G.A. Minutes 3-19-19

G.A. Minutes 3-19-19

It appears that spring may be arriving early this year; the temperatures have been in the high 30s-low 40s for the last week or so. The snow is melting, even the gigantic piles of it are shrinking. Most people have shed their arctic gear and have switched to spring/autumn attire. It’s definitely abnormal weather for the month of March.

When the first Occupiers, activists, Water Protectors and Anonymous crew arrive at Coney Island, someone remarks, “Wow! This weather just rocks; if it keeps on like this we may be able to start our fire circles at Peoples Plaza in a few weeks. An Occupier sort of agrees, “It sure does look like it, doesn’t it? However, many years of past experiences has taught me that March can look all sweet and mellow but just when you relax it allows a blizzard to pass by and dump 3 feet of sloppy wet snow on you. The weather in March is unpredictable; we should probably wait a bit longer to be sure that winter is finally over”. An activist, who has also been around the block a few times, adds, “That stuff about March going in and out like a lion and a lamb is a fallacy too. March will do whatever, wherever it wants; there’s just no telling”. An Anon/WP exclaims, “Yeah and now that we’ve entered the age of Climate Change, all sorts of ‘once in a lifetime’ shit is happening on a regular basis!”

A WP/Anon has brought her 3 very young daughters along this evening. When they’re not whining or fighting they’re wonderfully cute and charming. We know these kids already as they have hung out with us at many venues. We always try to limit the amount of swear words we use when the little girls are around but we aren’t very good at it. “Old habits die hard”? We know that fighting among siblings is mandatory in capitalist culture but swearing while fighting is still frowned upon. When one is poor, there is always a social worker or two lurking in the background, just waiting for an excuse to take one’s children away. Especially if one happens to be a Person of Color. We grownups need to get our shit (whoops) together.

An Occupier asks everyone, “Did anyone see the video of our Indigenous WP friend explaining about the Water Walk that they and a few of our other Indigenous WP friends will be starting in a few days?” Almost everyone responds, “Huh?” or “No I haven’t, what’s up with that? The Occupier opines, “I can’t remember everything but I think they are going to walk the southern shore of Lake Superior from Cloquet and the Fond du Lac Rez to somewhere in Michigan. It will probably take a long time.”

An activist wants to know, “So what exactly is a Water Walk?” A WP attempts to explain, “Well, you know that in Anishinaabe culture women are considered to be the caretakers and protectors of water. A Water Walk is an ancient Anishinaabe undertaking where a woman or many women of Anishinaabe heritage walk along the shore of one or more of the so-called Great Lakes while carrying a container of water and praying to the Creator for the health and protection of the water. The Walk is beneficial for the lake waters and for the persons doing the Walk too.

“I think this particular Walk coming up may have something to do with the fact that Josephine, the famous and deeply spiritual First Nations water walker, passed away very recently. I suppose you all know about how the colonizers tried to unleash genocide against all Indigenous people in the western hemisphere?” We do and the WP continues, “After they killed as many of us as they could, then tried to starve us to death on reservations then kidnapped our children and forced them into boarding schools where they were regularly beaten and raped and stripped of any knowledge of their culture and language and then forced to relocate into the colonizers cities, most of us had lost considerable knowledge of who we really were. In my opinion, it seems like First Nations people from so called Canada managed to hold on to a little more of the true ways than many of us in the so called USA.

Anyway Josephine, who was fairly advanced in age when she passed, was taught about water walking by the older women in her family. Over time and without deliberately seeking any attention for herself, Josephine helped the tradition of walking and praying for the water become a renewed tradition among Indigenous nations who live in areas that contain significant amounts of water”.

An Occupier adds, “I met Josephine a few years ago at an event at the FDL Rez. She struck me as a very wise and humble person. An Anon cries out, “Well damn! I mean heck, my main focus is on anarchy but any and every part that any person of honorable intention plays in the struggle is welcome in my world”.

