G.A. Minutes 8-28-18

G.A. Minutes 8-28-18

Of course, the big tree planters are blocking the vehicle entryway again when the first Occupiers arrive at Peoples Plaza this evening. This is despite the fact that they were moved earlier in the day to accommodate the Farmers Market folks. Fortunately, a group of young ones from the Anonymous crew are already present and waiting for us. They all pitch in and the fire circle set up is quickly finished.

When the Food Bringing Occupier and the Fire Magician were leaving their apartment building up the street they noticed a heavy mist in the air; at the Plaza the mist has become a very light rain. When the Occupiers and Anons hold an impromptu conference about the evening’s plan, as most of us have not brought rain gear, an Occupier opines, “Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s just a little bit of moisture; the weather people say it won’t rain anymore tonight. This stuff will soon pass”. So the Fire Magician makes a big, roaring fire and then a smaller charcoal fire in a little grill. We have a big pot of pinto bean soup that needs to be heated up. One of the Anon/Water Protectors, who is a very good cook, has brought a tasty noodle hamburger casserole too. Along with all the other usual fixins, we’re gonna be well fed tonight.

The Plaza appears to be almost empty of street and/or homeless peeps but as soon as the fire roars up, many appear from wherever they were and take seats in the circle. The Anons gather up their signs and music speaker and head out to preach to the cars; because of the rain, there are few people walking on the sidewalks.

The Native man who used to help with the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance Anishinaabe Taco Sales arrives. He rolls some cigarettes from the tobacco pouch and tells us that his partner has the flu so has decided to stay inside tonight. It sounds like his partner may have gotten into Women’s Transitional Housing in a big building a bit east of Central Hillside. This will be good for both of them; he won’t be able to live there with her but will be able to visit, rest,eat, take a shower and stuff like that. Another good thing is that Taco Man doesn’t appear to be drunk or unhappy tonight. That’s a good sign.

Fireproof Man is here again too; he’s wearing some really strange looking goggles that have yellow lenses. He’s still talking in “word salad” but doesn’t appear to be interested in “becoming One” with the fire. He gets food and coffee and takes off to somewhere else; we have no problem with that.

The city official and one of the Occupiers roll up; they’re dressed head to toe in rain gear. They’re people who know how to plan ahead. The city official is deep into a fundraising drive in order to raise money for travel costs for the group of high school students he’d like to take to Montgomery, Alabama. He and many others would like the students to see the Legacy Museum. The museum is newly opened and is the only museum in the world to show the history of lynching in the USA.

The young man who has recently lost his dreadlocks drops in too. He tells us he has to call his P.O. (parole officer) everyday now. When he calls, he’s put into a type of lottery system. If he wins, he doesn’t have to go into her office and is free for the rest of the day; if he loses, he has to go in and provide a urine sample that is then tested for drugs or alcohol. If the test comes back positive for any of these substances he will be sent back to prison for almost two years. He never knows if he’s gonna win or lose and is smart enough to stay straight just in case. He reports, “I kinda like my P.O.’s system because if I still want to use, I can do that on the weekends. The rest of the time I stay straight; things look really different from this perspective”.

The rain has become slightly stronger; we say, “Oh well……..whatever”. We can afford to do that; we all have homes to go to later where we can take off our wet clothes, take a shower, put on dry clothes and whatever else we see fit to do. The homeless ones can’t do that, they’ll be wearing their wet clothes until the clothes dry on their bodies. That’s a perfect prescription for catching a cold or worse.

Anyway, most of the homeless folks quickly disappear. A few of them run to the Mn Power building where they take shelter under a small overhang at the base of the building. They’re not doing anything, just standing there being protected from the rain. About five minutes later, one of the tall African American Duluth Police Department officers arrive; he doesn’t look too happy. He talks to one of the homeless folks for a bit then leaves. The people attempting to take shelter come over to the fire; we give them hot soup. They inform us that the cop said he was real sorry to have to do it but the Mn Power security assholes had called the police and demanded that the sheltering people be removed from standing next to the building.

Someone exclaims, “You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me!” Shortly thereafter another cop comes walking up to the circle. She seems kinda nervous and softly states, “I’d like to contribute to the next meal you guys put on” and hands an Occupier some money. We tell her thank you and then she leaves. We suppose it just goes to show you, some cops have limits on how mean they are willing to be.

As the homeless people who were not allowed to keep out of the rain eat their soup and pb+j sandwiches, the male of the group sits next to an Occupier and begins to explain himself a bit. He states, “I’ve been watching you guys and your fire for at least a month now”. The Occupier informs him that she has noticed him hanging around the edges of the Plaza. He continues, “I wanted to see what you all were up to, if you were for real. I’ve concluded that you probably are for real. I’m always paranoid about people who come around us out here because they usually have some kind of ulterior motive. I’ve been living on these streets for a long time; people who have houses to live in always tell me that I should go stay at CHUM. Not everybody can stay at CHUM. The Occupier opines, “Yeah, I’ve noticed that sometimes CHUM closely resembles a psych ward”.

