G.A. Minutes 10-17-17

G.A. Minutes 10-17-17
A large group of Anonymous folks are already out demonstrating on the corner when the Occupiers arrive at Peoples Plaza this evening. The Fire Magician’s truck is fixed now and we have all the regular supplies back too. Once the Anons see us, some of them come in to help with the set up.
As we are setting up, the Food Occupier confesses, “Sorry guys but I killed the soup that was supposed to be served tonight. I made it last night and foolishly left it sitting out on the stove overnight. When I checked it in the morning I found it had soured and I had to throw it away. The pot was too big to fit into my refrigerator so I talked myself into believing it would be o.k. on the stove. I don’t know what I was thinking but I doubt I’ll make that mistake again.
Fortunately, the weather is really nice tonight so lack of hot soup will not be as bad as it would have been if the weather was colder. The sky is partly cloudy and close to darkness, the temperature is in the mid-60s and there is little wind.
The Anon who has recently found out she is pregnant tells us she’s experiencing morning sickness. An Occupier who has knowledge of mid-wifery and home birthing assures the pregnant woman that morning sickness is actually a sign of good health. She explains that the sickness will pass after the first few months and gives a few pointers on how to cope with the discomfort.
As soon as the fire gets going we are joined by the partner of the Stylish Native Woman, the schizophrenic African American guy from the Skinner and a few other street folks. The city official has been gifting the Occupiers with various pieces of warm men’s clothing which they then bring to the weekly fires and distribute as needed. They’ve been holding onto one very well made flannel shirt which they’ve been saving for The Partner. They give it to him now.
We ask the Occupier who has gone back to college how things are going with his environmental science professor and he tells us, “Actually, once the teacher discovered that I wasn’t someone taking the course in preparation for starting a business to make money off of the climate crisis and sustainable energy, he relaxed and is now comfortable with discussing my ideas.
“Most of what I talk about is the very noticeable increase in violent storms and forest fires all over the world. The climate crisis isn’t on its way; it’s here, right now. I mean it was 106 degrees in San Francisco a week or so ago, for christsakes!” Another Occupier adds, “I used to live in San Francisco; if it ever reached 80 degrees people were in shock”.
The college Occupier continues, “Another thing I’ve been thinking about is the fact that Americans seemed to have lost some of the rights that we used to have. There used to be something called false arrest; I don’t think we have that anymore. What about entrapment? I don’t think that is illegal anymore either”. Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah, I think you’re correct. I don’t know where I was when those rights were taken away but we don’t seem to have them now”.
The Anons come in from the corner; they drop off their excess stuff and go off marching around the hood. An Occupier opines, “I imagine they started early this evening because they need to go in early in order to majorly participate in the No Enbridge Line 3 march, rally and Public Utility Commission hearing tomorrow”. The Occupiers will also be in attendance at the No Line 3 event.
An Occupier remarks, “I thought the Dismantle the Legacy of Racism; Build a Community of Peace march and rally on Saturday went really well. I’m told that about 250 people marched to the Civic Center. I wasn’t able to march but attended the program at City Hall. It was one of the best I’ve ever had the privilege of participating in. I’m looking forward to finding out what other anti-racist experiences will be forthcoming”.
Spiritual Man appears; he has a cold and feels miserable. Several of the Occupiers are just getting over their colds; they empathize. This particular cold that’s going around is fairly intense. Spiritual Man exchanges pleasantries but mainly he just needs to drink fluids, sit next to the warmth of the fire and rest.
Someone says, “Hey, did you hear about the 650 pound black bear that was trapped somewhere inside the city a few days ago?” An Occupier answers, “Yeah, I read about it. Our human culture is so messed up. People think they should be able to live anywhere they want to. They forget that wild animals are legitimate residents of this planet too. Take Ma’iigan (wolves) for example. People keep moving deeper and deeper into the woods, into the animals’ territory. Then they get really pissed off when a wolf eats their dog or one of their cows or sheep. Dumb. They don’t realize that the wild animals also need to have somewhere to live. This planet wasn’t made for humans alone”. Spiritual Man silently nods his head in agreement.
Chicago Man rolls up. He sits down next to one of the street women and begins telling her about his deceased partner. It’s been almost 2 years since his partner passed away; he still grieves deeply.
Menagerie Woman rides up on her bike. She’ll sit with us by the fire for a bit and then catch a bus home. Bush Man has promised her homemade burgers and fries when she arrives.
The Stylish Native Woman checks in; she must have been on some sort of errand. She and her partner go off to their sleeping place. “Sleep well, pleasant dreams”, we say to them.
The pregnant Anon has remained in the circle while the others march. She talks about being afraid to give birth and thinks she will sign up for a C-section. The experienced Occupier explains that recovering from a C-section is painful and the recovery will also make it difficult for her to take care of her baby. The Anon appears to be getting most of her information from her inexperienced friends. The experienced Occupier hopes she will have the chance for a serious talk with the young woman before too long.
The Most Obnoxious Street Woman, Mr. Evil, Lil Bear and a few others are in the back of the Plaza sitting on a bench, probably drinking and talking and laughing quietly. We appreciate the fact that they take their drinking outside the circle without being asked.
The Anons return; they’re packing up their stuff and heading home in preparation for the next day. We say, “See you tomorrow”, as they leave.
An Occupier comments, “This so called Opiod Epidemic is sure a bitch, isn’t it? I hear it originated from Big Pharma but I wonder what its deeper purpose is”. Another Occupier responds, “Personally, I think it has something to do with population control. The so called leaders of this country think we have more people than they need and heroin is an easy way to off a bunch of them. Also, Afghanistan is the world’s largest producer of opium and the USA just happens to have been having a war there for the last 16 years. The supply lines for shipping the stuff to us have been in place for a good while”.
When Spiritual Man gets up to get another cup of coffee, he puts some rocks that are shaped like hearts on the picture of the Woman Who Tells Good Stories which we always keep on the table. The rocks are meant to be an offering to her spirit.
A very straight looking middle-aged couple walks up and asks to sit down. We welcome them. After asking a few questions about what we are doing and getting a few answers, they tell us they are tourists visiting from the St Cloud/Brainard area. Apparently, fire circles like this don’t happen where they live. They don’t stay long; we think they will have a story to tell their friends and family when they get home.
Chicago Man groans and says, “Oh, I sure wish I didn’t have to go to work tonight. It’s my last night and then I get 3 days off but they want me to work at least one of my days off. I don’t think so! My co-workers and my customers at the big box store where I work are so creepy. They look at me like I’m something from another planet. They call me mean names and make fun of my long African braids. If I try to talk about it to my supervisor, she looks at me like I’m the one who’s crazy.
“People really need to take the time to get to know other people who they consider to be different than them. They seem to think that everyone from a particular group is exactly the same. The people I work with think that because I’m black, I’m supposed to be sagging my pants, slangin’ dope and saying motherfucker all the time. They don’t appreciate that I have my own style and personality.
“Black people and other people of color are mistaken too. Back in Chicago they think that all white people are rich and lead charmed lives without any problems. My deceased partner was white, so I knew a little about white people, but even I was surprised when I came to Duluth to find out that there were so many whites who were homeless or poor and on food stamps”. An Occupier adds, “The majority of people in this country who receive any type of government assistance are white”.
Chicago Man goes off to his slave job; many others go off to their sleeping places. Now it’s just the Occupiers and Spiritual Man who are in the circle. We sit in quiet camaraderie, watching the coals burn down.
As we begin to pack up, an Occupier gives Spiritual Man her stash of Ibuprofen and a package of tissues. She says, “I wish I had more to offer you”. Then the Occupiers go off to “power sleep”. Tomorrow promises to be a big day with the beginning of the No Enbridge Line 3 event starting at Peoples Plaza.
We plan to bring the fire circle back to the Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 10-10-17

G.A. Minutes 10-10-17
It’s going to be another kinda weird evening again, although for a different reason this time. We’re at Peoples Plaza but the Fire Magician’s truck and all the fire supplies are up on a hoist in a mechanic shop. We’ve had to beg, borrow and steal everything except the firewood in order to make the fire circle tonight. Hopefully, everything will work out o.k.
There’s a good sized group of people already waiting when the first Occupiers arrive. Among those assembled are Chicago Man, Spiritual Man, a large contingent from Anonymous, Taco Helping Man and his partner, the older, Native, alcoholic who used to live in our former homeless camp and Mr. Evil. Everyone helps to set up the circle.
When we are finished, the Fire Magician starts up the fire. It’s going to be a cold night; the sky is overcast, and it’s almost dark already. The temperature is in the high 40s with an occasional chilly wind.
The flames roar; everyone pulls their chair up close. Spiritual Man asks, “So what was the most exciting thing that happened to you all this week?” An Occupier responds, “The benches are back!!” Everybody cheers. In case you haven’t heard, last Thursday the Duluth Police Department and/or some of the so called City leadership decided it would be a good idea to remove all the benches in Peoples Plaza and across the street in Lake Place Park. They thought removing benches would make all the homeless people leave the area.
What a bunch of lame brains. The homeless people have nowhere else to go. They’ll be made less comfortable but they’ll sit on the cement or on the planters; they won’t just leave.
Anyway, The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition folks jumped on the issue right away. They asked everyone to contact their City Councilors and the Mayor. Someone started one of those Change.org petitions; it was on its way to 1,000 signatures on the first day. People started discreetly dropping off old couches and easy chairs where the benches used to be.
By Sunday, DPD Chief Tusken decided that fighting about benches for homeless people was not a good thing to do. The benches were put back earlier today. Yes! Power to the People! Smash the State! ….. or something like that.
Tonight we’ve decided to try something different. There are so many hungry people out and about that the food we put out each week is generally all gone in less than an hour. We know we need to put out more food but our budget is quite limited. We’ve talked about having a small charcoal grill with a pot of soup or something on it.
We were recently gifted with a small charcoal grill. The Food Occupier has made a big pot of pinto beans with onions, a few fresh mushrooms, a little tomato sauce and salt. Simple fare but tasty and filling. The beans combined with one of our deluxe PB+J sandwiches can make a meal.
None of the Occupiers has much experience with charcoal but it seems like it shouldn’t be too difficult. The Fire Magician lays out the charcoal cubes, puts a little starter fluid on them and then a match. WHOOSH!!! Flames shoot up really high. The Food Occupier just happens to be sitting between both fires as they sprout gigantic blazes. Everyone is worried that she might catch on fire. She is laughing and thinking “This is so way cool!” Once the grill calms down, we put the big pot of beans on it. The soup is heated in no time and the street folks are delighted to be able to eat hot food.
