G.A. Minutes 6-26-18

G.A. Minutes 6-26-18

We are at Peoples Plaza again this evening; it rained for much of the day but the weather people told us things would clear up by 6pm. We decided to take a chance and believe them. The sky is still overcast and looking like rain; the temperature is in the high 50s but a swirling, variable wind makes it feel a lot colder.

A few of the Anonymous crew are here to greet the Food Occupier and the Fire Magician when they arrive. Another Occupier shows up shortly thereafter; everyone gets to work setting up the fire circle. Setting up takes a bit longer now because we need to make a second fire on a small charcoal grill in order to keep the soup warm. This year we’ve noticed that a lot more people besides the street people appear to be seriously hungry. We decided to bring a big pot of hearty, organic, homemade soup whenever possible. Most of the folks who stop by just devour the soup; many ask for seconds. Of course, we all eat it too; it tastes really good.

Tonight we have to hold our fire circle right in front of the Mn Power Building, the same as we did last week. When we arrived at the Plaza last week we found that someone had placed a huge cement planter containing a big tree right in the middle of the two other planters that had already been placed at our vehicle entrance. The two trees were put at our entrance when Mn Power put out all their usual beautiful flowers and planters like they always do once the weather starts feeling like summer, but at first they left a little room for us to squeek between them to access the plaza.

We figured the trees were put there to make it difficult for us to drive our vehicles up into the Plaza and over to the far eastern side in order to unload all our stuff; when we’re done unloading, we drive the vehicles off and park on the street. The thing is, the majority of the Occupiers are up in age; their days of carrying heavy stuff for long distances are over. We can’t always depend on the young Anons to help us as sometimes they need to be somewhere else. We have been using the far side of the Plaza because it’s removed from the street where there are tourists and privileged fraternity boys, who have a bug up their butt about poor people being able to hold a fire circle in a public space. We don’t really care to have those probably racist folks up in our faces. Also, there are many benches where homeless and street people like to sit; they’re always happy to see us. In front of the Mn Power building we are right next to the sidewalk where all the tight asses go by and so far, many of the homeless ones have been too shy or afraid to join us. Maybe they don’t like things to change?

A couple of weeks ago, a cop told the Fire Magician that every time we’ve had a fire in the Plaza, someone working the evening shift in the Mn Power Building calls the police complaining about our vehicles being there. Every time someone calls 911 the police have to respond; we’ve noticed, this year, squad cars have parked on the street, sat for a while and then left. We thought they were checking out the Anons protesting on the corner but apparently that was not the case. They came to see if our vehicles were still parked on the site but each time, by the time they arrived, our vehicles were gone.

Every year since we’ve been holding our fire circles at Peoples Plaza when we’d start up the first fire of the year, a very straight looking dude who identified himself as the head of Mn Power Building maintenance, would come out to talk with us. He was always very friendly, welcoming us and saying he knew that we were completely within our legal rights to have fires here and how impressed he was with how well we took care of space, cleaned up when we were done and blah, blah, blah. This year he didn’t come out, we figured he was just busy and didn’t think greeting us was necessary anymore. Hmm….

None of the Occupiers can remember the guy’s name. A couple of days ago, the Reporting Occupier went to the front desk in an attempt to speak with the friendly dude. The receptionist treated her with suspicion and refused to help her in any way, then sent her on a convoluted path that ended up at a locked door out on Michigan St. The Reporting Occupier contacted the city official, asking him to help out or at least to find out the dude’s name. The official man is currently on the case… shit never ends.

Anyway, tonight we have Anons, Occupiers, the ex-military guy who had his bike stolen, a Water Protector from the former Makwa Camp and some non-street or homeless Native folks who look vaguely familiar to us sitting in the circle. The soup is heating up, everything else is set up and ready to go but… there’s no fire. It’s chilly tonight too; we always wait for the Fire Magician to light the fire because then it will burn very well throughout the evening. (don’t ask about the times when someone else took it upon themselves to light the fire). The fire pit is all set up and ready to go but the Fire Magician is nowhere to be seen. He went to park our vehicles on the street but that was a long while ago, the Food Occupier goes looking and finds him at the far eastern edge of the Plaza talking with Taco Man, his partner and a retired military, guitar playing man who we met last year. She requests, “Will you please come and light the fire? We’re all freezing”. No problem, the fire gets lit, flames roar up and we all feel a heck of a lot better right away.

