G.A. Minutes 4-24-18

G.A. Minutes 4-24-18

The weather people told the truth last week; this past week has been remarkably pleasant, just like they promised. The snow in the downtown and Central Hillside has melted almost completely. Temperatures have been in the 50s with slight or gusty north west winds; skies have been partly cloudy to clear. The wind cools things down a bit but no one’s complaining. It’s still the best weather we’ve had in 6 months. One day the sun was shining brightly with no wind and temps in the 60s. Whoo hoo! Life is sweet (sometimes).

Occupiers and some of the Anonymous crew arrive at Coney Island simultaneously tonight. As we’re pushing tables together an Occupier comments, “It looks like we’re going to have a scheduling conflict on Friday. We’ve got Skip Sandman’s Anishinaabe Taco Sale from 4p-8p at the Central Hillside Community Center and Socialist Pizza at the Women’s Building on 1st St from 6:30p-8:30p. I’m not sure how we should navigate this”. Another Occupier suggests, “I think we’ll have to play it by ear. If things are under control at the taco sale then some of us can leave early and go over for pizza. Hopefully, the rest of us will be able to stop in for the end of the pizza event. I really love Socialist Pizza and hate to miss any of it but I know that my taco making skills are needed by Skip. It’s a good thing that both venues are within a few blocks of each other”.

An Anon states, “I think we had a pretty good turnout for the Socialist Action rally on Earth Day. It was gratifying to see so many of our Anonymous peeps in attendance”. We all agree and he continues, “Before you guys arrived, we were chalking Peoples Plaza with slogans for resisting Line 3. Skip Sandman and his crew showed up; they’d been over at Lake Place Park having a ceremony in preparation for the changing of the name Lake Place Park into an Anishinaabe name. I think they said it was Gitchii Ode Aking or something like that. Anyway, they had some drummers and a big drum with them; the drummers played and sang a few honor songs for us. That was so way cool”.

An Occupier adds, “Yeah, the Indigenous Commission has been trying to get the park renamed for 5 years. The City has required them to jump through so many hoops, it’s ridiculous! I mean, come on, this place was covered with Native American villages from the Twin Ports all the way down to Cloquet before the settlers arrived and destroyed it all then tried to make the Indigenous people act like white folks. Northern MN is covered with Native folks to this day; quite a few are living in our Hillside and over west but there is nothing that signifies a Native presence in the city of Duluth. I’m told that when the Indigenous Commissioners were required to meet with the Chamber of Commerce, one of the Chamber members said, ‘Well, if you rename the park, will we still be able to go there?’ Everyone groans and then cracks up. She continues, “That’s the kinda crap one has to deal with when forced to associate with ‘the suits’. We deal with the same shit in the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition. We’ve also been fighting for the HPB of R for 5 years. I guess obstructionists think, if they throw enough roadblocks in our way, we’ll all give up. It ain’t gonna happen!”

An Anon remarks, “Going back to the Earth Day action for a minute, did any of you see that video that a guy that we didn’t know had on his phone? It was of a couple of rookie Duluth Police Department officers randomly searching a homeless woman who had a cart full of stuff”. An Occupiers answers, “Yeah, I saw it; it was pretty bad. Apparently, the cops said they were doing a training exercise. Great. They were going through all the woman’s stuff without asking her permission, patting her down too. The woman was screaming, ‘What’s wrong with you? I didn’t do anything! Get your hand off my ass!’ And stuff like that. Cops have no right to search people who aren’t under suspicion without their permission. A lot of the veteran homeless folks out in the streets are suffering from schizophrenia. By doing that shit to the innocent street woman, the cops might have exacerbated the night and day mares that she already has.

“Do you know the name or anything about the guy who showed us his video?” The Anon replies, “No actually I don’t; he came with one of our occasional Anons. I don’t recall meeting him before last Sunday”. The Occupier exclaims, “Bummer. There was no internet access out on Protest Corner so the video dude was gonna sent the video to our friend from Socialist Action, the S.A. dude was gonna send it to me and I was gonna take it to the Citizens Review Board tomorrow. So far, I haven’t received anything. I’d like to follow up on this and file a complaint on behalf of the woman”. Everyone agrees to keep their eyes and ears open re: the video.

An Anon reminds us, “We’ll be doing another march and bank action on May Day (May 1st) starting at noon. As always, you all are welcome to join us”. An Occupier explains, “Some of us need to attend the Annual May Day Memorial for Trafficked and Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women. It will start at the plaza in front of the Dewitt Sietz building in Canal Park at 4:30pm and end up on the lake shore around 6pm. I’m sure we’ll catch up with you either before or after”.

Another Anon reports, “On our way here we noticed a bunch of people hanging out at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. Anybody know what’s up with that?” An Occupier tells him, “Those people were waiting for a chartered bus to pick them up and take them to Montgomery, Alabama for the opening of a big memorial to lynching. I hear it will be a major event with people from all over the nation and the world coming there. In Duluth there were even some scholarships available to people who couldn’t afford the cost of the trip. One of our Occupiers is going, so are the city official and the Superior Organizer. I heard that even DPD Chief Tusken is going. I’ll look forward to all the pictures and stories that everyone will bring back”.

An Occupier confesses, “I was making mental preparations for starting up our recreational fires at Peoples Plaza for our next meeting but then my brain kicked in and I remembered next Tuesday would be May Day. Whadaya say to starting up our fire the week after that on May 8th? Everyone exclaims in unison, “YYEEEESSSSS!!!” Well, o.k. then, if it doesn’t rain, that’s what we’ll do.

Another Occupier tells us, “I was just given directions to the other Line 3 Resistance Camp. Some of our friends are there. I plan to go there as soon as I can”. Others express interest in accompanying her.

Someone says, “Oh, that reminds me, did anyone see that an administrative law judge ruled Enbridge should not be allowed to use their preferred route for their Line 3 pipeline? An Occupier answers, “Now that you mention it, I believe I did see a headline about that flash by my eyes this afternoon while I was trying to do a bazillion other things”. No one else has heard this news. The person reporting the judge’s decision continues, “I just saw the information in a 10 second or so report on one of our local commercial TV stations. I don’t know if the judge is the same one who did all the pipeline hearings or not. Her decision will give us some more time and cost Enbridge more money at least. In her decision the judge said that Enbridge could use the same route as their old pipeline but not their preferred route which detours around Leech Lake. I think that means Leech Lake will have the final say as to whether the pipeline goes through or not. Leech Lake is already on record as saying they won’t allow any new pipelines to cross their land. This could get interesting.

The Occupier who lives in Superior opines, “You know, I wish there was a way one could report something to the police or fire department without having to dial 911. Maybe a 912 number or something like that? I really hate to call the police at all but sometimes my neighbors get to fighting so bad that I have to call. I wish there were a way I could alert the cops without having them show up with guns drawn and all that. Another Occupier agrees and tells him, “Here in Duluth we have no choice but to call 911; the City gives us no other options, they say if we’re not calling in an emergency we should just say, ‘This is not an emergency’. Remember how we used to call and report that we were starting up our recreational fire? We did that to prevent a big fire truck from showing up because somebody from the neighborhood called 911 saying that CJMM was on fire. We haven’t had to do that for several years because the cops and fire department already know what we’re up to”.

Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, the very few times that we did call the cops it really was an emergency. Like when we’d be fixin’ to leave and we’d see someone passed out under the tree. They’d be totally unresponsive and we didn’t know for sure if they were even breathing. We didn’t want to just leave them there because who knows what would be done to them by unscrupulous street peeps. You don’t want to get too close to someone like that because you never know if they’ll come up swinging. I’d rather call the cops than end up with a black eye or stabbed or whatever. The second Occupier agrees and says, “Remember that time when that asshole homeless dude was waving a bottle of alcohol all around in front of a bunch of the regular CJMM crowd then when they asked for some he told them no, he wasn’t gonna share”. Many Occupiers still remember the incident. The Occupier resumes the story, “Then a few of the street guys jumped him and started beating the crap out of the asshole dude. They wouldn’t stop when we asked them to so we had to call the cops. As soon as we announced that the cops were on their way, everybody split. When the cops got there, all they found was us and the dude all beat up and bloody with an empty bottle of alcohol”.

Another Occupier remembers, “I actually knew who the guys were who were beating on the selfish dude but when the cops asked if I knew who they were I said no. I figured the beat up guy had it coming. Come to think of it, I don’t believe we ever saw the asshole again”.

On a different note, the Occupier who likes to research stuff asks, “Did any of you know that North Korea’s main nuclear facility blew up last September?” No one was aware of that. The Occupier explains, “China reported it at the time but major media didn’t pick up on it. North Korea had its major facility inside of a big mountain; something happened and the whole mountain collapsed. North Korea doesn’t really have a nuclear program right now. So when we saw Kim Jung Un sucking up to South Korea and other nations, it’s not because they have become terrified of He Who Shall Not Be Named, it’s because they don’t have other options right now. I’m sure HWSNBN is aware of the mountain’s collapse but still, he and his minions will take credit for KJU’s sudden change of heart, of course”. We all say, “Of course”.