One of the young Anon women tells us that she’s recently discovered she is pregnant. Her baby’s daddy is also an Anon. They are both barely into their 20s and a little taken back by this new development. However, they’re happy about it. They seem to be a well-meaning couple; we think they’ll do the best that they can.
An Occupier who has experience with these types of things offers a bit of advice. The father to be is Native so the Occupier tells the couple, “You know there are two major hospitals in Duluth. One has a practice of trying to take away the babies of young, unmarried women who are not from wealthy families, especially when the babies belong to people of color. The other hospital……not so much. If you’re going to have a hospital birth, please be sure to have it at the hospital that doesn’t try to take babies away”.
The Occupier who is a single parent rolls up. He’s coming from the Local Solutions to Poverty Candidate Forum that was held at Denfield H.S. this evening. He reports, “They didn’t really talk much about solutions to poverty. Joel Sipress talked a lot about the importance of raising the minimum wage and a few of the other candidates agreed that more low income housing is needed. Other than that, they didn’t have any solutions. It was kind of boring”.
Another Occupier remarks, “Yeah, candidates running for political office don’t like to get too specific about anything. They’re afraid of losing votes and campaign donations. Our election system is really messed up”.
Chicago Man has been talking about how much he hates his job and how most people are big pains in the ass. A handsome young man of indeterminable ethnicity sits down next to him. The young man is a friend of most of the Anons. It’s obvious that the two men are well acquainted; they talk about some family members. When Chicago Man mentions his problems, he says, “Well, I only have myself to rely on in terms of financial support so I have to keep the job whether I want to or not”. The young guy gives the man from Chicago a list of other places that are currently hiring and assures him that these places will have better pay and working conditions. When the young dude leaves to go off with the Anons, it’s evident that Chicago Man is in a better mood.
An Occupier has gone back to school for a Master Degree. He talks about some of his classes. He informs us, “I think I’m taking an environmental science class that was created in the 70s. The professor keeps saying that we have plenty of time to get a handle on climate change. He allows me to respectfully disagree with him but refuses to debate the issue. He keeps saying that we need to give the corporations time to adjust”. Another Occupier comments, “Fuck the corporations!” An Anon is passing by the circle; he hears what the second Occupier just said. He smiles at her and says, “Thank you”.
Menagerie Woman rides up on her bike. She’s finished with her usual Tuesday night activities. She getting some juice and then going off to the casino. She remarks, “Last week I won four dollars!”
The Most Obnoxious Street Woman and her partner appear. The woman is not being obnoxious again tonight. We could get used to this. They’re hungry and partake of several bowls of soup. The partner reports that they have just been kicked out of the nearest liquor store. They were trying to decide what they wanted to buy when the clerk told the partner that he had thirty seconds to decide; he then ordered them out of the store. This couple is multi-racial so we figure it must have been some racist kind of thing or maybe the clerk thought they were fixin’ to rob the place. Maybe both things; whatever it was, the clerk was in the wrong.
We don’t even bother to offer to help them file a complaint. We know that they won’t do it. Most street folks are so used to being mistreated that they just accept it. They figure that if they complain, they’ll just end up in jail. Most of the time they’re right. In the long run, the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights aims to change that. After eating, the couple has to go off to catch a bus to the next closest liquor store.
It’s only 8:30pm but the Anons are taking off. They leave en masse so they’re probably going marching. Suddenly, there are only Occupiers at the fire. Someone opines, “This is like old times at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial”. It is.
The College Occupier asks, “I have a lot of homework this week. What do you think are the most important events needing attendance this week?” Another Occupier responds, “The Human Rights Commission is going to do their first reading of the final draft of the legal language for the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights tomorrow at 5:30pm, 4th floor, Mayors Conference Room in City Hall. We need bodies to show up and just sit there so they will see that many citizens of Duluth support the HPB of R.
“Then, of course, there’s the march and rally to Dismantle the Legacy of Racism on Saturday starting at 10am. We need a really big turnout for that”.
The older burned out Native dude makes an appearance. He states, “I need to find Lil’ Bear. His girlfriend has my girlfriend’s phone and I need to get it back”. An Occupier imparts, “He was here earlier but he left with the Anons. They went that way”. The burned out guy answers, “O.K. Miigwitch (Thank you)” and heads out toward the west end of Superior St.
A young street couple who we haven’t met in the past comes up the stairs. They are clean, stylishly dressed and well spoken. The man is nice looking, the woman is exceptionally beautiful. They are both quite hungry and gratefully consume several bowls of bean soup. They are trying to find a place to sleep for the night. Once they have eaten, they go off to look for a place that is not already taken.
An Anon who wasn’t present when the rest were in the Plaza arrives. “Where is everybody?” he asks. We tell what we know and he tells us that he just got a new job two days ago down in Canal Park. There are no buses running down there when his shift is over so he has to walk two and a half miles to his home. He says, “I got here as soon as I could. I was hoping they would wait for me”.
All of a sudden, a large group of people come up the stairs. Word must have gotten around that we have hot food. Among this group is Spiritual Man, the male from the regular multi-racial couple who have visited our fire for many years and the young couple who left to find somewhere to sleep. We give them all bowls of beans.
Spiritual Man is acquainted with the beautiful young woman. As they chat she comments, “I don’t know how we’re going to be able to keep carrying all this stuff”. Spiritual Man answers, “Well, I have my backpack here. We could put some of your stuff in it and I could follow you and your partner to where you’re going”. The woman replies, “I know you mean well” and proceeds to tell about the many times she trusted someone and they ripped her off.
Abruptly, she stands up and heads off down the street. As her partner begins to go after her, Spiritual Man pulls him aside for a quick minute and says, “You need to get her off the street, man. If you don’t, she is one that will definitely be targeted”.
The male of the regular multi-racial couple seems sad this evening. He sighs and tells us, “Well, we had to break up. She went back to doing drugs again. I hated to do it but I just had to let her go. I wish her well but I can’t let her ruin my life. I’m too old to have to start over again”.
An Occupier sighs and replies, “I’m so sorry. I know she was clean and sober for over a year. She told me that it was the first time in her entire young life that she hadn’t been using something. It was quite obvious that she loves you. I hope she will miss you so much that she will decide to try and get clean again”. The male adds, “She was doing real good but then her father died; her brother died shortly after that. I guess she just couldn’t cope with the pain”.
So it’s now at least 10:30pm; well past time to go in and live to fight another day. The Anarchist rides up on his bike just in time to help us pack up. He’s always helping people.
It had better not rain next Tuesday because we intend to be back at Peoples Plaza with more soup.

G.A. Minutes 10-3-17

G.A. Minutes 10-3-17
It’s been kind of a weird day which is now being followed by kind of a weird evening. We’re meeting at Coney Island on 1st St because we had a serious rainstorm that began late Monday evening and lasted until mid-morning today.
Because we need to do food preparation and such, we generally make a decision as to where we’re gonna meet by around noon of our meeting day. When the rain stopped around mid-morning, the sun peeked out for a bit and then it clouded over again. The weather map showed there was more rain to come but was not definite about whether it was gonna come here or not.
Also, the Fire Magician’s truck is in the shop waiting to get its front end repaired. The fire pit, chairs, table and other fire circle stuff are in the truck. In order to meet at Peoples Plaza, the Magician would have needed to get someone to drive him to the repair shop, get the truck and then bring it back to the shop the next morning. That seemed like way too much of a hassle when we didn’t know if it was gonna rain again.
So here we are at Coney Island. This Coney Island is different than the one we used to go to (until it went out of business) on Superior St. It’s much bigger but doesn’t have healthy food options. The staff is accommodating and non-judgmental just like the old place but it doesn’t look like they employ hipsters. That means no way cool music on the sound system. Bummer.
What we really would like is a hippie type soup kitchen with very affordable prices, non-alcoholic, comfortable, accepting of all types of customers that employs friendly, intelligent and witty staff people who are well paid and treated so well that they just love working there. It would have palm trees and be run by the IWW too. Well, it could happen.
Anyway, we don’t expect to have a lot of Occupiers in attendance tonight. The first rehearsal for Echoes of Peace Choir is happening this evening; some of the Occupiers are members of this choir. Seeing as the choir hasn’t rehearsed for a while, we expect they’ll run late.
An Occupier starts by apologizing to the others, “So I suppose you’ve noticed that I didn’t write any minutes from last week’s fire circle? Most of you know that I was laid up in bed with a cold for several days last week. I’m still pretty low energy; with all the things going on right now, I just was unable to catch up. Too bad because, with the exception of the cops showing up several times to harass the Anonymous crew for wearing their masks, I thought last week’s meeting was pretty mellow”.
Another Occupier adds, “Oh that reminds me; I printed out copies of the MN Statute about not concealing one’s identity when in a public place. The Anons could give a copy to any cops who come to harass them. Most of the time cops have no idea what a law actually says. They just listen to what their supervisor tells them; usually the supervisor doesn’t know anything either. Many times though, the cops just make things up and then expect citizens to obey them.
“MN Statute 609.735 has so many loopholes in it that the Anons can easily slide through. The street cops will be pissed off and will try to act intimidating but as long as the Anons remain firm but respectful the cops will eventually leave them alone. I hear the Anons will be marching tonight and will probably stop by here but of course, I forgot to bring the copies”.
Just as we are speaking of the Anons, a good sized group of them roll in. They have their masks and some signs; they’ve been marching around the downtown area. They may have decorated a few buildings along the way or maybe they didn’t. Some things are better left unspoken.
The Coney Island staff have assured us that we can go ahead and slide more tables together when more of our people show up; so that’s what we do. One of the crew has tried to dye his hair red but it didn’t actually turn out the way he wanted it to. His hair color is more of a rose pink and he’s not too pleased about it. It actually doesn’t look too bad and we try to assure him of this. We don’t think he believes us.
They’re making a pit stop to get something to eat and also to see what’s up with us. An Anon asks, “So what do you have going on for the rest of the week? The Occupier who reports stuff answers, “Tomorrow is the weekly planning meeting for the Dismantle the Legacy of Racism; Build a Community of Peace march and rally that will take place on October 14th at 10am starting at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial and marching to the Civic Center for the rally. It looks like there will be lots of people attending; the organizers are planning other anti-racist events to take place over the next year or so.
“I’ll be going to the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition meeting on Thursday, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House. I’ll also have to find the time to make the taco meat for the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance Anishinaabe Frybread Taco Sale on Friday at the Washington Center from 11am-2pm. They need people to help at the sale so anyone who can help will get one of their delicious tacos for free.
