G.A. Minutes 3-26-16

G.A. Minutes 3-26-16
So here we are again; at Coney Island that is.  A light rain tickles our faces; the temperature is in the 30s and there is no breeze to speak of.  If the weather continues on like this, April showers will bring May flowers and our days at Coney Island will be numbered.
We are few in number again tonight.  Many are fighting off colds and /or taking care of other responsibilities.
The Occupier who spent half a day at the Public Library shows the results of her research to an Occupier who was absent from our last meeting.  After reading through the research the absent Occupier states, “This is good news.  I think we should go ahead and plan on using that spot for our fires”.
The Occupier who volunteered previously to write a letter to the editor of the Northland Reader has finished her first draft.  She passes it around and all present think it is satisfactory.
She says, “Good, I’ll try and show it to the others before our next meeting.  If everyone approves, I’ll send it in.  We need as much good publicity as we can get”.
An Occupier comments, “I guess it’s time to actually get new equipment for our fire pit.  It might not be much longer before we can get actual fires going again.  I haven’t received any responses to the various posts that I put around asking if anyone had an old barbeque grill bottom they didn’t want anymore.  I guess we’ll have to buy a new one”.
Another Occupier suggests, “If we stay focused we could finish up all our business here and get to the big hardware store before it closes”.  We say, “Good idea”.
Over the past week or so, the Occupiers have been having informal discussions as to whether we should make a big deal about announcing our first official recreational fire of the year. Some want to pass out flyers, get media attention and notify absolutely everyone we can think of.  They say, “We really need to have a lot of our supporters present when we start the first fire.  That would prove to the general public that we have a lot of support”.
Others want to just set up the first fire like it was just another normal evening.  We could tell our close friends and then just do everything like we’ve always done.  The word that our fires are back will filter through the neighborhood soon enough.  They say,” We’d kinda like to have a few nice relaxed fires before the police get a clue and start showing up”.
No decision has been reached yet as to how we will do things.  No worries, it will all get figured out.  Fortunately, there is little drama or infighting among the people of Occupy Duluth.
A few of the Occupiers were able to attend the funeral for Antwan, the 9 year old grandson of the Superior Organizer.  The deeply loved grandson passed on due to medical problems.  We were all very saddened by this turn of events.
An Occupier reminds us, “The NDN Taco Sale is this upcoming Friday and of course, our help will be needed”.  Another Occupier responds, “I don’t think I will be able to help out with deliveries this time.  I think I should go to the Fossil Fuels Day Brunch, March and Rally”.
The first Occupier agrees, “Oh right, our friends and our fellow Occupier are going on trial on Friday too, aren’t they?  The Fossils Fuels will go on from 10am til 2pm or later and the NDN Taco Sale will start at 9pm and go til about 3pm.  I hope we have enough Occupiers who can go to at least one of the events”.
An Occupier asks, “Have any of you ever been to the May Day Parade in the Twin Cities?”
Most shake their heads no; one Occupier exclaims, “OMG YES!  The May Day Parade was one of the most wonderful experiences of my life!”
She then goes on to tell about all the music, art, dancers, gigantic puppets, right on political themes, major amounts of various types of hippies and other great stuff that make up the parade.
Someone suggests, “Maybe we should think about going down for the parade this year.  May 1st is on a Sunday this year.  I think they usually do the parade on Saturday or Sunday”.
So our basic business is finished and we start thinking about going off to purchase a small fire pit.
An unassuming 30 something man walks over to our booth.  He says, “Is this an Occupy meeting?”  We say yes; he introduces himself and tells us he has come into town with a family member.  The family member is interviewing for a job at one of the local colleges.
The man has been reading the Occupy minutes on our website and thought he might like to meet us.  The Occupier tasked with writing the minutes looks around the group and announces, “See, I told you that there are people who read the minutes”.  Everyone laughs.
The 30 something man seems to have had experience with homeless outreach so we began a discussion about the subject.  An Occupier reports that a local coalition of NGOs have just completed a “little home”.  An Occupant for the home and a piece of land to put the home on has already been chosen.  Plans for an additional 3 little homes are in the works.
An Occupier says, “You know, this isn’t the first time this little home idea has been tried.  A few years ago, CHUM and others started making plans to do it.  The former City administration informed them if they tried to do such a project, the City would sue them.
“Maybe this new City administration will have more compassion for our non-wealthy citizens”.
Our visiting friend appears to have an educational background in psychology and/or sociology. He teaches us a new phrase, “fundamental attribution bias”.  We think that means something like trying to figure out or explain the actions of another while having only one’s own life experiences and prejudices to use when making the analysis.  Something like that.
We’re having a great time talking with the visiting man when an Occupier looks up at the clock and says, “Yikes!  Look at the time!  If we’re gonna go get a fire pit we’d better hurry”.
We start quickly gathering our stuff etc.  The man tells us that if his family member is hired for the college job, he’ll be returning to Duluth sometime in May.
An Occupier responds, “That would be great!  Just keep reading the minutes, then you’ll know where to find us”.
We all rush out the door.  All the Occupiers want to help choose the next fire pit and we don’t how late the big hardware store stays open.
We plan to be back at Coney Island on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-22-16