The new homeless friend replies, “The best thing we ever had was Graffiti Graveyard. Some people didn’t like to go there because they said it was dangerous. Well, it was dangerous but so what? Veteran homeless people know how to handle that shit. Regular people complain about the fact that there are so many homeless people on the streets. That’s true but Graffiti Graveyard kept a lot of unhoused folks off the streets. The City made a big mistake when they closed it down about five years ago.

The man’s girlfriend is sitting a bit away from the man and chowing down like she hasn’t eaten in a week. The man confides, “I’m trying to take good care of her but she makes it very difficult. She says that I’m going to abandon her but that’s not true; when she says or does stuff that makes me angry I always walk away so I can calm down and not yell at her. I never walk more than a block away and I’m watching her the whole time. If she were to be in danger, I’d be right there. I’m always watching her back. I suppose that you’ve noticed that I have a very deep voice?” The Occupier nods in agreement. “I can’t help that, it’s the way I was born. Whenever I have any emotion in my voice she accuses me of yelling at her. I’m not yelling at her; I’m actually a naturally kind person”.

The Occupier suggests, “It sounds like your girlfriend might have PTSD”. The frustrated man replies, “She’s from a very small town outside of Duluth. I know that her father kept her locked in her room most of the time and that he was very abusive. She’s not with her father now though; she’s with me. She should just put all that stuff behind her”. The Occupier answers, “It doesn’t work that way; people with PTSD can’t just put their past abuse out of their minds. They need to face their past; they need to get therapy or counseling and talk about what happened to them. If they don’t do that, their PTSD just gets worse and worse”.

The Anons return from the corner, they are cold and wet and stand up close to the fire. One of them reports, “Hey, the porta potty across the street is now gone. WTF?” The man who was refused shelter from the rain expounds, “A few nights ago someone stole all our clothes and stuffed them down the hole of the potty”. An Occupier remarks, “How awful! I received a message a few hours ago from my contact in the City Planning Department. It said that she wanted to talk with me about the porta potty on Lake Ave and Superior St. I’ll take a guess that the potty was removed because the porta potty company said they weren’t gonna keep putting potties there only to have them destroyed. I’ll call the City woman back tomorrow and see what’s up”.

An Anon cries out, “That is so sick! Why would anyone want to deny the homeless ones a place where they can go to the bathroom? These damn HWSNBN supporters are seriously fucked up; just because The Moron pulled a lot of dirty tricks that made it appear like he was actually elected to be the president, they think they rule the country now and can do anything they want to”.

An Occupier inquires of an Anon, “I think I’m gonna file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission about the Mn Power Company’s security guards denying us the passage of our vehicles onto the Plaza. If I do that, would you be willing to sign on as a co-complainant?”. The Anon responds, “Yeah, I could do that”.

The Occupier who reports things reports, “Remember that the Anons are having an event, this Friday from 1p-7p here at the Plaza. They’ll be silk screening t-shirts and doing other art stuff. Then, I told you wrong last week; Socialist Pizza is this upcoming Friday, 6:30pm at the Women’s Building”.

We are all thoroughly soaked. All the street people are gone; they’re smarter than us, they’ve gone somewhere to keep as dry as possible. It’s only 8pm but we decide to pack up. We don’t want word to get around that we don’t have enough sense to come outa the rain.

We expect to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 8-21-18

G.A. Minutes 8-21-18

Earlier today when an Occupier drove by Peoples Plaza; he noticed that the yearly Farmer’s Market that always happens in the Plaza during harvest season was in full swing. There were lots of people, booths and fresh produce throughout the space. The big tree planters that have been blocking the vehicle entryway for several months had been moved and there were lots of cars parked up in the Plaza too.

When the Occupier reported this news back to a few others, another Occupier commented, “Oh good, we’ll be able to drive our vehicles up for the fire circle tonight. That will make everything so much easier”. However, no such luck; when the first Occupiers arrive at 6 pm they find the planters have been put back in place in order to block the entryway. Just great…. no one else is there yet so they start hauling and dragging all the supplies up the stairs again. Within a few minutes, the mother of some of the Anonymous crew joins in, one of her sons arrives shortly thereafter. An Occupier asks, “Where is everybody?” The work is difficult with only four people to do it but it gets done; the older folks need to sit and rest for a bit once all the basics are complete.

After the last few weeks of really intense heat, the weather tonight is normal. The sky is clear although a good rain that probably made all the trees and gardens happy came through around mid-afternoon. The temperature is in the low 70s, a soft variable breeze skips through from time to time. As the evening progresses, we’ll possibly need long shirts or light jackets. Maybe summer is fixin’ to move on?

