G.A. Minutes 10-21-14

G.A. Minutes 10-21-14
The CJM Memorial is empty when the first two Occupiers arrive. Ordinarily they would wait for the arrival of more of their comrades before setting things up but not tonight.
It’s too cold for sitting around waiting. They do the work by themselves. Soon others arrive; the fire is going in no time and everyone huddles close to it.
An Occupier asks about the latest news from the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance group. Another answers, “A few of the members are currently doing research concerning the de-listing of wolves and other protected species and the introduction of new mines, logging operations and other environmentally destructive operations on to the lands of the previously protected species. The idea is that INM/NWA should be able to work more closely together; enabling them to better co-ordinate their actions. The next meeting is this upcoming Friday, October 24th, 1pm at the Duluth Indian Center”.
Someone mentions, “The Coalition To Stop Sulphide Mining will be holding another event at our friend’s club on next Saturday. I think we should go to offer support and also there’s going to be some really good bands”. We all agree we would like to attend the event so make plans to meet at the Red Herring at 8pm on Saturday October 25th.
Some regular street folks arrive to get some coffee. The man says, “Oh, you’re burning sage. Is it fake sage?” An Occupier answers, “Is there such a thing as fake sage?” Another responds, “Oh you know, that synthetic stuff and the first Occupiers teasingly retorts, “So if you use fake sage does that mean you will get fake blessings?” Everyone laughs.
A regular man who is not homeless but spends a lot of time on the streets appears. He and his friend sit and talk with us for a while. He’s spent all his money on alcohol again and doesn’t have bus fare to get back home. Some of the Occupiers dig in their pockets and come up with enough change to help him out.
Another man we haven’t met comes up to sit. He’s very friendly and his voice sounds familiar. After we converse for a while he says, “Don’t you know who I am?” We don’t know. He tells us his name and we are astounded. This man lived at our former homeless camp but he looks very different than he from how he looked at our camp. He’s lost weight, is wearing nice clothes and has a calmer demeanor than he did when he lived with us. An Occupier states, “Oh man, I didn’t even recognize you. I figured you had gone back to Chicago”. The man says, “I live up in Hermantown and I have a job”. It seems he hasn’t found many friends in Hermantown. He’s not a daily drinker but when he feels like drinking he comes down to the old hood and looks for his old friends. Seeing as he no longer lives in our neighborhood, he’s out of the loop as to where people are on this night. He sits with us and politely calls out to all the women who walk by. He doesn’t get any responses.
One of the Occupiers reports that one of our friends is holding a conference at City Hall this upcoming Saturday at 12:30 pm. Members of the Council of Black Minnesotans will be presenting a forum and question and answer session with some MN elected officials concerning issues affecting black Duluthians. The Occupier continues, “I don’t know if I will attend as I don’t think I would have much to offer that would be helpful though I could just listen”. She gives the names of a few of our P.O.C. friends who are planning on attending. Another says, “Duluth is a strange place. At first glance it appears to be a very progressive and fairly hip place but if you look closer there is a lot of racism here. Just look at the difference in income levels, difference in housing and in jobs. That tells one something”. Another says, “I don’t think there are any black people in city office jobs. There are a lot more black people who live here than black people you see working any type of job as you go about your daily business in Duluth”.
A group of people, most of whom we are familiar with, join us. One of the men begins to introduce himself when an Occupier jokingly says, “Ogiima-Central Hillside! We know you” ( Ogiima is Anishinaabemowin for Chief). The man had visited us once many months ago. He had been very drunk and boastful. Tonight he is humble and answers, “Oh, I ain’t nobody. I’m just a drunk”. It appears that he and his friends have been drinking this evening. When they begin to bring out their bottles, the Occupiers ask them to go and drink at the back ledge. They cheerfully do so.
We resume our conversation at the fire and the street group stands at the back ledge laughing and drinking.
Suddenly a DPD squad pulls up to the curb and gets out. A lone officer walks quickly toward the group. They immediately disperse but Ogiima doesn’t get away fast enough and the cop corners him. The cop begins the usual questioning, “What’s your name? Where do you live? Have you been drinking? Do you have ID?”
Another squad and officer arrive. We continue looking into the fire but stop our conversation and listen carefully to what’s going on at the ledge. The Chief answers humbly and politely. He pleads, almost crying, “Please don’t take me in. Please let me go”. Suddenly his tone changes. He says, “I’m Ogiima and these are my friends”. The officer asks if we know the man. We say yes we do.
One officer goes to his car to check the Chief’s credentials while the other officer guards the Chief.
In the midst of all this, a well dressed woman carrying a bag walks through. She walks up to the officer and the man saying, “I have cupcakes and garlic toast from the event at the Zinema. Would you like some?” The officer says no thanks and the Chief takes a cupcake.
The woman then comes over to the fire and puts all of her food out on the table. We have a lovely conversation with her about all the changes that are occurring at the Zinema.
The Chief wants to come and sit with us at the fire but the cop will only let him sit on the back ledge. We think the cop believes we are all crazy and may possibly do him some harm.
Finally the other officer returns, says something to the first officer and the first officer says to the Chief, “Everything’s o.k., you’re free to go”.
The other officer drives off, the Chief comes to sit by the fire and the first officer comes over to talk to us. He says he’s new to this neighborhood beat and asks who we are, what we’re doing and stuff like that. We tell him as little as possible while still appearing to be polite and co-operative. He wishes us goodnight and reminds us to call him if we need any help. He gets into his car but doesn’t drive off.
All of the Chief’s drinking friends return and plunk themselves down by the fire. They quite loudly proclaim they are not afraid of cops. One yells “Fuck the police!” A very young girl who is part of their group pulls a bottle out of her coat, drinks some and begins to wave it around.
A female Occupier stands up and chastises the girl, “No! You cannot drink at this fire! If you want to drink you must leave and come back after you’re done. You are not going to ruin things for everyone else”. The girl puts her bottle back but appears as though she thinks she has been unjustly punished.
Shortly thereafter, the group says their goodbyes and begins to wander off. They realize they have forgotten the Chief so return for him. As he starts to leave we notice he has left his backpack. We call him back, get everybody situated with their proper belongings and off they go again. As they leave, the squad car drives off in the same direction they are going.
The fire is down to the coals but the remaining people are in no hurry to leave. We stand around conversing with our hands over the fire pit.
We’ll be at the gig at the Red Herring on Saturday and back at CJM next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 10-18-14