G.A. Minutes 3-22-16
It’s winter again, just without the snow.  The wind is strong and bitterly cold.  The few people out on the street are almost running to get to their destinations.
We do the same and dash through the Coney Island front door.  The place is full of customers but most appear to be leaving.  They’re piling on the same type of layers they wore in January.
The East Coast Occupier is already in the back booth.  The few arriving Occupiers are very glad to see her as she hasn’t been able to join us in over a week. 
After exchanging greetings, an Occupier states, “I think it’s just going to be us tonight. Everyone else has other obligations.  That’s o.k. though because it will make it easier to catch you up on what’s been going on.  Did you get a chance to look through that package with all the relevant laws, complaints to the DPD and responses from the police lieutenant and Acting Police Chief?”
The Eastern Occupier replies, “Yeah I did.  It was kind of a good read; it sounded like a soap opera”.
The first Occupier laughs and says, “That’s definitely what it feels like.  All those supposedly grown people in government offices passing the buck back and forth while refusing to tell the truth or even give a straight answer”.
Another Occupier remarks, “There have been a few new developments since we gave you all that paperwork.  The Occupier who wrote the letter to the DNT received an email response the other day.  The email said the DNT would not publish the letter because it stated our recreational fire was legal.  The DNT went on to list all the usual suspects in the government with whom they conferred.  They said the ultimate authority on the subject is the Duluth Fire Marshall.  The Duluth Fire Marshall says our fire is illegal so they won’t publish the letter.
“Ain’t that a bitch?  I don’t understand the Fire Marshall.  The MN Fire Code she refers to states plain as day that our recreational fire is an exception to the open burning rules and therefore does not require a permit.
“I’m pretty sure she knows how to read.  Anyone with an eighth grade reading level can read the code and realize what it says.  She can’t be stupid either or she couldn’t have reached such a high position.  The only thing left is that she is deliberately lying.  Does she think her lies will never see the light of day?”
Another Occupier adds, “When we had that meeting with the Fire Marshall and the Deputy Fire Chief we showed them all the relevant fire codes.  We even read them out loud.  The Fire Marshall didn’t say one thing, just sat there holding her fire code book.
“I wonder what the Fire Marshall will have to say if she’s subpoenaed and put on the witness stand.”
An Occupier exclaims, “Oh, now I get it!  The Fire Marshall is the only woman in this gang of evildoers.  Of course, just do it the ‘Merikan way, leave the woman holding the bag!”  We all laugh.
The Occupier doing research and communications announces, “I spent many hours, yesterday, at the Public Library.  Wanna see what I found?”
We say yes and the Occupier continues, “These are copies of an article from the DNT about 5 years ago.  It tells about the legal status of our preferred next spot to start our fires”.
There are big grins all around.  An Occupier opines, “I think you may have found something. It’s pretty cut and dried, isn’t it?  I think we could just go ahead and get prepared for using the space mentioned in the article”.
The Eastern Occupier comments, “I’m still not all that familiar with Duluth.  I don’t know where the place you are talking about is”.
Another tells her, “Oh, it not far, it’s still in the hood.  Maybe we should walk over there now”.
An Occupier sighs and says, “Ah man, it’s too cold out.  Seeing as there are so few of us, I bet we could all fit my car.  Let’s drive over there”.
So that’s what we do………………….we’ll be back at Coney Island on Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 3-19-16

G.A. Minutes 3-15-16

G.A. Minutes 3-15-16

Technically speaking, it’s still light outside when the first Occupiers pull up to Coney Island this evening.  The sky is covered with grey clouds and they’ve alternated between light rains and serious downpours all day long.

That’s o.k. though, we turned the clocks ahead on Sunday and that little bit of extra evening light makes the final days of waiting for spring a bit easier.  The rain will wash away the last piles of black snow lying here and there.