An Occupier reports, “Our friend, a local freelance organizer, is attempting to organize an event for May Day (Wed. May 1st) at the newly officially named Gitchi-ode Akiing Park (Grand Heart Place). He wants us to bring our fire pit and stuff. Another Occupier responds, “Well ya sure, providing he gets this thing off the ground, we should certainly bring our fire and stuff”. The reporting Occupier answers, “Our friend has organized some very effective events over the years, it wouldn’t surprise me if this May Day thing is successful”.

One of the activists remarks, “So the City finally approved the name change of what was previously called Lake Place Park?” The Occupier tells her, “Yup, they did; it only took them 5 years”. We all say, “5 YEARS!?!?” The Occupier continues, “The Indigenous Commission made the official request to the City 5 years ago; after that, the Commissioners had to attend a bazillion meetings with rich people. They got asked some pretty stupid things too but managed to keep their composure throughout. Like at, I think it was a Chamber of Commerce meeting, some privileged white guy asked, ‘Well if you get a name change, will we still be able to go there?’ Somebody else asked, ‘Will you be able to protect us if we go there?’

“So anyway, there’s going to be a Gitchie-ode Akiing Naming Ceremony at the park tentatively set for Saturday, May 4th starting around noon. They want us to bring our fire”. We all say, “Cool”.

An Occupier, who has been absent for many months because of health issues, cruises in. We are overjoyed to see him. After all the usual hugs and pats on the back, the newly arrived Occupy interjects, “Do you all know about the big explosion and fire that happened a few days ago in a petrochemical plant outside of Houston, Texas?” We nod in the affirmative. “Well as usual, the major media is not telling the whole truth. That plant had many of the same chemicals in it that were present in the Husky explosion and fire last April in Superior, WI. During that whole time Husky Oil said there was no danger from any of the smoke and fumes coming from the refinery but they still evacuated thousands of people. In Texas, the Intercontinental Terminals Company is also saying there is no danger and they haven’t evacuated anyone. All the people who live in the highly populated area are just staying home, sucking poison into their lungs”. An Anon says sarcastically, “Oh sure, when a major corporation says that everything is o.k., we should certainly believe them”.

A WP reminds us, “There’s gonna be a dinner with the Valve Turners this upcoming Sunday at AICHO, 5pm”. An activist queries, “Valve Turners?” The WP laughs, “You know, those Catholic Workers who shut off one of the valves on Enbridge’s old Line 3 pipeline up around Grand Rapids”. The activist also laughs, “Oh yeah, that’s right; I do know that. I think it will be a pretty cool event; Catholic Workers are so inspiring”. Everyone plans to attend the dinner.

Someone wants to know, “So what’s up with the warming center these days?” The Occupier who is a member of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition informs, “It’s closed for the season now unless the temperatures” plunge into the deep freeze again”. We all shutter and say, “Eewwww!”

Suddenly, all the lights are flashing off and on. We stop talking and look up; it’s just a little before 8pm and the staff guys want to go home. No problem. The little girls are very tired and need to go to bed anyway. We do all the packing up, paying up and final goodbyes then head out the door AND we don’t need hats or gloves. We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 3-5-19

G.A. Minutes 3-5-19

We’re back at Coney Island again this Tuesday evening; it’s still winter but we’ve entered the month of March so we think we may have gotten over the hump. There will still be snow and maybe even a blizzard or two but March storms are generally milder with temperatures above arctic range. Then again, climate change is now in full swing so no one knows what to expect for sure. That gives us all the more reason to keep our shoulders to the wheel and keep up the battle against the extractive industries, corporations and capitalism in general.

As for tonight, the sky is overcast, the temperature is somewhere in the teens with a moderate variable wind. In other words, if one is properly layered it’s possible to stand outside long enough for a cigarette and short conversation. If one is outside longer than that, jogging or jumping up and down will be required.

