G.A. Minutes 9-25-18

G.A. Minutes 9-25-18

It’s raining; it’s been raining most of the day. The weather people report that it will rain off and on (mostly on) for the rest of the week. That’s probably good for our Mother Earth so we’ll have to accept it but still……couldn’t it just rain for a week starting tomorrow?

You’ve probably figured out that rain means we meet at Coney Island on W 1st St. If you did, you’d be right. As usual, the staff is pleased to see us even though they already have a lot of customers. We have enough peeps to fill up two booths and two tables; we’re a combination of Occupiers, Anonymous members, and Water Protectors. Very few street folks have ever attended our indoor meetings, probably because they don’t have any money and think the staff will throw them out. That wouldn’t happen but many of the homeless ones have PTSD related to the abominable way they have been treated by regular people over the years. Homeless ones are just like the rest of us; they have their own prejudices and misguided beliefs.

At around 6:30 pm, a few more Anons arrive; they tell us that it’s no longer raining. The smokers go outside to check it out and find that it’s true, it’s not raining. The sky is overcast but non-threatening. The Anons want to go down to the protest corner outside Peoples Plaza in order to bring the No Line 3 concept to the masses. An Occupier comments, “We are not equipped to create a fire circle for you all right now. It takes several hours of preparation before we can get everything together for a circle. An Anon assures her, “Oh yeah, we get that. We just wanta go down there anyway and attempt to create a ruckus”.

When everyone goes back inside, someone begins a conversation about yesterday’s City Council meeting. On the Council’s agenda last night was a vote to approve the Duluth Police Department’s request for $85,000 to purchase what we call Riot Gear. The DPD swears up and down that these face shields, clubs, body armor and whatever else is not Riot Gear but Personal Protective Equipment. They promise they will never use it against protesters who are exercising their constitutional right to free speech; they say it may never be used but just sit and rot on the shelf. They vow the gear will only be used if there is “violent, criminal, social unrest”. We don’t believe them. Fortunately, there a lot of other citizens in Duluth who don’t believe them either. A few activists discovered that last night the City Council was gonna vote on whether to approve the purchase of Riot Gear or not. Word quickly spread through the community; the turn out for the meeting was huge. It was standing room only with people sitting on the floor in the Chambers, the overflow went down both outside hallways.

A few of the most memorable moments were when a citizen commented, “So where is this violent, criminal, social unrest gonna happen? Has it ever happened before in Duluth? Oh wait, yes it has! Back in 1920, here in our very city, three innocent African American young men were hung (read lynched) from a light post. The Duluth Police Department did absolutely nothing to prevent the murder of these men”.

Another citizen opined, “So if we’re gonna spend $85,000 on a bunch of stuff that’s going to rot on the shelf wouldn’t the money be better spent elsewhere? $85,000 could help to fix our streets or other infrastructure; it could provide genuine assistance to disadvantaged youth or a couple of nurses in our schools. $85,000 sounds like a lot of money just to purchase more toys for the boys in blue”.

The crowd at the Council meeting consisted primarily of various groups of marginalized people. There were also folks from various non-marginalized groups and a good few reporters too. An Anon asks, “So the next Council meeting about Riot Gear will be on Monday, October 22nd. Who’s going?” Everyone raises their hand.

An Occupier says, “Tomorrow’s gonna be a busy day. The Citizens Review Board meeting is in City Hall at 5 pm; from what I hear, it will be another discussion about Riot Gear. Then, Honor the Earth’s Water Protector Update event will be at AICHO at 6 pm. We may have to split forces with some of staying until the end of the CRB and others leaving early in order to make it to the HTE happening on time. We all think that is doable.

On Sunday, September 30th, 4pm-7pm at Peace Church, some activists and others will attempt to hold a fundraiser for the two Water Protector/Occupiers and another Water Protector who volunteered themselves to be locked to the metal gates at Wells Fargo several months ago. An attempt will be made to raise enough money to purchase an airline ticket for the third Water Protector who is currently living in another state and possibly a little more to give to our saintly and angelic pro-bono attorneys to help cover their expenses.