The Anons announce that they will be holding a No Line 3 rally tomorrow starting at 11am. Many people in the circle plan to attend. If they have enough folks they’ll march over to the Enbridge office and scare the crap out of the employees. We have to laugh at the Enbridge office staff; whenever anyone holds a rally and marches to an Enbridge office, the employees lock all the doors, cover all the windows and hide behind their desks pretending no one is there. Occasionally, they’ll send a supervisor out to talk but it’s always the same ol’ same ol’; the guy (it’s always a guy) says he can’t talk right then but gives us his business card and tells us to call him anytime with questions or whatever. When we call his number he never answers or returns calls to the messages we leave; most of the time we even leave polite sounding messages. Maybe the Enbridge peeps subconsciously know that what they are doing is wrong?

The soup is ready! Yay! Everyone gets a bowl and chows down; tonight its lentil with various vegetables. A little bit of wine vinegar and uncured bacon make the flavor perfect.

The Occupier who writes the meeting minutes comments, “I supposed you’ve all noticed that I haven’t put out any minutes for the last two weeks? Having He Who Shall Not Be Named show up last week took precedence over everything else”. We all say, “No shit aye?” She continues, “You know that I was one of about fifty of the main organizers; we were forced to drop everything else that we were doing in order to concentrate on showing HWSNBN that he was not welcome in our city”. All of the Occupiers and Anons were consumed with preparations for unwelcoming the moron who thinks he’s our president.

Our last meeting was the day before HWSNBN was scheduled to arrive. We were all excited and a bit nervous too. HWSNBN supporters are known to be violent and we knew we’d be coming into contact with them at some point but it couldn’t be helped.

So things went down like this: There were three anti- Moron Guy rallies last Wednesday, each were scheduled to take place during the hours that The Moron was speaking; one was held in Leif Erickson Park, it was proclaimed to be a total peace and love event with lots of good words and music and stuff. The Occupiers are pretty much peace and love types but we felt that it was important for all Duluthians to make their objections to the inhumanity, stupidity and Russian roulette playing nature of Moron Guy and his minions seen and heard. We didn’t even ask the Anons what they were gonna do; we knew they’d be on the front lines.

Another rally was held in Lake Place Park and sponsored by the local establishment Democrats. A third rally and march was held at the Civic Center; it was the one for peeps who wanted to make Moron Guy and his supporters realize that he was not welcome in our city. The Occupiers went to this rally; the Anons showed up towards the end. It looked like there were about one thousand protesters in attendance. Everyone listened to speeches and looked at all the way cool signs most people were carrying. When the rally part was over almost everyone went on the march. Some of the Occupiers and all the Anons left with the march; other Occupiers went down to the protest corner at Peoples Plaza to hold down the fort until the Anons and others arrived.

When the Occupiers arrived at the corner we saw about twenty people, presumably Democrats, holding signs across the street (Lake Ave). We couldn’t read their signs but assumed they were about voting and candidates and stuff. We all waved at each other then the Democrats went back into Lake Place Park. When the Anons arrived they reported that the marchers made one hell of a lot of noise, especially outside of the Amsoil building where The Moron was speaking. Later we were told that the noise was heard inside the arena: we were also told there were a lot of empty seats.

The Anons also reported they had been physically attacked by Moron supporters earlier in the day. Some of them had bruises and black eyes; they told us they had been walking down a hallway on the way to the front door of the Amsoil building. They were wearing their masks and carrying their flags and stuff; they were gonna see if they would be allowed to enter the arena (like that would have ever happened). There was a line of Moron supporters standing up beside the wall, waiting to get in. When the Anons “walked the gauntlet” the supporters started shoving and hitting them. An Anon, who generally stands out because he’s very tall and thin, tells us, “Several supporters came at me from behind to punch me in my back. Little did they know that my backpack was full of sharp rocks; this was not my first rodeo. When they hit me with full force, they did a lot more damage to their hands than they did to me”. Some Anons have black eyes; their masks protected them from further injury.