This evening’s gathering consists of the usual mix of Water Protectors, Anonymous peeps, local activists and Occupiers. One of the activists is sporting a serious “shiner”. Everyone is concerned and surprised; the purple eyed activist laughs, “Isn’t it cute? It’s hard to explain exactly how I did it but I smacked myself in the eye with the end of a shovel while attempting to clear the snow off my driveway for the gazillionth time this season”. An Occupiers emphasizes, “Ow! That musta hurt”. The activist confides, “Actually, it didn’t; maybe it was the couple of beers that I drank before I got started but I just kept shoveling until after a while I noticed that something was blocking the vision of my left eye. I went inside to check it out; it looked much worse then than it does now so I took a few pictures, postponed the rest of the shoveling and called it a night”. The Occupier comments, “I don’t imagine you might have had a few more beers in order to comfort yourself after your ordeal?” The research activist replies, “Well yes, I might have done that, I just might have”.

Changing the subject, a Water Protector/Anon who lives on the Fond du Lac Rez exclaims, “Just when I think my RBC (Reservation Business Committee aka/ the small group of enrolled members of the Fond du Lac Band of Anishinaabe/Ojibwe/Chippewa who rule according to the crooked capitalist, dominant culture system) can’t do anything more to piss me off, they piss me off AGAIN! Our tribe fought really hard tohang onto the Carter Hotel that is right behind our casino in downtown Duluth; the supposed plan was to rebuild it and rent out low income apartments to our many tribal members who are homeless and living in the city. Now the tribal government announced they’ve decided turn the space into a parking lot. WTF? We need homes for our people not private parking for the FDL bigwigs. I told our tribal chairperson the same thing earlier today; he sees me as a thorn in his side but SOMEBODY has to give him a reality check. I hate how our tribal government betrays our people while lining their own pockets”.

An activist quietly remarks, “Yeah, it is kinda weird. I notice there are a lot of Native American people in this country who are going whole hog about living their lives in tune with their traditional ways. However, for the most part, their tribal governments give most of the tribal benefits to themselves, their families and their friends. What’s up with that?”

An Occupier attempts to explain, “It’s all part of the plan begun by some of our ancient European ancestors. Have you ever heard of the Doctrine of Discovery?” The activist responds, “Yabut, I don’t remember what it was all about”. The Occupier continues, “It was a proclamation or something like that issued in 1493 by Pope Alexander VI that said any Christian anywhere in the world who came upon any land that was not occupied by another Christian, was perfectly within their rights to claim said land and to exploit said land however they saw fit. Once word got around about the Pope’s declaration, so-called ‘adventurers’ got financial backing from various kings, queens and wealthy merchants so they could travel around the world and ‘discover’ so-called vacant land and shit. It didn’t matter that the lands the so-called explorers ‘discovered’ had plenty of people and societies already living there; as long as the people did not practice official Christianity, they were labeled ‘savages’ devoid of any human rights at all.

“I’m sure you know something about the history of the “Christian conquerors” and their efforts to ‘civilize’ non-Christian peoples of the world?”

The activist nods in the affirmative and the Occupier continues, “Well, the conquerors did the same thing to all the indigenous people in the Western Hemisphere too; the British, French and Germans stomped on North America while Spain did the stomping on South America. I don’t know much about how things went down in South America but I know that in North America the indigenous folks were the victims of attempted genocide. At first the colonizers, thinking the folks were stupid, tried to trick them into trading their land in return for beads, mirrors and crap; when that didn’t work the colonizers tried to just kill them all.

However, many of the native people were fierce warriors and although the colonizers were more numerous and had bigger guns they were unable to kill all of the ‘Indians’. The next step was to try and schmooze the folks, sometimes giving them alcohol (a drug most indigenous peeps were unfamiliar with) with treaties written in a language the indigenous ones didn’t understand and that the colonizers didn’t abide by anyway. They rounded almost all of the Natives up though and corralled them in what were called ‘reservations’. On these reservations the residents were poisoned, starved and treated as less than human but in spite of it all, some of them still survived.