Seeing as most of those involved in helping with the event are currently present, we think it might be a good idea to plan an agenda, assign roles and such. The only person not with us is the lead organizer; an Occupier calls her and she tells him, “Yeah, if someone can come and get me, I’ll come down”. Another Occupier makes the short drive to get her, then the lead organizer, one of the Water Protector/Occupiers and the Fond du Lac band member who has volunteered to MC the event put their heads together and come up with a plan. The rest of us offer suggestions if we have them and agree to take on our assigned tasks. We hope that many people will attend and support the Water Protectors who risk their safety and their freedom so the rest of us and the generations to come can have safe clean water.

Once we have agreed upon a plan, we notice our surroundings again. There are a lot of customers in the cafe’. Some have many tables pushed together like we do, some are sitting at the counter, others are up at the front placing their orders and another group are just walking around laughing and joking. This is good because many customers in the evening will encourage the owner to keep the place staffed and open during the cold time of the year. We understand how capitalism works; we just don’t like it very much.

It’s getting late; the Anons decide to postpone their ruckus making until next Tuesday because the majority of the cars will have reached their final destinations by now. Most of us will stop by one of the Occupiers homes for a little R&R before going to our warm, safe and dry sleeping places. Everyone is entitled to one of these; housing is a human right.

We hope to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 9-18-18

G.A. Minutes 9-18-18

It feels like a typical evening in autumn here at Peoples Plaza; except that all the tree leaves and other growing things are still green. Hopefully, they’ll stay that way for a while longer. Tonight the temperature is only in the low 60s but a strong northeast wind and an earlier sunset make it feel much colder. Warm clothes and a seat close to the fire, while not required, are a very good idea.

The Plaza is completely empty when the Fire Magician and the Food Bringing Occupier roll up on the sidewalk outside of the Plaza. The Occupiers both groan and slowly start the process of hauling the fire circle supplies up the stairs and onto the site. A veteran street woman, who we have known since the days of our first fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, walks up and asks if we’d like help. This woman goes by the street name of Fox and is more than likely a senior citizen however, she is quite physically fit and limber. The Occupiers say, “Sure, that would be great”. So Ms Fox then calls out to a couple of guys on the street, “Hey, get off your asses and come over and help us”. The guys comply and soon all the basics are in place. When they have finished helping, the street folks all walk off. Another Occupier arrives; he finds very little left to do.

As the fire roars up, the partner of the Stylish Native Woman drops in. He’s cheerful and reasonably coherent this evening. He wants to know the difference between birth records and genetics. Years ago he explained to us that he had been adopted at a very young age; although he is now close to forty years of age he still knows nothing concerning the origins of his birth, birth parents, conditions for adoption or related information. It’s possible that The Partner’s severe and unmedicated mental illness has been a barrier to his discovery of these facts.

An Occupier explains to The Partner that finding out his birth circumstances would require much time, effort and searching through old court records in order to gain the knowledge he desires; or he could hire someone to do it for him. However, there is no guarantee that the records he needs could ever be found. If The Partner just wants to know what his ethnic origins are then he would need to give a saliva sample to a reputable genetic laboratory and wait to receive the results. Unfortunately, a genetic test for one’s ethnic origins is unable to supply any information about who the actual people who gave him his genetic makeup where. She tells him that going both routes at the same time would probably produce the best results but would cost a lot of money. The Partner replies, “Yeah, money is usually the problem; the little bit that I get in disability each month seems to disappear really fast”.

A couple of young guys who occasionally roll with the peeps from the Anonymous crew arrive; they’re laughing and talking about video games or something. As we listen and try to figure out what they’re talking about, a street officer from the Duluth Police Department comes up the stairs. We exchange polite greetings then the officer says, “It looks like you’ve got a pretty good thing going on here, the only problem is that fire. You’re gonna have to put that out; it’s illegal to have a fire in a city park”. An Occupier politely explains, “Actually, this fire is completely legal. It conforms to the requirements of the particular City ordinance related to fires in city parks, to the MN Statute related to fires in city parks and to the International Fire Codes related to recreational fires. I have copies of all the paperwork if you’d like to look at them”