It’s not quite 9pm but we’re pretty much talked out. An Occupier couple queries, “Anyone want to stop over to our place for a bit and relax?” A few Occupiers and all of the Anons say, “Sure”. So we head out either to the couple’s home or to our own homes.

Remember now, next Tuesday is May Day so we’ll be out and about celebrating. On Tuesday May 8th, we should be starting our first fire of the season at Peoples Plaza. If you look out your window and up at the sky around 5:30pm on the 8th, you should be able to tell if we’re gonna be at the Plaza or back at Coney Island.

G.A. Minutes 4-17-18

G.A. Minutes 4-17-18

We had a blizzard again on Sunday. It dumped around 7 or 8 inches of snow on us; the entire Twin Ports area was pretty much shut down until mid-afternoon on Monday. Everyone was really bummed out, except maybe the people who like to ski. Seasonal affective disorder was about to descend on the entire population but …. no worries, the temperature went above the freezing mark almost immediately; the extra snow started melting like crazy and the weather people say temperatures will be in the 50s in a few days and stay there for at least a week. Their predictions had better be correct or….. well, we’ll think of something.

The temperature is in the upper 30s with gusts of wind from the east when the first Occupiers arrive at Coney Island this evening. We see that a different staff guy is working behind the counter. He really is different too; he has tattoos on his fingers. No big deal but very unlike the other guys we’ve seen working at the 1st St. Coney Island. He could be a hipster or a white supremacist, who knows? He’s friendly, takes our orders and gets everything right. A lot of people of color frequent this restaurant, if the dude was a card carrying racist,the people would notice and loudly call him on it. That’s not happening so we guess he’s more former than latter. That’s good.

As we push tables together, the Anon who recently was forced to find a job rolls in. An Occupier says to him, “You escaped! Man, we haven’t seen you in several weeks; it’s super good to see you. The Anon replies, “Yeah, it’s been pretty rough trying to hold down my job, go to college and participate in all the Anon actions. I think I’m gonna have to look for another job though. I’m working part-time as a cook in a restaurant/bar in West Duluth; my co-workers and the customers are really nice and I don’t mind working there but they’re only paying me $9.00 an hour. I can’t survive on that low of a wage I got my first paycheck a few days ago, it was for a little over 40 hours of work and after a shitload of deductions, I was still $60 short on my share of our monthly rent. I think I need to get out of the food service industry all together”. An Occupier reassures him, “There are help wanted signs all over the place right now. You should have no trouble finding a better job”. We all give him information about where we have seen help wanted signs.

An Occupier reports, “The City is gonna start reconstruction work on Superior St. tomorrow. They’re starting at 6th Ave W and going to 3rd Ave W in the first phase. That means the anyone who wants to catch a bus that normally drives on Superior St will have to catch it on either W 1st St or W Michigan St. I brought a copy of the bus detour routes in case anybody wants to see them”. Another Occupier opines, “I wonder if that’s gonna screw up access to our fires at Peoples Plaza this year”. The reporting Occupier responds, “It could, although in the past I’ve noticed that City construction crews move pretty slow. It sure will be a bitch when they work on the street right outside the Plaza; we may not be able to drive our vehicles up into the space and unload everything. Carrying all that stuff will be hard; I hope we can figure out an easier method. We’ll just have to wait and see”.

An Anon comments, “Speaking of fires, when are the fire circles gonna start up again?” An Occupier explains, “It all depends on the weather. I’m thinking that as soon as the temperature can hold at 40 degrees or above during the evenings, we’ll be able to start the fires. It better happen soon though or I’m betting we’ll start one anyway and sit out there all by ourselves, freezing our asses off”.

One of the Occupiers who allowed himself to be arrested at the lock down at Wells Fargo a while ago states, “Our pre-trial hearing will happen on this upcoming Thursday at 1pm in the St Louis County Court House. A support rally is being organized for noon”. Those of us who are able will attend.

Another Occupier says, “I just want to remind everyone that the fundraiser/Anishinaabe taco sale for Skip Sandman will happen on Friday, April 27th, 4:30p-8p at the Central Hillside Community Center. I hope that some of you all will be able to come and help out. This is only Skip’s second taco sale and his people don’t understand how to do things yet. The last time there weren’t enough helpers and those of us who were helping in the kitchen almost dropped over dead. The sale was a success, the customers were all happy and Skip raised a lot of zhoon (money) but the cooks and prep folks were seriously exhausted. If a few of you can come and help out it will save a lot of wear and tear on my tired old ass.

“Oh yeah, that reminds me, I was at the Indigenous Commission meeting yesterday. A member of the Ni Mi Win Pow Wow sub-committee reported that they were going to be holding Anishinaabe Taco Sales every other Wednesday at the CHCC. I guess that means we won’t be helping out at a taco sale by the Northwoods Wolf Alliance/Idle No More peeps for a while? I mean, the Hillside hood can only handle so many taco sales in one month”.

Someone reports, “May Day is not all that far away; I already know of 2 events that will happen. The Democratic Socialists of America (I think) will be sponsoring some type of event that will end up as a potluck at CHCC. A group of Native American women will be holding a ceremony in front of the Dewitt Seitz building in Canal Park for the Missing and/or Murdered Indigenous Women. They will then march to the lake and put flowers in the water to bless the woman because they believe many of them were thrown in the lake from the big ships after the men used them up. I’m not sure of the time yet but will find out soon”.

An Occupier tells us, “It looks to me like the Duluth Police Department is going to go ahead and purchase riot gear no matter what the people who will be most affected by riot gear usage think. I was at the last Citizens Review Board meeting where there was a discussion about the purchase. I repeated my main objection that they have cops on their force that should definitely not be put in riot gear. When the meeting was over the female Deputy Chief came to sit beside me. With the utmost sincerely (real or fake, I don’t know) she told me that they also know they have some cops that have “difficulty controlling their emotions” so that’s why they need a complete set of riot gear for each of their 100 cops who work the streets. They need to be able to smoothly move the cops in and out of a situation; they intend to put their cops with “difficulty” out on the line for only 20 minutes or so and then replace them with cops who are naturally mellow.

“I didn’t say much, just listened. During the meeting I had asked a rhetorical question about why is it that most of the police departments in the so called US of A are getting riot gear, M-raps, tear gas launchers and stuff like that. Nobody wanted to tackle that question but after the Deputy Chief gave her riot gear sales pitch, we started talking about climate change, climate refugees, water and food shortages and stuff like that. At one point, I said to her, ‘You know, that’s what those young people with masks are really all about. They’re just trying to encourage people to live their lives in a better way’. She said, ‘Yeah, we know that. They are basically good people’. So there’s your get out of jail free card guys. Next time the cops hassle you, refer them to that Deputy Chief and she will make them leave you alone”. We all laugh.

Another Occupier adds, “This Security State bullshit so really sucks!! I suppose you all know that they can track you and listen in from your cell phone even when you’re not using it?” We know. Another Occupier opines, “I’ve heard that if you take your cell phone battery out they can’t hear you anymore”. The first Occupier replies, “Yeah, that still works”.

Changing the subject, an Anon comments, “You know, He Who Shall Not Be Named makes Obama look really good”. An Occupier laughs, “Shit, HWSNBN makes George W look good”. There are loud sighs all around.

On that note, the smokers go out for a break. As they are smoking a street guy that we all know comes walking up. It’s the developmentally disabled or brain injured (we’re not sure which) dude who lives at the Wet House and has attended many of our fires in the past. It appears that he has no idea that he’s ever met any of us before. He asks for spare change and a cigarette. An Anon gives him a cigarette; an Occupier gives him a dollar. He’s not a bad dude but he has a tendency to loudly and completely dominate the conversation. So guess what…. he promptly begins to loudly and completely dominate our conversation. He talks about what a pain in the butt it was to be cooped up in the Wet House with all the drunks for over 24 hours during the blizzard. An Occupier jokes, “I bet they all felt the same about you”. The loud dude gets the joke and laughs loudly saying, “I bet you’re right”. We finish our smokes, bid him goodbye and invite him to attend our fire again this year. We figure that in about 10 minutes he won’t remember talking with us but will be pleasantly surprised to find a dollar in his pocket.

When the smokers return, an Occupier tells them, “I attended last month’s Full Moon Ceremony. The spiritual leader told us that she has lived in the same house for many years. She always watches the moon carefully and after a while she knew which window in her house the moon would rise in depending on the time of year. She said that everything changed about 2 years ago; now the moon comes up in different places. She not sure anymore where it will rise. I said that the scientists say it has something to do with that 2004, 9.5 earthquake that happened in the Indian Ocean. Supposedly, that earthquake tipped the earth’s axis a bit.” The spiritual leader said that was correct.