So the protest line was filled with many people, mostly those from the general Central Hillside or West End parts of town. We were probably fifty or so in number. When the Moron’s speech finished, several buses from further north in MN drove by on their way to pick up the many supporters from out of the area. The supporters who drove their own cars had to walk down Lake Ave in order to retrieve them at parking lots up the hill. They were forced to make a choice between running across the freeway to the Lake Place Park sidewalk where they would just meet tourists and street people tying to spare change. If they chose to continue on the Plaza sidewalk they would have to “walk the gauntlet” of the protesters. We watched many a big sized, white male supporter run frantically across the freeway in order to avoid the “rabid” protesters.

As the Plaza sidewalk supporters came down the overpass we could see they were nervous; some looked downright scared. When they entered the line some of the Occupiers would say, “Don’t worry, no one will hurt you”. That made some of them relax a little; when they got further down the line, some of the young bloods up on the ledge would yell at them. The worst they were forced to hear was “Fuck Trump!”. When the Anon music was thumpin’ nobody said a thing; we were all busy getting our groove on. When the supporters got to the end of the line they were safe again and could go home to their imaginary worlds. NO ONE LAYED EVEN A FINGER ON THEM. I wonder if they learned anything? Probably not.

Meanwhile, back at the fire circle, the big Native Anon reports, “Man, I couldn’t believe those Moron supporters. When we walked thru their space they went for all the women, even the visibly pregnant one. They also went for the Anons who were shorter or smaller than them. They never went near me or the big African American Anon. Finally, I had to walk over and tell them to stop abusing my friends; they then acted like I was the one abusing THEM”. He also tells us, “Since I started my job yesterday, on the night shift at Thunderbird House, I have been unable to fall asleep”. An Occupier replies, “It takes a while to adjust to a different sleep/awake pattern. What you’re experiencing is normal”. The big Anon just hit his two years sobriety mark so we can’t offer him any of the natural or unnatural remedies that we may have.

The partner of the Stylish Native Woman arrives; this is the first time this year that he’s attended our fire. He tells several stories about being jumped lately by young white dudes. The Partner is older and creakier now and he lost two fingers to frostbite the winter before last. He could still fight them but he knows he’d get beaten badly so he just asks them, “What makes you think it’s cool to beat up a homeless man?” He says to us, “Being homeless has gotten a lot harder these past few years”. We think it’s because all the Fascist and Nazi people, since they hooked up with The Moron, think they can get away with all their sick bullshit.

The retired military dude brings his guitar and joins the circle. We give him soup and stuff and he allows an Anon to play his guitar. It’s a left handed guitar; the Anon is right handed but easily plays this guitar. The retired dude is amazed.

A street guy who comes around off and on rolls up; the last time we saw him was at a Sobriety Feast last autumn. He had five months sobriety then; it looks like he’s fallen off the wagon now. We ask him about a beautiful street woman who we haven’t seen in several years. He is a friend of hers and tells us, “Well, she experienced a rape and then moved back with her family in White Earth. She’s been sober for a long time”. He also informs us, “I’m going to move to St. Cloud in a couple of days, my family bought me a house there”. An Occupier comments, “Your family must really love you”; he replies, “Yeah, they do. For much of my life I didn’t think that was very important but now I understand that it is”.

The African American schizophrenic dude who lives in the Skinner Apts joins the circle. We don’t recognize him at first because he’s grown a huge beard; he looks like a gigantic elf. Once he starts talking we realize who he is. He never has much that is interesting to say but he’s always kind and pleasant. We give him some soup.

One of the Anons, who is always fashionably dressed, drops in; he’s playing some pretty good hip-hop on his phone. He gets soup, bread and chips then cranks his tunes up real loud. We all stop talking and rock out to the music. Once the fashionable dude is finished eating, he leaves and we go back to talking.

Chicago Man is the next to arrive; he spent the weekend down in The Cities celebrating Pride. He tells us that there was a booth sponsored by The Moron at Pride Fest. He remarks, “I just could not believe it. I went over to the booth and spoke with the workers, they said, ‘Oh, The Moron is very supportive of GBLT+ people’. I said, Oh no honey, The Moron is NOT supportive of GBLT+ folks. Did they think I was stupid?”

The Occupier who is a college student opines, “I think The Moron is gonna try and get us into another war before 2020. People don’t like to vote against a president when there is a war on”. Another Occupier responds, “I think you’re right. We need to make people aware of that tactic; I wonder if we could start up the Northland Anti-War Coalition again? I could ask the lead organizers”.