Another Occupier opines, “Officer, it would be wise to listen to her; she’s been studying this stuff for years”. The Occupier who keeps the records reaches into the bin and takes out the file folder that she always brings along to the fire circles and hands a copy of the City ordinance to the cop. The Occupier explains that the particular section that addresses our particular fire situation is outlined in yellow but of course the cop doesn’t listen to her and reads the first line of the ordinance, he says, “Hey, wait a minute, it says right here,’fires are not allowed in city parks’!” The record keeping Occupier replies, “Yes, that’s true but look at the next line that has been yellowed over, it says, “exemptions” (one of the exemptions describes our type of fire to a t). The officer does so then exclaims, “Well, I think this ordinance is open to interpretation!” The Occupier doesn’t think it is open but decides not to waste her time arguing; she answers, “Well here’s a copy of the MN Statute” and hands it to him. “ a MN Statue always trumps a City Ordinance The cop does the same thing with this legal paper too; he grumbles, “… it is unlawful to have an open fire without obtaining written permission from the commissioner…” Trying really hard not to roll her eyes, the Occupier suggests, “Try scrolling down a few lines to where the sentences are covered in yellow, where it says ‘exemptions’.

Another Occupier comments, “We’ve been holding these fire circles in downtown Duluth for six years now; we kinda know what we’re talking about”. The officer retorts, “Six years!?! I have never seen you here before!” The record keeping Occupier thinks to herself, “Then you must be the most unobservant policeperson who ever lived” but she offers to show the cop a copy of the International Fire Codes and keeps her thoughts to herself. It appears the police dude has had enough paperwork; he responds, “I guess I’ll have to research these laws myself; I normally work the Lincoln Park beat so don’t get around here much. Have a good evening”. He walks to his squad car and drives off. An Occupier scoffs, “Oh yeah, I’m sure he’s gonna go straight home after work and start researching legislative codes. Cops just love doing that type of shit”. We all laugh.

Once the cop leaves, more people join the circle. They include an Occupier, the chronically homeless man who watched us from afar for many months before joining us a few weeks ago and his girlfriend, an Anon, the very tattooed occasional Anon and the Stylish Native Woman.

The lentil and vegetable soup heating up on the small grill is ready to eat; almost everyone takes a bowl. The Occupier who is a college student inquires, “Did anyone see that people protested at the Enbridge office in Superior today and then blocked traffic on a bridge?” We all say, “No kidding!?! We did not know that, tell us more”. The student Occupier states, “It was just a tiny little blurb at the end of the 6pm newscast on one of the commercial TV stations. I saw it as I was going out the door to come here. I’ll do some research and try to have more information next week”.

The city official pops his head into the circle and reports, “I was just riding by on the bus on my way down to Carmody’s for another one of my fundraisers when I saw a cop over here. I immediately got off the bus and came over to see if everything was o.k. An Occupier tells him, “It was just the usual ying-yang that cops who don’t know us try to lay on us. Once he figured out that we weren’t intimidated by him, he left. The official man looks relieved, “Oh, that’s good. I’ll just be on my way then”. The city official is always watching our backs.

The veteran young homeless guy minus dreadlocks and Chicago Man stop in. Chicago Man announces he will be moving into an apartment of his own in just a few more days. He enthuses, “I’ve been on the waiting list for over a year, I complied with all their guidelines, saved my own money for a deposit and now I’m finally getting an apartment. I’m kinda tired because I’ve been packing for days but I’M SO EXCITED!!!” We are all happy for him.

The short haired young homeless guy reports, “It looks like I’ll be going off to rehab again. I pissed off my p.o. and she wants to send me off to a treatment program that lasts for a year. I guess that’s what I’ll do then; I sure don’t want to go back to prison”.
He’s about to tell us more but…KABOOM!!! We hear a very loud explosion and all the sparks, flames and burning wood come flying out of the fire pit. We Are Stunned. One of the younger Anons sheepishly says, “Oh, I’m sorry”. One of the homeless ones sighs, “I tried to tell him that you can’t throw a used up lighter into the fire but everything just happened too fast”. An Occupier adds, “I’m just glad that no one was hurt”. Everyone picks up the hot wood and embers and puts them back in the fire pit; the Fire Magician sweeps up the ashes. “Same as it ever was”. We all sit watching the fire start up again and waiting for our heart rates to go down…..then we’re back in business.