G.A. Minutes 10-18-14

It’s kinda chilly tonight; probably 5 or 10 degrees above freezing. The sun goes down around 6:30 pm these days; it will get colder still once it’s dark.

Street folks start coming up as soon as they see our vehicles. It’s the time of year when homeless folks have to think seriously about how they will survive the winter. The CHUM center will fill way beyond capacity; it’s not a pleasant place to be but at least it’s warm.

Not all homeless people will be able to stay at the CHUM or any of the few additional shelters in the city. Some cannot survive the craziness of being packed in wall to wall with mostly mentally unstable people. Some are so mentally unstable that shelter staffs refuse them entry.

Whatever the circumstances, the first cold autumn breezes signal the start of grim reality for those in the northland without homes.

The DPD squads start buzzing around the Memorial before we even have the fire going. There are quite a few different cars. They’re not slowing down or even particularly looking at us but it seems they want to make their presence known.

The chairs fill up as soon as the flames flare up. It’s standing room only but we know very few our guests.
A young, gay couple is very impressed when they discover they’re sharing a campfire with Occupy Duluth. It’s not often we run across street folks who have even heard of Occupy.

An Occupier says he needs help getting an electric stove carried into his house. He’s talking about the stove we found for the Duluth Indian Center. It turns out the DIC won’t be able to use it as the cost of installing the proper electrical wiring is prohibitive. When no one responds, the Occupier says, “Well don’t all jump up at once”. Another Occupier answers, “Sure I’ll help you, just let me know when”. It will take several people to move the stove. It looks like it won’t get moved any time soon.

An Occupier tells about a movie called Disruption which he viewed recently at the U.U. church. He begins to describe what he saw but is interrupted by the loud talking of the rest of the folks.

