G.A. Minutes 4-16-19

G.A. Minutes 4-16-19

It comes as no big surprise to us that we had one last (hopefully) blizzard before spring truly kicked in this year. The Great White North played host to around 5 inches of new snow during the middle of last week. Wonderful. The entire city shut down for at least 24 hours; driving or walking around was a complete mess for at least 2 days. However, temperatures remained in the +20s and as far as we know, none of our homeless ones froze to death. An Occupier couple reported that once it became possible to see out the windows again, they saw a big, fat robin sitting on a snow covered branch. They said, “The poor little guy was sitting completely motionless with a small pile of snow on his head; he didn’t look very happy”.

This evening, when the first Occupiers, Water Protectors and Anonymous crew arrive at Coney Island, it’s still light out, the sky is clear, temperatures are in the upper 40s with little wind. The snow has melted on all the sidewalks and streets and much of the ground too; the only white stuff left is in the big piles the snowplows left when they plowed the streets and every day those piles get smaller. So that means only one thing; spring has actually arrived for sure now. That’s true isn’t it? Well, ISN’T IT?

We all say hi to the staff guys, place food and drink orders and head to the back of the large restaurant; we find the research activist, one of her friends and an Anon waiting for us. Once we get settled, a Water Protector quires, “So what did you all think about the Say No to Hate event at the Central Hillside Community Center last Saturday evening?” Everyone thinks it was a good starting event and we hope that all the genuine caring and good energy that was present at CHCC a few days ago, will turn into effective concrete action. An Occupier comments, “It was decided by general consensus that there would be another No Hate meeting this upcoming Saturday. All the attendees were supposed to receive an email telling us what time this next meeting would be starting; has anyone heard anything yet?” We all say, “Nope”.

About a week and a half ago, a white supremacist (s) put posters advertising a national white supremacist group all over a park just outside of downtown Duluth. Once the word of this insult got around the Twin Ports area, most people of color and many so-called white people were quite upset. Hence, the creation of the “Say No to Hate” event. This despicable white supremacist ideology has plagued the world for over 500 years; it serves as one of the tools used by the 1% to keep various groups of people divided from each other. The concept of white supremacy is deeply ingrained in American culture and present in many parts of the world. White supremacy is ingrained in American institutions, sometimes in ways so subtle that most so-called white folks don’t even notice; most people of color do notice though.

So anyway, this is not the first time white supremacy has challenged our city. This is not the first time that well-meaning community members have gathered together to try to address the issue. In the past, community members have held a couple of meetings, then the leaders get involved in other things, meetings fall to the wayside and the so-called white folks just go back to their daily lives; white supremacy gets put on the back burner until the next racist incident occurs.

People of color don’t have the option of putting white supremacy on the back burner; racism is continuously present in their daily lives. During the Say No to Hate meeting, a person of color said to the predominately white group, “We want you all to take care of this. You know ‘your people’ better than we do besides, we’re tired; we deal with this stuff all the time and it takes a toll both physically and emotionally on us. We need you all to step up”.

The Occupiers, Anons and Water Protectors all hope that the aforementioned community members do step up; we will assist them. We know we can’t take the lead, our plates are already full; also, a lot of the so-called white community members and some of the people of color are afraid of us. They’ve watched or read too much of the major media’s misinformation and lies about us. If we tried to take the lead, the only people who would show up would be the people who know and work with us already. We continuously do anti-racist work between the white and persons of color in our groups already. White supremacy needs to be eradicated throughout our community and throughout the world.

An Occupier remarks, “While we’re on the subject of racism, did you all hear about the hockey riot on Saturday night?” Some of us have heard, others have not. The Occupier continues, “Well, the UMD hockey team won some sort of important hockey game on Saturday night and the fans were very happy about it. They began to take over parts of Canal Park, they were extremely noisy and rowdy. The Duluth Police Department closed down the street for about an hour, somebody knocked over a big light pole and one person was arrested for being drunk. That’s it; the cops did not put on their riot gear”.