Apparently, we are the hottest action going on the street now. Many, many street folks join us; the food supplies are running low but we still have organic pb+j sandwiches and lentil soup. That’ll work. Among the new arrivals to the circle are the DD and/or TBI guy who lives at the Wet House and the big, brown, yelling guy who made so much noise last week. There are so many people tonight that Wet House Man is unable to dominate the conversation; he just sits and laughs. The big brown guy is not currently yelling but he sure is hungry; he chows down on everything he can find.

We had noticed a few weeks ago that the Stylish Woman was using a small walking stick; we know that she is up in age and walking is sometimes difficult for her. When she goes to the table to refill her coffee cup someone compliments her on the beauty of her stick. She replies, “It was gifted to me by the brother of a very dear, old friend of mine. My dear friend crafted this stick himself and when he died recently, his brother told me that my friend had wanted me to have it”.

An Occupier asks, “Does anyone remember that book by Rachael Carson called Silent Spring?” All of the Occupiers and most of the Anons are familiar with the book. The Occupier remarks, “I believe Silent Spring came out in 1971. Among other things, Ms Carson asked us to notice that most of the environment in the US was then devoid of song birds. She hypothesized that this was because of the extensive use of pesticides, especially DDT. Also, the water in many rivers and bays was spontaneously bursting into flames, because there were oil spills all over the place and nobody, including the government thought oil spills were any big deal. That was before we had the EPA or OSHA or any of that stuff. I believe that Silent Spring made a major contribution towards the preservation of our Mother Earth”. An Anon observes, “Yabut, all that environmental regulation has been pretty much kicked to the curb over the years by the stinking servants of the 1%”. The Occupier responds, “Yeah, I know”.

An Occupier asks the Occupier who lives in Superior, “Say, I hear that there was another explosion at the Husky Oil Refinery last Saturday?” The Superior Occupier explains, “As you know, I live pretty close to the refinery. I was kinda distracted with doing something at the time but I do remember that I thought I heard one loud “Boom!” After a while I went outside to look and the sky was covered with smoke. Of course, the Husky Company is saying it was just a small propane tank that fell over; small tank my ass! I’ve been inside that refinery; that tank was huge”.

The reporting Occupier reports, “Before I forget, I want to remind everybody that the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition is holding a free dinner and brainstorming session at AICHO on Thursday of this week, 5p-8p. We’re starting Phase ll of the HPB of R which will attempt to tackle the issues of p;aces where homeless folks will be able to legally camp, the right to eat and share food freely in public spaces, the right to use and move freely in public spaces, the right to twenty four hour access to hygiene facilities, the right to equal treatment by City staff and the right to speak with an advocate or street outreach worker when questioned by police. I hope you all will attend and invite as many homeless and street folks as you can. We need all the ideas and advice that we can get”.

A very large middle-aged white woman and her much younger and smaller white boyfriend have been sitting in our circle and next to the table for a while. They haven’t spoken much but have been listening to the conversation. The big, brown, previously yelling guy comes over from the east ledge and goes to the table to get more food. The large woman looks at him and then down at the floor; she takes her purse and a bag and moves them in front of herself and close to her feet. She states, “I always like to keep track of my bags”. The big brown dude tells her, “You moved your bags because you thought I was gonna steal them! I don’t steal! Not all black people steal!” The white woman sputters something unintelligible; the black guy responds, “You know what you were really thinking, you stupid, fat, ugly white BITCH!!!” He takes his food and walks back to the east ledge.

The large woman is speechless; an Occupier opines, “He does have a point you know. Black people experience suspicion and racism on a daily basis. It could very well have been a coincidence that you moved your stuff when you did but he’s been given so much crap all his life; it’s understandable that he went ballistic”.

A young man with a very impressive, large and well organized backpack sits down. He tells us his name and also the fact that he is a Water Protector from a Native American band living on their ancestral lands near the Canadian border. The young man has spent the last several years visiting and helping out at various resistance camps all over the United States. He’s finally on his way back home and ended up stuck on the streets of Duluth until morning. The traveling man and one of the Water Protector/Anons have many friends and acquaintances in common; they settle down for a chat.