The multiracial couple and their pregnant, homeless friend cruise through. They’re on their way to a movie but wanted to stop in and say hello. An Occupier exclaims, “Oh good! You are just the people I was hoping to see. Have you found a place for your friend to stay?” They tell her that they have not and she responds, “I spoke with one of the Catholic Workers from Olive Branch House; they said you should bring your friend over in the daytime to get acquainted. They have a whole house full of pregnant women and women who have already given birth right now but one of them will be moving soon so they could have room for your friend”. The female of the couple cries out, “That is so wonderful! I will take her over there tomorrow; thanks for remembering us”. They go off to their movie.

All of the homeless and/or street people have gone off to their sleeping places. It’s only Anons and Occupiers at the fire now. A conversation about religion begins; it’s centered around if there is only one God who is known by many different names in many different cultures or if there are many gods. The Water Protector from the former Makwa (bear) Camp interjects, “I’m mixed white and Native and my family members are all hardcore Christians. Someone decided to research our family’s ancestry; they discovered that we are descended from Jews. Our ancestors lied about their origins when they got to Ellis Island so they could get into America. Everyone in my family refuses to accept that fact. I tell them, “Facts are facts; there are no alternative facts”.

An Occupier asks the Occupier who likes to report things, “So what have you got for us tonight?” The reporting Occupier answers, “Just a few things; a new medical respite center has opened in Duluth. It’s for homeless people who are being released from the hospital and have nowhere to go. The grand opening was this evening. Another Occupier adds, “That’s something that is really needed here. Don’t get me started about what I have witnessed with homeless ones just being chucked out of the hospital. Everyone agrees; someone comments, “Yeah, like homeless ones being chucked out in only a hospital gown with I.V. Ports or dialysis equipment still in their arms”.

The Occupier continues reporting, “The two resolutions for the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights passed and the two ordinance changes were read for the first time last night at the City Council meeting. At the next meeting on Monday, July 9th, the two ordinances will be read again and then voted on. We’ll really need to pack the house for that; I hope you all will be there”. Everyone would like to attend but will need to be reminded again. “There’s going to be a Stand Against Husky event in Superior sometime in mid-July, it’s on a Tuesday. The college Occupier suggests, “Maybe we could go over there for our meeting on that Tuesday?” The reporting Occupier answers, “Yeah, maybe we could, we’ll have to decide before that day comes,,,, Did you guys get a look at the column written by some reporter for the Rolling Stone in the last few days? It was about Duluth”. Many in the circle have seen it. “A lot of Duluthians were really pissed. I was racking my brain tryin’ to figure out where I was gonna find the time to write a letter to the magazine; then our mayor Emily wrote one. It was more than adequate; she may not be everything we had hoped for but she did come through on this one” To those who have not seen the reporter’s column an Occupier explains, “It said that Duluth is Moron country, everything is covered with grime, we have tons of heroin addicts and a huge problem with domestic violence. After receiving Emily’s and other complaints, Rolling Stone said they would revise the column or some shit”.

For some reason the conversation turns to drugs. The big Native Anon tells us, “I have ADHD and had to take Ritalin thru all of my public school years. In high school there were drug dealers trying to sell Ritalin to their fellow students; when they came to me, I would tell them that although they all get high on that stuff, for me, it would only make me focus better on my homework”.

We all laugh.

The Water Protector tells us a joke, “Why should you never accept shoes from a drug dealer?” We don’t know. She explains, “Because you don’t know what they are laced with and you be trippin’ all day long”. The Occupiers just crack up; the Anons don’t get it. Someone explains, “It has a double meaning, it’s also about recreational drug use”.

It’s after 10pm; we think it’s time to pack up. When we are just about done, an Anon tells an Occupier, “A woman left this backpack under a chair in the circle. She was small, Native, she didn’t have any teeth and she was crying”. The Occupier replies, “Our friends who work at CHUM should be able to help out on this one. I live just a couple of blocks from CHUM so I can take the pack and call them tomorrow”.

On that note, we all head off to our (we’re fortunate to have them) homes. We plan to return to the Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 6-5-18

G.A. Minutes 6-5-18

It looks like we’re gonna be able to hold a fire circle at People’s Park tonight.