A mid-sized group of Anons roll up; they have signs and their sound system Tonight they plan to put the issue of Abolish Ice and No Human Being Is Illegal out to the cars and people on the street. The American immigration system and everything related to it is seriously out of whack. The 1% types, who caused the problems that the immigrants are now fleeing from, are pissed off because the people who are forced to leave their own ruined countries are now at our borders asking for protection and a job. Go figure. If we didn’t have to feed the people and watch the fire, we’d be out on the corner with the Anons in a minute. One of the Anons contributes a burrito casserole to the table….. Yum! We get some right away; we know it will all be eaten within the next half an hour.

The youngbloods go out to the protest corner; a few street folks, the Anarchist, and the city official take seats in the circle. One of the women who is new to our fire this year but a regular on the street tells us, “Well, I went and moved into a Board and Lodge this week. It’s not the greatest but I just couldn’t take sleeping in the alley or under a bush anymore. I told my boyfriend, that I love him and all that but my nerves just can’t take the stress of being homeless. I think I’ll call him now and invite him down here to join us”.

We haven’t seen the Anarchist in at least a month, he’s been having a few health issues and tells us he’s trying to lose a little weight. We tell him we don’t know where he’s gonna lose it from; he’s pretty much solid muscle. The Anarchist is older than any of the Occupiers or anyone else in the circle; he’s also more physically fit. It probably has something to do with his vegetarian diet and the fact that he rides his bike everywhere that he goes.

The city official asks if anybody has been paying attention to today’s news related to the big investigation into the presidential campaign of He Who Shall Not Be Named. An Occupier responds, “Well, I noticed that something that was supposedly important happened today but I don’t remember what it was”. The city man explains, “Oh, this is really big, it looks like HWSNBN is going to be taken down. His former presidential campaign manager was found guilty on eight counts; he’ll definitely be doing some prison time. Then his former personal lawyer agreed to fully cooperate with the lead investigator so he’ll be ‘spilling all the beans’. It’s very possible that HWSNBN will be impeached”

An Occupier opines, “Impeachment would be nice but then we’ll just end up with the vice president. He’s an insanely evil scumbag too only more subdued and sneaky”. The official man replies, “I think the vice president will be taken down right along with HWSNBN”. Another Occupier adds, “It goes down the chain of command from there. I think the speaker of the house comes next; he’s already announced his retirement. I wonder if he could just refuse to accept the presidency? He’s just as evil as the rest of them but I don’t think he was ever part of HWSNBN’s circus After that, I think it goes to the secretary of state. Oh man, just think of the amount of damage that SOB would do”.

Someone states, “Whoever they get to be the president out of that bunch is sure to be a serious disaster. In fact, almost all the people in the entire congress are a bunch of whores for the corporations. The real problem is that no matter who’s running the show, it’s the regular people living in our country and other countries too who pay the price. Nothing will work properly until we get rid of the capitalist system”. Enough said.

The schizophrenic guy who lives in the Skinner Apartments, the former partner of the sadly deceased Ms. Community Cleanup, the homeless dude with two different hairstyles, the chronically homeless young guy who recently lost his dreadlocks and a young woman who is crying all take seats in the circle. The generally pleasant and friendly guy who’s trying to grow his dreadlocks back tells us that the main homeless outreach worker is helping him to get an apartment in public housing. He expects to be off the street by winter. We say, “This is wonderful news!” An Occupier asks the crying woman what is the matter; she replies, “Oh, nothing in particular, I just need to have a good cry”.

It’s dark now and those that have long shirts and such put them on. We all move closer to the fire. An occasional Anon and his finance’ stop in for a minute. They are waiting for a bus and will sit by the fire until just before it arrives. Many more street folks join in; the chairs in the circle are full so the peeps in the overflow stand around the almost empty food table or behind the chairs. Among the late arrivals are the Stylish Native Woman and her partner; they sit quietly in the shadows. An Occupier sees them and remembers how much the Stylish Woman loves our coffee. The Occupier quickly grabs a cup and pours what is almost the last of the good brew into it.

She brings it to the Stylish Woman who smiles and says, “Thanks, what time are you guys starting the fire this year?” The Occupier tells her they start around 6 pm and the couple make a mental note to get to the Plaza early next week. We know their lives are very stressful and it’s difficult to remember what day it is and stuff like that.

The Skinner Man has been chatting with this one and that one all evening. He tells everyone the same thing, “I have a 40 oz waiting for me in my apartment. I’m not allowed to have visitors through”. As time goes on he begins to describe the type of beer that is waiting; we think his beer is calling to him but he’s enjoying the good vibe and relaxed atmosphere of the circle.

The Anons return from the corner; a Water Protector/Anon reports, “There were a lot more haters than usual out on the street tonight”. They bring their good music with them. Mr Two Hairstyles is out in the middle of the Plaza dancing with a girl who is on roller skates. The food is long gone; everyone is quiet, nodding their heads to the music.