We hear one of the customers calling out to another customer, “What time is it?” The other customer answers, “8:15p” We say, “Oops! We quickly pack up our stuff; when we’re finished we notice that there are other customers at tables and booths. They don’t appear to be going anywhere. One of the staff guys notices our confused looks and says, “Oh, I forgot to mention, we’re not doing winter hours anymore. We’re back to staying open til 9pm”. Oh well…. too late now. We leave tips and head out the door, expecting to be back to Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 4-10-18

G.A. Minutes 4-10-18

The sky stays light until about 7:30pm these days; that’s pretty cool and very much appreciated considering all the dark winter days we’ve been forced to live through again this year. It doesn’t seem fair that people should be required to live through the misery of winter every single year; once every 5 years or so would be doable, perhaps. I suppose this winter every year crap is to make us appreciate the other seasons when they arrive and to make us remember why we live in the Duluth area. Even after we are fully grown, Mother Earth and Father Sky treat us as though we were children; from their point of view we probably are still children who need to be reminded of our blessings……

Anyway, it’s neither winter nor spring as the first Occupiers arrive at Coney Island this evening. The sidewalks and streets are clear but small piles of ugly, black snow are scattered all about. The temperature is in the mid-30s with little wind; occasional drops of something are falling from the sky. We guess they might be snowflakes that melt as soon as they touch an object.

The place is empty except for the 2 staff guys who regularly work the Tuesday evening shift. One of them says, “We sure missed you guys last week”. We explain that we took a road trip out to the country and the staff guy continues, “You all are our favorite customers!” When we looked surprised he remarks, “You folks are always pleasant; you never yell or swear at us and you clean up your own messes”. Suddenly the door swings open and a bunch of customers come in; they all want to-go orders. Fortunately, this marks the end of our conversation; we don’t have the heart to tell him that as soon as spring really arrives we’ll be having fire circles at Peoples Plaza again. The staff won’t see us unless it’s raining.

As soon as we have settled in, the Occupiers who were able to make it out to Makwa (bear) Line 3 Resistance Camp tell the others what they found. An Occupier reports, “I was amazed at the amount of work they have done since the last time we were out there. It was kinda chilly outside so we went into a kitchen/meeting space that was in the process of being built when we dropped off firewood a few months ago. The building was completed a while ago and it seriously rocks! The ceiling was fairly high but they had a double barrel wood stove that heated up the entire space nice and cozy. There was a big wooden table with lots of chairs; I imagine that’s where everyone congregates for the nightly dinner. A woman was making beaded earrings on it when we arrived. They had every durable pot, pan and cooking utensil one could imagine hanging on the wall At one point, one of the women threw a couple of stuffed turkeys in the top barrel, closed the door and walked out to go and attend to her other business.

“Most of the Water Protectors stopped working for about an hour and came into the building to visit with us. They’re fixin’ to move in a few weeks so have lots of preparations to make. A couple of women were making lists and organizational charts; many of the others were trying to thaw out the ground enough to allow them to remove the stakes that were holding up some of the sleeping spaces. We saw a magnificent waaginogaan (wigwam) that one of the Water Protectors had made according to the ancient ways. They’ll be able to take it down and transport it to the new space.

“I don’t know the whole story but they told us they want to move some place that’s closer to the Line 3 pipeline. They have several offers but haven’t decided which one they’ll take yet. We talked about a million different things and then it was time for everyone to get back to work before the sun went down. We wished we could have helped with the physical labor but we’re so old that they would have had to waste their time taking care of us when we threw our backs out after working for 5 minutes. We brought a few gifts but with the exception of firewood, the campers have just about everything they need.

“The Camp has received many donations; they have a big surplus of good clothing. We offered to take all of their excess clothing, wash what needs to be washed and bring everything over to the “Dom”. The folks in the Central Hillside will be pleased to have new clothes. Who wants to help take over the laundry room at my Co-op and washes clothes for hours and/or days?” Another Occupier adds, “We’ll wait to go out there again until they get settled on the new land”.

An Occupier asks, “Any new developments with the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights?”. The Occupier who is a member of the HPB of R Coalition answers, “Nothing huge but the 2 other City Councilors who were the original sponsors of the Bill have had some of their time freed up so will be able to lend us a hand again. Maybe they can guilt trip the Councilor who’s our sponsor now into getting things moving. The main homeless outreach worker came to the last meeting and told us that someone in Parks N Rec. was complaining about homeless people sleeping and carrying on in the 2 heated bathrooms that the City is leaving open until 9pm; after that the bathrooms are supposed to lock by themselves.

“Sleeping overnight in a heated bathroom when you’re homeless and the nighttime weather is cold didn’t sound like any big deal to us but we formed bathroom patrol teams that will visit the heated bathrooms every other night this month to see what they find. My turn will come a couple of times at the end of this month. I spoke with the outreach worker yesterday; she told me that all they found was a few couples who were sleeping. The bathrooms were clean and no one was partying. She didn’t have the heart to tell them to leave so called the lead shift dude at the Duluth Police Department and informed him that she was letting the couples sleep where it was warm. The police dude didn’t have a problem with that. The sleeping couples said that they didn’t think the bathroom doors were actually locking at all. To be continued…….

“She also told me something I thought was rather amusing; she said that when the cops took down all the benches in Peoples Park and the entrance to Lake Place Park and the massive public outcry ensued, Chief Tusken called her and started screaming and yelling at her. She had to hold the phone out away from her ear and just let him roll for a while”. Another Occupier exclaims, “What!?! Mr. My Friend and Your Friend the Great Humanitarian Duluth Police Chief Tusken has a temper problem??? I’m crushed….” The first Occupier replies, “Well, I was mildly surprised as he generally does a good job of appearing to be pretty mellow but after all, he is a cop”.

None of the Anonymous crew have showed up tonight; we wonder what they’re up to. We know they had another Divest action yesterday and want to know how it went. We know they’re going through some changes and may take a while to settle into their new routine. Hopefully, we can hook up with them soon.

The Occupier who is a single parent arrives; he always has to get his kids situated before he can join us. This evening he remarks, “Will somebody tell me why one home solar panel sells for $150 in Africa while that same solar panel sells for $2,000 – $4,000 in the US? An Occupier opines, “Well, I think it has something to do with a capitalist philosophy that goes something like “All the market will bear”. I think that means that one should sell their product for as much money as they can possibly ring out of each customer. Nice aye?”

The single parent Occupier responds sarcastically, “Yeah, real nice. Then there’s Narcan, the drug that will save a junkie’s life if he’s in the process of OD’ing. It used to be somewhat affordable but then some douche bag bought the company and raised the price so high that only millionaire junkies could afford it. I remember that the first responders, social service providers and people like that were in an uproar about how they were gonna be able to provide life saving services. I believe the douche bag dude took his prices down a bit but still….. what is up with these capitalist bums?”

An Occupier tells us, “I don’t know how much the stuff costs but I have a Narcan kit, just in case. It was given to me by a friend who works at the Needle Exchange. Remember that I have it because we may need it sometime when we’re having one of our fires. We can save 4 lives or 2 lives if the stuff the OD’ers have done is laced with Fentanyl” Everyone groans.

Another Occupier reports, “I had a couple of great experiences last weekend. On Saturday I attended the Catholic Worker Faith and Resistance Retreat at U.U Church. One of our Occupiers was a lead organizer for the event. It was wonderful! U.U is a big place and it was packed to the gills. There was a good chili feast and then our friend, the spiritual leader and healer, Rickey DeFoe gave a marvelous (as usual) talk about the contrasting philosophies of the Annishinaabe and that of the capitalist system. The official attorney for Leech Lake (I think) then taught us about how the white man’s legal system really functions. It’s very weird; possibly because they don’t want the common person to be able to navigate through it. I also had fun hanging around outside, smoking cigarettes with some of my local Native friends.

Then on Sunday I and another Occupier participated with Natives Against Heroin in a cleanup in some of the city parks. There were lots of friendly peeps who I hadn’t met before and we picked up trash in 4 different parks. The first 2 parks were in Lakeside and Lester Park and they were already almost completely clean; we didn’t stay long. Then we went down to Lake Place Park; the group that went down to the lake came back with all sorts of stuff. I wasn’t curious enough to look inside their bags to see what they found. The other Occupier, who is not with us tonight, and I stayed up by the benches and picked up a ton of cigarette butts. We were hoping to find some street folks who were getting drunk so they could tease and laugh at us; but no such luck. Lake Place was devoid of people except for our crew. When we went to Lincoln Park we found a bunch of cigarette butts in the parking lot and one used syringe. When we started out, we expected to find huge amounts of used needles; the Clean and Safe Team must be on their job. They only clean city property though so maybe next time we’ll check out some empty lots”.

As usual, we haven’t been watching the time but the staff guys have. Everything is cleaned, they are holding their coats and have that “it sure would be nice to go home” look on their faces. We take the hint; as we’re packing up, an Occupier says to another, “Anything else going on this week?” She replies, “Tomorrow the Human Rights Commission meets in City Hall at 5:30pm and the Indigenous Commission’s Sobriety Feast starts at 6pm in the Central Hillside Community Center. I made some killer, homemade, organic, whole grain mac n cheese with turkey hot dogs for the Feast. If you show up you could eat some; you have to be there though because there’s never any leftovers.

As we head out the door, we tell the staff guys, “There’s a distinct possibility that we’ll be back here next Tuesday”.

G.A. Minutes 3-27-18

G.A. Minutes 3-27-18

So it snowed last night, not a lot but enough to make everything covered in white again. After sunrise it turned into rain and right now, at 6pm, the sky has cleared; all the white stuff has melted and the temperature is 47 degrees. It seems kinda weird but around here, it’s normal weather for this time of year. It causes us to believe that spring is going to show up again. We sure hope so.

