s presentation was fantastic.  The city man continues, “I thought so too.  Dr. El Kanti spoke on several occasions in the Twin Ports; each of the events was standing room only.  I’m so proud.  I think that much of the information he presented was entirely new to most of the audiences”.
An Occupier responds, “I was blessed with having several excellent college teachers in African history classes that I took in Oakland, CA.  They taught the same things that Dr. El Kanti teaches.  This was in the mid-80s.
“I know the concept about the four races of human beings on the earth is really ingrained in our culture.  Even so, I’m surprised at how long it took for the true information to reach the Northland”.
An Occupier changes the subject, “Clinton won the popular vote but Trump won the Electoral College so Trump is in line to be president.  That kind of stands things on end, doesn’t it?”  The city official replies, “It does.  The privileged, white guys who created our constitution were afraid that if the general public was allowed to directly elect our countries government officials, this general public in its ignorance could elect a despot.  That’s why they invented the Electoral College.  Now, thanks to the Electoral College, a despot has been elected”.  We laugh at the absurdity of it all.
Another Occupier says, “I think things are going to be very difficult for these next four years.  We are going to have to work even harder than we do already.  However, we know that Trump is a bully and bullies will back down.  Nationwide, we will all have to keep up the pressure”.
The city man states, “I believe we are involved in sort of a spiritual war.  The most important thing will be to keep one’s spirit intact”.  An Occupier exclaims, “That’s the same thing the Indigenous people all over the world are telling us!  They have variations on the same theme about fighting a spiritual battle between those who use love and non-violence to bring about a new way of living and those who want to maintain the old way of greed and destruction”.
An Occupier comments, “Speaking of Indigenous peoples, some of our folks from All Nations, the Indigenous Commission and our local community will be heading out to Standing Rock tomorrow.  The sewing people are going to come to my place early in the morning and put the final stiches on the biggest tipi cover so they can take it with them”.
Someone asks, “Did you see the videos of what the cops did to the young water protectors at Standing Rock on Sunday night? If I didn’t know any better, I would hardly believe it.  Using rubber bullets, tear gas and pepper spray and water cannons in freezing weather?  On innocent young people who are only trying to protect the water supply of a million people?  WTF?”
Somebody else inquires, “How did the chili feed fundraiser for Standing Rock go on Sunday?”  An Occupier tells him, “It was slower than the pasta feed but it was still successful.  Actually, it’s a good thing it was slower.  One of the main organizers was ill that day so most of the work fell on the shoulders of the other main organizer.  I stopped by around 7:30pm, saw the situation, rolled up my sleeves and started washing dishes”.
Another Occupier reports, “I’ll be holding the first meeting of the Bathroom Committee for the Homeless Bill of Rights at my house this upcoming Wednesday evening at 7pm.  You all are welcome to attend.  My partner made a map of the area from West End to the beginning of East Hillside.  It covers the hill from Superior Street to 4th Street.  Maybe people will want to take a look at it and get an idea of what we’re working with.  Of course, the best thing to do is to ask local homeless people for their opinions. We can probably get going on that after Thanksgiving.
“Speaking of Thanksgiving, what are you guys planning on doing that day?  My partner and I are going to the DECC for their pretty decent free meal.  Anybody else want to join us?  Many of our friends will be there”.  Everyone agrees; they would also like to go to the DECC.  We make plans as to where and when we will meet up.
There are no other customers in the café; the hipster dude is rolling out the mop bucket.  We know what this means.  As we begin to get ready to leave, someone reminds us we were going to decide whether we should meet just once a week during the winter months.
An Occupier opines, “I think it would be good if we just met every Tuesday.  There are usually things to do on Saturdays and we frequently have to cancel our Saturday meeting in order to do them.  We need to check out what the others who are not here tonight have to say.  Then we can decide for sure.  For right now, let’s just plan to meet back here next Tuesday”.
So that’s what we’ll do.

G.A. Minutes 11-19-16