We were rather unceremoniously run off last week. All day long last week, the weather people were saying there was a 50/50 chance that it would rain. During the day, some Occupiers were watching the weather map but by the time we arrived at the Plaza, we still didn’t know what would happen. We all stood and watched the cloud formations for a bit; it looked like the rain clouds were going to go west of us so we began setting up the circle. When we were about half way done, the rain came pouring down in sheets. Everyone got drenched while loading up; then we packed into vehicles and headed over to Coney Island to dry off.

Anyway, there’s no prediction of rain tonight; the sky is clear, the temperature is in the low 60s. A strong east wind makes things kinda chilly but a roaring fire will take care of that. The Fire Magician promptly obliges with the biggest fire that the fire pit will hold and a small charcoal grill sitting slightly outside the circle. The grill will keep the big pot of homemade chicken noodle soup with vegetables warm.

When the Occupiers bringing the supplies arrive, they find a good sized group of the Anonymous crew waiting for them. An Occupier comments, “I doubt we’ll be having many homeless and street folks visiting this evening. It’s still pretty early in the month so many will still have a little money left from their small government checks. They’ll be holed up somewhere, indulging in their substance of choice.

We notice that Taco Helping Man and his girlfriend are sitting on a bench a little away from the fire. We wave to them and when the table is finished being set up they come over and take food and tobacco. Then they go back to the bench; we figure they’re probably drinking and they both have enough sense to not profane the fire circle by bringing alcohol into it.

It’s good to see that they’re still together; they each have a lot of problems but they do a good job of watching each other’s backs. The devotion they have for each other is probably more loving than anything they ever received from their families. One of the reasons we think they are drinking is because Taco Man looks very sad; he always does when he drinks. When he’s not drinking all he can think about is the craving he has for alcohol. When he gives into it he becomes depressed, feeling like he’s failed again. His girlfriend doesn’t have an alcohol problem but likes to abuse her narcotic and anti-psychotic medications. She’s told us that she has a problem with hallucinations. The couple has been homeless for a long time; in the winter they stay at CHUM but as soon as the weather permits they take their tent and camp out in a secret place. Someday they may actually get their act together; you never know.

Speaking of alcohol, it appears that several of the Anons who come around occasionally have had a few drinks too. When an Occupier sees one of the occasional Anons pull out a little bottle and begin to pour it into a container of soda or something she says, “Please tell me that you’re not gonna drink that here. We never drink alcohol or abuse any type of substance in the fire circle. While we really can’t call this a sacred fire, we try to create a circle based on respect for Mother Earth and to make a safe space for all the people who come to sit here. If people want to do substance abuse they go away from the circle; when they’re done, providing they can keep their behavior in check, they are welcome to join the circle again. The occasional Anon replies, “Oh, I’m sorry, I didn’t know”. He goes off to a bench away from the fire; a few of the other Occasionals join him.

Another somewhat older occasional dude arrives, he tells us that he just got kicked out of the brew house across the street. He was sitting at the bar drinking with an organic gardener and sometime organizer friend of ours. Apparently, the older Anon had been given a discount on his drinks by the brew house bartender. When the Anon started buying drinks at a discount and sharing them with the gardener, the bartender became angry, canceled the discount and threw the older Anon out of the bar. The Anon reports, “When I left, the gardener was sitting on a bar stool with his head face down on the bar”.

An Occupier opines, “What is up with all this drinking tonight? I really hate being around people when they drink; they always act so stupid”. Changing the subject, the big Native Anon exclaims, “Did you see those women just give us the evil eye?” The Occupiers have not seen and the big Anon continues, “A group of middle-aged white women came walking on the sidewalk out by the street, when they saw us they stopped and all just glared at us. I don’t know why”. An Occupier explains, “Oh, we get that sort of stuff all the time. Groups of straight and privileged looking white people come walking by, see our fire circle and just stop and glare at us. I don’t know what their problem is, ain’t nothin’ wrong with people sitting and talking around a safe and legal recreational fire in a public space”. We all say, “For real”.

Another regular Anon arrives; he’s accompanied by his mother. We all know and love his mother, She’s brought a big jug of homemade tea and takes a seat in the circle. The rest of the regular Anons are out on the corner with their signs that say, No Line 3, F Enbridge, No War But Class War and stuff like that. The Anon who has just arrived goes out to join them; all the occasional Anons follow him. Within minutes, one of the Occasionals is up on the street light post waving a flag and yelling; another is out on the median waving a flag and yelling too. An Occupier sitting in the circle remarks, “Well, if they want to bring on the cops, they’re doing a real good job right now”. Another, speaking about a particular Anon adds, “He just turned 18 years old a few days ago. I congratulated him, gave him a gift and told him that he was gonna need to change his attitude toward the cops. Now that he is of so called legal age, the cops have more leeway to fuck up his life”.

