G.A. Minutes 4-25-17

G.A. Minutes 4-25-17
We’re finally back at Coney Island again this evening. Two weeks ago we arrived to find the place closed; last week we needed to attend a special meeting of the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition. We’re looking forward to having a relatively normal gathering tonight. Of course, our definition of normal is rather broad.
The weather people are warning of a big rain storm expected to descend on Duluth sometime between now and the middle of the night. Spring is so close to busting out full force; maybe a good storm will be just the thing to bring it on. Unless it turns into a big flood. Who knows? No matter how hard the so called “current administration” tries to hide the facts, facts are still facts. There are no “alternative facts”.
The tall non-hipster is working the counter tonight. This is a surprise as we thought he had quit or been fired or something. He appears to be his usual scatter-brained self. We think he’s not really cut out for this type of job but…..whatever. We’ll try to help him as best we can.
As we settle into the back booth we realize that one of us is having a birthday right now. One of the Occupiers runs next door to the coffee shop and purchases an assortment of little dark chocolate pieces. Each piece contains cacao from a different cacao producing country. The birthday person makes us promise not to tell anyone else who he/she is. The birthday person probably wants to ensure that we don’t all start singing.
More Occupiers arrive; they try to order food but notice the non-hipster is nowhere to be found. Fortunately all the other customers are neighborhood regulars so everything should be o.k. until he returns.
The Occupier who is in charge of reporting things, reports, “There are a shit ton of things happening in the next week or so. The usual Citizen’s Review Board meeting tomorrow and the H.P.B. of R meeting on Thursday. Saturday will be the big national Climate March. Our march in Duluth will start from the Rose Garden and march to Lake Place Plaza. It’s being sponsored by the Sierra Club so it’ll probably be pretty tame with a lot of people marching. I want to bring all of our big animal puppets that we made a few years ago; they really deserve an outing.
“I don’t know if we’ll be able to though. We finally were able to send our big truck into the shop for a new brake line today. If we can get it back before Saturday then we can all carry the bear, eagle, wolf, fox and turtle. Also, I’m gonna be so glad to get the truck up and running again. It will make holding our recreational fires at People’s Plaza so much easier.
“On Saturday evening the Echos of Peace Choir will be having a big concert, 7:30pm up at Mitchell Auditorium. Several of our Occupiers aren’t here tonight because they’re at the choir rehearsal.
On Sunday, Duluth for Clean Water is holding some type of candidate forum, 12:30pm at the Zuccone. I imagine they’ll be asking the candidates questions about clean water”.
“Monday is May Day and the Twin Ports Democratic Socialists are having a big picnic at Lincoln Park from 4pm-8pm. We promised them that we’d bring our fire pit and firewood. At 5pm Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be starting the Annual Mayday Rally For Missing, Murdered And Trafficked Indigenous Women in front of the Dewitt Seitz building in Canal Park. Also, the Anons will be holding an IWW May Day Rally in People’s Plaza beginning at 2pm.
“I know I’m going to be running back and forth all day. I’m guessing we should each go wherever we want to on May Day and we can compare notes next Tuesday when we meet again”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior asks if we’ve seen the news story about the Superior City Councilor who was recently arrested on serious domestic abuse charges. We have seen the story. The city official comments, “I’m told the Councilor is very good friends with the new Mayor of Superior. The new mayor has asked the Councilor to resign. I imagine he will. The Councilor is only twenty six years old so he has plenty of time to get help, get himself together, make amends to those he has harmed and reclaim his life. Abuse of women and children should never be taken lightly”. We all nod in agreement.
As we are talking, a street woman walks in and gets the key to the bathroom. We wave and smile at her but she is too under the influence of some substance or other to know who we are. Too bad, we know her to be a person who seems to lead two lives. We see her all dressed up and coherent at area Native events. Other times we see her in dirty clothes out in the street scrapping with the other street women who like to fight.
Throughout the evening the non-hipster has been vanishing and appearing again. We wish he would tell us when he’s going to leave so we know it’s our turn to keep an eye on things. Suddenly he runs out the back entrance like his pants are on fire.
The place is empty now until a young street man comes in. He walks up to the counter, looks all around and starts leaning over toward the cash register. An Occupier calls out, “The staff guy will be back in a minute”. The young dude backs away from the cash register, looks around, takes a big cookie and puts it in his pocket.
One Occupier says to us, “I think I’d better go look for the non-hipster”. He’s gone for a little while and then comes back with the staff guy. With the staff guy back behind the counter, the street dude leaves.
As the Occupier sits back down he tells us, “He was in the bathroom”. We say, “Oh no!” The non-hipster probably has that intestinal bug that some folks were gifted with when the flu bug was in town. We all know how awful it is to have to go to work when one is sick.
We start a conversation about what a bummer it is to have to fight to keep the small gains the people have already fought for over the last fifty or sixty years. An Occupier remarks, “Maybe the “current administration” will actually be good for regular people. It’s causing a lot more folks to get up, get out and resist the b.s.”
Another Occupier adds, “One good thing is that we’ve seen Nazis before. Before World War II most people had no concept of what Nazis would do. Now we know. We can organize and stop them in their tracks”.
The official man says, “Speaking of Nazis, did you know that the Owls Club up on E 2nd St used to be the headquarters for the local KKK?” Some of us knew that; some did not. An Occupier replies, “I think it’s still some kind of members only club. I remember when we had our old homeless camp we used to hear them having parties at night. I don’t know anybody who goes there. Maybe we could ask local musicians if they’ve ever been hired to play at the club. If white supremist crap still goes on there it should be exposed”.