The weather people say we’re going to have a big blizzard tomorrow with many inches of snow.  As a precautionary measure, the Duluth schools will be closed.  Parents with young school children may be tearing their hair out about now with trying to figure out who can take care of their kids.  No matter what, parents and everyone else still have to go to work.  It sure would be nice if the weather people were wrong.

There are only 2 customers besides ourselves as we walk through the door.  A regular hipster is working by himself.  It appears he’s happy to see us.  Time usually seems to go faster when one has something to do.

As we are settling in an Occupier comments, “I wonder whatever happen to the so called interview panels the City was supposed to convene to help choose the next Duluth Police Chief.  A couple of months ago, at the Citizens Review Board meeting, all the high ranking cops said there would be interview panels made up of regular citizens.  These panels would have a say as to who gets hired as the next Police Chief.

“I sent in my application and resume just the way the former Human Right Officer advised me to do.  I have heard absolutely nothing since then.  Tomorrow is the CRB meeting again.  I’m gonna be sure and bring up the subject”.

The Occupier tasked with communicating with the various evil doers opposed to our recreational fire reports, “I had a lengthy phone conversation with the City Attorney today.  I was introduced to him last Friday at the retirement party at Central Hillside Community Center.

“I figured after making small talk with him on Friday, he just might answer my phone call.  I was right; he took my call right away.  He was friendly and very chatty but I didn’t care for what he had to say.  I informed him that we’d been told he was holding meetings with members of the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Board in an effort to write a list of formal rules that would govern the use of CJMM.

“He said no, he had not been meeting with the BOD and there was not going to be a list of rules.  He said he will issue an official letter shortly that will be his official legal opinion about fires being lit at CJMM.  The letter will state no fires shall be lit at the site.

“So we blabbed about the deeper issues related to homelessness and poverty, the difference in activity at CJMM after we and our fire arrived, the CJMM camera (courtesy of our arrival on the scene) and all sorts of other stuff.

“For a guy who hasn’t been meeting with the CJMM BOD, he sure did sound like a clone of the former CJMM BOD co-chair.  I never once mentioned the word Occupy but he used the word at least 5 or 6 times.  I guess he watches Fox News like the rest of them.

“Anyway, I sure hate to leave CJMM but if we’re gonna have a fire that stands a chance of not getting put out before we are ready to do it ourselves; we’d better pick another site close by to use”.

An Occupier exclaims, “That sucks!  I don’t want to go to another site.  The City and all its good ole’ boys just do whatever they want to.  They don’t give a damn about laws.  They think the laws are just for people who aren’t rich”.

The tasked Occupier replies, “I agree, but we’ll have a better chance of proving that if we go to another site that has its already written laws and the cops come down on us there too”.

Another Occupier suggests, “It’s kinda like that thing a few years back with Jim what’s-his-name and Last Place On Earth.  I was glad to see him and that synthetic crap go.  I can’t remember the details but there was something fishy about the way the City got rid of him.  I remember thinking I wasn’t too happy about the way they did it.  I’m sure other people noticed too but they didn’t care because they wanted him gone.  That’s how people lose their rights”.

The tasked Occupier responds, “You’re right, I felt a little uneasy about all that too.  I think our situation is a bit different though.  A lot of people with common sense are in support of our fires.  L.P.O.E only had the support of the synthetic addicted zombies.  Hopefully our supporters will protest when the City tries to screw us over.

“I still have to do some research about the site that is our first choice.  There are only so many hours in the day”.

An Occupier states, “I will help you do the research”.

An Occupier says to another, “So how was the lecture at UMD last night?”

The Occupier answers, “The place was packed and Nekima Levy-Pounds spoke well on the topic of Black Lives Matter.  However, her target audience was young college students so most of what she had to say were things that I already knew.  I left before the thing was completely done.  I didn’t have a chance to grab anything for dinner before I arrived so I was very appreciative of the food that was provided”.

Everyone feels very tired.  Rainy days do that to people.  We think maybe we’ll leave early tonight.

The hipster staff guy wheels out the mop bucket; it’s not as early as we thought.

As we pack up, someone says, “Remember Deb and Winona have their Meet N Greet on Thursday at CHCC 4p-6p and our city official friend has his In Black Ink presentation on Saturday 1pm at CHCC too”.

We plan to return on Saturday.  Maybe we’ll have answers to some of our questions.  Pray that it doesn’t snow.


G.A. Minutes 3-12-16

G.A. Minutes 3-12-16

We aren’t even wearing winter coats tonight; it’s 6pm and still 50 degrees outside.  Light coats work just fine; if a person had a half way decent sleeping bag and a secret outdoor sleeping place, a full night’s sleep would not be out of the question.