As the first Occupiers to arrive at Coney Island put their stuff in a booth and pull some tables together, one Occupier says to another, “So what’s been going on in your life since I saw you last week?” The Occupier responds, “Well, myself, the other Occupier and the Camp Makwa (bear) Line 3 Resistance Water Protector who all chained ourselves to the Wells Fargo gate a while back will be meeting with our attorneys tomorrow. I assume we’ll be discussing strategy; we have a pre-trial hearing coming up in mid- April and then a trial sometime after that. The questioning Occupier adds, “I know I’ve already said this a million times before but I’m really proud and grateful to you guys for stepping up and doing that lockdown. You all rock!”

A couple of peeps from the Anonymous crew roll up. One of them tells us, “The Anon who’s been doing a lot of our lead organizing is not gonna be able to make it to these meetings for a while. He had to get a job in order to keep a roof over his head. The college financial aid he’s been getting just isn’t enough to survive on so he picked up a part time position in a restaurant in West Duluth. He’s gonna stay in college and work the job too, while still participating in Anonymous actions. He has to work every Tuesday night for now though”.

An Occupier comments, “Yeah, that’s one of the ways the 1% keeps us all enslaved; housing rents are so high and our jobs pay so little that we’re forced to give most of our lives away just trying to survive. People who have good educations or family connections can get better paying jobs but those jobs have so many requirements that infringe on their personal lives that they live in fear of expressing the wrong opinion or being seen in public doing anything that exposes the true nature of the 1%. We are all slaves to The Man and as soon as the people realize it and turn off their TV sets, we’ll be able to make a better world. We and many, many others are laying the ground work for what is to come”.

Another Occupier suggests, “On the topic of laying the ground work, I know we all want to go out to Makwa Camp. Why don’t we go out there next Tuesday instead of meeting here?” Someone replies, “That’s a really good idea! If we could leave from Duluth around 1pm we could get there in time to still help with whatever projects they have going on for the day, help with cooking and maybe stay for the nightly meal. We have room for 3 more people in our car; if more folks are able to join us, we could take our truck too. Going out on Tuesday makes a lotta sense because we all clear our schedules in order to meet anyway so if we just hook up a little earlier, unless there’s a blizzard or something, we should have a great day”. An Occupier and a few Anons are able to make the trip; we’ll contact others who aren’t present to see who else is able to join us. We all say, “Sounds like a plan”.

An Anon reports, “Our Divest action at Wells Fargo and US Bank last Friday went well. A smaller amount of cops showed up this time and they didn’t seem worried that we were going to blow something up or whatever. Things were much calmer; maybe they’re getting a clue as to who we really are”. An Occupier agrees, “ Right, I’ve never seen or heard of anything violent being done by the real Anonymous people. I suppose anyone can buy a Guy Fawkes mask and do whatever they want but peeps who actually subscribe to the Anonymous code are non-violent as far as I know. That’s in spite of that guy on the internet who says, ‘We do not forget, we do not forgive, expect us’ “. We all laugh.

One of the Occupiers asks the Occupier who reports things, “So what’s on the agenda for the rest of the week?” The reporting Occupier replies, “Please don’t forget that Skip Sandman’s Anishinaabe Taco Sale Fundraiser will be happening on Friday, 4:30p-8p at the Central Hillside Community Center. He’s really gonna need our help; Socialist Pizza is also happening on Friday, 6:30p-8p at the Women’s Building. I love going to Socialist Pizza but I’ll probably miss it as I’ll need to stay and help with the cleanup after the taco sale. Most of you guys might be able to make it down there once the sale winds down . Then on Saturday, March 31st at 7:30p, some women from AICHO will be having a Full Moon Ceremony in the backyard of the Washington Center (310 N 1st Ave W). It’s a women only event and women wishing to attend should wear a skirt. However, they will also need sober Native men and other sober men to guard the perimeters so the women won’t be disturbed by any of our local crazies who frequent the neighborhood. On Tuesday, WE’RE GOING TO MAKWA!!! Yay!!!” We all laugh again.

An Occupier says to another, “So what is the latest news with the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition?” The questioned Occupier explains, “I got confused and missed the meeting last Thursday but I think the main thing right now is to push for expediency and transparency concerning all this City Code stuff with the City Attorney. When we did the COW (committee of the whole) the City Councilor who is sponsoring the HPB of R gave a good speech about how we have already been jumping through their hoops for the past 5 years, enough is enough, this researching of the codes and statutes must be finished quickly and blah, blah, blah. I don’t think her speech will make much difference though so we’ll need to continuously bug the City Attorney’s office so they’ll get the job done. Maybe they’ll finish quickly to get us to leave them alone?

“Our City Councillor is an attorney and is supposed to help with the research but she tells us she doesn’t know how to do it. Great…. This whole thing could easily fall deep into the bowels of City government, never to be seen again, if we’re not vigilant and careful. During all that crap we went through with the cops, fire department, city government and all when we were holding our fire circles at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial forced me to learn how to research codes and statutes. I’d be willing to help them and they’d be welcome to take all the credit for any work that I do but I’m waiting for someone to tell me what the actual research procedure will be. I’m not willing to do a bunch of work if they won’t make use of it.

Over the years, I’ve noticed that some people who have so called big jobs with high salaries think they’re very smart and competent and basically really hot shit. They may be hot shit, I don’t know, but smart and competent? I’ve found this to not always be the case”. Laughter abounds.

An Occupier states, “Hey, I heard that the former evil slumlord of our former Homeless Camp is asking the City to sell him back his Old Kozy building”. Most say, “WTF?” An Anon says, “Huh?”

The Occupier explains,”The slumlord owner of the Old Kozy owed 27 thousands dollars in back taxes and wasn’t doing anything about it so the City repossessed the building about a year ago. Ordinarily, we’d be talking bad about the City but in this case, our old evil slumlord is a very messed up dude. He has a long history of trying to get as much as he can from a person while giving them nothing in return. Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, and the dude is fucking nuts too! I think the City will avoid having any dealings with him if they can help it”.

There’s been a fair amount of customers this evening. We were so busy talking that we didn’t notice much; it looks like we’re that last ones left now. Time to go. We’re all in a good mood as we leave because we know we’re going to try and make a trip to Makwa next Tuesday. We expect to return to Coney Island on Tuesday, April 9th 6pm. See you then?

G. A. Minutes 3-20-18

Today is the first day of spring. Yeah right….. around here that statement is considered to be a joke. The official first day of spring aka the Spring Equinox never brings weather that is even remotely spring like. This evening the sky is overcast, temperatures are in the mid-20s but a strong east wind makes it feel like it’s slightly below zero.

With climate change kicking in, we have no idea what to expect but we think it will at least get warmer soon and all the growing things will turn green and start growing again. Wouldn’t it be a kick in the pants if what the man made weather alterations gave the Twin Ports area was an endless winter? Hey, wait a minute…..that’s not even funny. Forget I said that.

Coney Island has only 3 customers when the first Occupiers arrive. The customers consist of a young man, who we vaguely recognize, and his 2 young sons or little brothers. The staff guys appear happy to see us; probably because they know more people will show up to join us.

Speaking of more people, a few of the Anonymous crew arrive. They’re going to hold another Line 3 Resistance Rally on this upcoming Friday. They plan to meet up and rally on the corner of Lake Ave and Superior St at 1pm; then march down to Wells Fargo and US Bank and see how much trouble they can make without getting arrested. Some of the Occupiers hope to join them.

An Occupier announces, “Natives Against Heroin will be having another Fire Teaching on Saturday, March 24th, 2pm at the Central Hillside Community Center. I really enjoyed the last one so am gonna be sure to attend this next one too”.

Some of the Occupiers attended the memorial service for Ms. Community Cleanup held last Sunday at AICHO. An Occupier tells those who were unable to attend, “I went over around 4pm, figuring that things would have wound down by then and there wouldn’t be many people there anymore. I was wrong; the place was still packed. I swear that every homeless and/or street person in the entire Central Hillside was there. Many asked when we’re gonna start up our fire again. I just told them we’d start as soon as the weather got warm enough to allow us to be comfortable sitting in the circle”.

Another Occupier opines, “I was glad to see that Ms Cleanup’s partner was there; he looked kinda like a deer blinded by headlights but then he’s looked like that many other times . Someone sighs, “I sure do miss her; when she wasn’t drinking she was the sweetest person I knew”. We all agree.

An Anon comments, “I wonder when our organizer friend is going to have another fundraiser for Makwa Line 3 Resistance Camp. Maybe we could hold one ourselves and call it Pow Wows Not Pipelines? An Occupier laughs and replies, “Our friend said the food fundraisers were canceled until further notice, whatever that means. We probably could hold one ourselves but calling it anything to do with Pow Wows would not be a good idea. We’re a bunch of white people who have no business even thinking about holding a Pow Wow.

“Those types of gatherings, I don’t know if they were called Pow Wows in olden times, were an important part of Native culture for thousands of years before European settlers came over and ruined everything. Now days, a Pow Wow requires a shit load of money, almost a year of advance planing and a huge crew of paid staff to get everything done. That’s why they’re usually sponsored by the so called tribal governments. I do think we could ask our friend if he’d be willing to do another fundraiser and we could help him. I also think we need to make time to get out to Makwa again and see how things are going”. Most of us are interested in holding another fundraiser; all of us want to go out to Makwa again.