Somehow the conversation morphs into a discussion about the Duluth school system and its budget. We know that the school district is seriously in the red and that Duluth students are not getting the education they deserve.
We know that dividing the high schools into two schools, one school in the low income area of the city (Denfield) and the other in the higher income area (East) was a very bad idea.
An Occupier opines, “Having open enrollment is really stupid too. If any student can go to any school he/she chooses as long as they have the means to get there, then only the students who are too poor to go anywhere else end up going to Denfield”.
The city man replies, “Because of open enrollment, East H.S. has almost three times as many students as Denfield. East also receives the lion’s share of the funding. Denfield gets the school to prison pipeline”.
As usual we have stayed past the official closing time. The non-hipster is still in the midst of his cleaning routine but we think we’d better go anyway. He needs to be able to stop pretending he’s not ill.
As we step outside we notice the air is thick with moisture. It won’t be long now….
We plan to be really busy over the next week and expect to meet back here at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 4-11-17

G.A. Minutes 4-11-17
Without a doubt, the beginning of spring has arrived. Robins are yakking it up like crazy; all the snow has melted and daytime temperatures stay in the 40s and 50s. Our sanity has also returned (more or less).
So we’re back at Coney Island again after a two week absence. When the first Occupiers to arrive go to the front door, they find a sign on it that says, “Closed for kitchen remodeling. See you on Thursday”.
An Occupier peers through the window and sees all the kitchen equipment sitting in the isle. She remarks, “Hmmm… I’m not sure what to do. Another Occupier suggests, “Well, we could just go next door to Duluth Coffee. They stay open until 7pm; I’ve been there before and the staff didn’t appear to be too snobby. We won’t be able to get any food but they have gourmet coffee. It’s better than if we just sit on the cold cement ledge outside the Casino parking lot”. Another Occupier arrives and agrees with the plan. We put a sign on the Coney Island door informing the others as to what’s up.
The actual sitting space in Duluth Coffee is quite small. There are six little tables with benches and/or chairs; most of which have customers in them. We find one table that will seat four if we sit real close together. The décor is rather trendy; our street friends would not be comfortable here. But……whatever. We order cups of really good coffee like the kind we serve at our recreational fires. They have brownies too so we get some. They are “to die for”. We cut them in little pieces and each take just one. Even though they have no extra magic ingredients we’ll need to be careful or we’ll end up in Detox.
It’s probably just coincidence but as soon as we settle in and start conversing all the other customers get up and leave. No one gave us a dirty look so we take it as just a stroke of good luck. We quickly push most of the tables and chairs together. There will be enough room now when others arrive.
As if on cue, some of the Anonymous crew come in. They’re psyched up for the May Day rally at People’s Plaza. It sounds like they are some of the main organizers. The event will happen on Monday, May 1st from 2p-8p. We assure them that most of us will be attending.
An Occupier comments, “I’ve heard that there’s going to be a Climate March here in Duluth to coincide with the big one in D.C. and all the others across the country on April 29th. I’ve heard that it’s supposed to start out at the Rose Garden at 1pm on Saturday, April 29th. That’s all I know though”.
An Anon replies, “I heard that too. I know that the Socialist Action folks canceled the march they were planning to take place in Superior in order to accommodate the Duluth march”. The Occupiers answers, “Oh, I’m gonna be seeing some of the S.A. people near the end of the week. I’ll try and find out more”.
Another Occupier reports, “We had a really good time at the workshop out at Fond du Lac Tribal College last Tuesday. It was led by three 30 something people who were at Standing Rock for the duration. The two settler allies were attorneys from the large S.R. legal team and the Native guy was an experienced Water Protector and organizer.
“They informed us that now that all but one of the camps is closed down, the North Dakota “Injustice Department” is trying to drum up evidence in order to try hundreds of Water Protectors in court. They told us that of the wide variety of nationalities of people who were at S.R., all those who were arrested, traumatized and humiliated and are now charged with ridiculously absurd felonies are Native folks.
“The workshop leaders said that now grand juries are being formed in order to gather information that can be used to prosecute the Water Protector Heroes. The F.B.I. and assorted minions are now going around questioning anyone they can find who was at S.R. Using lies and trickery they are trying to gain information that they can pass on to the Injustice Department prosecutors for use in railroading the Water Protectors into prison.
“The workshop leaders reminded us that our relatively pristine waters in the Northwoods will be next on the death list. Enbridge, Polymet and other evildoers are already here and “revving their engines”.
“One of the leaders said, ‘If you don’t remember anything from this workshop, please remember this: When the FBI comes knocking at your door, tell them 1.) I will not answer any of your questions (then don’t answer any of their questions). 2.) I want to speak with my attorney. 3.) No, I do not consent to a search’.
“An FDL organizer and spiritual advisor who spent a lot of time at S.R. told the leaders that there were many people at Sacred Stone Camp who were facing serious charges and didn’t know what to do. The leaders gave him the contact information so that these worried people could get the help they needed”.
Another Occupier remarks, “I sure wish I could have been there. I’ve been thinking about the Keystone XL too and how it just doesn’t make any sense. They’re taking the worst Tar Sands oil and pumping it across our country. The pipeline is sure to burst at some point and poison the land and water beyond repair. The Tar Sands oil will be pumped out of Texas into the Gulf of Mexico and off to China and probably North Korea from there.
“The Keystone XL oil will not benefit the American people at all. There will be a maximum of 50 permanent jobs from it. Oil and gas are a dying resource but still they keep doing all this. Why?”
An Occupier says to him, “It all has to do with the stock market. It’s basically a high tech shell game. They move money and stocks here and there and all around. Then everything crashes and the 1% make off with everyone else’s homes, jobs and life savings. Then they start the thing all over again”.