The street is full of traffic and the sidewalks are full of people.  This is the best weather we’ve experienced since last autumn.  We know it will cool down again in a few days but this is a well-deserved break from cabin fever.

Coney Island is almost full too.  The East Coast Occupier is in the back booth already; a young man from the street has joined her and they are eating big plates of French fries.

We don’t know the young man; he looks hesitant when the first Occupiers begin to enter the booth.  We say, “It’s o.k. man, you’re welcome to stay”.  He stays put but as we start out conversation it’s obvious he’s not interested in what we are talking about.  He finishes his fries and departs.

Several of the Occupiers attended a lecture at St. Scholastica last night.  The speaker was a woman social scientist who had done a lot of top notch research on civil disobedience.  The results she presented were encouraging.  Some of the conclusions reached suggested that non-violent resistance was more effective than violent resistance, when a movement reaches a critical mass of 3.5 of the population in support of the ideals of a revolution, victory is assured and the tipping point for any revolution is when the police or military will no longer obey the commands of their masters.

The Occupier tasked with managing communications between the various government entities opposed to our small, safe and legal recreational fire at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial has paperwork to hand out again.  This time she has copies of emails between herself and one of the City Councilors who is helping us.

The Councilor’s emails state the Acting Police Chief informed them the City Attorney’s office has reached consensus that fires will not be allowed at CJMM now or in the future.  The Councilor believes a letter from the City Attorney is in the final drafting stage and will be forthcoming.  Our friend suggests we begin considering alternative locations for our fires.

An Occupier says, “Well, they can’t just make up rules like that when all the ordinances, statues and codes support our right to have the fire”.

The tasked Occupier replies. “Well, actually they can.  CJMM is the only public space of its kind in the whole United States.  Therefore, there are no rules that take precedence over whatever rules they want to have.  As long as they don’t go against the normal established laws of the land like murdering people, blowing the place up or stuff like that anyway.

“I think they plan to make rules forbidding just about everything.  Like no swearing, no spitting, no eating, no smoking, no loitering blah, blah, blah”.

Some of the Occupiers begin laughing.  The questioning Occupier asks, Well, how are they gonna enforce those rules?”

The tasked Occupier replies, “I know, that’s why we’re laughing.  They’re not gonna be able to enforce them.  They’ll expect the cops to do it.  The cops don’t have time and they’re gonna be pissed.  I received a letter a few months back from former Police Chief Ramsey.  He said he didn’t like it when people continuously called the police to take care of all the madness at CJMM.  He said having the cops always there ordering the street people around wasn’t good for their image.  It makes them look like “big meanies” or something like that.

I mean, WTF, CJMM is right on the main route between CHUM and the Mission feeding place. It’s the only place on that route where people can sit, rest and just chill and visit.  Having a cheap liquor store on the next corner doesn’t hurt either.  They aren’t going to be able to enforce their new rules.  I betting things will get even worse”.

Another Occupier agrees, “Our fires are actually good for the CJMM site.  When we are there most of the madness ceases.  People who are unable to be respectful leave and everybody else joins the circle.  Non-crazy street people who are afraid to frequent CJMM come out and join in too.  Everyone just sits talks and watches the fire”.

The tasked Occupier adds, “I think the BOD and/or the City Attorney have to take the rules before the City Council for approval.  If they do that, we should all go and speak before the Councilors vote”.

An Occupier remarks, “If the BOD succeeds in getting their rules passed and then the shit hits the fan during the summer, I wonder if the BOD will have enough sense to realize that our fires were not the problem.”

Another Occupier opines, “Probably not”.

The tasked Occupier states, “So now we have to decide if we’d rather fight the cops or have a community recreational fire”.

Consensus is easily reached.  If forced to choose between fighting cops and doing homeless outreach, we’ll take the outreach.

The tasked Occupier continues, “There’s just one thing that bothers me though.  Our friend said they received this information from the Acting Chief of Police.  We know that the Acting Chief is not to be trusted.  We know he will sometimes say things that aren’t true in order to get his own way.  We need to find a way to find out for sure if he is telling the truth”.

An Occupier responds, “I could write a letter to the City Attorney under the Freedom of Information Act demanding to be given all the information regarding fires at CJMM blah, blah, blah.  I have an attorney friend who will help me with exact wording”.

We all answer, “Good idea”.  We then discuss possible options for neighborhood public spaces that would be suitable for our fire circles.  We narrow it down to 3 possibilities and plan to check them all out very soon.  We also pick a probable date for resuming our fires.