“Monday, October 9th is Indigenous People’s Day and there will be an event at noon at the Civic Center. There’s a lot more things going on this month but these are the main things I know about that will happen before our next meeting”.
An Anon adds, “Remember that the Public Utilities Commission will be holding a public hearing concerning Enbridge’s Line 3 at the DECC all day and evening on Wednesday, October, 18th”. All the Occupiers plan to attend.
Another Anon asks the Fire Magician, “So what’s up with your truck?” The Magician responds. “Well, it runs fine and its o.k. for driving around town and on the freeway but we’re running low on firewood and need to go out to the country to get more. That will entail driving on bumpy dirt roads while pulling a trailer. The shocks and the front end need some work before we can do that. The mechanic guy says he’ll have it fixed by early next week.
“Once that’s done we’ll go get more firewood; maybe some of you would be willing to help us stack it up when we get back. We’re hoping that we’ll be able to get enough so we can bring some out to Mukwa (Bear) Line 3 Camp too”.
The Anons are ready to hit the streets again. As they get ready to leave, the city official arrives. We don’t get to see him as much as we’d like to these days. He’s very busy with organizing all the musical events for the annual Martin Luther King event in January. Then there’s his weekly radio show and he’s started teaching a course at one of our local 4 year colleges.
He tells us about the latest developments for the MLK event. The yearly event has always been sponsored by our local NAACP chapter. Over the years and across the nation, the NAACP has been considered to be far too conservative for many African Americans, especially the youth.
When Black Lives Matter and other groups organized primarily by African American youth came on the scene, the national NAACP leaders put out a directive to all the local chapters saying they needed to become more current and responsive to the requirements of the youth. Our local Duluth NAACP chapter is attempting to follow this directive. We think this may be why they asked the city official to take charge of the music for MLK.
However, when the city official explained his initial plans to the MLK planning committee, some of the elders were nervous about the many changes being made. The official man had to tell them that his acceptance of the task they have given him was sort of a “take it or leave it” deal. When he put it that way, the elders decided to take it.
Everyone is tired tonight; we’ve all been working hard. We decide to head out and get some rest in preparation for the week ahead. We very much hope to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 9-19-17
When the Occupiers roll up to Peoples Plaza this evening they find the guy who is the head of maintenance in the MN Power Building waiting for them. We’re not sure what he’s doing here but he’s very friendly and accommodating. He apologizes for the fact that his staff is not always able to keep the Plaza as clean as they would like. We are all generally suspicious of “suits”, even though he’s not wearing one. We imagine that the maintenance dude has some kind of ulterior motive but his true intention is not obvious. Whatever……
Some of the Anonymous crew have arrived early and have already begun chalking anti-Enbridge slogans all over the space. They expect the personable guy to disapprove but he says, “Aw, don’t worry about it. It’s gonna rain tonight and anything the showers don’t remove we’ll just wash off in the morning”. He wishes us a good evening; we respond in kind, he leaves and that’s the end of that, for now anyway.
The weather is pleasantly autumn-like tonight; it’s partly cloudy; the temperature is in the mid-60s and the wind is strong and variable. The gusts are not cold though; we think, if we weigh down everything on the table, wind will not be a problem.
The Fire Magician gets the fire going right away; the strong breeze shoots the flames up really high and then out in all directions. The flames almost touch the folks sitting in the circle. An Occupier asks, “Whoa! Are the flames higher than 3 feet?” The Fire Magician answers, “Yup.” and the Occupier exclaims, “Oh no! We’re out of compliance”. Everyone laughs and then the flames settle down to normal size like they always do and that’s the end of our fun. Bummer…..
More Anons arrive; so do the Stylish Native Woman and her partner. Everyone is getting food including some of the street folks who we don’t know. Apparently, word is getting around that everyone is welcome to the contents of the table. We just ask that everybody do their best to maintain a good vibe.
The city official arrives; he’s been very busy as of late because several well established community groups have requested his expertise for their newest projects. Tonight he’s on his way to the meeting of the Duluth School Board. He says, “I want them to know that I am always watching them”. The city man reminds everyone about the unveiling of the mural at AICHO this upcoming Saturday from 6p-9p.
The Occupier who works at the Mission rides up on his bike. He’s been put in charge of managing the security for the Dismantle the Legacy of Racism event on October 14th. He tells us that he’s asked a few of the Anons to work as marshals during the march. The marshals main jobs will be to make sure the marchers stay within the agreed upon marching area and to be alert for any march infiltrators who attempt to commit violence and/or property destruction. The marshals will also be on alert for any white supremacist types who may attempt to disrupt the event. Duluth has had very little of this type of behavior at peaceful events in the past so we are not expecting any at the October 14th happening either. However, we think it’s always wise to be prepared.
The Occupier tasked with heading up security says to another Occupier, “I’m gonna have to miss tomorrow’s Dismantle Racism meeting because I have to attend the U.U. Board meeting. If you’re going to go to the event meeting will you give my report for me?” The other Occupier will be going to the meeting. She carefully writes down everything that he wants her to report.
Chicago Man sits down; he tells us that he’s been having some trouble with his co-workers on his job at the big box store. He’s the only African American working on the pm shift and some of his co-workers are openly racist. By nature, he’s not a big people person so he’s not sure how to handle the situation. He’s afraid to complain to his supervisor as he figures the supervisor will see HIM as the problem and probably fire him. He needs to keep his job as he has only himself as a source of income.
We want to attempt to counsel the worried man but more people arrive, the conversation switches gears and when we mentally return to Chicago Man and his problem, we find that he is gone.
The Occupier who is a single parent appears. When he joins the circle he remarks that he’s been conversing with Evangelical Christians again. He reports, “We’ve been discussing the “dominion teaching”. The Bible says something about mankind having dominion over nature. The Evangelicals say that means humans are entitled to do whatever they want to the earth, the water and the air. I’ve been trying to tell them that it means that they’re supposed to care for and protect nature. They don’t like that very much”.
Another Occupier adds, “You are so right! When parents have children they have “dominion” over those children for several years. Parents are supposed to teach, nurture and love their children. They’re not supposed to make them work constantly and use them up until they drop dead. It sounds like the Evangelicals you’ve been talking to are a bunch of bozos”.
Spiritual Man arrives; he states, “I snuck away for a while. Whew!” He gets coffee and is about to sit down when his phone rings and he’s off again. Probably to wherever it was that he escaped from.
The single parent Occupier and the partner of The Stylish Native Woman begin a conversation about the Bible; others join in. They talk about all the translations that have been done since the writing of the original compilation of the Bible. The single parent has done some research and has found that the original Bible written in Hebrew is very different than most of the English translations.
The Partner has been calm and coherent all evening but now something sets him off and he starts ranting. He stands up; he’s very excited and starts talking about past events from his childhood. He bounces from topic to topic; rants about being adopted, about being hospitalized and being tricked into allowing his fingers to be amputated and about the social workers who confiscated his money.
The Stylish Woman is visibly upset by her partner’s behavior; she stands up and begins to walk away. The Partner calls out, “Wait! Where are you going?” She calls back, “I’m not going to listen to this again”. The Partner rants for a few minutes longer then goes off to find her.
The Anons are returning early from their marching and chalking. They tell us, “When we got to the Enbridge building, a cop was sitting there guarding the door. When we turned around to come back to the fire, the cop drove off, then circled around and followed us here.
We think they will need to be less predictable but we don’t say so. We know they will figure these things out as time goes by. If they ask for our advice, we’ll give it but otherwise, they are very capable of finding things out for themselves.
Menagerie Woman rides up; she’s donated and watched her movie. She still has a little money left so she’s going to go and gamble at the Casino. “Wish me good luck”, she laughs. We all do so.
The young man who the Anons call Lil Bear comes up the stairs. He has a young woman with him. She has a smile in her eyes but is very quiet. Lil Bears gets snacks and tobacco for her. For the first time since we’ve come across him, Lil Bear appears to not be drunk. He appears to be kind hearted and intelligent. Lil Bear asks if anyone has spare blankets; an Occupier has some in his vehicle that he has been keeping for just such an occasion. He goes to get them.
An Occupier says to another, “So how did your meeting with Mayor Larson about more public bathrooms go last week?” The other Occupier replies, “Actually it was rather surprising. The meeting consisted of myself, another member of the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition, the mayor, the City manager and the acting head of Parks N Rec. I thought they were gonna argue with us and try to convince us that more and better public bathrooms were not necessary, blah, blah, blah. Instead, they acted like more bathrooms was a done deal.
“They offered to keep the heated public bathrooms at the Rose Garden and at Endion open for longer hours. They also said they had no problem getting at least 5 porta-potties set up around our homeless areas. They were very happy to see that we just wanted the porta-potties installed in places commonly frequented by homeless folks. I didn’t say anything but I wondered why they thought we would want the potties installed in places that WEREN’T frequented by homeless folks.
“Anyway, they were intrigued with our ideas about using the old shower facilities at the Washington Center and refurbishing a discarded city bus with showers. Of course, I’m always wary of “suits” so they may just have been faking it and plan to set us up for something in the future but the meeting went way better than I expected”.
A male and female couple who we haven’t met come into the circle. The woman explains that the man is new to the street scene and that she is showing him around. She is angry that she has been kicked out of CHUM and has been unable to find any other place where she can sleep. We converse about other possibilities but it seems she’s been banned from all of them. She feels she’s been unfairly treated and it sounds like she has.
Suddenly, we hear all kinds of sirens and see flashing lights all over the place. Some of those in the circle go to stand on the back benches and peer over the bushes to see what’s going on. When they return they tell us that there is an ambulance, a fire truck and 3 squad cars across the street. A woman was passed out on the floor of Lake Place Park but the para-medics now have her up and walking.
Someone opines, “Kinda overkill for one passed out woman. Someone else responds, “With all the heroin overdose deaths that are happening all over our city, I suppose they’re on high alert these days”.
Once the commotion dies down, we think it may be time to pack up. The Fire Magician goes off to get his truck. As the Occupiers and some of the street folks begin to take up the chairs, we notice that Lil Bear is gone and his female friend is sitting alone on a chair. The fire is dying and she looks cold.
Just as we are about to question her to see how we can help her……KABOOM!!!! The woman who is banned from CHUM comes running up from somewhere and leaps on the cold and alone woman. She knocks her on to the floor and begins pounding on her. WTF????
The woman being assaulted screams and wraps her arms and legs around the attacking woman’s body. The attacking woman’s friend and another street man are on the situation immediately. They each put their hands on the women and gently try to pull them apart. As they do this, they are both talking calmly and gently talking to the women. The Occupiers just stand and watch, looking like a buncha dummies.