An Occupier remarks, “It looked like the fundraiser/ spaghetti dinner for Honor the Earth this past Friday at Peace Church was a success. We (nods toward her partner) got there at the tail end when the food was almost gone. You all (nods toward other Occupiers) were already there. I noticed that the donations basket on the table was overflowing with money. Seeing as most of the actual customers were gone, it was nice to just kick back with you and all the other usual suspects”.

The staff guys have a TV up on the wall in the back of the restaurant. It’s tuned to some channel that is broadcasting some type of annual Republican dinner. It looks like He Who Shall Not Be Named is the featured speaker. Fortunately, the sound has been turned off so we don’t have to actually hear his bs. An Occupier asks, “I wonder what they’re having for dinner?” Another Occupier snorts, “Probably roast immigrants and white rhino pudding”.

The Occupier who is a college student says, “I have to write a big paper for my Masters program; I hope you guys will help me. My thesis seeks to explain how poverty causes increased environmental pollution. Over the next couple of weeks I’ll be bringing my recording materials to our meetings and hoping we can discuss my ideas and whatever ideas you all may have”. We say, “Sounds like a plan”.

An Occupier asks the Occupier who likes to reports things, “So what else is going on this week?” She reports, “Well, a bunch of the big Water Protector NGOs are sponsoring a party with several live bands at the Red Herring on Thursday, March 22nd, 6:30p-9p. I’m sure there will be a suggested donation. Then on Friday is the big Anon Divest Rally, Saturday will be the Fire Teachings at 2pm and then a group called March for Our Lives is sponsoring a march about gun control that will leave from the old Central H.S. on E 3rd St at 5:30pm. On Monday the Human Rights Commission will hold their yearly forum, 5:30p at AICHO. The HRC will be providing a free simple dinner for everyone who attends and the event is open to the general public”.

The Occupier who is a single parent laments, “This gun control thing has me confused. I know we need a way to keep crazed white supremacists from killing innocent people but I also think we’re gonna need our guns to fight the revolution. I’m not sure what the answer is”.

We all agree that gun control is a very important issue that warrants further discussion but it’s almost 8pm and the staff guys are cleaning everything so instead of starting a serious conversation we all get silly instead. We start making up various scenarios about guns i.e. a gun that when the owner points it at someone and hollers, ‘Freeze!’ the person who was getting hollered at would freeze solid and so would the gun owner. After a while all gun owners would be frozen solid and the rest of us could get down to the business of creating a better world where all could live in peace and harmony.

The staff guys are looking at us with an expression that says, “We know you all are f’ing nuts but we love you anyway”. We want them to continue to love us so we pack up, leave tips and head on out into the cold. We expect to be back here next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-13-18

G.A. Minutes 3-13-18

It may just be wishful thinking but we believe we’ve seen a few subtle signs of the beginning of spring this past week i.e. the sun crossing higher in the sky, the big snow piles slowly melting and getting smaller, little patches of exposed earth here and there, an occasional crawling bug making its presence known and people’s pets beginning to shed their fur. We take all this to mean winter may be on its way out. Good riddance to ya!

Tonight when the first Occupiers and Anonymous crew roll up to Coney Island there is still light in the sky. The temperature is in the high 30s without any wind. Sweet… guess we won’t have to freeze our asses off when taking a smoke break.

As we settle in, an Occupier asks, “Did anyone make it to the COW (Committee of the Whole) last night?” Another Occupier answers, “Yeah, I was there as were quite a few others from the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition. We had a good meal out on the steps of City Hall and then went in for the presentation of the HPB of R to the City Council. Technically speaking, our HPB of R was given to the Human Rights Commission a month or two ago; they unanimously approved it and then passed it on to City Council at last night’s COW.

“We’re pretty sure we already have more than enough Council votes to pass the Bill as a City Ordinance; the only hold up now is the City Attorney. He is tasked with turning the language of the Bill into proper legalese. As usual, when things have anything to do with the rights of regular people, the City is worried about getting sued. We think getting sued is pretty much a non-issue because we can’t even get homeless and street people to file a complaint with the Citizens Review Board or the HRC when their rights have been seriously violated. If the City and the Duluth Police Department train their employees to show homeless and street folks the same respect they show to everyone else there should very few problems.

“However, the City Attorney has the final say about what is considered to be legal in relation to City Legislative Codes and such. He doesn’t want the HPB of R to stand on its own as a new ordinance; he wants to fit all the 11 rights into various City ordinances that already exist. Of course, that will take a lot of research and more time too. The HPB of R Coalition is not happy about that and our spokespeople have made it clear to the City administration that we have already been jumping through their hoops for the last 5 years. We are not willing to wait even another half a year for the Bill to be presented to the City Council for a vote. If the work isn’t done right away, we may have to use “alternative methods”.

“Just between us, the City Attorney is supposed to be completely neutral concerning political issues; he’s just supposed to advise the administration and the citizens about what is legal and what is not. Unfortunately, the City Attorney for Duluth has made it clear over the years that he doesn’t want there to be an HPB of R in Duluth….ever. We think his new requirements are stall tactics. He hopes that we’ll be disheartened and give up.

“This City Attorney was appointed by the former mayor, Don Ness. The Ness administration was totally uninterested in anything having to do with homeless or poor people. Ness has another big job making lots of money now but I can’t remember what it is.

“Anyway, Ness and all his buddies are from the privileged and spoiled fraternity boy world. Their main concerns are investments and making money, tourism and making money, big business and making money and bike and hiking trails and somehow making money from that too. When he was mayor, Don Ness was quoted as saying homelessness was just a “side issue”. It was evident that his administration wanted homeless and poor people to just ‘go away’ to some place where privileged people would never have to see them. It appears the current City Attorney feels the same way. You’d think they’d realize that we’ve already hung in for 5 years so won’t be ‘going away’”. An Anon remarks, “Gee, I noticed that Don Ness and the City Attorney weren’t too skittish about having a very expensive lawsuit against the Fond du Lac Band and our downtown casino even though they were certain to lose”.

Another Occupier adds, “That sucks! Hang in there, you know we’ve got your back. Last night I was listening on KUMD to the City Council meeting that took place after the COW so I got to hear Councilor Fosle make a fool of himself again”. Some of us laugh while others look puzzled. The Occupier explains, “They were having the first reading of the proposed Earned Safe and Sick Time Ordinance; a woman was speaking about her experience of being pregnant when she was only 19 years old. She was having a few health problems but didn’t get PTO time at her job and couldn’t afford to take unpaid time off so continued showing up for work; she ended up having a miscarriage.

“So Fosle tells her, ‘You should have thought about that before you became pregnant. It’s a matter of the choices you make’. I could hear the gasps and groans from the audience even though I was listening on the radio. Fosle is going to get a lot of flak about that ignorant comment for a long time to come”.
Someone adds, “Yeah, like there’s no such thing as an unintended pregnancy and only people who have big, glorious jobs are entitled to have a family or a life”.

The Anons report that their Line 3 Resistance Rally last Friday was quite successful. An Anon tells us, “A lot of people showed up; we basically just bounced back and forth between the 2 big banks playing our music and handing out fliers. As usual, a lot of cops showed up. We joked back and forth with some of them; we’ve noticed that as long as we don’t get too physically close to them; some of them actually treat us like we might be human beings”.

A few of the Occupiers attended Ishkode (fire) Teachings last Saturday at the Central Hillside Community Center. An Occupier comments, “It was nice and intimate; only about 7 or 8 people showed up. Skip lit the fire, we all put asema (tobacco) in the fire and said a prayer then we sat in the fire circle and listened to Skip tell the story of how the Raven/Crow gave fire to the Anishinaabe people. As it started to get colder, we went inside and just kicked it, talking about what it’s like to be addicted to hard drugs or to have a family member and/or loved one who is an addict.

“They’re going to start having a sweat lodge pretty soon. The plan is to attract neighborhood addicts that would like to go into a sweat. There are a lot of Native and other people who are addicts and would like to quit but the standard capitalist, white people and/or Christian treatment options just don’t work for them. Many people find the indigenous ways to be more effective”.

An Occupier says to another, “Did you find out what is up with the Sacred Fires going out?” The questioned Occupier responds, “Yeah, kinda. It didn’t happen at Makwa (bear) Camp; it was another camp. I’m told that there was only 1 person left in charge of the Sacred Fire; tending a Sacred Fire is a 24/7 job. One person cannot possibly tend the fire all by themselves so when it would go out, they would just relight it. That is a major no-no. I think that maybe the people who are leading that camp don’t really know what they are doing”.

Another Occupier queries, “I hear there was also something going on out at Makwa too?” An Anon groans, “Oh, that was just some silly shit. Someone called the police and said that the Water Protectors at Makwa had an assault rifle. The Cloquet police and the FDL police came roaring up; there were about 12 cop cars. It turns out that the guy who owns the camp land also owns some type of hunting rifle. He probably has had it for a long time because he used to live there kinda deep in the woods all by himself. Anyway, it’s been a long winter and living out there at camp makes it seem like it REALLY is never gonna be over. After the cops left, a few of the Water Protectors were crabby. No big deal; it’s all blown over now”.