Tonight the members of the circle are almost completely male. A woman of the neighborhood who spends much time cleaning and monitoring CJM throughout the week and 1 Occupier are the only females.

The street men have decided to hold a competition concerning who is the more streetwise and who has the most life experience. They are being quite loud about it. Soon bottles of alcohol are pulled out of coat pockets.

The Occupiers explain that they need folks to take their drinking and whatever else outside of the circle. No one is trying to tell anyone else what substances they are allowed but the Occupiers know how quickly blatant substance abuse will bring on the cops and how quickly some people’s behavior deteriorates when “anything goes”.

The neighborhood woman chastises everybody and things settle down; but not for long. A somewhat regular and sometimes aggressive man walks up to the fire, raises his hands and repeats a made-up Muslim prayer, ending with several loud grunts. Another man who joins us occasionally begins preaching his version of Christianity. Something to do with God loves all people and Obama is gay.

An Occupier says to the man’s girlfriend, “Do you have some way of shutting him up?”

The girlfriend responds, “No, but isn’t he just terrible? He very rarely drinks but when he does, this is what happens”.

Another man stumbles around and yells, “Jesus never existed and there is no God!” Others attempt to shout him down and the alcohol bottles start waving again.

One Occupier says to another, “This is all completely out of control. We need to shut it down”.

And that’s all she wrote. The Occupiers say nothing but begin packing up and dousing the fire.

An older neighborhood man who joins the circle frequently, calls out to the drunks in a tone that sounds like a little boy, “You ruined the party! You ruined the party!”

As they leave one of the Occupiers comments, “I hope this gets around. We are really laid back but even so, we won’t tolerate just anything”.

G.A. Minutes 10-11-14

G.A. Minutes 10-11-14

There’s not much of a wind but autumn is certainly in the air this evening. We hustle to get things set up and to get the fire started.

Some of the Occupiers are a little on edge. We know that after the visit from the DPD and the City Fire Department at our meeting last Tuesday, we are flying in their faces by openly having a fire at CJM.

Oh well….. Speaking truth to power always carries some risk. The issues we’re dealing with are of major importance. The publics’ right to make use of public space and the necessity of all people, rich or poor, powerful or powerless, to abide by the same laws are serious matters. We will need to back up our words with action.

Tonight we have all our ducks in a row. A Duluth city ordinance and a MN statute expressly state that our fire is legal and does not require a permit. We have copies of these laws with us in case somebody should feel like challenging our or anybody else’s right to congregate as we do.

The Occupier who regularly does a general pickup of the Memorial before we begin our meeting has an assistant this time. The developmentally disabled man joins him, efficiently getting all the bits of garbage cleaned up.

We gather around the blazing fire and are immediately joined by others from the neighborhood. Everyone will need to keep warm on a night like this.

A woman we know as schizophrenic walks by. She’s in a bad mood and is loudly cussing at everyone. The Occupier who is cleaning tries to talk with her. This does not go well and we encourage him to just leave her alone.

A man from the neighborhood passes by. He is carrying a purse, waving it over his head. He says, “Do you want me to throw this up on the roof?” A woman waving a large bottle of alcohol follows him and meekly says, “No”. He answers, “Well then, leave me alone. If you were not a woman I would knock you out”. He hands her back her purse and walks away. She does not follow him.

Back in the circle some folks question, “Hey, we heard the police were hassling you guys at your last meeting. What’s up with that?” We tell them the story.

An Occupier states, “We think they’re being pressured by the CJM BOD to make us stop having our fires. The Board has been making a lot of noise lately about wanting to kick all neighborhood people out of the Memorial grounds. We try to explain to the board that the so called problem goes so much deeper than their narrow little minds seem to be able to handle.

“If they want CJM to be free of people hanging out, they need to be working on getting housing, healthcare, education, meaningful work and other services for poor and working class people. Of course those country club wannabees don’t want to hear any of that. They just want all the neighborhood people to disappear to who knows or cares where. That’s how most rich people are; they just want anything they consider unsightly to get out of their line of vision. They actually think they have the right to demand that other human beings just disappear. They think themselves to be a better class of people. I will fight those morons til the day I die and maybe even longer than that”.