Changing the subject, the city official reports, “The Holiday Center is giving away king sized mattresses. They’re in very good condition. People should call their security department in order to make arrangements to go and get one”.
The Occupier who guards the Occupy treasury announces, “Seeing as spring has finally arrived, we may be able to start having our recreational fires at People’s Plaza soon. The evenings are still too cold but it won’t be long until they’re not. However, our budget is really small and I’m thinking we may be able to afford only one fire a week. Our usual evenings are Tuesdays and Saturdays so which one do you all want to have a fire on?”
After minimal discussion we decide that Tuesday would be best. There’s more chance that we would have to cancel to attend an event on Saturday. We can hardly wait to get started.
Someone starts a conversation about #45s recent bombing in Syria. We all agree that the bombing had nothing to do with the fact that chemical weapons killed many Syrian children. We speculate as to what was the real reason #45 had the Syrian air field bombed.
Someone else comments, “I was listening to the leader of Sweden talk about the recent terror attack Stockholm. He said, ‘We will not give in to the terrorists. We stand firm in our resolve to fight and defeat them’. Don’t they realize that those words are the same ones used by the people who live in the Middle East when they are attacked by the USA and its allies? What a bunch or lame brains!”
An Occupier says to the official man and the Anons, “The Homeless Coalition is bearing down on the nuts and bolts of the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights now. We’ve presented a cost estimate for various port-a-potty ideas and created maps of all the currently available public restrooms in the Central Hillside and West End area and also of suggested spots for placing port-a-pottys”.
She nods toward the city man and continues, “I told them about your idea of using a bus as a portable shower facility. They liked it. We also talked about opening the men’s and women’s shower rooms at the no longer in use swimming pool at Washington Center”.
We notice the young staff woman is rolling up the rugs and sweeping the floor. The staff at Coney Island has trained us well. We clean up our table and bus our dishes. The staff people bid us a friendly good-bye.
We expect we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-28-17

G.A. Minutes 3-28-17
The regular hipster is back working the counter at Coney Island tonight. When we arrived for our meeting last Tuesday we found the day shift hipster working. He looked half dead and told us he was going to close soon as he’d been working since 6am.
He was still kind enough to make food for us. We gobbled it down while we contacted all the other Occupiers to let them know what was up. It was general consensus to just cancel and return this evening.
So here we are…. It looks like spring is truly on its way now. Flocks of geese are heading up north, everyone’s pets are shedding large amounts of fur and snow is melting fast. Today’s temperature hit 60 degrees; it’s still in the mid-40s when we roll up. No one has heard a robin’s call yet; once that happens we will be good to go.
As we are sliding into the back booth, an Occupier tells us, “There’s a bit of good news concerning the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Ordinance Coalition. We met with members of the Human Rights Commission last Thursday and they voted to accept and support our proposed Bill.
“One of the Commissioners is also on the commission that distributes the Community Block Development Grant money. He told us the CBDG Commission was looking for a way to contribute money to pay for some 24/7 public bathrooms for use by homeless persons and others. The City seems to get a little squeamish when it comes to spending money on the homeless”.
Another Occupier replies, “That is ridiculous! The City gives enormous amounts of money to all sorts of wealthy developers and companies but they can’t kick a few bucks for homeless folks?”
The first Occupier adds, “About a month ago during a HPB of R meeting I asked if anyone would be willing to do the research and give a report about how much money the City had given away to various wealthy entities in the past year or two. So far, no one has stepped up to do the research”.
The other Occupier responds, “I just may take on that task. I know someone who has all that information right at his fingertips. The first Occupier smiles and answers, “I’ll remind you”.
Someone reports, “Before I forget, Friday, March 31st will be the annual Trans Day of Visibility at Lake Ave and Superior St, 4-6pm”.
More Occupiers arrive; when they settle in an Occupier says to a newly arriving one, “I’m so glad you’re here. I need to pick your brain about tenants unions like the one you have at your building. My Co-op has finished with our tax credits and we’re going to have to sign new leases. I think we won’t have a BOD any longer so I’m thinking we may want to have a tenant union”.
The questioned Occupier responds, “They’re called Resident Councils now. We had a lot of help from some of our City Councilors. We needed that because our property management company is very hostile. Councilor Joel Sipress is probably who you might want to talk with first; he has a lot of information”.
The Co-op Occupier states, “Our property management company is way cool and tenant friendly. We just need to know the rules and regulations and how to go about forming one in case that’s what we want to do. I’ll shoot an email to Joel”.
The Occupier who lives in Superior asks, “So what’s gonna be going on in the next 2 weeks or so?” An Occupier hands him a copy of the Northland Worker Calendar; another tells him, “U.U. Church will be holding a Progressive Coalition event this upcoming Sunday at 2pm. All progressive groups are invited to attend and show what they’re all about”.
The Occupier who tries to keep track of all this stuff reports, “I hope I can remember everything. Next Tuesday, April 4th 6-8pm at the Fond du Lac Tribal College, Honor the Earth is sponsoring a Frontlines Are Everywhere workshop. It will concern the legal aspects of being a Water Protector. I’m hoping we could all go to it. We could carpool if we wanted to”. We all agree that it is important that we attend this FDL/HTE event.
The Occupier continues, “Duluth for Clean Water is having some type of an event at Community Action Duluth on Thursday, March 30th at 5:30pm. I think food and childcare will be provided. Up at Cass Lake on Sunday, April 9th 1pm, Marty Cobanais is holding a Line 3 Pipeline Walk.
“I’m pretty sure that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be having another Anishinaabe Taco Sale on Friday, April 7th. Of course, they’ll need our help. There’s talk about doing a walleye (from Red Lake) taco sale but I don’t know if they’ll do that this month or next. Whatever it is, it’s sure to be good.
