G.A. Minutes 4-25-17

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

G.A. Minutes 4-11-17

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