However, it looks like the street men have everything under control. The friend gets the attacking woman to let go and stand up. She looks confused, like she just woke up. The friend hauls her off saying, “Sorry, sorry” as they leave.
The other street man helps the assaulted woman on to the one remaining chair. She looks stunned. An Occupier offers to put her inside the cab of the truck where she can feel safer. She gratefully accepts. Another Occupier comments, “Well, now I see why the attacking woman has been banned from CHUM”.
Once everything is packed up, the Occupier goes to talk with the battered woman. The woman exclaims, “I’ve never seen that woman ever in my life. She asked me a couple of questions about people I’ve never heard of so I just told her I didn’t know any of those people” The Occupier asks, “You came with Lil Bear, didn’t you?” The woman replies, “Yes I did and I have no place to go now”. The Occupier calls out to everyone still in the Plaza, “Does anyone know where Lil Bear is?”
The older burned out Native dude, who’s been coming around lately, comes over and informs her, “He’s just across the street; if you’ll watch my bag, I’ll go over and find him”. Off he goes. Lil bear returns shortly; he’s carrying all the blankets. When the Occupier tells him what happened, he looks concerned. He goes to sit with the assaulted woman and he puts a blanket around her.
When it appears that everything has settled down to a dull roar, an Occupier opines to the others, “We need to talk about what to do when violent things happen. Maybe we could talk about it next Tuesday”. Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah, it seems like if we want to stop relying on the police, we need to discuss other options”.
After all that, we plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 9-12-17

G.A. Minutes 9-12-17
It’s summer again!!! At least that’s what it feels like when the Occupiers roll up on Peoples Plaza this evening. We’ve had marvelous summer weather all day; this evening the sky is partly cloudy, the temperature is in the high 70s with an occasional light southern breeze.
We are just beginning to set up the fire circle when The Boyfriend shows up. He is ranting and is really, really angry. We are taken back by the amount of bad and vulgar language spewing out of his mouth. Apparently, he was just sitting on a bench across the street in Lake Park Plaza. He wasn’t sleeping but he was resting with his eyes closed so he didn’t notice when the Duluth police officer quietly walked up and stood beside him. The cop grabbed The Boyfriend’s arm and yanked it so hard, the Boyfriend feared it had been pulled out of the socket. Then the cop told him to “move along”.
Once the ranting guy took a breath, an Occupier asks, “Did you get the cop’s name or badge number?” The Boyfriend answers, “Naw, but it was that black cop from Louisiana”. None of us know which cop that is but we do know that the cop is definitely out of the loop. Chief Tuscan and the rest of the administrators have very recently put out a new policy entitled Interactions with Persons Experiencing Homelessness. This policy instructs all DPD officers to treat people suspected of being homeless in the same manner that they treat the tourists or other citizens of Duluth who are suspected of being well off and important.
The Occupier tells The Boyfriend, “You could file a complaint about the cop’s abuse; we’d be willing to help you with it or we could do it on your behalf”. The angry man replies, “I just might do that!” He then continues to behave in a manner so surly and nasty that another Occupier has to tell him, “You know, we’re trying to keep a good vibe going around here. If you can’t help us with that, maybe you should leave for a while”. The Boyfriend does leave; throughout the evening we see him peeking occasionally through the bushes from the sidewalk but he never does come back to the fire. Maybe this is a sign of respect?
A large group of Anonymous folks arrive. Tonight is a special night for them as they are about to begin their Operation Black Snake Engaged. They will be calling attention to the proposed Enbridge Line 3 pipeline that promises to pollute all the manoomin (wild rice) and the lakes, rivers and streams that drain into our big Lake Superior. This proposed pipeline will carry tar sands oil, the most destructive form of oil in existence.
Enbridge claims this oil is desperately needed in the world but the truth is that the only “need” this pipeline will meet is the “need” for Enbridge stockholders and CEOs to line their pockets with more money than they already have. Public hearings for this proposed pipeline will be held from September 26th to October 26th throughout the Northland. The public hearing in Duluth will be held on Wednesday, October 18th 1pm-4pm and 6pm-9pm at the DECC. The Occupiers and Anons plan to attend.
Although Line 3 is only a proposed pipeline, Enbridge is behaving as though it were already a done deal. They have mountains of new pipeline piled all along the proposed pipeline route; they also have much digging equipment and have even begun digging in some places. Water Protector Camps are springing up at various places along the route in order to monitor the behavior of the Enbridge workers. Water Protectors have also participated in at least 6 “lockdowns”. A lockdown is when Water Protectors chain themselves to oil company earth destroying machines in order to prevent the workers from using these machines and in order to force a general work stoppage. Every time Water Protectors can force a work stoppage it costs the oil company money. Money seems to be the only thing that oil companies understand.
The Anons plan to hold their Operation Black Snake Engaged for the next 2 weeks and to protest on the corner, march, make slogans with chalk and use any other non-violent methods they can think of to call attention to the proposed Line 3.
Some of the Anons are hungry so they chow down from the table before going out to the street. An Occupier says to the Anon that she usually drives home after the fire, “I’m gonna have to be out of here by 9pm tonight. I have to meet with Mayor Larson early tomorrow about what the City can do to provide 24/7 access to bathrooms for homeless people and others. I suppose it would be a good idea for me to get enough sleep in order to talk sense at the meeting”. “No problem”, says the Anon. He’s planning on staying out as long as his young body will allow.
A couple of well-respected Water Protectors from Fond du Lac enter the circle. They have made the effort to get to Duluth in order to participate with the Anons. The Water Protectors are friends with some of the Occupiers so stop in to say hello. They have not been in our fire circle before; they think it’s really cool.
An Occupier tells the Water Protectors, “My partner and I went out to Mukwa (Bear) Camp last Saturday”. A Water Protector responds, “Yeah, I saw you guys roll in just as I was leaving. I planned on coming back in time to greet you but things just didn’t work out that way”.
The Water Protectors and Anons go out to the corner; they plan on preaching to the cars for a while and then to go marching through the downtown area and Canal Park.
The single parent Occupier appears; he gets coffee, sits down and reports, “I read a newspaper article recently that said the City was gonna put up 5 new street lights in West Duluth and that it was gonna cost 3 million dollars to do so. 3 million dollars? I don’t understand why it should cost that much”. Everyone in the circle thinks that price is too much.
The big African American dude who was having girlfriend problems last week returns to the fire. He has a different woman with him this time. They get snacks, sit in the circle for a bit and then go to one of the back benches to chat. It appears they are getting to know each other. We kind of recognize the new woman but can’t remember where we’ve met her.
The Stylish Native Woman and her partner join us. It now gets dark a little before 8pm. They’re just stopping in to roll a few cigarettes then they’ll go off to their sleeping place.
A middle-aged, very pleasant Native woman is sitting with us tonight. We haven’t met her in the past but she gives off a very good vibe. When a conversation about protecting the earth gets going she offers, “Our Mother Earth is alive. She has been abused by humans for many centuries now and she is ill. All these storms, fires and such are happening because she is trying to heal herself”. An Occupier adds, “Hopefully she won’t have to rid herself of humankind in order to become whole again”.
A petite, Caucasian woman who visits our fire from time to time is also in the circle this evening. We think she may be some type of outreach worker. The petite woman opines, “The first thing one needs to do is to heal themselves”. She goes on to talk about meditation, yoga, a healthy diet and sobriety.
Menagerie Woman rides up; she’s finished donating plasma and is going to her Tuesday night movie. This time the movie is one that is currently popular; she expects it will be an extra-long one so she won’t be getting home until midnight. Seeing as Bush Man is already at home, he’ll need to take the dogs out tonight.
Taco Helping Man and his partner come up the stairs. Taco Man is talking about the same thing he always does. He speaks about how he wants to quit drinking and resume all the Native spiritual practices that he participated in before he became addicted to alcohol and drugs. He’s managed to kick his drug habit but the alcohol spirit just doesn’t seem to want to let him go. He is troubled by the large amount of Native people he knows who are lost in alcohol. He says, “Who will help the Indian people?”
The anguished look on his face when he talks about these things really touches our hearts. We tried to advise Taco Man to put his tobacco out and to pray. We don’t know why but he doesn’t seem to want to do it that way. None of the Occupiers are of Native heritage; we know that he needs a Native person with knowledge of Native spiritual practices to show him the way.
We remind Taco Man that the next Sobriety Feast will be tomorrow at the Central Hillside Community Center at 6pm. We remind him that there will be a vigil for The Woman Who Tells Good Stories this upcoming Friday at noon, also at CHCC. Taco Man’s partner is one of the sisters of the Woman Who Tells Good Stories.
When an Occupier tells the couple about Mukwa Camp their eyes brighten. Taco Man exclaims, “Could we go there?!? Could we pack up our tent and all our belongings and take them there?” We think there is definite possibility that they would be accepted at the camp. They are actually a well-meaning, peaceful couple. We think people at the camp would be willing to teach and help them. However, that’s enough information for now. They are both somewhat slow minded so we don’t want to overload them. The next time we see them we’ll talk about it some more. The partner reminds Taco Man that they need to go to their tent and go to sleep early tonight as she needs to go to an early Dr.’s appointment tomorrow.
An older African American man who occasionally attends our fires comes up. We think he may also be some type of outreach worker. He wants to know why we have this fire and we tell him about the people’s right to make use of public space. He wants to know more and after beating around the bush for a bit, we explain that we are Occupy Duluth. Now he gets it; he seems relieved.
The older black man and the petite white woman already know each other. They begin a private conversation about programs, grants and stuff like that.
Now we get a visit from The Most Obnoxious Street Woman. She has not attended our fire since we moved to Peoples Plaza. We don’t say anything but we think “OH NO!” We were hoping she’d forgotten that we existed. Funny thing though….. She’s not acting particularly obnoxious. This is very different. She’s still saying stupid stuff and teasing all the men but she’s not telling lies and trying to cause trouble. We have no problem with that.
The developmentally disabled man who lives at the Wet House stumbles in. It appears that he can still walk tonight but, as usual, he’s drunk. He starts saying stupid stuff and The Most Obnoxious Street Woman joins him. Great…..
Well, it is 9pm and this change in the dynamic of the circle gives us a good reason to pack up. So that’s what we do.
As we are driving out of the Plaza we see that Taco Helping Man and his partner have not gone back to their tent as they planned. They’ve hooked up with an older Native street man who is a confirmed alcoholic. This man has many cans of beer and they are all drinking it. We think the partner is not gonna make her Dr.’s appointment tomorrow. We think Taco Man will wake up feeling sick and berate himself for hours.