An Occupier informs us he may be leaving town for the winter. He has been homeless again for the last few months. A friend has offered to share a room with him in Mpls. We are happy for him. The Occupier and a street man begin to have a disagreement about semantics or something. We’re not sure what it’s about but people begin to leave the circle.

Fortunately the mood is broken by the arrival of our friend the grey haired woman. She says, “What the heck is going on tonight? People are so crabby. They have just been coming up to me on the street and yelling at me”.

An Occupier answers, “Yes, I’ve noticed that too. Everyone seems out of sorts”. Our grey haired friend manages to cheer everyone up as usual. She tells a few silly stories and many folks return to the fire.

One lone DPD SUV drives slowly by. We’d noticed his presence earlier. So far we think he’s been our only stalker.

Things are back to normal now with many friendly people sitting talking, laughing and warming themselves.

A young man we haven’t met compliments us on our use of the sage bundle. He begins to explain basic Anishinaabe culture. We are familiar with most of what he tells us but we listen politely and allow him to individually smudge everyone in the circle.

A boy about 10 or 12 years old rides up on a scooter. He asks for a cup of coffee. At first we briefly hesitate but realize these kids of the street are older than their years. He says, “It’s o.k., my Dad is back there on the ledge. If you ask him he will say it’s alright for me to have coffee. We give him some and invite him to sit and join us. He speaks with us as though he were a much older person.

Soon his Father and the others from the back ledge arrive. We have standing room only. Father and son have obvious respect and affection for each other. The son tells us his Father taught him how to drive a year or so ago. He says his Dad did this so he would be able to drive him home if he got too drunk. His Father replies, “Shhh…. You’re embarrassing me in front of my new friends”.

An Occupier notices it is almost 10pm. She says to another Occupier, “The way that cop has been scoping us out all night, we’d better watch the time. I’m not in the mood for an ambush”.

They quietly begin packing up. The Father also notices the time. He, his son and several others are staying at a small homeless shelter just up the hill. Their curfew is 10 pm. He says to one of the other men, “Do you need a place to stay tonight?” The man says yes he does and the Father answers, “You can stay in my room but you’ll have to climb in the window. There are guards at the door and I’m not supposed to have guests. You’ll have to crawl back out the window around 6am”.

Everyone is saying their goodbyes when the boy’s father looks over at the back ledge and says, “Oh no, that woman is still there”. The Occupiers look too and see someone passed out on the ground with their legs twisted up in the air. An Occupier walks over and sees it is the woman who was waving the big bottle of alcohol early in the evening. The occupier asks the boy’s father if she should call 911 and have them take the woman to Detox. The Father responds, “Yeah, you better do that. She’ll be really mad in the morning but at least she’ll be safe for the night”.

The Occupiers call 911, pack up, put out the fire and wait for the rescue squad to arrive. The woman sits up, shouts “F’ you” to no one in particular and falls down on her back again.

After 20 minutes or so the stalker SUV arrives followed by a fire department “O.D. squad”. They begin walking toward the Occupiers until one points to the back ledge. The police officer and the fire people begin talking to the woman.

We think that as long as the fire people are with the DPD officer, the woman will come to no harm. We have no idea who she is so can provide no further assistance.

Next Tuesday we will be going to the Sawyer Community Center to meet with Leonard and Mary Moose, 2 much respected Anishinaabe elders. We plan to be back at CJM on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 10-7-14

G.A. Minutes 10-7-14

The weather report called for chilly temps and very strong winds. Their prediction turned out to be just a maybe this evening. We’re wearing warm clothes, the wind is mild and the temps aren’t very cold.
We arrive and before we even set up, an officer from the DPD walks up. He’s doing the macho walk, trying to look like he means business. He says, “You’d better not light a fire in that thing. You can’t have a fire in a city park.”

The Occupier who generally researches the laws for Occupy Duluth, thinks to herself, “Oh no! After an entire year of compliance with the actual law they’re gonna start this B.S. again?” What she says to the cop is, “Oh officer, I wonder if you are new here? We went through all this over a year ago and it’s been determined that we do have a legal right to have a fire here”.