Another Occupier reports, “I saw some of those rioters that night; I stayed after the No Hate meeting to help the main organizer clean up. I went out on the back porch to have a smoke; I heard, then saw, a large group of well dressed, white, jock type young men stomping down the sidewalk on the upper side of E 4th St. They were obviously drunk and hollering about what bitches women are. I dipped into the shadows so they wouldn’t see and possibly target me. I had no idea what they were about but thought it very strange to see such a sight in our neighborhood. It’s a good thing they didn’t wake up any of the neighbors; they may have had some real trouble then”. We all laugh and the Occupier continues, “When I gave the main organizer a ride home about a half an hour later we came across another large group of young, white guys doing the same type of thing. That’s when I found out about the hockey game”.

A Water Protector tells us, “They were over east in my mom’s neighborhood too. She said they were tipping over garbage cans and making a general mess. She turned off all her lights and stayed quietly hidden in her house hoping they didn’t come into her yard. She said this was not the first time the young hockey fans rioted”.

The first Occupier states, “There’s actually a moral to this story, see if you can guess what it is. So I heard this story from sort of a big shot woman who holds a leading position in one of our city’s most important NGOs; I’ve observed this woman’s work for several years now and I have no reason to believe she would tell me anything that wasn’t true. Anyway, she said that a few days before or after the hockey riot event, there was a problem up at Woodland Hills (a local company that provides residential and so-called correctional services for so-called delinquent teenage boys from all over the state. These boys are, more often than not, children of color). A couple of the boys were fighting and the DPD was called; 21 cops showed up! Once the fighting was over the cops charged one guy with “inciting a riot”. So what do you think is the moral of this story?” An Anon exclaims, “That Duluth police officers and a large part of the people who live in Duluth are racist as fuck?!?” The storytelling Occupier smiles and says, “Very good; you may go to the head of the class”. We all laugh.

The smokers go out for a break and while they are outside, a group of 5 or 6 young people come over to talk with them. The young ones appear to be an equal mix of males and females and are dressed in the same casual manner that most of the innocent kids in our neighborhood prefer. They tell us they are on a Scavenger Hunt and wonder if we can help them. First off, they need a quarter which a Water Protector promptly produces; they just need to take a picture of the quarter with their cell phone. Next, they need a 1978 penny; the smokers dig through their pockets and coin purses. They find plenty of pennies but none from 1978. The smokers and the youngsters go inside and ask the rest of the group; the staff guys even empty the stash of pennies from the cash register. No luck. Among the hundreds of pennies that all the adults produce, there is not one from 1978. The kids go off down the street; an Occupier opines to another, “There must be something different about pennies made in 1978; they’re probably a collector’s item”.

Somebody asks, “So it might be time to start up our recreational fires at Peoples Plaza again pretty soon, doncha think?” The Fire Magician responds, “Yeah, you’re probably right; I drove past the Plaza yesterday and noticed that almost all the snow has melted. The vehicle entryway is completely open too. We don’t have enough firewood to last for the whole season but we have enough for a start. Our wood people have more wood for us but they live up north in the woods and there’s still so much snow there that they can’t get their splitter and all the other stuff out of the garage. Let’s get through the Husky Rally in Superior on April 27th and the May Day event at the Plaza on May 1st and then we can focus on starting up our fires”. We say, “Sounds like a plan”.
A few of our Water Protector friends tried to hold a Water Walk somewhere in Michigan; it didn’t turn out very well. They were very innocently attempting to carry a vessel of water while walking and praying for the recovery and health of Lake Superior and of water everywhere. When they began to walk on the sidewalk of a big bridge, they were surrounded by a bunch of Michigan cops, cuffed and put in jail. They stayed in jail for a couple of days while we and other allies rushed around trying to gather money for their bail.

They’re all out now but they’re charged with all sorts of ridiculous, felonious things. They’ll be stuck going back and forth to court for months and months and it will cost a lot zhoon (money). It’s quite unfair seeing as all the charges are false and they weren’t doing anything wrong or even illegal. We think they were just in a very redneck area while looking like hippies. Are they terrorists? Well, no…… A terrorist hippie is a very rare thing indeed.