“By the way, did you guys know that our good friend and organizer recently left her job on the FDL rez and started working for HTE?” We say, “Way cool”. “Also, I think Anonymous is out on the protest corner tonight. We could join them after we’re done here if you all want to”.
Somehow, we get into a conversation about healthcare and about how dental care is not included in general healthcare insurance policies. Everyone has at least one horror story to tell about having to pay way too much for health insurance and then needing dental care and being unable to receive it. One Occupier says, “I went through at least four courses of antibiotics before I was able to save enough money to get my tooth fixed”.
An Occupier, when telling his story, ends by saying, “But I must admit there are holes in my wisdom”. Another Occupier replies, “Well, you’ll certainly need a dentist for that”. When he sees our quizzical looks he adds, “You know, wisdom teeth…” We all groan. An Occupier remarks, “We’re not paid enough to have to put up with this”.
It’s almost 7pm when some of the Anonymous kids roll in. Our booth is crammed full so they fill the next booth and some chairs in the walkway. Even though it’s almost time to go, the hipster staff guy scurries around getting coffee and snacks for the new arrivals.
They have their sound equipment and a bunch of new signs with them. They show us their signs and we discuss sign making techniques. They have a lot of good ideas; their lettering is great. We just advise them to use very few words per sign; that way people driving by will have time to read them.
Just as we are leaving, the city official walks in. He’s coming from doing an interview for his radio program. As he goes walking up the street with some of the Occupiers he calls out, “Don’t forget, $5 bag sale tomorrow at Michael’s Used A Bit!” Most of the Occupiers do all their shopping at Michael’s. One of the Occupier couples loads up some of the Anonymous folks and all the equipment into their car and gives them a ride up the hill.
So, next Tuesday we’ll be attending the FDL Tribal College workshop and won’t be back at Coney Island until Tuesday, April 11th.

G.A. Minutes 3-14-17

G.A. Minutes 3-14-17
Another Tuesday evening, another meeting at Coney Island…. After a week of cold weather and snow, the weather people tell us things are going to slowly warm up. Tonight appears to be in transition mode with cloudy skies, little wind and temperatures in the low 20s.
Weather wise, everything appears to be kinda normal for this time of year. Some say that normal is boring but after all the crazy ups and downs of the last month or so, we think normal will work just fine.
Everything appears to be normal at Coney Island too. When the first few Occupiers arrive they find the same hipster working the counter, the back booth empty and a few customers in the other booths.
An Occupier comments, “I doubt we’ll have many folks showing up tonight. That flu bug that’s going around is pretty potent; it’s putting even the young ones flat on their backs for days”.
When more Occupiers begin arriving one of them exclaims, “Did you see that new video of Mike Brown in Ferguson, MO that was made public today?” Most have seen it and they are stunned. To an Occupier who has not yet seen the video she explains, “It’s from the convenience store the night before Mike Brown was murdered by the Ferguson cop. It shows Mike talking with the store clerks; it’s obvious that they are well acquainted. They probably all grew up together in the neighborhood.
“Anyway, Mike shows them what appears to be a big, really nice bud of marijuana. All 4 guys behind the counter pass it around; they smell it, hold it up to the light, and then put it down on the counter. One of the clerks hands Mike what appears to be several cartons of cigarillos. Mike takes the cartons and begins to leave; he then turns around and gives the cartons back to the clerk. The clerk stashes them under the counter.
So after Mike is murdered the next day, the Ferguson cops put out the store video from earlier that day that shows Mike walking up to the counter, taking cigarillos and walking off without paying for them. The cops said it was proof that Mike had robbed the store. The thing is, the cops had the video from the night before, they just didn’t put it out”.
The Occupier who hasn’t seen the video is stunned too. The explaining Occupier continues, “I think the ‘night before’ video was obtained by the lawyer for Mike Brown’s family. So what do you think the cops did after the ‘night before’ video was made public?” No one knows. The explaining Occupier tells them, “They arrested the 4 guys who were working the counter that night”. Everyone groans.
After a moment of silence, an Occupier remarks, “I suppose you all know that our federal representative, Rick Nolan, is in town this evening. He’s answering questions and what have you at 4601 McCulloch St from 6-7pm”.
Another Occupier responds, “I think most environmentalists have pretty much given up on him. It’s apparent that he’s not going to listen to reason when it comes to mining and pipelines. He’s good on a lot of things but he just refuses to stop whoring for mining votes up on The Range. I believe he’s convinced that’s the only way he will continue to get re-elected. He’s wrong though. His stance just shows that he lacks integrity. Remember how Skip Sandman walked off with 16,000 of what were probably Nolan votes back in 2014? Skip had almost no budget. If any progressive candidate who offered integrity were to run against him, I believe all the progressives who don’t bother to vote in the off year elections would come running back to vote for the new candidate and Nolan would be toast”.
An Occupier brings a copy of the Northern Worker weekly activist calendar and passes it around. She says, “You know you guys can get a copy of this calendar sent to your email each week. Just contact Adam Ritscher and ask to be put on the email list”.
Among the many events listed in the calendar is the Forest Service and Bureau of Land Management’s public comment period to be held at the DECC on Thursday March 16th from 5-7:30pm. The agencies are taking public comments about what effects sulfide mining will have on the BWCA.
An Occupier states, “I’m definitely going to the comment period. Maybe I should wear my old Forest Service jacket from when I used to work for them. Another Occupier answers, “Oh, please do. That would create a really nice effect”.