The Occupier who likes to report things, reports, “Honor the Earth is sponsoring a Line 3 Resistance Spaghetti Dinner, Friday, March 16th from 6p-9p at Peace Church (1111 11th Ave E) and Superior Save the Kids and Ex-Prisoners Organizing are having a No DPD Riot Gear rally this Saturday the 17th 5p-6p down at Lake Ave+Superior St”. We all plan to attend these events.

The clock says it’s 3 minutes til closing time; as we pack up an Anon asks an Occupier, “Do you have time to help us get that mattress?” The Occupier replies, “Sure, now would be a good time”. One of the Occupier couples has a mattress that needs a home; one of the Anons has a new home that needs a mattress. Funny how things work out sometimes. So, after packing up and bidding everyone good night, most of the crew goes home; the rest go off to haul a mattress up the hill.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-6-18

G.A. Minutes 3-6-18
The city of Duluth Mn dodged a bullet yesterday. A big snow storm was moving northwest (really); it pretty much covered the whole state. We were prepared to get a ton of snow dumped on us again but the whole storm passed about 10 or 15 miles south of us. There was some very strong east wind but not any snow. Whew! We’ve already accrued all the snow that we need this winter and are hoping to just slide peacefully into the beginning of spring in a month or so. It could happen.

So this evening as the Occupiers roll into Coney Island, the weather is a little chilly with temperatures in the low 20s and remnants of the cold east wind. At least no one had to wear their winter boots tonight. We can handle this; we all have homes. Our unsheltered homeless ones…..that’s another story.

This evening there are a few Anons and our friend the socialist, feminist organizer waiting for us when we arrive (slightly late). After we move some tables around, our friend the organizer reports, “Socialist Action will be sponsoring the Women’s March this year. It will be on Thursday, March 8th of course, 5:30pm starting from Peoples Plaza.

“Also, the location of the Socialist Pizza gathering, 6”30pm on every last Friday of the month has been changed to the Building for Women on 1st Ave E + E 1st St. The group has just become too big to fit into Luce’ so we’ll just meet at the BW and order pizza to be delivered. S.A. is planning on holding an Earth Day Rally too on Sunday, April 22nd. I don’t have any details yet but I will have them soon”.

An Occupier remarks, “I’m so glad you stopped in tonight. We don’t get to see you as often as we’d like and you’ve given us some good information; we’re totally down with supporting and participating in all the the events”.

The Anons agree; they’re also psyching up for their Line 3 Resistance rally and march this upcoming Friday, starting around 1pm at Peoples Plaza. An Anon mentions, “A lot of people have told us they’re gonna join us. Peeps from out of town have promised to step up too. Of course, we’ll go bother the big banks again; their customers need to realize what the money they put in these banks is being invested in. The customers probably work really hard for the money they earn and deposit in Wells Fargo and US Bank. Many of them don’t want to work in order to pay for earth destroying ventures that companies like Enbridge create. We’re just trying to get the word out”.

An Occupier says,”I just heard a little while ago that 2 Sacred Fires went out somewhere around here. That’s all I know right now; I’m guessing it had to be at one of the Line 3 Resistance Camps. Does anyone know more?” A few of the Anons have been given the same information but no one knows anything further. Someone comments, “Well, being a white person, I’m not completely knowledgeable when it comes to Native ways but I believe having or letting a Sacred Fire go out is not good. It has something to do with losing one’s power I think”.

Another Occupier announces, “Do you all know that Natives Against Heroin are going to do Ishkode (fire) teachings this upcoming Saturday, 2pm at the Central Hillside Community Center? An Occupier replies, “No, I didn’t know that. I’m sure it will be interesting and if it’s anything like the opening event NAH held a couple of weeks ago, it will be packed”. Many of us plan to attend.

An Occupier says to another, “So how you feeling these days?” The questioned Occupier tells him, “The surgery was pretty creepy and then I slept for a day and a half. After that I was still tired for days but I tried to get a few things accomplished between naps. Tonight is my first time out of the house; I feel pretty much back to normal now. I suppose you noticed I didn’t put out any minutes from last week’s meeting. Another Occupier adds, “No problem, we would have been worried about you if you had put minutes out. You’ve been through a lot so deserve a rest”.

The Occupier who has been through a lot exclaims, “Something truly marvelous happened to me in the midst of all this. A friend of the city official just GAVE me a computer; no strings attached! The friend is getting ready to move across the country and didn’t want to ship his computer. He was thinking of just putting it in a free store but the official man remembered that my computer crashed so hooked me and the computer-giving man up. Now I have a new computer and it works just great! It would have taken me many months to save enough money to buy even a refurbished one. I am a very happy camper”. Another Occupier responds, “I sure miss having the city official at our meetings”. The Occupier with the new computer tells him, “Yeah, me too but he’s busy with his radio show and lots of other good things”.

An Occupier laughs and tells us, “I somehow got into an argument with some woman on Facebook. She was telling me that cobalt is a very rare metal. It’s mandatory for the creation of cell phones, computers and stuff like that. She said that MN has a lot of cobalt up north where Polymet wants to open a sulfide mine. She tried to tell me that it was o.k. to let Polymet destroy our precious clean water and manoomin beds because at least they will pay all the miners up north a living wage to work the mine. She said otherwise the mining companies will continue to get cobalt from African mines where they have child slave workers. I didn’t even know what cobalt was so had to look it up and then I came to this meeting”.

Another Occupier suggests, “I think the Facebook woman’s argument is lame. There is plenty of cobalt in all the old computers and cell phones that just get thrown to the trash heap to rot and pollute the earth for a bazillion years. All those old broken things can get recycled and the cobalt can be reused. The miners can have decent jobs recycling the old stuff and doing other earth sustaining things and the child slaves can just go to school. It just takes a new way of thinking in order to save our Mother Earth”.

The feminist organizer remembers, “Oh, I forgot to mention, the WI legislature is debating a bill that would take 650 million taxpayer dollars and build a new prison”. We all groan; she continues, “Superior Save the Kids and Lake Superior Ex-incarcerated People Organizing are sponsoring a rally against the creation of a new prison next Monday, March 12th at 4:30pm at the corner of Belknap and Hammond Ave in Superior. It’s right next to the Douglas County Court House”.

An Anon is monkeying with his phone; he finds a very clear picture of a Duluth Police Officer and passes it around. He says, “That is a picture of the cop who was really throwing people around at one point during the lockdown at Wells Fargo a couple of weeks ago. He was being cruel; he grabbed me and smashed me into a wall”. An Occupier smiles and replies, “It’s good that you got the full face picture of the cop. I watched that hour long video of the lockdown and the part where the cops got out of line was in it. I have that video and you have that picture. I know I’m always preaching about filing complaints with the Citizens Review Board but every time we let police brutality slide it tells the offending cops that they can do whatever they want. If you want to file a complaint, I’ll be glad to help you”.

Somebody asks, “So what did you think of the Community Meeting About Riot Gear or whatever it was called that we went to last Wednesday?” Everyone is quiet for a bit; then an Occupier opines, “The Duluth News Tribune said that community sentiment was evenly divided but it didn’t look that way to me. I thought a lot of people spoke against supporting the DPD purchasing $125,000 worth of riot gear. SURJ really rocked it with their statistics and analysis about the effect police have on poor people and people of color. Just about all of the people who spoke in favor of riot gear where family members of cops; they had no idea what it’s like to be on the receiving end of what cops do. I think the people are more in danger from the cops than the cops are from the people.

“However, who knows what the DPD is gonna do? If they can’t get it now, they may quietly purchase it next year. Government folks are not to be trusted”.

Another Occupier agrees, “It seems to me that what is really happening with all the nation’s and the world’s police forces getting militarized is that the 1% has stolen so much of the land and resources that there’s not a heck of a lot left to steal. In order to steal the little bit that’s left, the 1% is not gonna be able to allow the so called middle classes to maintain the standard of living that they have been used to. The poor will be made even poorer and then almost all the people will take to the streets. The 1% is trying to get the police force prepared to protect them from the masses. It remains to be seen how many cops will actually kill their own people”.

An Occupier adds, “There will be a shit ton of climate refugees too. You know, climate change, also brought to you by the 1%? I do believe though that if enough people can get their heads together and decide to help one another and to live a different way, the violence and doom will be lessened considerably”. We all hope she is right.

A member of one of the Occupier couples proposes, “I think we should quit early and all go over to our house and relax”. Sounds like a plan. We pack up, tip and say goodnight to the staff guys and head out.