The regular Anons come back to the circle; they don’t look too happy. The Occasionals also return, they’re sitting, holding their heads in their hands. The Gardener comes out of the brew house and over to the circle; he appears shit faced but can still walk and talk. He has organized some very successful events over the years but is also in the habit of coming up with grand ideas that require others to do all the work. The Gardener enthuses to the Occupiers, “I think we should hold one of your fire circles here at the Plaza on the evening after Grandma’s Marathon. You could cancel your regular Tuesday fire and do it on Saturday instead”. An Occupier replies, “I don’t think that’s a very good idea. The whole downtown area will be just crawling with straight tourist types; for all we know, the City or Chamber of Commerce or someone may have some type of activity planned on that evening to take place in the Plaza. Our fire circles work best when there are no more than 20 or so people attending and over the years we’ve seen that most privileged white folks are none too thrilled with the concept of our gatherings. Besides, our fire circles are meant to serve homeless, street and others folks who are rarely, if ever, treated with any respect or vibe that they are deserving of being served. On top of that, there’s no way we could afford to provide enough top of the line coffee, soup or anything else for a bazillion people who can easily afford to buy their own”.

One of the Anons who is sober remarks, “We were thinking that we would pass out fliers here, to the passersby, on the Marathon Saturday evening”. Another Occupier responds, “Now that’s a good, doable idea. It wouldn’t cost a lot or take a huge amount of preparation; maybe some of us could join you. I imagine some of the tourists would give you the evil eye and refuse to take the fliers but so what? Others might be intrigued and stop to chat”. The Gardner leaves the circle; he lies down flat on his back under a tree.

A few of the Anons go back out to the corner with their signs; a guy in a big van slows down and aggressively yells out his window, “Take off your masks! Take off your masks!” The non-sober Anons jump up, scramble over the berm and onto the sidewalk. The yelling guy looks shocked and cries out, “Hey, watch what you say; I have kids in here!”. The Anons come back into the Plaza. We think, NOW WHY IN THE WORLD WOULD SOMEONE, WITH A BUNCH OF CHILDREN IN HIS VEHICLE, TRY TO PICK A FIGHT WITH A GROUP OF STRANGERS?

A small assortment of young folks who appear to be high school students arrive; they ask to join us. We happily invite them in and give them soup and stuff. They are wide eyed, believing they have wandered onto some type of exotic and wonderful new planet. A boy explains that they are waiting for a bus to take them all to their various homes. One of the girls tells us she has just received a full scholarship to St. Scholastica; we congratulate her. An Occupier comments, “I was considering going to CSS some years ago, I think you will be given a pretty good education there”. Another one of the high school females tells the scholarship girl, “Of all my friends, you’re the only one who is planning on doing something with their life”.

The Occupier who is a college student rolls up; he tells us he’s just returning from the Husky Oil Refinery informational event in Superior. He reports, “Oh, it was sponsored by Husky and it was just a bunch of b.s. As you know, I’m working on my masters in environmental science. I think I may have made the heads on the necks of the Husky representatives spin around a few times with the questions I asked. They assured the audience that results they had received from their air quality tests were within normal limits; I reminded them that at this point in time they should be testing the soil and water in the affected neighborhoods. They have no plans to test any of the soil and with the exception of the rainwater stream that runs through the refinery, they haven’t tested any of the water either. I reminded them that the rainwater stream is in flood stage this time of year so they would not be able to get an accurate reading.

“I thought they were all going to faint when I asked them what kind of reparations they were going to make to the community in consideration of the anxiety and inconvenience the Husky explosion and fire caused to the surrounding areas. They said they hadn’t planned on making reparations. When the event was over, many of the Husky reps crowded around me, attempting to wow me with their smoke and mirrors scientific ying yang. I’m betting that somebody recorded my vehicle license plate number as I left”.