Another Occupier tells us, “I’m invited to attend an early morning meeting with some other Water Protectors tomorrow. I’m not sure what it’s going to be about but I’m guessing it has to do Enbridge. As you know, I’m not much of a morning person but this is too important to miss”.
The city official remarks, “I’ve also been invited to that meeting but will have to be somewhere else. Please inform them of my prior commitment”.
Another Occupier arrives. He’s just returning from A Day On The Hill. He went down to St Paul on a bus with many other Duluth activists. Their mission was to meet with our state legislatures and to explain our concerns. The arriving Occupier tells us, “In a way, it was kind of a waste of time. Our legislators Liz Olson and Eric Simonson are already on board with all our progressive values. I guess they at least received moral support for all their hard work anyway”.
The hipster staff dude goes out for a smoke while we keep an eye on the place, as usual. When he returns, a street guy is with him. They’re talking so we assume they’re friends. The street guy sits down in a front booth and the hipster calls someone on his phone.
Pretty soon a Duluth police officer arrives. It’s one of the younger cops but we know he’s not a new recruit because we recognize him. He’s wearing a short sleeved uniform but also has on gloves. He’s got his chest all puffed out and his arms hanging far apart from his body like a lot of men do when they’re trying to look more muscular than they actually are. He also looks kinda nervous.
So, we’re curious as hell but we stay back in our booth. It’s best to not mess with a cop who looks nervous. The cop stands away from the guy in the booth but begins asking him questions. The cop gets on his phone and then he goes behind the counter and grabs a bunch of paper towels. He appears to be handing the paper towels to the guy in the booth. Then a bunch of other men who aren’t wearing any kind of uniforms come through the door. They just stand around talking with the cop.
Eventually, an ambulance arrives. The paramedics stand around talking for a while. We hear the street guy say that whatever it is that has happened involved some guy named Mike. We find this amusing as at least one third of the males who live in Duluth are named Mike.
The paramedics put the guy on a stretcher and all the various involved people go outside and stand around talking some more.
The staff guy tells us that the street guy had been stabbed in the shoulder and was bleeding profusely. The staff guy didn’t personally know the stabbed guy but he saw that the guy needed help.
Once the doorway has cleared of talking people, some of the Occupiers go out for a smoke break. We see a fire truck parked weirdly at the corner. As the ambulance pulls away, an Occupier nods toward the street and says, “Must be a slow news day”. We see a camera person from one of the local TV channels packing up. We agree as someone getting stabbed in the shoulder around here is really no news at all.
When we return to the café we find the staff hipster dude is in quite a bit of distress. The paper towel mess complete with what he describes as a bloody disaster has been left behind. That means he will be expected to clean it.
A couple of the Occupiers are medical professionals. They take a look at the booth and the floor. They see there is actually very little blood but realize most people who don’t work in the medical profession get really freaked out by any amount of blood. The Occupiers advise the staff guy as to how he can safely clean it up with equipment he already has on hand. The building manager arrives to help with the cleanup; he carries a big mop. The Occupiers assure them that everything will be o.k.
Once the dust has settled, the Occupiers resume their conversation. One Occupier says to another, “Hey, you went up to Bemidjii the other day for the comment period for Enbridge’s Alberta Clipper. How did it go?” The questioned Occupier replies, “Oh, we really rocked it. Enbridge was trying to keep the event secret but we brought a busload of people from Duluth, 2 busloads came from the Twin Cities and another busload from somewhere else. There were also a lot of Native people from various reservations.
“There was a lot of security and they sort of searched people before they entered the big public comment room. Many people made public comments in person; Native women did a jingle dress dance out in the lobby and a large crowd chanted out there too. Basically, we let Enbridge know we are not asleep”.
An Occupier reports, “It appears there is good news in the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Ordinance department too. A couple of days ago the main organizer for the HPB of R Coalition received a call from the mayor. She told him that she has always supported the HPB of R but was waiting for all the various governmental departments to weigh in and hadn’t wanted to appear to be pushing her influence on them.
“However, the departments appear to be trying to ignore the issue so she thought it was time for her to get involved. Also, the Human Rights Commissioner has been given a part time assistant so that makes him more inclined to support the HPB of R. too.
“She also told the main organizer about a resolution that was going before the City Council yesterday in support of the process of City agencies and City Councilors working with the coalition to get the ordinance worked out. We all showed up yesterday and spoke in favor of the resolution; the councilors voted unanimously in favor of it.
“We know that a resolution has little power behind it and that Mayor Larson is giving a State of the City speech on Monday, March 20th, 5:30pm at Lincoln Middle School, 3215 W 3rd St and she probably will want to brag about her support of homeless people.
“She could just be using smoke and mirrors but at least her public support will make all the governmental departments have to meet with us so that helps.
“It really sucks that people in power can make things happen or not happen just according to how they feel. It’s not right”.
Changing the subject, an Occupier says to another, “I’m really sorry I missed your movie event at U.U. That flu bug really got me and I ended up in the ER that evening”.
The Occupier responds, “Bummer. It was a Michael Moore movie entitled ‘Who Do We Invade Next?’ I strongly recommend that anyone who hasn’t seen it yet, try to do so”.
The hipster guy has cleaned up the mess but is barely started with his final regular cleanup so that he can go home. We try to put extra tip money beyond what we normally leave. Maybe that will help him to feel better. He has a hard and sometimes stressful job.
We expect to return next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-7-17

G.A. Minutes 3-7-17
The weather is actually normal tonight as we cruise into Coney Island.  Normal for March, that is.  The month of March can have all sorts of different weather but it’s rarely life threatening and the promise of spring makes it almost bearable. 
The wind has been howling like crazy all day with gusts up to 50mph.  We hear the early morning commute was pretty exciting.  All the snow on the roads and sidewalks had been melted until the very early morning hour when a light but very moist snowfall came down.