An Anon quires the Occupier who reports things, “So what is going on for the rest of the week?” The reporter responds, “Hmm… that’s a good question. I forgot to look at my calendar before I left home. Off the top of my head, I know that the Citizens Review Board meets tomorrow, 5 pm at City Hall. That’s always kinda interesting in an odd sort of way. Socialist Pizza will be this upcoming Friday, 6:30 pm at the Women’s Building”.

A middle-aged, alcoholic man, who has been on the street and at our fires for many years, appears; we haven’t seen him since our first fires of spring. It appears he has lost quite a bit of weight. The middle-aged man isn’t looking for food or anything; he just wants to speak with one of the Occupiers for a while. He seats himself very close to the Fire Magician and imparts, “I think I’ve made a big mistake, I’m addicted to a drug now. If I don’t have it I get real sick. I don’t like this but I don’t have the courage to change. I want to be like you guys, I want to be a good person and help others”. He begins to silently cry. The Fire Magician offers the man words of encouragement; he says, “I think you’re stronger than you think. You will be able to conquer your addictions”. The tear-stained fellow dries his eyes, replying, “Thank you for listening to me”. He gets up and wanders off.

The Anons are getting ready to leave; we all exchange long goodbyes. There are only a few people around the fire now. A tall, skinny guy, who we have not seen before, walks quickly up to the roaring fire. He looks around as if he wants to see who is watching him; then he sticks his entire head directly into the fire and turns it from side to side. An Occupier yells, “Hey! Don’t do that!” Another Occupier mumbles, “It’s a good thing he has a shaved head”. The fire-breathing dude stands up then plunks himself down next to an Occupier and begins babbling. The Occupier tries very hard to understand what Fireproof Man is talking about but she just can’t get it. He’s talking in what mental health workers call a “word salad”. The most the Occupier can gather is that the guy is or was a firefighter in WI.

A young Native man, who has been spending small amounts of time in our circle this year, arrives. He remarks, “Sorry I’m showing up so late but I was in Canal Park celebrating my 27th birthday”. The birthday guy takes the sage dish and begins to smudge himself; Fireproof Man begins babbling again. Birthday Guy tells him, “Please don’t talk to me while I’m smudging, it’s disrespectful”. Fireproof Man jumps up, runs to the fire, takes a big chunk of red hot, burning embers in the palm of his bare hand and holds it up, posing like he’s the Statue of Liberty. The Fire Magician jumps up, grabs the really big water jug and dumps the whole thing on the fire, dousing it completely. He states, “O.K. that’s it. Time to go home”.

The remaining Occupiers begin to pack things up; Birthday Guy and another guy we don’t know who comes out of the shadows help us. Fireproof Guy grabs the burning sage bundle and carries it like a torch over to the eastern ledge of the Plaza. The Food Occupier exclaims, “Damn! There’s still a lot of sage in that bundle; we can use it again next week”. Birthday Guy tells her, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. I’ve gotten into fights with dudes a lot stupider than him”. The food bringing Occupier cautions, “Don’t bother with it, man. The guy is obviously very mentally ill; he can’t help what he’s doing. Besides, there’s something not quite right about fighting with somebody because they stole your sage”.

We see the middle-aged, currently drug addicted man coming down the sidewalk. He’s stumbling and has the look of a zombie in his eyes; he clearly does not see us. He squeezes himself into a dark crevice next to the sidewalk and looks unseeingly out on the street. He appears to be very sad.

When everything is packed up and the last Occupiers are heading towards the stairs, a Duluth Police Department bicycle officer comes riding up. He asks, “Is everything alright over here?” An Occupier replies, “Oh yeah, we’re fixin’ to head out now”. The Occupier watches as the cop rides over to the eastern ledge. She notices that all the people who normally sleep under the Plaza trees and bushes are sleeping on the benches under the lights, right out in the open. She remembers the stories she’s been hearing from the street folks about being beaten and robbed while they were trying to hide out and get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.

The bike cop has a brief conversation with Fireproof Man but doesn’t bother any of the sleepers. He rides off; the Occupiers ride off too. They plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 8-14-18

G.A. Minutes 8-14-18

When the Fire Magician drives up on the sidewalk outside of Peoples Plaza this evening he finds another Occupier and the homeless occasional Anon waiting for him. Several more Anons and an Occupier arrive shortly thereafter. The Magician explains, “The Occupier who brings most of the food supplies is gonna be a bit late this evening; she had to stop by her polling place and vote in the primary election. We could unload and set up all the fire and circle stuff now so we’ll be ready for her when she gets here”. So that’s what they do.