Oh well……Life goes on. We bid them all a goodnight and plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 9-5-17

G.A. Minutes 9-5-17
It definitely feels like autumn rather than late summer at Peoples Plaza this evening. It’s been raining off and on all day; we think it’s probably stopped now. The sky is overcast; the temperature is in the mid-50s and a strong north westerly wind threatens to blow us all away. There is also a full moon. In the past, we’ve noticed that things can become rather unhinged during full moon evenings. Hmmm……..
The Occupiers who bring all the supplies are the first to arrive. They find the high school aged member of Anonymous waiting. As he helps with the setting up of the fire circle, he tells them that his uncle tried to choke him to death on Sunday. His mother refused to defend him so he ran away from home; he spent the night on a friend’s couch.
He spent most of the day Monday and today at Life House talking with the staff and other young people. The counselors have agreed to help him; they’ve offered him a place in the new Center for Changing Lives in October. Until then he will be able to stay on his friend’s couch. He plans to continue attending school and to graduate. The Occupiers encourage the young Anon to accept all of the help that Life House offers him.
More Occupiers roll up and so does Chicago Man. We haven’t seen him in several weeks; that’s because he’s been working at his new job. In fact, he now has 2 jobs; at this rate he’ll be able to get a place of his own soon.

The new boyfriend of the former homeless African American man appears. He has a sack full of trinkets; he gifts each of the Occupiers with some of them. He asks if we have seen the former homeless man lately; we have not. The Boyfriend is bouncing around and talking non-stop; we don’t say anything but assume he’s “methed up” again. At least the stuff he’s yakking about sounds intelligent and makes more sense than what we usually hear from “meth heads”.
Many Anons arrive; they take seats around the big, roaring fire so they can warm up a bit. Once they’re toasty, they go out to the street corner to remind the general public about the really important things in life.
Our friend, The Anarchist, from Vets for Peace rides up on his bike. As usual, he gets some coffee, makes a donation and takes a seat. He comments, “So now I see that He Who Shall Not Be Named is taking aim at the Dreamers. What a fucking loser!” An Occupier adds, “I don’t think the immigrant community is going to take this lying down. The undocumented children who were brought here by their undocumented parents and have been raised up in the US school systems and the US culture are valuable assets to their employers, colleges and communities. HWSNBN is trying so desperately to come up with something that will actually succeed that he’s now going after children. I doubt it will fly; you’re right, he is a big f’ing loser”.
The Occupier who is the single parent of 3 boys arrives. We are so glad to see him. He’s been working out of town all summer but now that school is about to start again, he and his family have returned to the Twin Ports. After we’re finished with all the hugs and greetings, the newly returned Occupier says, “I’ve been able to read most of the meeting minutes over the summer but is there anything happening that I might not know about?”
Another Occupier answers, “Well, plans for the anti-white supremacist rally are taking shape. The theme of the event will be March to Dismantle the Legacy of Racism. It’s will take place on Saturday, October 14th starting from the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial at 10am, marching through the downtown and ending up at the Civic Center. At the Civic Center there will be speakers and music.
“We’re hoping that this march will be the start of workshops, discussions and such about how so-called white people can dismantle the legacy of racism in this country and in our immediate surroundings. Personally, I believe that every white American person, no matter how kind and well-meaning they are, carries some elements of racism within their psychological makeup. It’s impossible not to; this country was founded on racism and white folks are ingrained in racism from birth by our society.
“I don’t think we should blame or chastise ourselves; it’s not our fault that we were born into white privilege. However, it is our responsibility to see, understand and then eliminate the problem. Hopefully, some people of color will be willing to guide us but it’s really not their job to rid us of our racism. That job belongs to us. Of course, as usual, I think that getting rid of capitalism would make the job easier”.
A 30 something African American man who we have not met before has been sitting in the circle since the fire was lit. He hasn’t said anything up until now but it seems he has a story to tell. We all listen. He tells us he arrived in Duluth with his girlfriend a few weeks ago. He has been in a relationship with this girlfriend for the last year or so. They are both from Minneapolis but his girlfriend managed to make quite a few enemies there so she wanted to move to Duluth.
They have been staying at CHUM since their arrival and were waiting for her SSI check to be released. When that happened, they planned to pool their resources and rent an apartment. The girlfriend received her SSI check on September 1st and promptly took off with some guy to hole up and smoke crack until her money ran out.
Now that the money is gone, she’s back. Because she spent all of her money and didn’t give any of it to CHUM for safe keeping, she is no longer allowed to stay there. She tells the man who is telling this story that she’s sorry and wants him to take her back. She wants him to take all of the savings he has brought with him from his job in The Cities and use the savings to rent an apartment for the both of them. He told her no; he’s not gonna do that and he doesn’t want her back. Now she’s running all over the street telling anyone who will listen that he is a terrible person who has robbed and abused her.
The heartbroken man opines, “During all the time we were together, I never hit her or disrespected her in any way. I always took care of her and made sure she had everything she needed but I’m done now. I know I have to be civil to her when I see her. I don’t want her to flip out and kill herself or something. No way do I want to have to carry that with me for the rest of my life. I guess I’m supposed to feel bad for leaving her but I really don’t. Am I doing the right thing?”
People in the circle tell him that he hasn’t done anything wrong. It appears that Chicago Man is actually the expert on this type of situation; he’s had to remove harmful people from his life over the past several years. He begins to counsel the perplexed guy; they move off a little and start talking. Chicago Man has a certain amount of sense and is African American too. We’ll leave him to deal with this one.
Menagerie Woman rides up. She’s wearing a soft, warm hooded sweatshirt tonight. Clever and practical girl that she is. She’ll sit with us until her bus arrives.
A street man who we have been aware of for years sits down. We’d like to chase this evil dude off but we don’t. We met him back when we had our homeless camp; one of the homeless women brought him in. He hadn’t been in camp for even a day when he got into an argument with a guy who accused this evil dude of raping his daughter. Mr. Evil stabbed the accuser; we had cops running around everywhere and eventually both Mr. Evil and the accuser went off to prison. Mr. Evil has spent quite a lot of his life in prison.
Mr. Evil also abuses any type of substance he can get his hands on. Tonight is no exception; he’s messed up on something and half drooling, half mumbling about who knows what. Despite his many faults, the evil doer is quite physically handsome and generally has some innocent woman at his side. This evening he is accompanied by a well put together older woman who appears to want to take care of him. We doubt she’ll stay around for long; none of them do.
Anyway, the couple sits for a bit, then leaves. The woman says they are going to catch a bus. Once they are gone, The Boyfriend notices that his bag of trinkets is missing. One of the young female Anons comes back to get her backpack and finds that it is missing too. Everyone starts looking around. We find The Boyfriend’s bag but the Anon’s backpack is definitely gone. A few of the Anons go up to the bus stop; Mr. Evil and his companion are nowhere to be found. Bummer. We remind people that if they want to leave something by the fire, they need to tell us so we can put it somewhere safe. The street can be dangerous at times.
When a woman who has been sitting on a bench outside the circle asks for a cigarette, an Occupier reaches for the tobacco pouch on the table. It’s not there; after questioning everyone in the space, it is determined that the tobacco pouch is missing too. It was still on the table after Mr. Evil left; that means someone else has taken it. This is not good, especially since the tobacco is put out for everyone to freely use. In all the years that we have been making this fire circle, nothing has been stolen from the table. This is a very unusual evening.
An Anon and the single parent Occupier begin a discussion about the existence or non-existence of God. A few of the other Anons join in. The Occupier is well versed in the subject; in fact, it’s one of his favorite topics. Being younger, the Anons are less experienced so the conversation is rather elemental. Still, it’s a good conversation.
After a while some of the Anons ask to take a picture. They plan to make a flyer and want to have a picture of the Occupiers, Anons and others around the fire on the flyer.
We all get up, take a protest sign, hold it up and get our picture taken. Once that is finished, the Fire Magician goes to get his truck so we can pack up, put the fire out and call it a night. As everyone goes back to their chairs, an Occupier accidently bumps the edge of the fire pit, the pit is up-ended and the fire burns brightly on the brick floor. Fortunately, the Magician and his truck arrive, someone grabs a shovel, the fire gets quickly scooped up into the metal trash can, all remaining dust and ash gets swept up with a broom and the floor looks like nothing ever happened. We are all shaking our heads as we hurry to pack everything else up. Geez……
We plan to make some minor adjustments and try again at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 8-29-17

G.A. Minutes 8-29-17
It looks like we’re going to get at least one more pleasant, late summer evening at Peoples Plaza this year. The sky is clear, the temperature is in the mid – 70s and there is no breeze at all.
The Occupier who transports all the food is the first to arrive; she drives her vehicle up to the usual spot in the Plaza and spots a middle-aged, chronic alcoholic, Native guy who used to frequently pass out under the tree in the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial when the Occupy fires were held there. We used to check occasionally to make sure he was still breathing and if he was still passed out when it was time for us to leave we’d call the para-medics. The dude lived at the Wet House so the para-medics wouldn’t take him to Detox; they’d just drop him off at his residence.
Anyway, the Wet House guy is sitting up, talking with a middle-aged white guy who has recently begun attending our fire circle. The white guy is from the Deep South and likes to dress and act he’s from the deep ghetto of an inner city. He sags his pants, wears his cap backwards and sprouts off hip-hop lyrics whenever he gets a chance. He appears to be friends with all the black street guys who are into that same type of thing. They seem to genuinely like him; he seems to be a nice enough guy but we find him to be somewhat amusing. He has red hair, a ruddy complexion and a noticeable southern twang. Occupiers are easily amused at times.
As the first Occupier turns her car to face the street, the white guy comes running and says, “Whoa! Do you notice that the stairs are in front of your car? You’d better stop”. The Occupier laughs and assures him she’s just parking and won’t be driving down the stars. He asks her if she has any spare change; she answers, “I think I have a little in the big food bucket. When some more of our folks arrive to unload everything, I’ll see what I can find”.
More Occupiers and a few young bloods from Anonymous roll up. The circle gets set up and the fire is lit. The Anons crank up their music and take seats in the circle. The food Occupier gets out the jar where we keep all the donations of money that we receive from street folks. She recycles a handful of nickels and dimes into the palm of the southern hip-hop dude. He and the man from the Wet House leave immediately; you get one guess as to where they’re going.
The Stylish Native Woman and her partner stop in. The partner is rather quiet this evening; he doesn’t appear to be agitated or sad, just quiet. They get coffee and juice and sit and watch the fire for a while. Then they head off to their sleeping place for an early bedtime.