An Occupier reminds us that Nekima Levy-Pounds will be speaking about Black Lives Matter Monday, March 14th, 7pm at UMD Kirby Center.  He suggests that we arrive early as the event will be crowded.

Another Occupier reminds us that one of our friends, Deb Topping, from Idle No More is running for a seat on the Fond du Lac Tribal Council.  She’s having a Meet n Greet on Thursday, March 17th, 4p-7p at the Hillside Community Center.  Winona LaDuke who is running for Tribal Chairperson at White Earth will be joining Deb at the event.

Deb and Winona will also sponsor a Water Ceremony at Loons Foot Landing, Superior WI at noon on that same day.  Our friend Deb Topping is one hell of a fighter for Mother Earth, Native rights and many other good things.  Those of us who are able will attend and support her events.

The place is empty and one of the staff guys is beginning to mop the floor.  As usual, that’s our clue.  We bus our table, gather money for the tip jar and say goodnight.

As we exit Coney Island, we are greeted by a street woman who we know well.  She’s with a different man again but that’s normal for her.  We’re sorry to see that she’s completely smashed.  That’s kinda normal for her too.

The East Coast Occupier has not previously met this street woman.  As the intoxicated woman staggers on down the street, an Occupier explains, “We really like her.  She’s kind hearted and intelligent.  She had a really rough childhood living out on the rez and ran away to Duluth in order to escape her family.  She’s bored and unhappy with living the street life.  When she’s sober and drug free she talks about wanting to stop using and travel the “Red Road”.

“Her addictions are so heavy that she starts using again before she can find a space in a treatment facility.  I’m trying to hook her up with a female Native healer who is a friend of mine. So far, things haven’t come together but I’m gonna keep trying.  According to the Native way of thinking, it will happen when the time is right”.

Another Occupier comments, “The whole addiction treatment system pretty much sucks.  A person has to wait for a long time to get into treatment, if they don’t die before they get in, they get treatment and then they’re dumped right back into the same situation they were in before they went in.  They’re just supposed to remember whatever is was they learned in treatment and not ever use again”.

Another Occupier says, “Yeah, I’ve noticed how well that works”.

On that note, we part company, with plans to be back here on Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-5-16