Then they wait… and wait…and wait some more. After a half an hour or so the Fire Magician exclaims, “Well, I don’t know what’s taking her so long. Our polling place is in the Duluth Public Library Main Branch; that’s just a few blocks from here and she left to go there before I left to come here. I think something’s wrong, I’m gonna call her”. As soon as the Fire Man finishes talking, the Food Occupier rolls up. When she gets out of her car she has a look of frustration on her face; she says, “What a fucking mess! I drove around looking for a way to get behind the library for just about ever. I always park there in the reserved for voters spaces and then just run in and vote. It generally takes about five minutes. I know this road construction stuff on Superior St is necessary but, damn! It must be absolute hell for all the businesses and the people who work in them. Seeing as today was voting day, one would expect that some well paid City official or someone like that would have made sure there were signs or mailings all around our district explaining to people how to drive onto Michigan St behind the library,

“One of the super old ladies, who are always doing the voter sign-in stuff, told me that no one even told THEM what to expect when they tried to access the polling place. That must have been real fun for them; most of those ladies are so hunched over or small that they can barely see over the steering wheel. Imagine what it must have been like to not see very well, to not know
the neighborhood and to be driving down a road, where the earth on either side of you has been dug into trenches big enough to swallow your whole car if you make one false move”.

Another Occupier adds, “Those League of Woman Voters women are tough. I wouldn’t be surprised if the treacherous route to our Central Hillside polling place didn’t have any directional signage on purpose. The Voter Nazis think that if they can make voting difficult to do, we are all so drunk, drug-addled and stupid that we’ll just give up, go sit by the lake and smoke dope. They’re wrong though”.

The frustrated voter Occupier agrees, “The thought of just giving up and coming to feed you all did cross my mind. I’m just too damn stubborn to give up, especially my right to cast my vote, however, I don’t really think that citizen’s votes have much effect on our oppressors. There’s so much corruption in the USA voting system; the politicians are more afraid of the small number of people who make it onto the Forbes 500 Unbelievably Rich List than they are of the billions of people on the earth who suffer greatly because of the actions of the bazillionares.” Someone comments, “Someday that’s gonna change”.

The offended Occupier continues, “So, I ended up parking behind the service vehicles in the parking lot of the Maurice’s Building and walking down a block or so, crossing over Superior St on small wooden planks with railings and humongous trenches in the earth on either side. Once I had run the gauntlet, I found myself on Michigan behind the library. It took less than five minutes to actually vote and then I got to go back to my car; same way back but uphill instead. It was not a lot of fun; technically, at least, I am an old lady. The whole thing was slightly taxing on my body, but what if I were on crutches or had breathing difficulties? I noticed there were a lot of people coming from and going to the voting booths; I wonder how many more would have come out if voting was an easy thing to do?

“Well anyway, I survived and I’m here now; I’ve brought all the usual stuff plus I have deluxe pb+j sandwiches and cold, organic, homemade potato salad with broccoli and other stuff in it. Is anybody hungry?” We all say, “Hell yeah!” and start unloading and bringing all the food up to the table. The Food Occupier always sets up the table by herself so she can get it exactly how she wants it. Her methods have a lot of good reasoning to them but the rest of us like to tease her about being OCD. The bringer of most of the food usually just laughs but she knows we speak the truth.

The weather has been ridiculously hot for almost a week now with clear skies and temperatures in the mid to high 90s. For the past month the weather gods have looked down upon us with favor. Every Tuesday evening as the Fire Magician starts up our fire, they send a strong cooling breeze so everyone can feel comfortable; it’s the same way tonight. Sweet. We’re not sure what we have done to gain the good wishes of these gods but we’ll try to keep on doing what we’re doing and hope their good will remains. Maybe they’ll let us just skip winter all together this year…… um, probably not.

As everyone gets food and drinks and takes a seat in the circle we notice that a few more folks have joined us. Among the new arrivals are several street people, including the guy with two hairstyles, our friend from the neighborhood who works for the cleaning company that cleans the MN Power Building and the city official. There are also many people hanging out under all the bushes that surround the Plaza. The chronically homeless young man who recently lost his dreadlocks crawls out from one of those bushes and fills his pockets with all the good eats. He jokingly says to the street folks in the circle, “Hey what are you doing with my peeps? You need to leave these guys alone”.

Mr Hairstyles is very stressed out; he says his Buddhist practices aren’t working well for him right now. It has something to do with his Baby’s Mama but he can’t sit still long enough to explain. He goes off to find some alcohol or drugs or something; we think he won’t have to go far.

The Occupier who writes our meeting minutes confesses, “Well, I didn’t write any minutes again last week. I went off on my annual three days disappearing act to the Bayfront Blues Festival. I’ve gone to every BBF since it first began; this was my thirtieth year. Now days, I start getting all bent out of shape about it about a month beforehand. Being a musician myself, I’m privy to a lot of stuff that goes on behind the scenes in our Duluth music community. I know about the dishonest things the owners of the BBF do to the local and national musicians and the blatant money grabbing the vendors are forced to participate in. Going through the security checks seems to get worse every year but once I find a good seat, get settled and start listening to all the top-notch bands play really good music, I go into a hypnotic trance and don’t come out of it for three days. I don’t know if I’m participating in a counter-revolutionary act, or just trying to keep my sanity for the next year”.