The cop says, “I’m not new! I’ve been here for seven or more years and I’m telling you that you can’t have a fire in a city park!”

One of our regular street friends says to the cop, “You can’t tell them they can’t have a fire; they can do what they want around here”. The cop says to the street man, Mr.___ (calls him by name) you need to shut up. I’ll take you down in a minute. Walk away”. The man walks away. The Occupier knows what the cop was really saying was something like, “You’re just a lowlife homeless person. I can do whatever I want to do to you”.

DPD officer demands to see the Occupiers’ ID. The Occupier goes to her car and gets the packet of paperwork she has always carried in case an incident like this happened. She returns with the letter from the DPD chief of police which states DPD officers have been instructed to not approach the Occupiers when they are having their fires at CJM. It says the matter has been turned over to the Fire Marshall and the Fire Marshall told him our fire wasn’t allowed.

We always found the last part kinda funny as in the past all the fire people who were sent to our fires were supportive and complimented us on our safety precautions.

The Occupier hands the letter to the officer and he says to her, “I want your ID right now!”

The Occupier responds, “Sure. I’m not trying to disrespect you. You read that letter and I’ll go back to my car and get my ID.

The cop reads appears to be reading the letter and then talking on the phone. By the time the Occupier returns, more DPD squads are arriving. She gives the mean acting cop her ID. There are now four more cops consisting of two in separate squad cars and two on horseback. They all say the same thing (you can’t have a fire in a city park).

One squad cop is checking the other Occupiers’ IDs and acting like he doesn’t want to be there, while the other is acting all friendly and attempting to have a conversation with the paperwork Occupier. The mean cop is still acting mean and the two cops on horseback appear to not know their ass from a hole in the ground, at least when it comes to legal matters. The Occupier thinks, Oh great, the usual game has begun or to quote Yogi Berra, “It’s deja vu all over again”.

The mean cop says talks on his phone to somebody and says, “O.K., I’m going to call the fire captain and he will come down here and tell you that you can’t have a fire”. The cop who would rather be somewhere else leaves.
We sit and wait for the fire captain. We’re not too concerned as we’ve always had pleasant dealings with the Fire Department. An Occupier says jokingly, “I hope he doesn’t show up with a full fire crew, blocking the street, lights flashing and all that”.

No sooner are the words out of her mouth than the captain appears with a full fire crew, blocking the street, lights flashing and all that.

The captain politely greets the paperwork Occupier but this time there’s a twist. The Occupiers show him a copy of the fire ordinance for city parks. This ordinance clearly states the fire at CJM is legal.
The fire captain says, “I really like your fires and I wish you could have one but you can’t have a fire in a city park without a permit from the Fire Marshall”. When asked for the exact number of the code or ordinance, he says he doesn’t know it.

This is a different twist. The paperwork Occupier knows he’s quoting the law erroneously. She knows that law places a stipulation concerning a large number of people at an event but she doesn’t have a copy of that exact law with her.

Crap. She also knows if the Occupiers start up the fire without being able to show the true permit stipulation, at least one of them will be arrested and worst of all, their fire equipment will be confiscated. We don’t have time for that.

The Occupiers say they will have to get back to the captain on that one. All the so called officials appear quite happy. The fire people fall all over themselves providing phone numbers for the Fire Marshall and encouraging the Occupiers to call tomorrow. The captain says, “I’m sure it will be no problem. Just give her a call. She’ll email you a permit and then you’ll be able to have fires.

The Occupiers didn’t just fall off the turnip truck yesterday. They know that no City official is going to grant the Occupiers anything but a long walk off a short pier.

All the fire people and cops leave, except the mean cop. He remains parked across the street. The Occupiers begin to pick up the chairs but the paperwork Occupiers says, “No! We can’t leave now. We can’t let them think we’re a bunch of wimps and that they can win that easily. We have to stay now, at least for a while. It’s not that cold”.