A couple of middle-aged guys who we haven’t met in the past sit down. They are either unbelievably drunk or something or they’ve burned out their brain cells to the point where they barely function anymore. One of the guys tries to talk but just can’t get any words to come out. Whatever… They’re welcome in the circle but we’ll have to keep an eye on them in case they’re about to fall into the fire.
The Anons go out to the street corner as our friend (we affectionately call him The Anarchist) rides up on his bike. He gets some coffee, leaves a generous donation and takes a seat. We start a conversation about the proposed Enbridge Line 3 that will run through or near the manoomin (wild rice) beds of all the northern MN and WI. reservations. When someone mentions the several water protector camps that are being set up along the proposed pipeline route, the Anarchist asks, “I wonder if we’re going to be in for another Standing Rock?” An Occupier responds, “Well, Standing Rock is actually not over, you know. I noticed that the white folks in North and South Dakota seemed to be really blatantly racist. It looked like the majority of them supported the tactics used by the police and mercenary security force.
“Of course, there’s plenty of racism here in the Twin Ports but I can’t imagine the majority of the people in Duluth/Superior putting up with the severe and illegal abuse that was dished out to the water protectors at Standing Rock. However, I’ve been told that TigerSwan, the security force hired by Energy Transfer at Standing Rock, is now here in our area. They drive black pickup trucks with Texas license plates. They’re mostly seen around the Fond du Lac Reservation area and they’ve been following the people closest to the water protector camp whenever those people go anywhere”.
Menagerie Woman rides up on her bike. She got out late from her plasma donation so missed her movie; she’s going to sit to eat her sandwich then catch a bus to her home. She tells us, “Bush Man stayed home tonight; he doesn’t have any money so he’s not drinking. As soon as he gets money he starts drinking then he becomes abusive and I can’t stand him”.
An Anon groupie they call Lil’ Bear staggers in. He smudges himself and comments, “My girl got locked up today”. All the wise Native people tell us that one should never smudge when one is drunk. Doing so will take the blessing from the smoke and turn it into a curse. Very occasionally, we witness an obviously drunk Native person smudging themselves. We don’t say anything; we just put the dish and the sage out for anyone who wishes to use it. We figure that if a person knows how to use it then they also know the proper protocol. If a person stops by, wishes to use the sage but doesn’t know how and asks then someone will advise them.
An Occupier reports, “I’ll be driving the Veterans for Peace float in the Labor Day Parade. If anyone wants to ride the float or march with it, just tell me. One would need to be at the beginning of the parade route by 11am.
He then says to another Occupier, “I’ll be at tomorrow’s meeting as soon as I get off work”. Someone inquires, “So what’s going on tomorrow?” The Occupier explains, “There’s going to be a big nationwide march and rally against white supremacy and all that in mid-October. We’re just helping the Superior Organizer with the initial planning for the event in Duluth. Everything will become public in a matter of days”.
The veteran homeless young man appears; he sets down his pack and goes to a back bush to relieve himself. When he returns he says, “Yuck, there’s at least five dirty needles lying back there. An Occupier remarks, “If they would just save them they could take them to the Needle Exchange and get new ones for free. Dumb… then again I guess they’re not thinking too clearly after they take their hit”.
A homeless young man, with kind of orange hair, who has been attending our fires this year runs into the circle. He’s very agitated and he’s wearing clothes that aren’t usual for him. The shirt and pants are mismatched and too big for his body. He exclaims, “Did you see what happened to me?!? I was bit by a dog and attacked by the police. It has something to do with the President. It’s all on YouTube!” He runs off. We are all totally clueless.
A well-dressed, Caucasian appearing, male and female hippie couple and their dog join the circle. The dog quickly eats up all the organic potato chips that have fallen on the floor; we give the dog some water. The man tells us he is from Minneapolis; a couple of years ago he lost his job and decided to go traveling instead of looking for another capitalist job.
He traveled to Costa Rica and then to Guatemala. In Guatemala he hooked up with some spiritual people who taught him how to meditate and to understand how everything in the universe is connected. The experience changed his life. He met his dog in Guatemala; she was a homeless street puppy. He says, “We rescued each other”.
The guy with the orange hair returns. He’s wearing his regular clothes and just talking normal and being friendly. He goes out to hang with the Anons. Trust me, it’s the same guy. Go figure.
Next, Coma Man comes up the stairs. We don’t recognize him at first. His face looks different; maybe he’s put on weight. His manner of dress is different too and most of all…..HE’S TALKING IN COMPLETE SENTENCES, PARAGRAPHS EVEN!!! He states, “I just came to say hello. I’m so glad you guys are still doing this”. We guess he’s probably stopped drinking. It’s a miracle.
The Anons are beginning to wind down and come back to the circle. One of the Anons is of Mexican heritage. He begins talking with the hippie man about various spiritual practices; the Native man who became a Christian while serving a prison sentence joins in. Soon they’re talking about the Chinese Zodiac and looking up New Age type stuff on a cell phone. Something about a yellow star and dispersing oneself into the universe.
It’s well past time for us to leave. An Occupier says to another, “Shall we let the fire burn out and pack up?” The other Occupier replies, “Naw, the vibe is good and more people are coming; throw on a few more logs”.
As soon as the words exit her mouth, Spiritual Man appears. We’ve been wondering what he was up to; we haven’t seen him in about a month. He’s tells us he went back home to Spirit Lake to visit family and then found work on a dairy farm. He’s looking for a place of his own now because his girlfriend’s dog is driving him nuts. It’s a grownup dog but it ate one of his shoes recently. Forced to make a choice, his girlfriend will take her dog over him.
The male from the multiracial couple drops in; he’s closely followed by Mississippi Woman. Multiracial Man is wearing a Superman shirt; Mississippi is rather quite tonight but she can still eat. Unfortunately, most of the food was eaten hours ago.
Southern Hip-Hop Man returns; Native Wet House Man is not with him. Southern Man begins spouting off a bunch of hip-hop lyrics. The lyrics make use of the N-word. An Occupier says to him, “Dude, we’re trying to keep a good vibe going here”. He responds, “Sorry, I didn’t mean nothin’”.
Actually we do understand. A certain genre’ of hip-hop makes frequent use of the N-word but there are several non-hip-hop African Americans in the circle. Even if there weren’t, lots of people are offended by the N-word and a white dude throwing ethnic slurs around without his close black friends around to back him up is just asking for trouble.
A young man of indetermanent ethnicity comes across the Plaza pushing a big garbage can on wheels. There is a guitar in the garbage can and the dude says, “Is it o.k. if I play a song for you?” We say, “Sure”. He sings an original song while playing the 12 bar blues on his guitar. He’s pretty good; we all clap when he finishes. It turns out that he works for the cleaning company that cleans the big MN Power office next to the Plaza. He’s been watching our fires from the office window for many weeks. He’s on break right now and decided to check us out. Hence, the guitar in the rolling garbage can.
Someone notices that it’s now 11pm. It appears that the cops have been too busy to bother us tonight but we don’t need to push our luck. Besides, most of the Occupiers have things they have to do tomorrow.
Just as we’re all packed up, an Occupier spots an older looking man who is passed out or something behind one of the big planters just off the street.
Southern Man is hanging out in the front corner with some of his friends who have just arrived. The Occupier calls out to him, “Hey, do you know this guy? I wonder if he’s breathing”. Southern Man goes over and gives the passed out guy a hard kick in the leg. The dude sits up immediately; they talk for a minute then the guy lies back down. As she gets in her car she calls out to Southern Man, “Thanks, that’s all I needed to know”. Southern Man answers, “Thanks for asking”.
We plan to return to Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 8-22-17

G.A. Minutes 8-22-17
It’s 6pm at Peoples Plaza and the sun has already gone down behind the buildings. This is the first sign that summer is not gonna last forever. Of course we already knew that but were trying to forget. Crap. The trees and other plants are still green and gardens are not ready for harvest yet so we’ll still have some warm days before it will be over. All is not lost.
This evening the temperature is in the mid-60s; the sky is partly cloudy with occasional gusts from a moderate southern wind. We’ll need a big fire again. It feels fine right now but once it’s dark it will feel a lot colder. Homeless folk won’t be able to comfortably sleep under a bush unless they have some blankets or a sleeping bag.
A young woman is sitting on a bench charging her cell phone when the first Occupiers arrive; she looks vaguely familiar to us. An Occupier comments that he thinks it’s very nice that the City leaves one of the outlets on for the use of the people. Actually, we’re not sure if it’s been left open on purpose of if the access has just been overlooked. The outlets’ existence is a closely guarded secret among street folks.
An elderly, homeless man who we haven’t met in the past walks over. He’s carrying a big piece of cardboard and asks if anyone has a marker. The Occupier who’s in charge of remembering things gives him a good black marker that she always carries in her pocket. The elderly man needs to make a sign that asks for help in meeting his survival needs.
The man tells a story that we hear frequently. He used to have a good job, nice house and family etc. He lost his job and then his wife and family; he started drinking and eventually ended up on the street. He has many health problems related to his former job. He says he just has to wait 3 more years and he’ll be able to start collecting his veteran’s benefits. When that finally happens, he expects to be able to afford a place to live.
He’s one of those people who, once he gets going, just can’t seem to stop talking. When an Occupier lights the smudge bundle and starts to smudge herself, the man begins coughing. He says, “I can’t be around any kind of smoke; they tell me I need a lung transplant”. When the Occupier informs him that they are going to be making a recreational fire, the man finishes his sign, hands back the marker and leaves.
People are starting to arrive one after the other. The city official appears followed closely by the Stylish Native Woman and her partner. It looks like the partner is fairly stable again tonight. He tells us that with the help of his ARMHs worker he has been able to get his SSI benefits paid directly to himself again. Apparently the social workers took control of his only income by mistake. We think most social workers don’t realize the immense problems they cause for poor people when they make these “mistakes”. We want to ask The Partner if he’s been given any leads related to finding an apartment before winter arrives but we don’t want to get him started. We’ll ask the Stylish Woman as soon as we get a chance.
We hear some really good music blasting out over the roar of the traffic. Some of the Anonymous crew is standing at the intersection across the street waiting for the light to change. They probably just couldn’t wait to get started; they wave at us and go straight to the protest corner.
The Native neighborhood couple who roll with the Anons come walking up the stairs; they bring many boxes of pizza for the table. It will all be consumed in no time.