On the other hand, a Water Walk is a thing that is supposed to be sanctioned by the elders of the Water Walker’s tribe. The route is carefully planned and allies living along it are notified that the Walker should be passing through around some particular time. There’s lots of other stuff that we don’t know about that must also be done. We don’t think that our Indigenous friends and other allies made all the proper preparations before starting off. Of course, we will try to help them throughout their ordeal but we think it just goes to showya, real Indigenous ceremonies have a lot of power so their protocols should be seriously followed.

The Occupier who lives in Superior tells us, “I think I’m gonna be on the local TV news later tonight or tomorrow. I went to that open house sponsored by Husky Oil earlier; I brought my oldest son with me; we’re both scientifically inclined and the reporters interviewed us both. I wanted to say something about our despicable mayor but I had no way to fit it in”. An Anon/WP wonders, “So what’s up with your mayor?” The Occupier explains, “Our mayor, Jim Paine, really betrayed us. After last year’s explosion he issued a demand that Husky Oil remove its hydrogen fluoride tank and replace it with a chemical that has been proven to be much safer. He’s recently changed his tune; he and Husky cut a deal whereby the City of Superior receives a certain amount of money for each gallon or some other measurement of oil that Husky pumps out of its refinery. The total payment promised comes to at least a million dollars”. We think that means Jim Paine puts a value of one million dollars upon the lives of the more than 100,000 people in the Twin Ports that will be killed when the hydrogen fluoride tank explodes. That doesn’t include all the trees, plants, earth, birds and animals that will also be toast. WTG, Jim.

The lights flash off and on again. Time to go; we pack everything up, including the 3 little girls who are becoming regular attendees at these Coney Island soirees. They have been so intent coloring and sculpting that we almost forgot they were here.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 4-2-19

G.A. Minutes 4-2-19

It appears we are being freed of dangerous icy sidewalks and streets, 6-foot high snow banks that are close to impossible to see or climb over and freezing temperatures that keep those of us who have homes, trapped in them until the cabin fever makes us desperate enough to risk contracting hypothermia. We are all hoping and/or praying that this thing (aka winter) will pass early this year. It will be very good to have April showers bringing May flowers for once.

When the first Occupiers and an activist walk through the front door at Coney Island this evening they see a very large group of people sitting at all the tables in the midsection of the space. An Occupier exclaims, “Wow! I wonder who all is here; I was thinking we weren’t gonna have hardly anyone at tonight’s meeting”. Upon closer inspection, they realize the large group is a working-class family celebrating someone’s birthday. In the very back of the restaurant, where the Occupiers and their accomplices usually sit, they spy just two Anonymous/Water Protectors waiting for them. They expect that a few others will roll in as the meeting progresses.

When everyone has ordered their food and settled in, an Occupier asks, “So what did you all think of the Ende Gelande event last night?” Ende Gelande means Just Stop in German. All who are present this evening were also present at the event which featured some organizers from Germany, who were participating in a Resistance Tour throughout the U.S. The activist, who was one of the lead organizers of the event, comments, “I hope it went well; I was doing the childcare so didn’t get to participate”.

A Water Protector responds, “Things did go well and I learned a lot but I think our situations are different. They organize one or two gigantic events a year while we organize three or more small events each month. The German organizers are focused solely on stopping coal mines while we’re focused on pipelines, sulfide mining, murdered and missing Indigenous women and relatives, anti-capitalism and lending support to other like-minded groups. However, both of our groups definitely are into stopping the plundering of Mother Earth, fighting against climate change and saving the planet for at least the next seven generations. Despite our differences, we are all on the same page”.

An Occupier adds, “I thought it was way cool how they were amazed at our concept of being connected or part of the land where we live. The German dude said they and all the people who they organize to come and block the passageways of coal mines are from the cities; they are fighting for clean water and air and to halt climate change but the thought that they are connected to the actual land that they live on just never occurred to them”. An Anon agrees, “Yeah and he said they will never be able to use words like Mother Earth because they’re too close to words like Fatherland and Motherland and their horrifying history with Hitler and such. I hope they come back again someday; they’re pretty interesting peeps”.