The other Occupiers don’t appear too pleased but they put the chairs back down. We take out the sage bundle and dish. At least we can offer people the opportunity to smudge.
Throughout the rest of the meeting various DPD squads circle around the Memorial at regular intervals. It must be a slow night for them.

Another Occupier arrives and we tell him, “Hey, you missed all the excitement”. We relate the evenings’ events.
Various street folks arrive, sit in the circle, ask what’s going on, get an explanation and ask when we will have a fire again. We tell them we’re shooting for this upcoming Saturday. Soon the folks are cold and leave.
The Occupiers chat for a while about some miscommunication we have had regarding the inner workings of a few of our computers and also about the organizing strategy of trying to convince people in positions of power to fight for one’s particular cause vs the strategy of encouraging the people to demand power for themselves.

The regular street man who had attempted to defend us from the cops at the beginning of our meeting returns. He smudges and says, “Did you hear that little bitch cop say to me ‘You ain’t nothing but a N___(says N word) and I’ll do whatever I want to you?’” The Occupier realizes she had interpreted the cop’s words a little differently but says, “Yeah, I heard it. That’s the kind of thing that needs to be taken to the Citizen’s Review Board”. The man is not interested in taking it to the CRB.

The Occupiers are getting cold and they figure they have stayed long enough to make their point. They pack up and make plans to research the law (again) and return on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 9-30-14

G.A. Minutes 9-30-14

Compared to what we’re used to, we know this evening will be a cold one. It’s in the high 40s with a strong east wind. At least we won’t have to worry about rain.

When we arrive it’s already too cold to stand around talking. We hustle to get stuff set up and to start up the fire. We’ll need to keep it big and blazing until it’s time to leave.

We notice one guy sitting on the back ledge. He has his hoodie pulled down over most of his face and his body language says he’s very unhappy or messed up or maybe both. We don’t think we know him.

As we ignite the flames a former camper, who we come across from time to time, arrives and sits down. He always appears happy to see us.

He calls to the guy on the back ledge and tells him to come over. The guy says, “I can’t. I can’t walk”. The camper walks to the ledge, talks with the guy and the two of them walk to our circle. The guy is walking really funny. He’s not staggering but he’s walking like he’s on a tightrope or floating on air or something.

When he sits down and looks at us we realize he is also a former camper and a person well known to us. At first he mumbles, not saying much but as we engage him in conversation he begins to respond.

The first camper tells us he has a court date soon and expects the judge to order him to leave town. He says, “I guess I’ll be moving to Colorado”. The second camper adds, “Yeah, and I’m going with him”.

An Occupier asks, “What? Aren’t you getting prepared to go to firefighting school?” The camper puts his head in his head and responds, “I just don’t know. Since my mom died I just don’t know anything”.

We knew his mother. She was also homeless for a while and stayed in our former homeless camp. She was blind and very dependent upon the second camper. We were aware she had died a few weeks ago.

A group of Native American guys stop by. They are all pleasantly drunk. Some we have met in the past, some we have not. They speak to each other in Anishinaabemowiin. We don’t know what they are saying but we can tell they are happily teasing back and forth. They warm themselves and wander off to a friends’ house.

An Occupier says, “So now that the Climate Convergence March is over, what happens next?”

Another Occupier answers, “From what I’m observing, it’s seems that groups like Sierra Club and 350.org are quite pleased with themselves and are saying we need to just keep having big marches, signing petitions, pushing current congress people and electing good congressional candidates to switch from fossil fuel to sustainable fuel, stop mining and fracking and save the planet.

The smaller more radical groups are saying, ‘No, we’ve been petitioning, marching and electing congress people for far too long. It doesn’t work. The system is rotten to the core. No matter how good the people elected to congress are, they will be swallowed by the system. We need more radical actions and we need to realize the 1% will never be persuaded to willingly give up their ill-gotten gains. We need to realize that this is a fight that will go on for generations We need to realize some people are going to be killed by the servants of the 1% before we finally win’. Right now they wisely aren’t saying what these radical actions will be”.

Still another Occupier states, “Well, I’m in agreement with the more radical groups”. We all nod in common consent.

Our friend, the grey haired woman, arrives. For once she has appeared while the meeting is still going on.