A small squirrel has been running around outside the circle, possibly looking for dropped food. It doesn’t seem to be too afraid of humans. When the Fire Magician gets ready to drive his truck off the Plaza an Occupier warns him “I just saw that squirrel crawl under the hood of your truck; you might want to wait a bit before starting up the engine”. When the Fire Magician starts banging on the hood of his truck another Occupier calls out, “Hey, that’s squirrel abuse!” The Magician responds, “Actually, I don’t think squirrels are a protected class”. The squirrel climbs out from the engine and takes off running. End of problem and end of discussion.
An Occupier asks, “Did anyone read that some water protectors from one of the Line 3 camps chained themselves to some Enbridge digging equipment yesterday and shut down the pipeline project over in Wisconsin for an entire day?” Another Occupier replies, “I was at the Indigenous Commission meeting yesterday. A few water protectors from the Line 3 camp around here gave us a report. They also said that TigerSwan, the security company from Texas that was hired by Energy Transfer to direct the police action at Standing Rock, is now operating here in the Duluth and Cloquet. The water protectors told us that they have been followed by men in black pickup trucks with Texas license plates just about everywhere they go. I’m going to go check out the nearest Line 3 camp as soon as I can but first I have to find a big bandana”.
The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “The Citizens Review Board meeting will be tomorrow at 5pm in City Hall. I’m hoping they know about those 2 innocent African American children who were roughed up by a Duluth cop a couple of weeks ago. Also, the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition has resumed meeting every week again, Thursdays, 6:30pm at Dorothy Day House. They’re hoping to have the Bill put before the City Council for a vote on October 30th. We’ll need to really pack the house on that evening”.
The city official states, “Oh, I really want to attend the CRB meeting this month. Will you remind me tomorrow?” The reporting Occupier answers, “Sure, and then, if you like, we can go over to the Superior Organizer’s first March Against White Supremacy meeting at 6pm or so”
Our conversation is interrupted by the sound of a female yelling very loudly out on the street. We can’t see anything from our circle but whatever is going on does not sound good. The city man and the magician go out to the sidewalk to see what they can see.
The middle-aged African American man who lives at the Skinner Apartments sits down. He tell us, “I’m sorry, I’m a little drunk and know I shouldn’t come into the fire circle when I’m drunk but I’m having a problem right now”. The zipper on the Skinner Man’s pants has busted and he has to walk while holding his pants up with both hands. That, combined with the fact that he’s somewhat drunk, is making a pretty big problem for him. The Occupiers scrounge around trying to find a rope or something but they don’t find anything.
Menagerie Woman and Bush Man ride up on their bikes. They’re coming from the usual Tuesday night plasma donation, dinner and a movie. Today is Menagerie Woman’s birthday. We all wish her a happy one. Bush Man appears to be sober but not particularly anxious. This is good.
The city man and the Occupier return from the sidewalk. The city man opines, “A man and a woman who appear to be a couple are having a loud argument about something. It’s escalating; there’s a crowd of onlookers forming and it looks like they’re about to start physically fighting. I think we need to call 911. Hopefully, the cops will just separate them and not make any arrests”.
The city man and the Occupier both call 911 on their cell phones. After about 5 minutes, several squad cars arrive. The yelling stops; the crowd disperses. One of the street people tells us, “They just separated the couple; they didn’t arrest anyone”.
Taco Helping Man and his partner drop in. They’re trying to find someone who’s going to the Pow Wow in Bad River this weekend. No one in the circle is planning to attend. We advise them to go over to the Red Lake Urban Office tomorrow; maybe someone there is planning to go.
Now the boyfriend of the African American former street man rolls up. He’s talking a lot and moving quickly; he spots the squad cars still out in the street and comments on how much he hates cops. He tells a few stories about some of the times cops treated him really rotten. Then he gets some coffee, takes off his belt, gives it to Skinner Man and goes out to the corner with the Anons.
After the boyfriend leaves, an Occupier remarks, “Man, he seems very wired tonight”. Taco Man replies, “Oh, he’s doing meth right now. Even so, he’s a really nice guy”.
A Duluth police officer comes over to the circle. He’s looking for the people who called 911. The official man and the Occupier identify themselves. The cop just wants to know what they witnessed; they tell him. The cop is polite and friendly but still does that barely concealed look around the area. After receiving the information that he asked for, he wishes everyone a good evening and leaves.
An Occupier returns from out on the corner. He reports, “Wow, I just inadvertently walked into another couple having a big argument out on the street. An Anon who is taking a break informs him, “Oh, those two do that just about every night”.
The developmentally disabled man who lives at the Wet House stumbles in. As usual, he’s pretty shit faced. He’s limping and tells us he fell down somewhere recently. He can’t remember where it was or what happened but his knee is rather messed up now.
It’s getting late when Mississippi Woman appears. She wishes everyone a good evening and commences to eating. Because of all the pizza provided by the neighborhood couple, there’s still plenty of food left. Mississippi will be able to eat her fill. She’s seems calm tonight, so as long as no one gets her started, she might not begin to rant.
It’s already dark when 2 more cops come to the circle. They want to know if anyone knows anything about the other couple who were arguing on the street. We figure someone must have called 911 but it wasn’t any of us. Apparently, that couple is gone now. We think a few folks in the circle may know who they were but fortunately, no one says anything.
These cops are polite and friendly but they’re doing the look around thing too. We’re not sure what it is that they are looking for but they’re surely not gonna find it in our circle. If they were looking for a little peace and good vibes they could find that here. However, they’re on duty so probably don’t have time for stuff like that. After a little meaningless chit chat they wish us a good evening and leave.
It’s late and the fire is dying so everyone helps us pack up. As we are finishing, we see the original yelling woman coming down the street yelling like crazy. She’s having a conversation with someone who isn’t there. Maybe she doesn’t realize that her partner is not with her.
An Occupier comments, “Gee, she’s really in a bad way. I’d like to try and help her but I’m afraid she’ll punch me if I do. Another Occupier remarks, “Yeah, it’s obvious she’s under a lot of stress but sometimes there’s nothing you can do. You just have to let them be”.
It’s time to go. An Occupier is going to give an Anon and all his equipment a ride home. Another Occupier will give Wet House Man a ride home too. Wet House Man is incapable of walking.
We plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 8-15-17

G.A. Minutes 8-15-17
We’ll probably need to put on our long sleeved shirts or light jackets this evening at People’s Plaza. The weather is cooler than it’s been in a while. The temperature is in the low 70s and the sky is partly cloudy; a strong, cold east wind is responsible for the chill.
Many folks from the Anonymous group are waiting when the first Occupiers roll up. They set up the circle for us and then go out to the street to preach to the cars again. We can hear many beeps of support.
An Occupier apologizes to the others, “Sorry I didn’t get any minutes written from last week’s meeting. My life got in the way; I just could not find the time. Of course, it didn’t have anything to do with the fact that I threw all my responsibilities to the wind and spent 3 days at the Bayfront Blues Festival”. We all say, “Oh, of course not”. The Occupier continues, “It’s too bad though because there were a couple of good stories that came out of last week’s meeting”.
Another Occupier adds, “For real, like when the 2 Park Rangers came up to our fire and said, ‘You know it’s illegal for you to be having a fire here’. We politely quoted a few City ordinances and Fire Codes to them and then they said, ‘Oh sorry, we didn’t know that. Have a good evening”. Those cop types are so like that; they make high sounding pronouncements even when they don’t know their ass from a hole in the ground”.
Another Occupier comments, “I got a kick out of the story that the Anon who carries the American flag with all the corporate logos in place of the stars told us. He said he was out on the corner and had his flag flying upside down, some dude walks by and says, ‘Hey, I fought for that flag!’ The Anon answered, ‘You might want to look a little closer at the stars’. The dude looks, doesn’t say nothin’, just walks away”.
Someone else remarks, “Yeah, and how about those cops down in Canal Park who threw that innocent 12 year old African American boy down on the pavement, cuffed him and put him in the squad car. When his sister protested his innocence, they cuffed her and put her in the squad too. If someone hadn’t called the kids’ mother to come and rescue them they would have been taken to lockup. They were completely innocent of any wrongdoing but the cops just took the word of the white supremacist tourist lady who was yelling the N-word. I’m so glad that some of the other kids recorded what the cops did; it looks like Duluth’s African Heritage community is not going to take this lying down either”.

Anyway, now we’re at this week’s fire circle. The Stylish Native Woman and her partner sit down; her partner is quite mentally stable tonight. We can understand everything he talks about; he tells stories about his younger life when he was married and working full time. When he was at his job he discovered that his boss was doing a lot of unethical things. That bothered him very much; when the dust settled, he found himself committed to a mental institution. That was the first time; he’s been in and out of mental health facilities (always against his wishes) for over the last 20 years. He has a grown daughter.
The city official appears; he brings a large box of fried chicken for the table. He’s on his way to the Charlottesville Solidarity Vigil up at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. In fact, everyone is going to the Vigil. An Occupier couple has volunteered to hold down the fort while the rest of the entire crew goes up to CJMM. So off they go.
A very “buttoned down” looking guy rides up on his bike. He looks at us like he thinks we are crazy and says, “What IS this?” The Occupiers give him an explanation of 25 words or less; the dude says, “Where’s my friend?…….Hey, they’re smudging over here!” His friend rides over; the friend looks rather “buttoned down” too but in a more streetwise sort of way. The friend looks at us like he thinks we MIGHT be crazy; he doesn’t say anything. They both smudge themselves and ride off.
The next person to visit is the young, veteran homeless man. He’s actually homeless by choice, has been homeless for many years and is pretty self-sufficient. He doesn’t need food or drinks; he’s just stopping by to say hello.
The gay African American former street man arrives. He’s been visiting our fires for many years; he used to always be singing, dancing and carrying on. He returned from a somewhat lengthy stay in jail almost a year ago; since then, he stopped drinking and is rather quiet. He always seems to be a little sad but still a very nice guy. He munches on a few chips and waits for his new boyfriend to show up. After about an hour the boyfriend still hasn’t arrived so he goes off to catch a bus to his home.
A man and a woman who we don’t know arrive individually; it doesn’t appear that they are acquainted but they are both very hungry. They stand next to the table and just eat and eat. When they are finally full they thank the Occupier couple and go off on their separate ways.
Now it’s just the Fire Magician and the Food Occupier in the circle. They pile wood into the fire pit; the flames get really big. Everyone will be able to warm up well upon their return.
The Anons return; some of them are very excited; they were impressed by the Vigil. An Occupier and the city official are right behind them; they tell us there were over 400 people in attendance.
A non-homeless woman who spends most of her time on the street comes to get coffee; she loves our coffee and drops by frequently. She tells us, “There were so many people at the Vigil that the cops had to blockade the street to vehicle traffic. The people are now in the process of marching down here. See that cop car around the corner with its lights flashing? The cops are getting ready to block the street so the marchers can march to Peoples Plaza”.