One of the Anons asks the Occupier who likes to give information about the local goings on, “So what is up or will be up in the community this week?” The Occupier informs him, “Well, there’s going to be a meeting about our local housing situation with the City Planning Department and interested community members tomorrow, 6:30pm at the Damiono. I’m gonna go; I don’t expect to hear anything new but I want to see what they’re up to. The Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition is expecting that our proposed City resolution and 2 ordinances will be presented to the City Council next Monday, June 11th, 7pm in the Council chambers. If so, we need to pack the house again. I’ll be able to let everyone know within a few days if that’s gonna happen or not.

“Our good friend who works for Honor the Earth is running for MN Lieutenant Governor. I don’t remember the name of her running mate. I imagine she’ll need us to provide backup once in a while.

“I’m sure everyone has noticed that a new porta potty has been put up across the street. When I went to the Citizens Review Board a couple of weeks ago, I told them about the vandalized potty. One of the Deputy Chiefs said she would personally make sure that a new porta potty got put up right away. The next day I noticed a new potty being put up. It may have just been a coincidence though; I’m not sure how much power cops have over porta potty placements.

“Also, I went to Socialist Pizza recently; an animal activist with whom we are acquainted was there. She said she is a neighbor of the guy who had that video of 2 Duluth cops shaking down the homeless woman. When we told her that we didn’t know whatever happened with the video or how to find the guy who had it, she said she’d check it out. Hmm…. I think that’s all I have for now”.

A 30 something guy with a big, well-outfitted backpack drops in. He says he’s from California and recently served 8 years in the military, including several tours in Iraq. After his wife divorced him he decided to just hop on his trek bike and travel the US. So far, he’s been to the southwest, into the Dakotas and over to MN. He spent a few of his high school years living in Duluth so decided to cruise through on his way to wherever. Today he stopped in at the big grocery store down the road at 12th Ave E and Superior St. He locked up his bike and went in to get a few things, when he came out he found that his lock had been cut open and his bike was gone. An Occupier empathizes, “So sorry to hear that. We’re in the midst of an opioid epidemic right now”. The traveling dude says, “I don’t know what that means”. The Occupier explains, “You know, heroin, junkies and their thieving ways and all that”. The man who is now without a bike sees one of our fliers about The Woman Who Tells Good Stories on the table; he asks what it’s about and the Occupier tells him The Woman’s story. He is aghast.

We notice a female Duluth police officer, standing hesitantly way back in the Plaza, she’s looking at us. An Occupier calls out, “It’s o.k. girlfriend, come on over. The cop walks over and asks us if we have seen some guy who she mentions by name. We think the Anons may know who she’s talking about but they aren’t saying anything. We don’t know who she’s asking about but we aren’t saying anything either. The cop thanks us and leaves. The greeting Occupier explains, “Yeah, I realize she’s a cop but I knew and played music with her many years ago before she even thought about becoming a cop. I need to acknowledge those old days”.

We’re quite surprised to see Chicago Man come up the stairs; he’s wearing short-shorts and a little top and freezing his ass off. He’s accompanied by a former Anon and his girlfriend. They sit by the fire to warm up; we give them soup and stuff. Chicago Man tells us that he quit his job at the big box store and is now working as a PCA. He states, “Yeah, I quit that stupid job at the big box store; it was driving me crazy. They expected me to lift a lot of heavy stuff while supervising the rest of the staff and were only paying me $9.50 an hour”. We can see that Chicago Man hasn’t changed much; he’s still pleasantly complaining and unhappy. We guess that he still grieves the death of his longtime partner.

Next we get a visit from the multi-racial couple; the male has visited us at our Coney Island “winter headquarters” but we haven’t seen the female since last fall. We didn’t know if they were still together but it looks as though things are “same as they ever were”. They have a very pregnant friend with them. The female of the couple takes an Occupier aside and says, “I’m trying to find a place where my friend can stay. Do you know of any?” The Occupier gives her all the information she can think of then sighs, “I know it seems like a very pregnant, homeless female would certainly be given priority but I’ve known women who were 7 or 8 months pregnant and still couldn’t find anywhere to live. All the beds in all the shelters and other women’s programs were and are usually filled up. I sure hope you all can find help for your friend”.

It’s now going on 10pm and we’re all running out of steam. One of the Occupiers who lives only a few blocks up the street takes charge of the Gardener. He’ll bring him to his home and let him sleep on the couch. If the weather gods allow it, we plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.