All the cars were going sideways down Lake Ave; they were smacking into parked cars.  Eventually there was a 5 or 6 car pileup in the 3rd St and Lake Ave intersection and somebody ran into a power pole which caused a power outage in part of the Central Hillside.
Most of the Occupiers have managed to find ways of survival that don’t require an early morning commute. Most of us just woke up to a power outage.  We had flashbacks to last summer’s 36+ hour power outage in 100 degree heat.  No worries this time though.  The power was back on in  half an hour; the sun came out and melted all the snow and the wind dried up all the wetness.
We scare easily these days.  We know climate change is happening right now.  We know that under the “current administration” things will be getting worse.  We know we will probably experience the kinds of weather and lack of energy services that folks in Third World countries experience on a regular basis.  We worry about our future generations as we don’t know how long it will take until “the meek inherit the earth”.
The same hipster guy is working alone again.  There is already a group of people in the back booth; it sounds like they’re about to have a meeting.  We are a small group again tonight so can easily take the middle, slightly smaller booth.
We can hear the folks in the back booth talking about whether they want to eat or not.  They decide that they do; they leave to go somewhere else.  We don’t come here for the food.  We come here because it’s centrally located in the neighborhood, it’s comfortable and if we see any of our street friends, we can invite them to join us and know they will be accepted by the staff and the other customers.  Once it is empty, we go to the back booth.
We think many of our Occupiers have gone on the 350 bus up to Bemidjii to the hearing about the Alberta Clipper pipeline.  We hope so and we hope the bus was full too.
An Occupier asks, “Has anyone heard what is going on at Standing Rock these days?”  No one has heard anything. The Occupier continues, “I guess I’m gonna have to find the time to do some research.  We know there are still Water Protectors at Sacred Stone Camp.  Ever since the porkies tore down Occeti Sakowin the general media has been silent.  I hope I can have some information by our next meeting.
“Enbridge is coming for our northern MN water next and I know we need to shift focus but everything is connected and we can’t forget our Standing Rock relatives.  In fact, they have stated they will be here to help us when the time comes”.
An Occupier expresses concern related to the mother of his children who has recently been released from a drug treatment facility.  He tells us, “They just sort of plunked her down into the same environment she was in before she went to treatment.  She’s really not capable of being left on her own with no guidance.  I’m already overburdened with being a single parent to all the kids.  I can’t take care of her too”.
We talk about the many failings of drug treatment facilities.  Most are understaffed and overburdened by the amount of people in need of treatment.  Most are completely dependent on government and insurance company funding.  The government and insurance companies are interested in contributing the least amount of funding that they can.  We come to our usual conclusion; our for-profit healthcare system is grossly inadequate.
The city official tells us about his upcoming radio show which airs on Thursday.  He has interviewed a woman journalist who is originally from the south.  She has written a book about some deeply hidden facts that she came across when researching her family history.  Her family was very unhappy with her bringing these facts to light, even within the family.
An Occupier adds, “People in this country need to know the truth about our history.  If we are unwilling to know the truth, we will never be able to heal.  Another truth is that every human being on this earth is related to every other human being.  It’s been calculated from measurements of the human genome that as recently as 4,000 generations ago all humans originated from the same genes.  That means every person in the world is related to every other person in the world.  We have at least one common ancestor, in as little as a hundred thousand years ago.  That’s practically nothing in archeological deep time.”    We all nod in agreement.
Another Occupier comments, “The Anishinaabe Taco Sale went well.  They made a good profit to add to their “save our mother earth” coffers.  They might try something different next month.  I don’t know the particulars but it has to do with walleye fillets”.
The Occupier who generally keeps a record of progressive events passes around a copy of the Northern Worker calendar again.  She says, “As usual, too much going on to give a verbal report so here you go.  Tomorrow is International Women’s Day so there’s been and will be a lot going on around that.  I’m sorry to say I won’t be able to attend anything as I’m already committed to being at the Human Rights Commission meeting and then at the Indigenous Commission Sobriety Feast.
“I’m definitely a feminist but as you know, my main interest lies with saving mother earth, the water and the air.  If we don’t have a planet to live on, none of this other stuff will matter.  Besides, seeing as we do a lot of that work with local Anishinaabe folks and seeing as women are very respected and equal in traditional Anishinaabe culture, I feel comfortable in my role”.
The city official asks, “So what’s going on in our local feminist circle these days?”  The Occupier responds, “As far as I know, there are 2 main groups.  One is a large, well-funded group (I can’t remember their name) that has a lot of women from the Democratic Party.  I’m told some of them spend a lot of time taking negative comments off of Mayor, Emily Larson’s Facebook page.  The other is a smaller progressive group called Feminine Justice League.  They are a political study group that also does most of the art and picketing in front of the Duluth Building for Women.  There’s another group called the Hotdish Militia.  I think they are a fundraising group for women in need”.
Another Occupier reports, “The weekly Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights meeting is Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House again.  We’re also going to be attending the HRC tomorrow at 5:30pm at City Hall. We’re going to make sure the HPB of R isn’t just being sent there to die”.
We notice we’ve been watching the wrong clock and that it’s well past time for us to have left.  The hipster is being patient but we can tell he’s ready to go.  We begin packing up.
An Occupier, still sitting in the booth, reaches down to the floor to pick something up.  As he does this, his face falls into a plate of unfinished French fries.  The city man gasps and moves towards the Occupier.  French Fry Man sits up with the thing he was looking for in his hand and a quizzical look on his face.  The official man exclaims, “OMG!  I thought you were having a stroke of something!”