We notice a couple more squads, with their lights flashing, drive up and sit on the street. An Occupier opines, “Well this could be interesting. There’s no way we can feed 100s of people but some of them can get warm by the fire at least”. We then see a DFD fire truck drive up, followed by an ambulance. An Occupier states, “Wait a minute, marchers don’t need an ambulance; I hope someone didn’t have a heart attack or something”.
As we continue to watch it becomes apparent that someone is having an emergency in front of the Electric Fetus. All the squad cars and stuff have nothing to do with marchers or the Plaza. We look for the coffee loving street woman but she has conveniently disappeared.
All the chairs in the fire circle are full again; more people are standing on the outside and all around the Plaza. Our friend from Vets for Peace rides up; he asks, “Is there any coffee left?” Amazingly, there is. Menagerie Woman rides up, she’s finished donating plasma and watching her Tuesday night movie. She’s on her way to catch a bus home but stops in to say hi.
The new boyfriend of the gay African American dude comes up the stairs. Of course, he was hoping his boyfriend would be here. We tell him that his boyfriend was here waiting for him but left in order to catch a bus. We think the two of them need to find a better communication system.
The new boyfriend appears to be Caucasian and in his early 40s; he’s a veteran homeless person, with an extensive prison record. No matter, we know that many people with prison records are very decent people. He has a camp of his own somewhere but tonight he’s just going to crash under the back bushes in the Plaza. He fills a cup with apple juice then empties his pockets of all their change and makes a donation.
Most of the street folks have gone off to their sleeping places; the Anons and Occupiers just sit, watching the fire die out. As it finishes, we pack up.
Everything is packed up; the Food Occupier and an Anon are just about to drive off when a young African American man taps on her window. “Do you have any food left?” he asks. She tells him she believes everything has been eaten. When she checks the bins, just to be sure, she finds a bag of organic potato chips that she neglected to put on the table. As she gives the chips to the young man she notices he doesn’t have a coat or a backpack or anything. She hopes he has somewhere warm to sleep because it will be rather chilly tonight.
We hope for warmer weather when we return to Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 8-1-17

G.A. Minutes 8-1-17
The last couple of days the weather has been very warm; some would call it hot. Today was no exception; the temperature is in the high 80s, the sky is almost cloudless; an occasional relatively cooler, lifesaving breeze prevents people on the street from dropping dead.
The food and fire bringing Occupiers are the first to arrive at People’s Plaza this evening. They’re both moving pretty slow as they begin setting up the fire circle.
The food Occupier notices a young couple sitting on a back bench in the direct sun. They appear to be having an argument. The Occupier realizes that feeling uncomfortably warm can make a person really crabby. She offers the couple a glass of cold water; they gratefully accept. A bit later she notices the couple is no longer arguing but sitting talking softly and holding hands.
We spy the little veteran homeless dude standing out on the freeway exit holding up a sign. When we wave at him he packs up his stuff and comes over. He carries a big restaurant takeout box which he puts on the table and then tells us, “A guy stuck his head out of his car window saying he didn’t have any money but would I please accept a bunch of birthday cake. So here it is”. No problem, we’re happy to help a nameless Leo person celebrate their birthday.
Next to arrive are a few of the Anonymous folks; they finish the fire circle setup, get a bit of drink and food and head out to the protest corner.
Taco Helping Man and his partner drop in. The last time we saw them they were in need of someone with tools who would help them change a tire on their recently purchased van. Once the fire was out, an Occupier went to help them. It turned out the tire they had would not fit on their van; the lug nut holes did not align. Now Taco Helping Man explains they found a working tire the next day and headed out to St. Paul. Just as they were passing the Black Bear Casino, thick black smoke began pouring out of the rear end. They pulled over, got out and noticed flames underneath the smoke. They dialed 911 and went close to the woods to wait for help. Before the highway patrol arrived the entire van blew up and was consumed by flames. A highway patrol officer felt sorry for them so after the mess was cleaned up the officer gave the couple a ride back to Duluth.
An Occupier quietly comments to another, “I was pretty sure one could not expect much out of a vehicle that cost $240. I thought it probably wouldn’t take them very far but at least, as long as the weather was good, they could have lived in it”. Taco Helping Man says, “I just got my check for $700; I’m going to take the whole thing and buy another vehicle”. We don’t know what to say; it doesn’t matter because Taco Man never listens much anyway”.
A big group of street folks appear. They’re holding on to their bellies and talking about how full they are. They still have room for coffee and apple juice though. Tonight is National Night Out and CHUM had their annual big picnic. The street folks tell us the event was sparsely attended this year.
We had thought we wouldn’t be seeing many street folks tonight as today was payday for all the people who receive small monthly government checks. Usually, on payday everyone purchases their substance of choice and disappears to get wasted for a few days. One person will rent a room for a couple of days in a low rent motel and many others will hang out in that room getting high until their money runs out. This evening appears to be different; People’s Plaza is filling up with street people; none of whom appear to be particularly wasted.
Our friend from Veterans for Peace rides up on his bike. This is his first time at our fire this year. He pours a cup of coffee and makes a sizable donation for supplies. He reports that he and John LaForge are attempting to organize the startup of local anti-nuclear direct actions again. We say, “Just tell us where and when and we’ll be there”.
The city official and an Occupier roll up. The city official takes a seat in the circle and the Occupier goes out to join the Anons. The city man states, “I’ve got the Mayor, Police Chief Tuscan and the City Human Rights Officer on the Dairy Queen incident now. I think we’ll see good results soon”.
Two evenings ago, the official man stopped in at the Dairy Queen in Canal Park to use the facilities. Apparently, the Canal Park Dairy Queen is now the place where area young teenagers of all ethnicities hang out. The kids were all playfully goofing off as young teenagers are prone to do. Two thirteen or fourteen year old African American young men were throwing ketchup packets at each other. Instead of just speaking to the young men, the manager called the police.
When the cops arrived, the city man thought he’d better hang around to see what was going to happen. There were two polite, friendly officers who told the city man they’d been having a long, rough night. Then there was Officer #464.
The Occupiers have interacted with Officer #464 in the past. Officer #464 is different than most of the other cops. He is an unusually tall, big man. He’s also a big bully. We hypothesize that he is insecure about his masculinity. Anyway, #464 tells the two boys that they are officially trespassed from Dairy Queen for an entire year. He growls, “If you don’t leave immediately I’m going to take you to Juvenile Hall!”
The city official wonders why it was only the two African American youngsters who were singled out for punishment. There were very many other young people present. He also wonders about the length of the punishment and remarks, “An entire year? That’s a lifetime for a kid to be forcibly separated from his friends. I could see a week or even a month but an entire year? It’s not right”.
As Mississippi Woman comes up the stairs, the sky becomes covered with dark menacing clouds; a strong, cool breeze blows over the Plaza. It feels great! Mississippi loves hard boiled eggs and begins eating her fill.
Menagerie Woman rides up on her bike; Bush Man is back at her house again. She comments, “As long as he acts right he can stay. If he starts bossing me around and being violent I’ll put him out again”.
A locally well-known professional photographer and singer rides up on his bike. He says, “I’ve always wondered what you guys had going on here”. The big Native Anon and several other Anons arrive. They greet us and go out to the protest corner. A middle aged Native Woman and a white street guy appear. We know the woman well; she attended our fires all the time at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. When she’s sober she’s just as sweet as can be; when she’s drunk she becomes dangerously violent. She doesn’t appear to be inebriated tonight.
We notice that two young Duluth cops are standing out on the Superior Street sidewalk looking at us. Eventually they come up to the circle. They act friendly, polite and they make small talk with us. We can tell they are looking carefully all over our area, probably to see if they can find anything that might be construed illegal. No such luck; they bid us good evening and walk back to their squad car.
Everyone feels a few drops of rain on their skin. Hmmm…… we hadn’t calculated for this. There was no mention of rain in any of the weather forecasts. A big DPD SUV pulls up in front of the regular squad car, Officer #464 gets out. He talks with the two cops and then they all head out towards the Anons. One cop is yelling, “Take off your masks! Take off your masks!” Oh great…..
An Occupier opines, “I’d better go and check this out”. She goes down the stairs and around the corner. She quietly stands where she probably won’t be noticed but can still see and hear what’s going on. #464 is sternly telling the Anons that it is illegal for them to be wearing their masks. The Anons don’t say much; they push their masks up on their heads. As the cops are leaving, the Occupier thinks the two young cops are probably still in training and #464 is trying to teach them how to be mean.
The Occupier and an Anon go back to the circle and tell everyone what happened. The Occupier says she knows that during the beginning Occupy protests, many cities passed laws forbidding people from wearing masks at protests. Another Occupier pulls out his phone, the first Occupier postulates, “I’m pretty sure Duluth does not have an anti-mask ordinance so it would probably be under state ordinances”. The phone Occupier does a quick search and the state ordinance pops up right away. It says something like “no one can wear a mask that conceals their identity during a protest”. Someone says, “Oh really? But the cops can come to protests all dressed up like Darth Vader and carrying deadly weapons too?” Someone else adds, “Yeah, I don’t recall ever hearing about the cops telling the KKK to take off their masks”.
The ordinance has a few exceptions like when using masks for religious or theatrical purposes. The Occupiers think the Anons could get by with calling themselves a Street Theater Troupe. However, the Anons will respond as they see fit.
The drama is over for now and Mississippi Woman has eaten enough eggs. She begins her usual rant. It’s not really awful but we’ve heard it so many times that we could save her the trouble and recite it ourselves. Her rant contains all the usual things spoken by Southern Baptist or Pentecostal preachers.
Most of the people in the circle break off into small groups and chat among themselves. The Occupiers, the city official and a young street man with long brown hair and a full beard are all who remain in the circle. The street man is really digging Mississippi Woman; he keeps saying, “Oh yeah, that’s right” and stuff like that. Eventually she winds down and bids us goodnight until next time.
It’s only 9:30pm but the fire is dying out and everyone is pretty exhausted from trying to cope with the heat of the last few days. As we pack up, an Occupier calls out to Taco Helping Man, “Hey, don’t forget that the Sobriety Pow Wow out at Mash-Ka-Wisen is this weekend”. Taco Man answers, “Oh right, are you going? Can I catch a ride?” The Occupier responds, “Sorry, I don’t think we’re going. We went to the Veterans Pow Wow a couple of weeks ago so probably won’t be able to make the one this weekend.
We’ll be able to make it to the fire circle at People’s Plaza next Tuesday though. Expect us.