G.A. Minutes 3-5-16
Weather wise, things are back to normal right now.  We had a March blizzard yesterday; today temperatures were in the mid-30s and most of the new snow melted away.  The weather people are promising 40s and 50s all next week.  Nothing to complain about there.
As Occupiers are filing into Coney Island, a few report almost running over a young couple who occasionally visit our fire.  An Occupier reports, “They appeared to be really wasted and were holding each other up as they walked.  They didn’t notice they had staggered right in front of our vehicle as we were turning the corner.  I heard they both got kicked out of CHUM on Thursday for substance abuse”.  Another Occupier comments, “That’s rather romantic”.
The street contains many folks out walking.  Many look like they could possibly be homeless. Another sign of spring approaching? 
The regular hipsters are working the counter tonight.  They have some nice jazz playing on the sound system.  The place is completely empty.
An Occupier remarks, “I wonder where the East Coast Occupier is.  She’s usually the first to arrive”.  Another Occupier answers, “Oh, she went to the Islamic Center.  She called me earlier saying she’d been invited to go there this evening.  I advised her to go ahead and do it.  One doesn’t want to miss a chance like that”.
As we are ordering food and settling in, an Occupier states, “So I see that the DNR has approved the Polymet environmental analysis.  I guess that’s no big surprise; we all know the DNR works for the corporations.  I know there will still be over 20 more permits that Polymet has to get, so maybe they will still be denied.  If not, then we’ll be blocking mining roads, equipment and stuff like that.  As far as I’m concerned, there’s no way Polymet or any other sulfide mine is going to ruin our wet lands and manoomin.  Maybe we should discuss possible strategies we might use when the time comes”.
Another Occupier rejoins, “If the time comes, we should probably follow the lead of the serious environmental groups like 350, Save the Boundary Waters, Honor the Earth and others.  They will know what will be most effective”.
The Occupier who is tasked with managing communications with all the government agencies who are attacking our right to a small, safe and legal recreational fire at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial reports she has had a busy afternoon.  She passes around copies of several emails that she received from the co-chair of the CJMM BOD.
After reading the emails an Occupier exclaims, “What!  They are refusing to invite us to a meeting?”  The tasked Occupier replies, “Yup, that’s what it says.  It’s all so totally ridiculous! They all want to harass us but no one is willing to take responsibility for the harassment.
“Acting Chief Tuscan sends the cops on us but tells us to leave him alone and take our complaints to the fire department.  Deputy Fire Chief Simonson and Fire Marshall Grundahl tell us the City Attorney and the CJMM BOD are working on writing some rules for the CJMM site so we should talk to them.
“The City Attorney (via one of the City Council members) says that CJMM is not a city park so those rules don’t apply.  So we ask to meet with the BOD and the BOD tells us no, because they don’t have any power to decide about our fire?
“The street cops and fire people don’t like having to put our fires out but they have to or they will lose their jobs.  So who the hell is in charge of this f’ing circus anyway?”  We all laugh.
In the midst of this conversation our friend, the city official, arrives.  He’s already privy to all our goings on so just joins in.
The Occupier continues, “I’ll check with another of our friends on the City Council to hear what advice they have to offer.  I’ll get going on my letter to the Reader in order to shine more of a public light on the issue and I’ll try contacting that attorney in Minneapolis”.
Another Occupier adds, “It looks like we’re on the cutting edge of the ‘law of the commons’. The city official agrees and says, “Don’t forget about the 1st Amendment of the Constitution that gives us the right to assemble”.
An Occupier asks of another, “Has anything happened with the letter you wrote to the Duluth News Tribune?”  The writer answers, “Well, I received an email from someone who works for the DNT.  He said he was a former member of the CJMM BOD and it had been decided that our fire was not appropriate.  Then a woman from the DNT called me to confirm my address and all that stuff.  Actually, I have no idea if my letter will be published or not”.
An Occupier cries out “Not appropriate?!?!  WTF?  She pauses, then says, “Don’t get me started!”  We all know her well.  Someone says, “Oh please, don’t get her started”.  Everyone laughs.
The city official remarks, “There are very many events happening this month.  Shall I tell you about some of them?  We nod and he continues, “On Friday, March 11th at 5:30pm there will be a retirement party for the Duluth Human Rights Officer at the Central Hillside Community Center.  He is such a great guy, I’m sure the place will be packed.  On Saturday March 12thstarting at 8:30am there will be an all day workshop at Peace Church called “Living Into the Difficult – Race, Diversity and Duluth for All.  This workshop will be led by 2 female professors/ministers who are really skilled and knowledgeable.  On Monday March 14th, 7pm at Kirby Center, UMD, Nikima Levy Pounds of Black Lives Matter will be speaking and on March 19th 1pm-4pm I will be holding In Black Ink.  It’s the initial presentation of a big historical presentation that I and other African American writers and historians will be working on.  The project will focus on the experiences of African Americans who lived or are living in Minnesota”.
Coney Island has been empty until now.  A large group of young, probably Asian, hipsters roll in.  They fill up the counter spaces.  It appears it is the first time they have been here as they are taking pictures of all the cool decorations on the walls.
It had appeared as though the staff guys were getting ready to start cleaning up but now they stop and wait on their first customers, besides us, of the evening.
An Occupier asks of another, “So tell us about the attorney that you and the others from the Duluth 3 have hooked up with”.  The Occupier member of the Duluth 3 replies, “Well, it turned out that the attorney is only interested in defending the case using defense of the water.  That works out well for the defendant who is from Honor the Earth because of course, defense of the water is what HTE is all about.  However, our organizer friend and I work more with general climate change issues.  We felt we should maintain our integrity so will need to keep looking for a lawyer who is willing to take on the entire issue”.
An Occupier says, “I have a few events to report also.  On Thursday March 10th, 7:30pm at Mitchell Auditorium St. Scholastica a professor from Norway will be speaking on “Why Civil Resistance Works” then tomorrow at 1pm on the Fond du Lac Reservation, Ditchbank Road area, the Sugarbush Learning and Action Camp Feast will kick off the start of the maple syrup season”
Another Occupier responds, “Crap, I wish I’d have known about this earlier.  I have another obligation that I can’t get out of.  Of course, there’s no way anyone could have known earlier. The sap runs when it’s ready to run”.
Now it looks like the staff is really going to start cleaning up.  We begin to bus our table and commence with our usual routine.  Before we do that an Occupier asks, “Hey, I’m wondering if we could cancel our meeting for next Tuesday.  The 2 of us will need to be over in court in Superior very early on Wednesday morning because of the bogus charges that were filed during the Stop the Enbridge Invasion rally.  We have to go to 2 separate court appointments so will probably have to be there most of the day.  It would be nice if we could get a good night’s sleep on Tuesday and wake up with all our ducks in a row”.  Everyone agrees to cancel and let them sleep.
The Asian hipsters are leaving too.  Of course, they are so cool they don’t even notice we are alive.
The staff guy walks over to a booth and says to a pair of feet that are sticking out, “Hey guy, time to wake up”. A very tall young man attempts to get up.  He falls against the counter but hangs on tightly.  The staff guy gives him a big glass of water; he chugs it down.  He goes out the door; his legs are made of spaghetti.
We say good night and head out the door too.  Spaghetti Man has made it to the end of the block and he’s still standing.  Someone says softly, “Good luck dude”.
Some of the Occupiers are going off to party.  It’s Saturday night, after all.  Some are going to pick up their kids, some just home to relax.  We are all planning to live to fight another day and to return to Coney Island next Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 3-1-16