Another Occupier reports, “The Mission is going to reopen tomorrow at 7 am”. Everyone nods and smiles; someone remarks, “Oh good! The Mission doesn’t serve really tasty and marvelous food but hey, to be a person who is seriously food insecure and to then be given access to three, sort of filling, meals a day? For free? That takes a lot of stress off of one’s back”.

The city official tells us, “I notice that a couple of new businesses over on Superior St in West End/Lincoln Park were able to have a bus stop removed from in front of their establishments.” An Occupier opines, “Do tell. I suppose the business owners didn’t like all the ‘riff-raff’ standing in front of their buildings?” The city man responds, “I believe that was the idea, yes”. He also informs us, “I’ll be taking a bus full of Duluth high school students down to Alabama to visit the Legacy Museum in Montgomery soon. The School Superintendent says he’s going to come along too.” An Anon laughs, “That will certainly put a damper on the young ones good time”.

An Occupier wants to tell the city official a joke; she says, “So I’ve been watching a PBS documentary about the actual people who live in Iran. A filmmaker from Holland is married to a woman from Iran and they live in Tehran. The wife works as a visual artist while the husband goes all over Iran just talking with and filming regular Iranian people. One day he’s hanging out with a small group of male village elders; one of the elder dudes says, ‘The Koran tells us that when a husband and wife argue, the man must always have the last word. When we are tired of an argument we say to our wife, YOU ARE RIGHT. So you see, in this way, we can always follow the Koran’.” The city man laughs and says, “That’s really funny! It reminds me of my parents”.

Some Water Protectors and more Anons roll up; they bring fruit and a really good zucchini and fresh pepper salad. The conversation detours onto the recent eviction of one of the education and respite camps. Apparently, the cops and other so-called officials waited until the camp was almost devoid of Water Protectors. They then burst in and started threatening and bossing the few remaining campers around. It sounds like some of the higher management types in the DNR have been bought off, somehow or other, by Enbridge. Same ol’ same ol’.

A very thin, middle-age appearing man with a speech impediment states, “I don’t have any choice but I don’t really mind having to sleep outside. Last night though, I was sleeping when I was attacked, beaten and robbed”. We notice that this man is covered with dried blood and bruises. We have not met this male person in the past; before we can ask him questions, he limps off into the bushes.

It’s getting dark now and as usual, most of the street and/or homeless folks have gone off to find a sleeping place. The circle consists mostly of Water Protectors, Anons, and Occupiers; everyone is laughing and cracking jokes. It truly is a beautiful evening; the air is warm, a cool breeze swirls around us while the smell of the fire and the burning sage complete the homemade paradise.

Eventually all the revolutionary youngbloods take off; we’re not sure what their plan is but we know it will be good. They may be the ones who will save us all.

Two remaining homeless young guys volunteer to help the Occupiers pack up. They are quick and efficient; cleanup is done in no time. As the Occupiers who are the last to leave begin to exit the Plaza and get into their vehicles, one remarks to the other, “That yelling was coming from way over on the freeway entrance sidewalk. Two girls were trying to fight with each other and some guy in a red shirt was trying to get them to stop”. As soon as the words are out of her mouth, a young, bare-chested guy comes stomping around the corner and onto the sidewalk right in front of the Occupiers. The Bare Chest Guy has a red-haired girl with him and they are followed closely by a guy in a red shirt. Mr. Red Shirt, who has a very tiny girl with brown hair beside him, exclaims, “I just want you to hear what I have to say!” Bare Chest stops up short and WHAM! he punches Red Shirt real hard. Red Shirt falls to the ground and then……. A whole shit ton of cops drive up with sirens and lights flashing. They completely surround all possible exits from the front of the Plaza and into the street; then they light everybody up with horribly bright spotlights.

Oh, by the way, Bare Chest is white and Red Shirt is black. The Occupiers know how these things generally end; one says to the other, “We’d better hang around here and bear witness or something”. So that’s what they do. There are at least six squad cars, each one containing at least one police officer. Each officer takes one of the so-called participants or witnesses and moves them away from the others for questioning. There are only so many people to question, so the leftover officers just stand around guarding the perimeter or whatever. Then something amazing happens, the cops cuff Bare Chest and put him in a squad, they tell Red Shirt that he is free to go.

The drama is over now but the cops all just keep hanging around, it must be a slow night. An older cop growls at the Food Occupier, “Whose truck is this and why is it on the sidewalk?” The Food Occupier replies, “We had one of our fires tonight and we had to bring it up so we could load up all of our stuff”. She then explains the long sad story about the big tree planter, the vehicle entry and blah, blah, blah. The cop answers, “Well, just because an illegal act has been committed against you doesn’t mean that you can commit an illegal act to remedy it. And anyway, what fire?”