The Occupiers have only one dilemma, the fire is dying but we could throw a couple more logs on it and sit and watch it burn for another hour or so OR we could just watch it burn out now. It’s a little after 9pm; the consensus is to let it burn out now. So that’s what we do.

Once the fire is seriously waning, we begin to pack up. The Water Protector from the Canadian border will spend the night in the apartment of some of the Anons. While all this is going on, the big, brown dude comes over and takes a seat next to the Food Bringing Occupier, he sighs, “You know, I’m really sorry; I shouldn’t have used the words that I did. I mean, just look at me. I know I got white in me”. He removes the hood of his hoodie and shakes out his beautiful, long, thick and wavy black hair. He reports, “This all looks red in the sun. I gotta go back to the ledge; that’s my girlfriend lying over there on the bench, she’s so drunk she can’t even stand up. I havta go take care of her”. Off he goes.

So, everyone is ready to head off to their various abodes. We expect to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 9-11-18

G.A. Minutes 9-11-18 Apparently it’s summer again, at least for tonight. When the first Occupiers arrive at Peoples Plaza the temperature is in the high 70s; the variable breeze that keeps us comfortable all summer has also returned. Sweet.

After consulting with the Occupier who brings most of the food, the Fire Magician decides to make a fairly good sized fire. That way we’ll still get the pleasure of smelling the smoke and watching the flames; if we make a big circle no one will become overheated.

The only person who is waiting to help the Occupiers upon their arrival is the Native old school skater and occasional Anon dude. He’s not drunk either; we’ve never seen him sober before. He’s a little older than most of the people who ride skateboards but he’s still young enough to easily haul out all the chairs and stuff and to begin setting everything up. Soon another Occupier and several peeps from the Anonymous crew roll up; the whole scene is together in a few minutes.

When we entered the Plaza we noticed a big brown guy with a full head of long, black curly hair yelling loudly at two young women. He screams over and over, “I want my money back!” The two young women just sit there on the east ledge, they don’t appear to be saying anything. The yelling guy doesn’t appear to be fixin’ to hit them; he’s just pacing back and forth hollering about his money. After a while the larger of the two women comes over to our circle and plunks down in one of the chairs; she exclaims, “I don’t havta listen to that shit!” This very blonde and voluptuous young woman has attended many of our fire circles this year. She works the overnight shift at a group home and drops in at Peoples Plaza most evenings before catching the bus to her job. The big brown dude is still yelling at the small young woman who remained listening to him; we’re told that she is his girlfriend. Marvelous. We figure we’ll keep an eye on the guy and if it looks like he’s gonna get violent, we’ll intervene. The chairs in the circle fill up quickly, those filling these chairs include four of the usual Occupiers, an equal amount of Anons, the city official, the tattooed occasional Anon and the Stylish Native Woman and her partner.

The Anons all go out to the protest corner to see if they can get a lot of support from the cars and passersby. The reactions they receive seem to vary from week to week.

An Occupier comments to the city man, “Oh good, I’m glad you stopped by before going down to Carmody’s for your fundraiser”. She gives him a donation from the group.

Street folks begin appearing as soon as the Food Occupier starts putting a few things on the table; she has to ask them to wait until she gets everything put out. There’s a big pot of bean with vegetable soup heating up on the little grill, the table has stay-awake-forever coffee, apple juice, cold water, pickles, chips, cookies, two pans of delicious goulash cooked by an Anon/Water Protector and….. “Oh crap!” says the food bringing Occupier, “I forgot to bring the hard-boiled eggs!”

Another Occupier hops in a vehicle and drives a few blocks up the hill to retrieve them. The very hungry street folks crowd close to the table; as soon as the Food Occupier gives the signal, they absolutely descend on the food. The hotdish is gone in minutes, the rest of the banquet in a few minutes more. In their haste, one of the starving ones knocks the sage and smudge dish to the brick pavement; it shatters into little pieces. The Occupier thinks to herself, “Oh no, I hope it’s not going to be ONE OF THOSE NIGHTS”. One of the Native people in the circle advises, “That broken dish will need to be buried somewhere”. The food Occupier packs up all the pieces and will bury them later in her garden. As for right now, she will have to use the dog water dish for a sage holder. Fortunately, so far this evening, there have been no visitors from the canine world.