G.A. Minutes 3-1-16
We’re back at Coney Island tonight after being absent for an entire week.  At our last meeting we had planned on missing a Tuesday in order to attend the Clean Power Plan session at UMD.  At that time we were unaware of the annual Soul Food Dinner at UWS happening on Saturday.  The Soul Food Dinner has become an annual event for us too, so we decided to attend.
The event was completely packed; latecomers were served their meal outside the event room. As usual, the food was very good.  The speeches and entertainment contained a definite Black Lives Matter element.  Of course, that was something we were happy to see.
Anyway, it’s kinda cold tonight.  The temperature says 19 above zero; there’s a slight breeze but it feels colder than that.  Maybe we’re just spoiled; it was 50 above zero this past Sunday.
The hipster in training is now running the place on his own.  There are only a few customers. He appears to have things under control. 
We expect to be minus a few of our regular crew this evening.  Some folks have gone to the DFL caucuses.  It seems they have been “Feeling the Bern”. 
The East Coast Occupier is already waiting in the back booth when the next few Occupiers arrive.  She’s in a dilemma and says, “I can’t decide what to do.  I want to stay for the meeting but I also want to go my neighborhood caucus.  I’ve been a Catholic Worker for most of my life so I know that the two party system was really created to support the desires of the 1%.  I know that all this yakking and coming up with good ideas about how to help the world will all come to naught.  The 1% rulers of the two party = one party system will just turn everything around and go on doing things to benefit themselves.  Same old, same old.  At the same time, I kinda feel the need to witness to those people and tell them what I think.  I also like to go into situations that I haven’t been in before.  I’ve never been to a caucus meeting”.
Another Occupier advises, “Well, we’re not going to tell you what to do.  You’ll have to decide for yourself.  You could say you’re ‘Occupying the Caucus”.  One more Occupier jokingly adds, “Oh no, don’t do that.  They’ll call the cops for sure”.  We laugh.
The Occupier continues, “Actually the worst thing that will probably happen is that someone will ask you that, given the way you feel, why you are in attendance at all?  If you get really emotional, someone may ask you to leave”.
The East Coast Occupier responds, “O.K., I’ve made up my mind now.  I’m going to the caucus.  I’ll call you and tell you what happened”.
As she is leaving, the Occupier who lives in Superior WI arrives.  After settling in he tells us he’s been having a lot of trouble getting registered for his unemployment benefit.  The big box store where he was working went out of business so he should have no problem collecting. However, there are still a lot of hoops he has to jump through.  He explains, “They told me I had to apply for four jobs in one day.  How was I going to do that?  I’m a single parent with three children and I have to meet their needs.  This is fairly new to me; how do single parents manage to work while raising children?”
An Occupier wants to tell him that if a single parent can’t find someone who will watch their children for a greatly reduced fee then they are forced to leave their kids alone while they go to work.  Of course, if the social workers find out about this, they will take the children away.  Then the single parent can work full time and use all the money they make to pay all the fees etc. that it costs to get the children back.
She doesn’t say that, she says instead, “Don’t tell the unemployment people you have three kids.  Definitely don’t tell them that caring for those kids gives you less time to look for work. They will tell you that you are not ‘work ready’ and disqualify you from unemployment benefits all together”.  She sighs and adds, “Don’t you just love the system we live under?”
The Occupier tasked with doing the paperwork concerning our ongoing struggle to have a small, safe and legal fire at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial has copies of paper work to pass around.  She reports, “This first package contains all the emails between myself and the City Councilor who was going to use her legal skills as an attorney to try and find out what is going on.  As you can see, even if it’s just word of mouth information, she says that the City Attorney informed her CJMM is not a city park but a memorial.  That means city park rules don’t apply.
“So we waited three years to get the answer from the City Attorney that we already knew.  Our friend told us about that years ago.  The Councilor went on to say she was told the City Attorney and the CJMM BOD are working on a set of rules that will apply to CJMM.  As far as I can see, we’re being told to obey a set of rules that don’t yet exist.  Somehow I don’t think that’s gonna happen.