Many more folks come to sit. Tonight the Occupiers have brought the fixings for s’mores. They put out the roasting sticks, graham crackers, marshmallows and chocolate. Many begin roasting the marshmallows and making their treats.

While we have been sitting in our circle a man who is vaguely familiar to us has been walking a good distance outside our circle, yelling and cussing about something while casting his glance in our direction. We’ve become accustomed to all types of strange behavior going on outside the circle so have just been ignoring him.

When he sees we are making s’mores, he stops yelling, comes over, sits down, asks to make one and tells us a somewhat confusing story about camping with his grandfather when he was a child. He roasts up a bunch of marshmallows, wolfs down two big treats, gets up, walks around the circle cussing and yelling for a while, and then walks off. Oh well……

For several months now we have noticed a grey haired, stylishly dressed Native woman sitting or standing in various places outside our circle. Overtime we notice she is not a person involved in sex trafficking or drug dealing. Many street regulars appear to know her. Tonight she sits with us for the first time. She appears calm and friendly as she listens to our conversation.

An Occupier tells us that Idle No More and Northwoods Wolf Alliance are currently researching evidence which appears to show that the real reason wolves and a few other animals were originally removed from the endangered species list was to make way for mining companies and other destroyers of the earth. When an area of land is the natural habitat of any endangered species, companies wishing to destroy the land are not allowed by law to do so as the destruction would adversely affect the endangered inhabitants.

The Occupier remembers this theory being postulated a few years ago at a conference sponsored by some Native people. Her memory of the event is hazy but she remembers various organizers expressing doubt about it, and the idea being forgotten soon. If enough credible evidence is found, INM and NWA will be bringing the idea to the forefront soon.

A group of well-dressed men are passing by on the sidewalk. One man calls out, “Do you know that Jesus loves you?” We don’t answer but wave at the group.

Then one Occupier calls back, “We’re making s’mores. You’re welcome to have some”. Two of the youngest group members come over. They say, “We’ve just come from a big dinner but can we talk to you about Jesus?”

An Occupier responds, “We don’t have a problem with the words of Jesus but we don’t talk about that stuff here. There are so many different people here with many different beliefs so we don’t want to offend anyone”.

The men say, “Well, can we tell you what Jesus has done for us?” We say o.k. It turns out they are members of Teen Challenge. They tell stories of horrible drug addiction, loneliness and suffering. They say that hearing the words of Jesus and praying saved their lives.

The Occupiers congratulate them and a conversation about various religious teachings begins. The stylish grey haired woman participates. We note that she is a very intelligent and deep thinker. The men are surprised the Occupiers are well versed in these types of subjects.

An Occupier says, “Oh, we have these types of conversations here all the time”.

As the men leave an Occupier advises, “The real test will come after you leave the program. Remember to stay strong and don’t lose your way”.

A large, young Native man who has been sitting with us says, “You know, I believe in God or Creator but I hate that motherfucker. He took my dad, my sister and two of my cousins. All He does is take”.

He then tells a story of finding one of his friends frozen to death one morning on the Lakewalk. He tells this story in much detail; tears are falling from his eyes. He wipes his face and says, “No! I am NOT crying”. The stylish woman sits at his side, talking softly with him.

It’s after 9pm so we begin to pack up. Just then our friend the infamous street woman shows up. She is slightly drunk and says, “I heard you guys were making s’mores. Can I have one?” We say, “Sure” and sit back down.

The woman tells us her latest boyfriend beat her up very badly and she had to have him put in jail. He’ll probably be locked up for a long time. She’s sorry he’s going to jail but also knows she will not put up with beatings.

She also tells us she has finally received housing. We’re very happy for her. She’s been homeless for several years. We notice she’s drinking again and hope she’ll be able to get back on the wagon and keep her new home.

Another male friend of hers arrives, we all laugh and joke for a while and then they leave.

It’s well after 10pm as we pack up for good. There’s not a cop in sight. Maybe they don’t care about us anymore. We could stay here unmolested by them all night! Then again……..

Maybe not. We all have stuff to do tomorrow.

We plan to be back on Saturday.