Unless we are blessed with a surprise early spring (don’t count on it) we’ll be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-20-18

G.A. Minutes 2-20-18
It’s Tuesday evening and it’s still the cold dark time of the year; that means the Occupiers are meeting at Coney Island again. Duluth received 5 or 6 inches of snow over the last couple of days. Across the bridge in WI they received a lot more; many schools and businesses were forced to close over there today. Duluth didn’t have many closings but driving is difficult; we have a fairly decent snowplowing department however, they have a large area to cover so it usually takes a few days before the roads are back to normal. The weather people tell us to expect more snow later in the week. Ah, the joy of winter….
Right now the main roads are passable, the side streets, not so much. Driving up and down the hill varies from simply annoying to downright scary. Living on the hillside is way cool though; when it’s not winter, there are many places where one can just sit and watch the ships, boats and other things going on in the harbor and Lake Superior. Some lucky people, who aren’t even rich, can watch the lake from the windows of their house or apartment. It’s way more interesting than watching TV.
The first Occupiers to arrive are deep in conversation as they come through the door. One Occupier is telling the others, “In a little over a week I’m gonna have some fairly serious dental surgery at an oral surgeon’s office. My teeth problems are a result of being a single parent without any support from my baby’s Daddy. I never was able make enough money to give my child what she deserved while being able to take care of my own needs too. I went without dental care for over 20 years.
“So now some of my teeth are hurting bad; I went for a consult with the oral surgeon that my regular dentist recommended; his estimate was huge, but luckily I now have dental insurance for the first time in my life. The insurance will pay for two thirds of the bill so I figured the surgeon’s office would just schedule my surgery ASAP and let me make payments on my share of the bill. I’ve never been to that particular dental surgeon in the past so if they were worried about my paying my share all they had to do was check with my regular dentist to see that I always pay my dentist bills. But no, they want me to give them the entire payment before they’ll even let me climb into the dentist’s chair. I have to wait until I get paid on the 1st of next month in order to pay them. That’s gonna make paying my rent, utilities and all that really difficult.
In the meantime, I’ve been to the ER twice this month to get antibiotics because my teeth have been abscessing; antibiotics are not cheap and dental pain is not fun. I’m kinda bummed out and pissed off too.”
Another Occupier exclaims, “That really sucks! A person could die from an untreated abscessed tooth. I don’t know why the medical system treats dental care as separate from the rest of health care. Every part of a human body is connected to all the rest of the parts of the body. The entire American health care system sucks and the health insurance industry is nothing but organized crime! We need a single payer system for everything like other countries that recognize that the basic needs of their people are more important than helping rich people make more money”.
A moderate sized group of Anonymous folks roll up. They are “masked up” and have their flags and all that. They are all smiling; one Anon reports, “We had a really good day today. We went out early so we could hit the big banks. We went to US Bank first; when they saw us coming down the stairs, the bank employees started running around locking all their doors and acting like we were gonna kill them, blow up the bank or something stupid like that. They told their customers to enter through a small side door so we went over to that door and just stood outside of it while not blocking the way for peeps to enter the bank. We held our signs and gave flyers to the people willing to take them. All we’re trying to do is to let people know that the bank they use is majorly invested in the earth and water destroying Enbridge Company. We gently suggest that they might want to use another bank or a credit union. Eventually, a few squad cars showed up.
“We then walked over to Wells Fargo; when the employees saw us they quickly locked their front gate. They always look really angry; they probably hate us. We just stood around on the edges of the skywalk playing our music on our portable sound system and handing flyers to passersby who wanted them. Eventually a bunch of cops showed up. We weren’t doing anything illegal and they seemed to know that. A lot of us filming everything on our cell phones probably helped increase their awareness of the 1st Amendment.
“At first they stood around acting kinda awkward like they didn’t know what to do. Then some of them started actually listening to our music; they relaxed a bit and just stood around digging it. The cop standing next to me knew some of our music and made comments about some of the composers. Some of the other cops stood away from us, glared and looked like they wanted to bust our heads. So we all hung around until bank closing time then we split and so do they. We interrupted business at two banks in the same day….. Yes!!!”
An Occupier adds, “Yeah, I’ve been at direct actions were I’ve had some conversations with cops. Some of them have tried to tell me that they are just regular working people trying to survive like the rest of us. I tell them, “If that’s true then why are you on the side of the man instead of over here on this side with us?”
“I know that cops are actual human beings but they’ve been brainwashed and trained how to maim and kill people. If their boss orders them to bust our heads then that’s what they’re gonna do. It’s very rare for a cop to refuse an order from his so called superiors”.
Another Occupier asks, “Did you guys go to the last Polymet hearing?” When the Anons answer, “No” the Occupier continues, “It was really something. They had all kinds of security personnel and a few Duluth police officers hanging around all the entrance doors. There was a line of regular young DECC employees who were patting down each person before allowing them to enter the venue. There were eight or ten employees but only one of them was female. Of course, most of the women trying to enter demanded to be searched by a woman so that slowed things up a bit. They wouldn’t allow anyone to bring food in but they had food for sale. Hmmm…
It was all really stupid; the security guards were trying to act intimidating but all the pro-Mother Earth folks just rolled their eyes. I imagine Polymet or Glencore had to pay a few bucks for all the extra personnel; the way they throw around money, they must expect to make several bazillion bucks from tearing up our Mother Earth and poisoning our water and our children. Too bad we’re gonna have to disappoint them.”
An Occupier asks the Anons, “Have you all checked out the videos that Unicorn Riot puts out?” An Anon replies, “Sure, we watch them all the time. We also pay attention to Sub Media and Activate Now”.
An Occupier remarks, “I know this Friday is going to be quite busy for all of us but I need to remind everyone that Natives Against Heroin is going to be holding their first sweat lodge outside of the Central Hillside Community Center this upcoming Saturday starting at 12:30pm. It will be a potluck so if you can, contribute some food. Also, they’ll be holding sacred ceremonies so women need to wear skirts”.
The staff is doing their final cleaning and the other customers are packing up. We’d better follow suit; as we’re gathering our things an Occupier reports, “There’s been some strange developments between the City Attorney and the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition. The next meeting is on Thursday, after I go to that I’ll have a better idea of the whole situation and will be able to explain more”.
One Anon says to another, “We have over one hundred masks over at the house”. An Occupier chuckles, “I can see it all now. The cops raid your house, thinking they’re going to find the Mother Lode. They ransack your place and then their boss rolls up. He says, ‘Well boys, did you find lots of bombs, guns and drugs?” A cop answers, ‘No sir but we found a shit ton of their masks”. We all crack up.
We leave tips for the accommodating staff guys and head out to attempt to make it up the hill without sliding into a ditch. We expect to be back next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-13-18