“The other package contains the email I sent to the new co-chair of the CJMM BOD.  I’m fulfilling the request of the other City Councilor who is helping us.  Remember, I said at our last meeting that I would probably be seeing him at the NAACP meeting on Sunday?  Well I did and he was very friendly.  He gave me his email address and told me to write a letter containing my request and the reason for the request.  I sent the email out nine days ago and haven’t received a response.  I sent it out again yesterday but still no response.
“I don’t know if we are actually going to get invited to a BOD meeting.  They have always been very secretive about what they are doing.  If we do get a meeting, I think we should invite our friend and supporter, the neighborhood cab driver.  I was talking with him a few days ago.
“He said he went to a CJMM BOD meeting five or six years ago to complain about the blatant sex trafficking and drug dealing that went on at CJMM every night and late into the morning. The police weren’t doing anything about it and he asked the BOD to put up signs, have a guard or a fence or something.  The BOD was quite hostile and refused to do any of those things. One of the BOD members told him, ‘CJMM is not about doing stuff like that’.
An Occupier exclaims, “What!?!  That’s exactly what they’re about doing now.  That proves to me it’s really all about Occupy being there.  I remember how it was in the old days.  The trafficking and dealings were blatant enough to be shocking and I’ve been ‘around the block’ a few times.  Our friend, the city official, tried for years to get the DPD to put up a camera on the site.
“After we’d been having fires there for a few months, a cop said to us, ‘Tell your city official friend that there is a camera up now’ and he pointed it out to us.  We made sure that all the people at CJMM knew a camera was looking down on them.  After the first year all that blatant stuff moved to somewhere else.  Then we started hearing the BOD was complaining about the bad behavior going on at the site.  Since when is generalized homeless and poor people’s chaos worse than sex trafficking and selling dangerous drugs?  The BOD should be thanking us instead of oppressing us.  How totally lame!”
An Occupier asks the Occupier who is tasked with the general pre-fire CJMM site cleanup when we have fires, “When you cleaned up did you ever see used needles lying around?”
The Occupier answers, “Come to think of it, no, I never did”.  The questioning Occupier says, “So there’s another thing.  My disability doesn’t allow me to do much walking anymore but I’m told there are used needles lying around on the ground everywhere in Central Hillside.  That means that between us and the neighborhood folks we keep CJMM real clean.  It could also mean that junkies don’t shoot up at CJMM because the camera is there”.
Another Occupiers asks, “Hey, did you hear that the Duluth 3 have found an attorney to argue their case?  It’s a woman from The Cities”.
An Occupier responds, “That’s great!  I know that a person is allowed to defend themselves but I’ve never heard of a case where a person defended themselves and won”.
Someone explains, “It does happen once in a while.  The best case I know of was called Gideon vs Waynewright.  Gideon, who was poor, was accused by Waynewright, a business owner, of stealing something from Waynewright’s business.  Gideon told the judge that he couldn’t afford a lawyer.  The judge did not give Gideon a lawyer.  Gideon was found guilty and was sent to prison.
From prison Gideon filed a lawsuit saying he was unjustly found guilty because he couldn’t afford a lawyer.  The case went all the way to the Supreme Court.  The Supreme Court agreed with Gideon and that’s how poor people got the right to a Public Defender.  We say, “Cool”.
An Occupier replies, “Unfortunately, Public Defenders are so over worked they generally don’t do a very good job”.
Another Occupier states, “Yeah and when I had to go to court in WI I was required to pay $50 for my Public Defender”.
Somebody else adds, “I’m reading of cases where people are being arrested for having overdue bills.  I thought debtor’s prisons were illegal”.
We all go on to tell about cases we’ve read about where people were arrested for not having enough money.
An Occupier reminds everyone that the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NDN Taco Sale is coming up this Friday.  We all plan to help out.
Coney Island has been fairly empty all night.  A few of the single male regulars are at the counter.  Another hipster staff guy has arrived.  It looks like he’s come to help the new guy with closing duties.
We’ve gone on talking way past closing time again.  We go through the usual ritual of busing our table and putting tips in the jar.
Out the door we go.  We’re pretty sure we’ll be back on Saturday.