“So the next big idea was boarding schools, which brings us around to the late 1800s. The colonizers took the Native people’s children and put them in institutions around the country, generally far away from where their families lived. In these institutions the Native children were segregated from the rest of the world, forced to learn English and beaten for speaking their languages of birth, physically, sexually, emotionally and spiritually abused and taught about lying and being mean. Once the kids were grown and got kicked back to the reservation they had been completely stripped of their culture and found it hard to relate to their families or their surroundings. Many of the boarding school graduates turned to drinking alcohol as sort of a last resort.

“In the 1950s the plan was to relocate the “Indians” from the reservations into US cities. Most non-Native Americans were shocked to find out that indigenous people still even existed, believing that all ‘Indians’ had either been killed or had just died off. In the 1960s and 70s Native people in the cities began speaking out and demanding a better deal for themselves and for their people; so the BIA (Bureau of Indian Affairs), the US government and who knows who else came up with the concept of tribal governments. The catch was that these tribal governments had to function along the same lines as the government of the U S of A. If the tribal government didn’t adequately function in the plutocratic manner demanded they would not receive their federal government funding. So that meant corruption, lack of transparency, bribes, nepotism and all the other crap that goes along with the non-democratic, capitalist worshiping type of government we all live under in so-called America.

“So that’s why, much like our federal and state governments, tribal governments don’t do what is actually good for their people. Damn! I’ve really been running my mouth; I feel like I just gave sort of lecture. I may have some of the chronology wrong and I’m sorry that I talked so much. I’ll try to behave now”. The Anon/WP laughs, “Nah girlfriend, you’re o.k. and it is true that my RBC runs everything according to the ways of the dominant culture”.

Another Occupier switches gears asking, “So what did you all think of the Direct Action Training that we participated in over the weekend?” One of the activists responds, “I thought it was really cool. I was surprised at the amount of people who attended, some of them traveling all the way up from The Cities. I learned a lot, really enjoyed making new connections with like minded people and hope we do it again soon”. Everyone else agrees.

Someone inquires, “How about that announcement on Saturday from Enbridge stating they’re going to postpone the work on Line 3 for a year?” An Occupier exclaims, “Don’t turn your back on Enbridge for even one minute. They are some lying mother fuckers! I’m betting they’re hoping all the Water Protectors will just go home and smoke dope or some shit. By the time the W.P.s wake up…….SHAZAMM!! A brand new earth destroying pipeline will be up and running. It’s not gonna happen that way though, we’re gonna remain vigilant; am I right?” We all say, “Oh yeah, you’re definitely right”.

An activist says to a W.P., “I saw the video of you all over at the Husky Oil Refinery action yesterday. Thanks for doing that; it looked like it was freezing cold. You all were so bundled up that I couldn’t tell who anyone was; I just recognized your voice”. The W.P. Tells her, “Yeah, we planned it that way”.

The Occupier who reports stuff reports, “It looks like there will be conflicting actions this upcoming Friday. Socialist Action and the Feminist Justice League are sponsoring a picket in honor of International Women’s Day on the protest corner starting at 5pm. Anonymous Twin Ports, Northwoods 350, MN 350 and ALD are sponsoring a bank action at Wells Fargo in Cloquet starting at 3:30pm. I’m guessing we will each need to decide which action we’re gonna go to because given the travel time involved, I can’t see how anyone will be able to attend both of them”.

An activist ponders, “I wonder if FDL could just go to all renewable energy sources and leave all this unsustainable energy garbage behind?” An Occupier replies, “You might want to check out what’s going on up at the Red Lake Rez; about a year ago they announced they were going completely solar. I asked a friend of mine who lives up there if the announcement was for real and he said it was”.

We notice that it’s already after 8pm but the staff guys are just beginning their cleaning routine. As usual, we haven’t been paying much attention to our surroundings; we guess there must have been a lot of customers. We quickly clean up, pack up and pay up so as to allow them to turn off the outside lights and put up the Closed sign.

Some of us will go over to one of the Occupier couples homes in order to make signs for the upcoming bank action. We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.