G.A. Minutes 2-13-18
There are actually 6 or 7 customers when the first Occupiers arrive at Coney Island this evening. This is a big deal because we haven’t seen that many customers in the place during an entire evening any other time since we started meeting here in late October.
We want there to be customers during our weekly visits because that’s what will convince the owner to keep his eatery open on Tuesday evenings. If the owner were to close early during the winter, we’d be pretty well screwed. Finding a somewhat comfortable space in the Central Hillside that is open to the public, not too hard on our very limited budgets and where they won’t call the cops if we stay longer than a half an hour is no easy feat. We know because we’ve been looking for such a place for about 6 years.
Ideally, the place would be free, have good music on the sound system, palm trees, excellent organic food and a well-paid, happy staff who were members of a restaurant co-op or very progressive union. We found a place like that a few years ago, it was called Jefferson Peoples House but it closed after not very long. It wasn’t free and didn’t have palm trees but all the rest of the stuff was there.
JPH was run by a group of young people most of whom lived in the same communal house and took turns staffing the coffee house after they finished working their other jobs that paid their bills. The young people just worked for tips in order to keep the place afloat. JPH had a mellow revolutionary atmosphere; the staff would listen to our discussions and chime in when they could. We think it closed because it was located a little over east from our Hillside and that made it difficult to access for Central Hillside folks who didn’t own cars. The co-op workers never did get enough customers to make it possible to just break even. It would be nice if some people would try doing something like JPH again. No, not the Occupiers…….don’t even go there.
Anyway, we find a booth next to a couple of empty tables and start settling in. We need to wait a while before ordering food or drinks because the front counter is busy with the other customers who are placing their orders.
We don’t expect many Occupiers or members of the Anonymous crew to join us tonight; today was a very busy day for all of us. The 2 Occupiers and the man from Makwa (Bear) Line 3 Resistance Camp had their pre-trial hearing today. A pre-trial rally was held for them at noon in front of the St Louis County Court House. The annual March for Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and in Support of the Lifegivers was held today, also at noon.
One of the Occupiers is one of the people who were arrested for chaining themselves to a Wells Fargo entry gate several weeks ago; he tells us, “I was surprised at the large number of folks who attended our pre-trial rally. When the court came back into session we went in and all entered pleas of not guilty. Our next court date is April 11th. I then caught up with the Indigenous Women’s March. By the time I found them there were only a few Indigenous women marching with a good sized group of Anons. They marched all over the place. They were still marching when I went home for dinner”.
An Occupier who has been unable to make our meetings for several weeks asks, “So what are you charged with?” The Occupier/Water Protector responds, “Obstruction and trespassing”. Another Occupier exclaims, “How can you be charged with trespassing when you were all chained to the gate but were sitting inside the skywalk which is public property?!?” The responding Occupier says, “That’s a good question. I’ll have to ask one of our pro-bono attorneys”.
The Occupier who has missed meetings inquires, “So I guess you all are gonna use the necessity defense, right? Isn’t that where a defendant admits that they may have committed an offense but they were compelled to do it in order to prevent an even greater offense that was happening or about to happen?” The innocent until proven guilty (or so The Man tries to tell us) Occupier agrees and the inquiring Occupier continues, “Does anyone know if that defense has ever been successful in the past?”
Another Occupier replies, “I don’t remember the details but I know that some Water Protectors used it fairly recently and won their case”. An Occupier looks at his cell phone and reports, “The necessity defense has been used many times over the years but very few defendants were victorious. Among the few cases that ended in acquittal was the case of a woman who was being battered by her drunken husband. She had been drinking too but jumped in the family car and drove away in order to avoid further battering and possibly death. The police stopped her and when she went to court she used that defense, explained her reasoning and was found not guilty. The Occupier/Water Protector opines, “Everyone has to just keep using the necessity defense when protecting Mother Earth and her children until the courts start looking at it as normal”.
An Occupier comments, “I was listening to the City Council meeting on KUMD last night when I heard a bunch of people speaking in support of the nibi (water) and the manoomin (wild rice) and against the Polymet sulfide mine. I didn’t even know the topic was going to be presented last night. I’m sorry I wasn’t there”. The Occupier/Water Protector tells her, “It really didn’t matter because the place was totally packed. All the seats in the chamber were full and lots more folks were filling the hallway. I didn’t hear about it until my attorney told me; it was a more middle class crowd than we generally hang around with”. The listening Occupier answers, “Oh cool, it’s great when we don’t have to do everything ourselves”.
An Occupier says to the radio listening Occupier, “Hey, you’re a smoker and you smoke menthols; what did you think of the City Council’s vote to ban menthol cigarette sales except for in tobacco shops?” The smoking Occupier explains, “I buy my smokes over in WI where they’re cheaper so it doesn’t affect me personally but I guess I’m an expert on the subject. I didn’t think the day would ever come when I would agree with Councilor Fosle on anything but I do. The supporters of the ban say they presented the ordinance in order to prevent young people from beginning to smoke. They say that young ones are attracted to smoking menthol. That may or may not be true but I don’t think the ban will achieve its stated goal. Kids already can’t buy cigarettes so they ask their slightly older friends to get cigarettes for them. If they want menthol then that’s what they’ll ask for. Also, all the convenience store owners are really pissed but the tobacco shop owners are dancing in the aisles. I bet there will be some more tobacco shops opening in our city within the next year”. After her words, all the smokers go out for a smoke break.
When they return, someone remarks, “So are we still down with helping out at Skip Sandman’s NDN Taco Sale Fundraiser at AICHO from 10am-2pm on Friday, February 23rd? We are all down. Someone else sighs, “There are so many things going on Friday the 23rd; I’m gonna have to choose just a few. There’s the taco sale then the Standup for Immigrant Rights demo at Lake and Superior at 4:30p and Socialist Pizza 6:30p at Luce’.
“Also, the NAACP is having a Groundwork of the Revolution Freedom Fund Dinner at Clyde Iron at 6p. The tickets are $60 a piece but they have some free or reduced fee tickets for people like us”. An Occupier opines, “Well I think I’ll go to Socialist Pizza; I don’t really like dressing up so if I don’t go to the NAACP dinner maybe someone else who likes dressing up will be able to go in my place”. A few of the Occupiers do like to dress up; maybe they’ll go to the dinner.
All the other customers are gone and the place looks very clean. We take the hint and head for the door. We plan to be back here next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 2-6-18

G.A. Minutes 2-6-18
It’s another evening meeting at Coney Island. The weather is horribly cold as per usual and the low energy that is a part of Seasonal Affective Disorder is creeping into all of us. Fortunately, we are aware of this yearly phenomena so are attempting to compensate for it.
A few Occupiers and the youngest dude from the Anonymous crew are the first to arrive. As we settle in, someone remarks, “Have you seen the photos of the riot that took place in Philadelphia after the Eagles won the Super Bowl on Sunday night?” We have all seen the photos. An Occupier exclaims, “Yeah, a bunch of white guys running around the streets of downtown Philly smashing windows, uprooting trees and just destroying whatever they could. The cops didn’t do anything. I’m betting that if it was a bunch of dudes of color doing the same thing, they would have been arrested and given long prison sentences”.
Another Occupier agrees, “I’m afraid you’re right. With white dudes it’s ‘boys will be boys, you know’ but if anyone else were to do the same thing they’d be charged with terrorism. What I really don’t understand though is why people want to tear up shit just because their favorite sports team wins something”. None of us can give him an answer; we don’t understand it either.
On another topic, an Occupier tells us, “I sent off a letter to the editor to the Northland Reader today. It’s kind of an expose’ about the true nature of Enbridge. I wonder if they’ll print it”. Another Occupier speculates, “Oh, I think they will. I’m acquainted with one of the long term reporters at the Reader; he has expressed his frustration to me about not getting a variety of letters for their In Box column. They love it when new writers send stuff in”.
More Anons arrive; the youngest Anon has a story to tell them. He says, “Hey, remember when we did the last action at Wells Fargo and the first Water Protector arrived and chained himself by his neck to the entry gate that hadn’t been opened yet? Remember that the bank manager saw the Water Protector chain himself and that the manager then ran really fast over to where the switch to open the gate was?”
An Occupier exclaims, “What! The bank dude was going to lift the gate with the Water Protector chained to it by his neck?” The Anon continues, “Yup, if it wasn’t for the fact that 4 really big Water Protectors from Makwa (Bear) Camp immediately surrounded the bank manager and scared him just by their presence, the chained Water Protector would have been lifted up into the air and could have possibly choked to death.
“Anyway, I saw that bank dude tonight when I was walking in the skywalk on my way over here. I’m walking along on one side of walkway and the bank dude comes walking on the other side. We are separated from each other by at least 20 feet. The bank guy is looking kinda nervous so I stamped my foot and said, ‘Boo!’ The dude jumped up in the air and smacked into the wall! I mean I was 20 feet away from him and didn’t say anything at first or make any sign of aggression toward him and he’s still scared? What a fool!”
We don’t laugh at his story but we do smile. An Occupier comments, “So the bank manager doesn’t mind risking the neck of a Water Protector who is only trying to save the planet for future generations but he fears for his life when an Anon stomps his foot? Those money worshipping types have no clue”.
An Occupier hands one of the Anons a flyer that contains a map of all the new porta-potty sites. She explains, “These are the flyers that I was telling you about. They were made by a guy who lives and works at Loaves N Fishes. I thought you might like to pass them out while you’re cruising the streets”. The Anon replies, “These flyers are way cool! We’ll definitely use them”. The Occupier adds, “As you can see, the 2 parts need to be cut out and glued together. I’ve already printed out a few; I’ll email you the download as soon as I get home.
The Occupier continues, “Also, I went to the Citizens Review Board last month and gave them your report about the cop in the skywalk who won’t give her basic information when you request it. The only cops there were the usual Lieutenant and Deputy Chief. They agreed that when a member of the general public asks a cop for their name and badge number, the cop MUST provide it. They were curious to know who the offending cop might be. I told them that you have a video of her refusing to provide the information. The lieutenant gave me his card to give to you and he’s hoping you’ll call him. I know that cops are trained to playact and lie a lot but they did seem genuinely interested in remedying the situation”.
The big Native Anon rolls in; we haven’t seen him since mid-summer. He was out at Maii’gan (wolf) Camp for a good while and has recently moved back to Duluth. He plans to move out to Makwa Camp as soon as he is able. We’re delighted to be able to spend time with him again.
An Occupier says to the Occupier who recently had his debit card stolen and all of the money removed from his account, “I remember you said that it looked like the thief had been able to get your information and password from PayPal somehow. Well, I received an email yesterday from PayPal. It notified me that someone had attempted to access my account. I guess the difference between the two of us is that I notified my bank immediately, cancelled my card and got a new one with a different number. I’m guessing that the thief kept my card, was hoping that I hadn’t noticed it was missing and put more money on it. The recently robbed Occupier responds, “I think people need to refrain from using PayPal. It seems that a door has been left open”.
The Occupier who generally records the minutes reports, “I’ve found out that my computer really is toast. I’m gonna have to share his computer with him (she gestures toward another Occupier) until I can save up enough money to buy a new one. I’ve been looking around a bit trying to match what I need with what I can afford. I think it’s gonna take a while”.
The Native Anon asks, “So what are you guys gonna be up to over the next several days?” Another Anon tells him, “Tomorrow we’re going to march in remembrance of the Murdered and Missing Indigenous Woman and in support of The Lifegivers. The March will take off from AICHO at noon. On Thursday, there will be a pre-trial rally at noon at the County Court House for the Catholic Workers who sat-in at the Duluth Enbridge office last month. Then at 5pm there will be a rally outside of the DECC before the Polymet hearing which happens from 6p-9p”.
Another Anon states, “I really want to get out to Makwa again. I’m waiting for our organizer friend to be ready to drive out there. I hope it will be soon”. The newly arrived Anon says, “Please let me know when you’re going. I’d like to go out too”.
So, it looks like we’ve talked up til the last minute. The staff has their coats and stuff and are ready to go. As we head out the door and go our separate ways, someone calls out, “See you on Thursday!”
One of the Occupier couples will give the Anons, who have the farthest to walk, a ride home. It’s too cold to be outside if you don’t have to be. We expect to return to Coney Island next Tuesday.