The Occupier is quite sure that she has interacted with this officer at least several times in the past but she decides to pretend that she is stupid so she explains about the Occupier fires that have been going on in public park spaces in the neighborhood for six years now. The cop tells her, “What! You can’t have a fire in a city park without a permit! Besides, the Plaza is not a city park, it’s private property owned by MN Power”. The Occupier calmly and politely refutes each of the cops pronouncements and then some. After a while the cop decides to act friendly, he tells her, “Well, if the Plaza is owned by the Parks Department then they are the ones who would have moved the tree planter. You should be contacting them about the problem”. The Occupier states, “That’s a good idea, I hadn’t thought of that. I’m gonna take your advice”. She then politely reminds him that neither she nor her fellow fire making person can get in their vehicles and leave the premises because they are surrounded by squad cars. The cop answers, “Oh, I think we should be able to clear a space for you”. He telepathically gets some of the cops to move their cars and the Occupiers finally take off.

Cops or no cops, we plan to be back to Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 7-31-18

G.A. Minutes 7-31-18

It’s a fairly warm evening at Peoples Plaza when the first Occupiers to arrive drive up on the sidewalk outside the site. The temperature measures in the mid-80s; the sky is clear, giving the sun free reign across the Plaza. Fortunately, a strong variable wind again this week will make the heat bearable. It won’t take long for the sun to go behind the buildings; then everything will be good to go.

As the first arriving Occupiers exit their vehicles, the food bringing Occupier comments, “I wonder if we’ll have a lot of street folks visiting tonight? I know it’s just about payday for many and seeing as today was the 31st, maybe they got paid today. The Fire Magician replies, “Probably not, under the so called “current administration” poor people get absolutely no breaks”. We know that if the street folks got paid today, most will be off the street indulging in their favorite recreational pastime which could run the gamut from alcohol and drugs to renting a cheap motel room where they can take an actual bath and sleep in an actual bed. You know, stuff that privileged people do every day of the week.

If the street folks won’t get paid until tomorrow, they’ll be seriously hurting. Some will be down to their last crumbs of tobacco and hungry too. Some will stay awake until one minute after midnight; they’ll then be able to get their small monthly stipend, which will be somewhere between $600 and $190, from the Wells Fargo ATM. Either way is fine; we try to take things as they come.

A group of fire circle people come walking down the street; they’re just in time to participate in the unloading and setting up. Of course, everything gets set up like clockwork right away. The helper peeps include another Occupier, the city official, an Anon and a couple of occasional ones, an Anon’s mom, the tall, very tattooed street/occasional Anon guy, two street guys and Lil’ Bear.

After we all get our snacks and take seats, an Occupier says to the city official, “So I hear that Dave Montgomery is gonna retire?” The city official reports, “You heard correctly. Personally, I’m miffed at Mayor Emily Larson because she didn’t fire him shortly after she took office. His type of pro-business, pro-developer philosophy of city administration is incompatible with the mayor’s stated goal of making her administration accessible to regular Duluth citizens and making their needs her priority. The Occupier agrees, “I know you’re right but I think that, given the choice, Emily is pretty non-confrontational. Mr. Montgomery may have been given the choice to retire. Maybe he will get a job working for our former mayor, Don Ness”.

We hear some talking coming from deep under one of the trees in the back of the Plaza. We turn to see that the schizophrenic man who lives in the Skinner Apartments and another man who has his back to us are under a tree smoking a joint or something. As usual, Skinner Man is talking loud enough to be heard all over the space and out into the street. His attempt at hiding is not successful.

Another group of our usual suspects roll up, among them are another Occupier, three Anons, two Water Protectors from Fond du Lac, The Gardener and the homeless guy with two hairstyles. Mr Hairstyle informs us that no one got paid today and that he will be joining everyone who will be staying up until midnight. We notice that there are more people than usual hanging out under the trees and bushes this evening.

The Occupier who works part time on the pm shift at the Mission tells us, “The Mission is going to be closed for two weeks starting tomorrow; they have to remodel the bathrooms”. Another Occupier exclaims, “Oh no! That’s gonna be real hard on our homeless ones. The Mission is the only place that provides three meals a day, seven days a week. The Dom serves a few meals everyday, I can’t remember their schedule right off the top of my head. Whatever it is, there’s going to be a lot of hungry people on the street. It would be nice if some of the churches would get together and provide a few meals over the next two weeks; the problem with that idea is that privileged folks take some time to get moving, they don’t have a lot of experience with desperation and urgency. By the time they would be able to get something together the Mission would be open again. Hmm…. I guess I’ll have to figure out what I can cook that’s cheap and will feed a lot of people on the next few Tuesdays at least”.