We all just crack up.  We take turns making up what the article in the Duluth Trib. would say if the French fry death event had actually happened.  We know we’re supposed to leave but…..we just can’t stop laughing.  Maybe it was a “you’d have to be there” moment.
We plan to return to Coney Island next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 2-28-17
Last week Duluth was a tropical paradise; tonight we’re having a blizzard.  Cars are sliding all over the place; many are having serious trouble getting up the hills. 
It’s really not that bad though because temperatures are in the low 30s with an occasional wind.  Providing they have somewhere warm and safe to go, folks who must walk won’t suffer frostbite.  Homeless folks will be wet, uncomfortable and unable to actually sleep but they probably won’t die.  Heck, it might even be spring one of these days; with the schizophrenia of climate change you never know.
We are only a few Occupiers and the city official at Coney Island this evening.  Maybe some forgot about our earlier starting time or maybe they just didn’t want to go out into this end of winter sloppiness.
We say hi to the lone hipster working the counter and head to the back booth.  The only other customers are 2 regular guys in another booth.  They’re talking about people who have seizures.
The city official tells us about the wonderful time he had at the Milwaukee conference.  He gives us a booklet from the event; it looks really interesting and makes us all wish we had been able to attend.  The official reports that when he was introduced as being from Duluth, the entire audience broke out in huge applause.  It seems that people all over the nation know about our Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial and are quite impressed.  We’re sorry that most people in our City government don’t feel the same way.  Mostly they just ignore CJMM; despite many requests, they still haven’t cleaned up the pawnshop garbage that’s been sitting behind the Memorial for 8 years.
The city man asks if we’re aware that the City Council recently voted to approve giving $250,000 to a developer to help him develop more market rate apartments in a currently wooded area near the Miller Hill Mall.  Of course, there will be no low income units available in this new development.
An Occupier comments, “Yet the City budget people say they can’t possibly finance 7 port-a-potties for homeless folks at a cost of $5,000 – $10,000 a year.  I’m gonna be sure bring that up the next time I speak before the Council.  I am so sick of this shit”.
Another Occupier changes the subject by saying, “Remember how we talked about a recent increase in shootings in our neighborhood last week?  I said I was going to the Citizens Review Board meeting and would ask about it.  Well I went to meeting but I didn’t have to ask; all the Commissioners were very concerned and asking what the hell was happening.
“Chief Tuscan was there so he gave the run down.  In the past month or so there have actually been 6 shootings scattered around our poor and working class neighborhoods.  One was at the liquor store close to CJMM, another in the East Hillside, one in West End, and one at 65th Ave W.  Then there was one where people in cars driving on I-35 were shooting at each other and another (I forgot where he said it was) that was an actual premeditated murder.
“Tuscan assured the Commissioners that all the shootings were between people who knew each other and there were no sniper type events.  He said the reason for increased shootings is probably because there are a lot of guns among the general public these days.  Of course, one must always take what the cops have to say with a grain of salt but that’s the info they’re putting out right now.
“I asked about the incident I witnessed on the Blatnik Bridge but all the cops said they were unaware of that event even happening.  They thought it might have been some other law enforcement agency.  I told them it was so dark that I was unable to see the markings on the SUVs.  We have so many so called law enforcement agencies these days; it’s anybody’s guess what was really going on”.
An Occupier states, “Before I forget, Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be having a Taco Sale on Friday and they’ll need our help.  We’ll need to call the others as we’ll need them to help too.
“Also, the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition is doing a letter to the editor campaign right now.  They find that there is so much talking behind their backs going on with the City government and some of the NGOs that it’s time to get the information out to the general public.  So far, there have been 2 letters posted in the Northland Reader and 1 in the Duluth News Tribune”.
The lone hipster asks if we mind if he goes out for a smoke.  We say that’s fine.  There are no other customers currently in the place so our job shouldn’t be too hard.
An Occupier reports, “Duluth for Clean Water is having another event at the Zeitgeist on Saturday at 2pm.  I don’t think I’m gonna go though.  I found their last presentation to be really elemental; I didn’t learn anything I didn’t already know.  Also, one of the last presenters made the comment that seeing as we’ve learned so much now about how to fight sulfide mining, we will be really prepared when the next sulfide mining projects apply.  I was very offended by that.  Everyone knows that other mining companies won’t be able to apply until after Polymet is in operation.  So was she saying that Polymet is already a given? That was so lame!  Even if that’s what she thinks privately, she shouldn’t be putting that out in public.  It made me wonder who she’s really working for”.
The Occupier who usually keeps track of the weekly progressive/radical goings on reports, “The HPB of R Coalition meeting will happen again this Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day, the Anonymous kids will be out on the protest corner tomorrow starting at 11am and there will be an International Women’s Day Strike Rally on the same corner March 8th at 5pm.  There are a lot of things going on again this week so I brought a copy of the Northern Worker activist calendar for everyone to look at”.
It’s coming up on 7pm and it looks like the hipster dude is dying to go home.  As we pack up, an Occupier says to the city official, “I want to thank you again for the tickets to the Soul Food Dinner.  We had a good time.  The place was packed, the food was great and some of the spoken word presentations just blew my mind”.
So we’re off.  For another week we will try to do good things and stir stuff up as much as we can.  We plan to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 2-21-17
Duluth MN has turned into a tropical paradise.  For real. Temperatures have been in the 50s for the last 5 or 6 days with nighttime lows in the 30s…..in February.  We’re keeping a close eye on the sky as pigs will be flying soon.
At Coney Island, 2 of the hipster guys are working the counter. We’re all happy to see each other.  The other non-hipster staff people are o.k. but the hipster staff actually knows what Occupy is about.  They’re down with it too.