Once the famished peeps get their provisions, most go off to the various ledges surrounding the Plaza. Things settle down and the Occupier keeping an eye on the table replenishes most of the food so all the just normally hungry folks can eat something too.

The Occupier who is a single parent has been working out of town for most of the summer. He’s back in town for the school year and attending his first meeting in several months. He asks, “I sent out a post about a proposed 28th Amendment to the Constitution a few days ago, did any of you see it and if so, what did you think?” Many of us saw his post; someone responds, “Hell yeah, that’s a very good idea. Congresspeople should be required to obey every single law that all regular citizens are required to obey, no exceptions. We already pay them a lot of money and all most of them do for it is to follow the commands of the 1%”. An Occupier adds, “Yeah, it is a very good idea but I believe the problem is that in order for a constitutional amendment to become law, it has to be ratified by most of the states. I think that means that most of the congresspeople in each state have to vote for it. I don’t imagine the corporate whores are going to vote in favor of anything that takes away any of their perks”. We all shake our heads at the absurdity of it all.

An Occupier postulates, “I think all of ‘He-Who-Shall-Not-Be-Named’s minions are in serious competition to come up with the most idiotic, ridiculous idea or policy imaginable. I hear that DeVos (secretary of education) wants to use taxpayer education money to purchase guns for public school teachers. That way, the teachers will be able to defend the students when a crazed shooter shows up at their school. Great idea, aye?” Another Occupier chuckles, “I wonder what kind of disability benefits teachers will get when they accidentally shoot themselves while practicing stopping an imaginary crazed shooter. Hell, the teachers could partner up and shoot each other then they could both get a vacation.” An Anon remarks, “Well if the teachers are gonna be carrying guns, I wonder what will happen to the kid who never does his/her homework?” Sometimes you gotta laugh just to keep from crying.

The Occupier who has been out town for the summer asks a Water Protector/Occupier, “So what’s the latest news about your charges from doing that Wells Fargo lockdown?” The questioned Occupier tells him, “Well, the judge has accepted our “necessity defense”. He said that he definitely knows that climate change is real but he wants us to show him why disrupting Wells Fargo business will aid in saving the planet. We were denied a jury trial but will be having our actual trial in front of the judge on Wednesday, October 10th at 9 am. The returning Occupier opines, “Showing all the bazillions of dollars that Wells Fargo has invested in the fossil fuel industry shouldn’t be very hard to prove, I think”. The Water Protector/Occupier responds, “I know, that’s what everyone says”.

Changing the subject, the Reporting Occupier reports, “The annual vigil and press conference for The Woman Who Tells Good Stories will be held next Monday, noon, at the Central Hillside Community Center. We all hope to be there; we need to keep the story-telling woman’s memory alive as someday the truth will be found.

Chicago Man drops in. An Occupier exclaims, “Dude, we haven’t seen you in several weeks; I was beginning to get worried about you”. Chicago Man pantomimes “I can’t talk” and points to his throat. Apparently, he has a sore throat. He starts whispering to folks but gives up and starts talking anyway. We know him to be a very talkative person.

Of course, Fireproof Man shows up again; he may be planning on becoming a regular guest. He starts talking in his “word salad” language and the Yelling Man from the east ledge, who has been yelling off and on throughout the evening, starts yelling at Fireproof Man saying if he doesn’t stop talking his “word salad” language, Yelling Man will beat him up. Wonderful. As Fireproof Man stands at the table getting coffee and stuff, the partner of the Stylish Woman walks up to him, calls him by his given name and they start having some type of conversation. We are all amazed. An Occupier thinks to himself, “Oh, this is great; The Partner understands Fireproof Man. The Partner could be our clue to unraveling the mystery”.