This evening an Occupier has made a main dish using the traditional ingredients for Three Bean Salad. About fifty percent of those present inside and outside of the circle take a bowl; the others do not. The food making Occupier whispers to another Occupier, “I forgot that this type of dish is one that people either love or hate. I think we’re gonna have leftovers tonight”. The listening Occupier remarks, “That’s true; personally I love Three Bean”. The Food Occupier concurs, “Me too”.

Several of the Anons have been living and working out at the Healing Souls Camp. An Occupier asks them, “So how are things going out at the camp?”. An Anon sighs, “Oh, I guess you haven’t heard, Healing Souls got closed down today”. We all say, “WTF?” The Anon tells us, “ Even though I was there, I’m not totally sure of what happened. I believe that Enbridge got the ears of some of the Fond du Lac DNR guys. They came out today and ordered the closing of the camp. They said something about there being too many non-Natives living there. That doesn’t really make sense to me”. An Occupier cries out, “Since when does the DNR have jurisdiction over Tribal Government sovereign land? I mean, if the Tribal Council, or whoever they are, ok’d the eviction that would be one thing but I don’t see how that could be. The Mille Lacs Band issued a very strong statement that said they were completely opposed to the Enbridge Line 3 Pipeline going anywhere on Mille Lacs land”. The Anon sighs again, “I don’t know the answer to your question”.

A woman who is a resident of the FDL rez arrives; she brings her boyfriend and her two young daughters along. We are all well acquainted with this woman. She states, “Well, we finally made it here in one piece but we have a problem. We have a flat tire; I’d sure appreciate it if somebody would come and help me change it”. A couple of peeps from the circle go across the street to help, the rest of us keep an eye on the daughters; soon we hear a lot of loud banging of metal. It appears that getting the old tire rim off the vehicle is not easy; the banging goes on for about a half an hour then everyone comes back. They’re all smiling; the family has their ride back and the helpers feel like heroes. Problem solved.

Once everyone has returned to the circle, the FDL resident asks, “So who is down with attending the No Line 3 Noise Parade on Friday?” Absolutely everyone raises their hand. She continues, “Well then, I think we need to have a little planning meeting right here”. So that’s what we do; we discuss logistics and who will be responsible for what and who, out of the myriad of other peeps who are not here but are down with the parade, will also be responsible.

The male of the interracial couple checks in; he has two 40 something white appearing men in tow. These men look like they’ve been around the block at least a few times. They all take seats in the circle; within a short time the interracial couple man starts talking on his phone and wanders off. His two friends remain with us, one of them comes over to the table and smudges himself. He tells us, “I’ve always been really drawn to smudging, I think I’m probably Native. Actually, knowing who my father is and where he’s from, I’m pretty sure that I am”. An Occupier suggests, “Why don’t you just ask him?” The man explains, “Oh no, can’t do that. We haven’t spoken since I was ten years old. I saw him hitting my mother and I ran up and smacked him real hard in the face. I haven’t seen or spoken to him since that day” The man also tells us that he is homeless; he says he’s been homeless in the past but hasn’t been so in a long time. When he says he lives in a board and lodge, we think to ourselves, “Well, technically that qualifies as being homeless but he’s not really HOMELESS – homeless, like a lot of the people we know”. Both guys get real excited when we give them a copy of the proposed Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Ordinance. One of the guys exclaims, “This is exactly how things should be. One doesn’t become a bad or evil person once they become homeless. I could tell you some stories about how I’ve been treated since I became temporarily homeless”. We say, “We know, we know”.

A Native appearing woman and her three children arrive; the woman smudges. When she tries to smudge her youngest child, he pushes her away crying, “Ick, smoke! Smoke!” The mom confides, “I wish I would have known that you were here, we would have stopped by earlier”. They hang around for a bit, the kids get a few cookies but then it’s time for them to go. Children who are well cared for have early bedtimes after all.

Another Anon rolls up; “Where is everybody?” he asks. We report that most of the other Anons have gone back to the rez with some of the Water Protectors. An Occupier mentions, “The Water Protector driving the vehicle was missing a headlight so wanted to get back before headlights were necessary”.

It’s pretty late and all the visitors have gone so we start thinking about packing up. Wrong. Wet House Man and a middle-aged Native man who has visited in the past stop by; a young, flamboyantly dressed street woman sits down too. Wet House Man is babbling on about something; the other two folks are very hungry. We feed them and then we start packing up for real.

When we’re almost finished, an occasional Anon and Mr Two Hairstyles come running up. We have no idea what they have been up to but they are famished. We show them where we put out all the leftover food and they dive in.

Now we are really gonna leave. As we survey the entire Plaza like we always do before leaving, we notice quite a few full backpacks and plastic bags laying around the edges of the space. We wonder if they’ve been forgotten or if the people who sleep under the trees and in the bushes have left them there on purpose. We know that if the stuff is left there for very long, someone will come by, go through the stuff and help themselves to whatever they want. We’re just too tired to make a decision so hope the homeless ones are smarter than we are. We actually depart to our homes this time.

We plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.