The Occupier who reports things reports, “Speaking of organizing, these guys (she nods toward the Anons and the activist) are organizing an anti-Husky Oil Refinery event in Superior on Saturday, April 27th. An Anon also reports, “Right, we’ll start at 4:30 pm by rallying in front of the Douglas County Court House (Hammond Ave and Belknap St) then march through town and over to the boat landing on the Nemadji River for a feast at 7 pm. The main focus of the event will be the hydrogen fluoride gas tank that Husky is unwilling to remove from the refinery site and replace with something safer. I mean, wholly shit! If that hydrogen fluoride tank explodes like it almost did last year, the entire Twin Ports area would be blasted into smithereens in a matter of minutes. Our signs will say stuff like No Husky, No Hydrogen Fluoride Gas”. We all plan to participate in the event.

An Occupier informs us, “I joined in with a bunch of peeps from Natives Against Heroin last Sunday for a cleanup of some of the Central Hillside neighborhood. We had about 20 folks from the neighborhood; some of the N.A.H. folks from Minneapolis and the Fond du Lac Rez came up to help too. It turned out to be kind of a fun afternoon. The activist asks, “Did you find a lot of used needles?” The cleanup Occupier tells him, “I didn’t find any but others found some; I was working at the intersection of W 4th St and 1st Ave W which generally is covered with them. I think the Needle Exchange people were out around that area a day or two before our cleanup but I bet that if I went there tomorrow, syringes will have accumulated again. A WP sighs, “That is so sad”. The Occupier continues, “Yeah I know, this opioid epidemic destroys the lives of addicts and non-addicts alike. Anyway, so once the cleanup was done I stayed and hung out in the parking lot with some of the Native folks. The men were cracking me up; the initials for Natives Against Heroin are NAH/nah. They had some signs and T-shirts that said Just say nah; you know, like Nancy Reagan’s sorry ass slogan of Just Say No. They’re going to do another cleanup soon; I’d advise you all to come and help because it’s helpful for the neighborhood and fun too”. Another WP adds, “I was there too; the weather was so warm and beautiful. I was sorry that I had to leave early”.

The reporting Occupier has more to report, “The date for the Gitchie-ode Akiing Park Naming Ceremony has been changed to Saturday, May 18th starting at noon or 1 pm. I’m betting the weather will be real nice by then”. The activist cautions, “I sure hope so; it’s always a problem trying to have outdoor events because there’s never a guarantee that it won’t rain. Fortunately, John LaForge is going to allow me to borrow that gigantic tent of his for the Naming Ceremony and for May Day too”. We all say, “Cool”.

Someone reminds us, “Well, the City is gonna start major street repairs on April 8th which will probably continue until just before winter starts again. There’s a big sign outside of the Electric Fetus that says repairs begin on April 8th; I wonder how that’s gonna affect our ability to get in and out of Gitchie-ode Akiing and Peoples Plaza. An Occupier who lives in Greysolon Plaza tells her, “There’s an identical sign outside of my building at Superior St and 3rd Ave E. I think that they’ll be working from just east of Lake Ave to 3rd Ave E. The Plaza should be no problem and there’s a back entrance to Gitchie-ode Akiing; I haven’t checked it out yet but I will”.

An Anon exclaims, “I am so excited for May Day!” We are all excited but we know there’s going to be a lot of work needed over the next month or so to make it happen. The older folks are hoping the youngbloods in the assemblage will step up and take charge: the gray-haired ones are best at maintaining the fire and the food. That said, the Anons and the activist move into a separate booth to discuss May Day plans and duties.
The rest of us get into a discussion about the many new anti-protest laws being proposed across the country, especially in states that have new pipelines about to start construction. We are still deep in conversation so everyone agrees to head over to a private home. The lights all politely flash off and on and we take our cue.

Of course, we expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.