They tell us that the hours of operation have changed; they’re going to close at 7pm now.  One hipster tells us, “The place is usually dead by 7:30pm and it makes us kinda nervous to be here all alone until 9pm. 
We’ve noticed this ourselves.  We’re generally the only customers left by the end of the night.  Occasionally a lone male street looking person will come in to use the bathroom.  The level of violence in the neighborhood seems to have increased over the last month or so.  We’re not sure why.
An Occupier responds, “Dude, we totally get it.  No one should have to risk their life just to hold down a job.  We can start our meetings at 5:30pm from now on.  That will give us enough time to take care of any pressing business”.
As we take our seats in the back booth an Occupier comments, “So tomorrow is supposed to be the day that the cops and the military forcibly take down the Occeti Sakowin Camp at Standing Rock.  I wonder how that’s gonna go.  I know that all along the people in the Sacred Stone Camp have expected all the other camps to be torn down.  “They’ve been preparing Sacred Stone to be able to take in the folks from the other camps.  They have to close down the other camps anyway as all that land will flood when spring comes.  I hear the weather is unseasonably warm out there too”.
Another Occupier adds, “I’ve been seeing notices from the camp asking for people to come out there to be witness to what will happen tomorrow.  I know a few of our friends have gone.  The notices say that if you can’t get to camp then please hold a rally in support of Standing Rock.  There’s gonna be a Jingle Dress Rally in Support of Standing Rock tomorrow at People’s Plaza at 4pm”.  We all plan to be there.
The city official will be leaving for Milwaukee in a few days.  He will be giving a presentation about our city’s Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial at the annual gathering of the America’s Black Holocaust Museum.  This is a pretty big deal.  The city man tells us a Memorial to the over 4,000 reported lynchings of black people that took place between 1877 and 1950 will be built in Memphis, TN.  Once it’s completed it will be a major big deal.  Of course, all of this is appalling and very sad but it must be seen and acknowledged.  Unless our country owns up to its true history its people will never be able to heal.
An Occupier reports, “Now that I’ve been able to hook up with the Homeless Person’s Bill or Rights Coalition again, I’m finding all sorts of intrigue going on.  I suppose that’s not unusual when dealing with government bureaucrats.  When the coalition members meet in private with people from the various departments and agencies (they call them stakeholders) those people say that they definitely are in support of the H.B. of R. However, I received an email from the mayor stating that several agencies had come to her with ‘concerns’.  I asked her which agencies she was talking about but she wouldn’t tell me.  The other coalition members report that they think there is a lot of talking between the stakeholders going on behind our backs.
“The Duluth Police Department wants the bill to be a policy instead of an ordinance.  Apparently, the mayor wants that too. We’re not going to go for that because a policy will have no real accountability.  A policy can be changed at any time without even giving public notice.  If the Homeless Bill of Rights is made into a policy, we might as well not have one at all. 
“We’re going to try and get everything out into the open.  We all took on assignments to write a bunch of letters to the editors of the various local newspapers.  I sent one off to the Northland Reader yesterday.  We have about 20 people who will write letters and then we want to hold meetings with more than 1 stakeholder group at a time.  That way they may be more forthcoming about their concerns.  If they say want they really feel, we’ll be able to address their objections or whatever.
“Creating and passing a Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights has been worked on for the last 3 years.  It should not take this long. I don’t understand why granting homeless people the same rights that the rest of the people in this city are entitled to is such a big deal”.
Another Occupier states, “There is going to be another Pancakes Not Pipelines event on Saturday, February 25th 11am – 2pm at the Central Hillside Community Center.  Water Protectors are trying to raise funds to hire a bus to take people up to Bemidjii for the one and only hearing in the country about the Enbridge Line 67 Expansion, aka, the Alberta Clipper.  Remember that one?  It’s the one where they want to push tar sands oil through their already existing pipeline.  The already existing pipeline has been pushing regular oil for a long time but now they want to switch to tar sands and on top of that, they want to greatly increase the amount of the flow.  The expansion will cross the Canadian/US border but through some slight of hand, Enbridge has managed to not have to seek USA permission in order to do this.
“We were worrying about the Alberta Clipper a few years back but Enbridge managed to make us believe they weren’t gonna do it after all.  Surprise, surprise……they lied”.
Someone mentions, “Socialist Pizza (that’s our pet name for the Socialist Action monthly gathering at Pizza Luce’) will be happening again on Monday, February 27th at 6:30pm.
Someone else says, “It’s possible that Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance will be having another Anishinaabe Taco Sale on Friday March 3rd.  I should know for sure by tomorrow.  They’ve been waiting for the kitchen they’ve been using to be remodeled. If they can do a sale, of course they’ll need our help.
An Occupier asks, “Does anybody know what’s going on in our hillside neighborhoods these days?  We usually have 1 or maybe no shootings a year.  We’ve had 2 or 3 this month alone. WTF?”
Another Occupier tells about a scene she witnessed a couple of days ago while driving over the Blatnik Bridge.  She says that 6 or more DPD and/or Sheriff SUVs, all with their big lights flashing, were blocking both sides of (to Superior and to Duluth) the traffic and they had a beat-up old car up against a rail and cops were running all over the place.  She also says, “WTF?”
The first Occupier remarks, “I’m going to the Citizens Review Board meeting tomorrow.  I’ll ask and see if anybody tells me anything”.
7pm has come upon us pretty quick.  We pack up; 1 of the hipster guys comes out with us as we leave.  He turns off the open sign and locks the door behind him.  The other hipster dude starts in on the nightly cleanup.  Things are much safer this way.
Barring a hurricane, earthquake or who knows what, we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.         

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