A young street man, who we’ve not met in the past, is trying to pour himself a glass of apple juice. He’s a little shaky but he succeeds; he comments, “This is me without drugs. I haven’t taken any drugs in three days”. We congratulate him and he goes off into the shadows. An Occupier asks some of the street folks sitting beside her, “Was he talking about prescribed drugs or recreational drugs?” One of the folks replies, “It could be recreational drugs; there’s been several big local drug busts recently”. The other street person adds, “It could be prescribed drugs too. Doctors just give people new drugs and send them on their way; there’s very little in the way of monitoring going on. Both prescribed and recreational drugs can really fuck you up if not monitored correctly”.

An Occupier confesses, “I’m really confused about all this social media monitoring going on these days. Where does one draw the line between freedom of speech and hate speech? I want to be able to easily express my opinions but I don’t want to hear rantings from fascists and Nazis and such. However, I’m guessing that my freedom of speech is dependent on a Nazi’s freedom of speech too?”

Chicago Man chimes in, “I saw a Nazi once. It was back when I was working the night shift at the big box store. A big guy wearing shorts came walking through the door. He had a big swastika tattooed on his leg. I said, ‘Oh no honey, there is no way I’m going to interact with this guy’. I told my co-worker that I had to go to the bathroom and I hid until I knew that the Nazi was gone. I am seriously afraid of that shit”.

Another Occupier reports, “Remember when the porta-potty across the street got removed and I said I would be talking to a person from the City about it? Well, I did and it turns out she’s a personal assistant to the mayor. Anyway, she said the mayor is willing to put up another potty in the area but she wants the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition to choose the next spot. I went to the HPB of R meeting a few days ago and we came up with a list of eight possibilities”. The HPB of R Coalition Occupier reads off all the possibilities on the list; we think that one of the spots behind Pizza Luce’ or the one at the entrance to Lake Place Plaza, directly across from the Norshor Theater are the best choices. The Occupier continues, “I emailed our choices to the City woman yesterday, now she’s gonna see what spots are actually owned by the City and get back to me on that. I hope the whole process doesn’t take too long because a potty that’s easily accessible in the Peoples Plaza area is very much needed”.

Someone remarks, “I wonder why all these flags are flying at half mast; it can’t be John McCain because he’s already been buried”. An Anon tells him, “It’s 9/11. Today is the anniversary of 9/11, you know, the Twin Towers and all that”. We all say, “Oh right! We can’t believe that we’d forgotten”.

Most of the street folks have gone off now, the rest of us are just chillin’ around the fire. The young, schizophrenic dude with the blonde, spiked haircut rolls in, only he doesn’t have blonde spiked hair anymore. It looks like he’s letting his hair just grow out natural; it’s still kinda short but it lays down on his head and is kinda red-brown. Anyway, he doesn’t say much, just gets whatever is left on the table and sits quietly listening to the conversation. He has the same big goofy grin on his face as per usual.

We hear an ambulance come roaring down the street; an Occupier states, “I believe that’s the first siren we’ve heard all night”. Another Occupier answers, “Come to think of it, I think you’re right”. Hmm… Many evenings we have sirens blaring back to back all night long.

As we are packing up to leave we hear yelling coming from the east ledge again. This time it’s the small girlfriend of Yelling Man; she’s screaming something and chasing the formerly spiky blond guy around the ledge. The young dude is yelling at the top of his voice, “BUT I DIDN’T DO ANYTHING!” We know that the no longer blond schizophrenic dude has become quite streetwise since he got kicked out of CHUM at the beginning of spring. We’re gonna let him handle this one himself.

Some of the Occupiers and Anons will go over to the Occupier couple’s home for a bit of R&R before calling it a night. We plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 9-4-18

G.A. Minutes 9-4-18
We’re having some pretty strange luck these days or else the weather people enjoy making fun of us. Last Tuesday they told us it wasn’t gonna rain and we ended up getting soaked while attempting to have a fire circle outside in the rain. This Tuesday they told us it would most definitely be raining all day and night so we came to Coney Island. The rain stopped around 3pm and although it’s been looking like it’s gonna start up again any minute; there is not and has not been even one drop of water from the sky. We imagine there are street folks at Peoples Plaza who are waiting for us but we are not at all prepared to start a fire now. Bummer.

The staff guys actually remember us and seem pleased to see us; they even remember what our usual food orders are. We have almost two booths worth of people consisting of three Occupiers, four people from the Anonymous crew and one city official. The city official is organizing a fundraising event for the trip to the Legacy Museum. It will be held at Carmody’s Irish Pub in downtown Duluth from 6 pm ’til around 8:30 pm on Tuesday, September 18th. We’ll probably be holding a fire circle at that time; an Occupier comments, “We’ll have to send someone down there with a donation”. This time of year we have to take everything one week at a time. Last year, winter closed our fire down in mid-October; some years it doesn’t arrive until late November. We just don’t know; apparently, the weather people don’t know either.

The city official comments to an Anon, “Did you see the new entryway at our neighborhood Wells Fargo building?”

The Anon laughs, “Yeah, I did. It’s all encased in glass now. I guess they want to have only one public entryway to their bank; when the ‘terrorists’ show up they want to be able to see them right away so they can close the entryway before the ‘terrorists’ get inside”.

An Occupier adds, “ I went to the Citizens Review Board last week; one of the cops said that the higher-ups in the Duluth Police Department had a meeting with the local Wells Fargo officials concerning ideas for protecting themselves against ‘terrorists’.

Another Occupier suggests, “What a bunch of stupid shit! I don’t suppose Wells Fargo will ever realize that if they’d stop investing in earth destroying activities and ripping off their members, ‘terrorists’ wouldn’t bother them anymore”.

Changing the subject, an Occupier tells everyone, “I’m thinking that it might be a good idea for me to file an official complaint with the Human Rights Department concerning our problem with the Mn Power Company, their contracted security department and the blocking of the public entryway when we need to briefly get our vehicles up in Peoples Plaza so we can unload. I brought a copy of the HR form. As you can see, it’s supposed to be filled out by one singular person and then the person is supposed to present all their witnesses. I could fill out the form if you guys are willing to sign on as witnesses”. Everyone is down with her idea.

The smokers go out for a smoke break; as they are smoking, the retired neighborhood man strolls by. He stops to chat and tells us, “I was down at the Plaza looking for you all and now here you are”. We explain about the confusion with the weather forecasters and make other small-talk. The retired man is still interested in the inner workings of the establishment Democratic party so we can’t go very deep with him. Still, if one doesn’t speak about religion or spirituality, he’s a pretty nice man. If one mentions anything having to with the ethereal world, the retired man goes ballistic. He doesn’t believe in any of that crap and he doesn’t think anyone else should either. So like I said, we can’t go very deep with him.

When the smokers return, they find the rest of the group just kinda slouched in their seats, some with heads resting on their arms. Everyone is tired and meetings at Coney Island are usually less exciting than the ones at Peoples Plaza. The dark, almost rainy day doesn’t help either. Actually, we do need to rest and relax; we’ll be gearing up for the International Climate March on Saturday. It’s being led by the Sierra Club so it’s possible they will be able to turn out a large crowd.

An Anon remarks, “Some of us will be getting together on Friday to make a banner and some new signs for the march”.

The march will form at 10 am from AICHO and leave for the Civic Center at 10:30 am. A rally will happen there and then the march will head out for the Harvest Festival at Bayfront Park; ETA 12:30 pm. We hope to all meet up at Bayfront once the march is finished.

The reporting Occupier reports, “There’s a sort of emergency meeting of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition at 6:30 pm on this upcoming Thursday. They’re planning an event for later on in the month”.

Another Occupier, who can’t stop yawning, sighs, “Guys I’m gonna have to head out; I can barely keep my eyes open”. Everyone else feels the same way. We don’t have much packing up to do; we just gather our belongings and say goodnight to the staff guys.

As we are about to head out the door, an Occupier asks one of the staff guys, “I hear there was a murder last Thursday right in this general neighborhood?” The staff guy answers, “There sure was. A guy shot another guy and the man who got shot fell down right in front of our door. We called 911 and they arrived immediately but by the time they got him the few blocks to the hospital, the injured man had died”. We all shake our heads in sadness. Stuff like this doesn’t happen very often in our Central Hillside but it does happen. So we’re off to rest and do good things; we sure hope we will be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.