Category Archives: General Assembly Minutes

Minutes from our General Assemblies

G.A. Minutes 1-28-20

G.A. Minutes 1-28-20

We’re back at Coney Island again this Tuesday evening and guess what……it’s still winter. Crap! In this part of the country it always feels like cold, snow and wind chill will go on forever. It kinda does too; in general, we have winter weather for around 6 months and then have to cram spring, summer and fall into the other 6 months.

After enduring the freezing temperatures for 5 months or so, everyone begins asking the question, “Why do we live here?” Fortunately, we can easily answer, “Well, although we have our share of racists, misogynists, xenophobes, homophobes, nimbys and other haters, we also have a large group of all types of progressive folks who are quite active all year long. Most are seriously committed to saving our planet and creating a just society where everyone is able to not just survive but to thrive and be happy too. There are other places in the U.S. that have large groups of peace loving anti-capitalists but they’re mainly in large cities; many of us have lived in large cities in the past and we prefer the less rushed lifestyle and availability of real nature that Duluth has to offer”.

Our small group of the usual suspects roll in, order food, begin to take off their winter gear and choose their seats. The Occupier who sometimes writes the meeting minutes arrives a little later; she’s returning from the monthly meeting of the Citizens Review Board. She’s in a cheerful mood and tells everyone, “It was a pretty good meeting this month; I’m told they’re still working on that complaint that I filed against that cop who gave me a citation for having a legal fire at Peoples Plaza on May Day. As things turned out, the fact that the D.A. tried to bully me into taking a ridiculous plea and then filed criminal charges because I wouldn’t do it was actually to my advantage. Once I had criminal charges filed against me, I was entitled to see all the evidence they had against me. I was able to receive a copy of the police body camera footage that was taken at the Plaza on May 1st. That video was just marvelous; it showed the lead cop doing and saying some things that were illegal but it mainly showed him acting like an absolute idiot. I know that cops seldom face consequences for their actions but this guy acted so stupidly that I know at least one of his bosses will say to him, “What the hell were you thinking?” I hope the dipshit at least gets embarrassed, especially when his bosses watch the part where he gives the entire Plaza crowd a lecture about how the only reason that cops exist is so they can tell regular people when they are doing something wrong”. The recording Occupier turns toward the Anon/Water Protector saying, “Here’s the business card from one of the main cops who deals with all the complaints that people file against the street cops. I told him about what that cop did to you and the kids last Saturday night; he was appalled and asked that you give him a call as soon as you can”. The Anon/W.P. replies, “O.K., thanks; I will call him. I definitely don’t trust cops but I have no problem complaining about the way I and the kids were treated last Saturday”. The Occupier agrees, “I don’t trust cops either but this guy is the only cop trusted by the main CHUM homeless outreach worker. He is rather easy to work with at least”.

Blue is confused and says, “What?!? You were abused by a cop on Saturday? WTF?” The Anon/W.P. responds, “Some of us were hanging out at the Occupier couple’s house last Saturday evening; I had 2 of my girls and the new baby with me. At around 10pm we all took off to our various homes; I packed up the 3 kids and headed down to 1st St where I could easily access the freeway and get back to where we live on the Fond du Lac Reservation. As I was slowly driving down the street there was a cute, young little white girl driving ahead of me while talking on her cell phone. I think she just saw the stop sign out of the corner eye so slammed on her brakes; this caused me to have to slam on my brakes to avoid crashing into the rear end of her car. My bumper just lightly tapped her back bumper, the tiny dents on both our vehicles were barely visible. Then another car containing some African American young people came driving up and they lightly bumped into my rear end. It was all so minor; there was no reason to call the cops but the young girl called them anyway. The African American young peeps just backed up and took off; I don’t blame them, we all know how cops treat young African Americans.

“So when a cop driving an unmarked squad arrives he goes to talk with the young girl and then lets her drive off. Then he comes over to me and starts to ream me a new one. I show him my drivers license, he takes it to his vehicle and tells me that I’m driving on a suspended license. That was not true, I find the appropriate website on my cell phone and show it to him saying, ‘I think your computer report must be out of date’. He goes back to his vehicle then returns saying, ‘It also says that you don’t have insurance’. I respond, ‘This vehicle does have insurance but it’s under the name of the woman who is technically the owner of it. We’ll have to go to another website in order to find that’. The cop throws up his hands and exclaims, ‘I DON’T HAVE TIME FOR THIS! You absolutely cannot drive this vehicle; you’ll have to find someone with a legal drivers license to drive you home’. So there I am, sitting in a car that I’m forbidden to drive, we’re left in the cold at 10:30pm on a main street of the Central Hillside with 3 kids and there’s one other kid who was waiting for me to pick her up back in FDL. I called the Occupier couple and they got out of their Pj’s and came to my rescue”. The Fire Magician adds, “Yeah and we always shut our phone off when we go to sleep; if she had called even 5 minutes later we would not have known she needed help”. Blue is incredulous and blurts out, “What kind of a human being leaves a young mother with 3 kids alone out in the cold, after 10pm, on one of Central Hillside’s more dangerous streets?!?” We all say, “For real”.

The recording Occupier continues, “Oh, one more thing, the working group for the Police Policy on Protective Gear (read Riot Gear) will be presenting their completed work to the general public on Monday, February 3rd , 6pm out at Denfeld H.S. Rumor has it that there will protesters showing up”. We all say, “No! Doya think?”

The Occupier who is a college students rolls in. Once he gets settled he informs us that his classes are back in session. He reports, “I really like my new professor for Environmental Ethics, she’s very different from the other professors; she teaches that the major groups responsible for climate change are the corporations, especially the fossil fuel corporations. The other professors, whose classes I’ve been required to take, all teach that everything will be fine if we just create a few minor reforms and tweak capitalism a bit. Of course, I was always in trouble for disagreeing with them”. We all laugh. Another Occupier inquires, “I wonder which of your professors have been or will be given tenure?” The college dude replies, “That’s a very good question; I’m gonna check it out”

The college Occupier changes the subject saying, “I see another Polymet mine hearing coming up, I’m afraid I’m out of the loop on that one. Does anyone have more details?” A W.P. explains, “Yeah, I’m not an expert on this but I believe the MN Court of Appeals ruled that the MN Department of Natural Resources (MN DNR) or the MN Pollution Control Agency (MPCA) or maybe both of them, wrongly issued permits to Polymet concerning dam safety and waste storage; also at issue are Polymet’s financial assurance statement and the question of exactly what role Glencore (Polymet’s parent company) will play in the operation and development of the proposed copper-nickel mine. I know there’s more to the story but that’s the best I can do”. The college student replies, “Well, that’s a lot more information than I had”. Another Occupier adds, “The amount of corruption caused by the greed of the 1% is just mind-boggling. Polymet has never built a copper-nickel or any other mine anywhere, ever, but Glencore is one of the biggest mining companies in the whole world. They are notorious for oppressive working conditions for miners, tax evasion and pollution stemming from their mining sites; Glencore’s CEO is Tony Hayward, you know, the former CEO of British Petroleum, the company responsible for the huge oil spill that practically destroyed the entire Gulf coast about 10 years ago. He was the scumbag who, less than a month after the oil disaster was whining, ‘I want my life back!’ Useless muthafucker! Most of the folks who live or work on the Gulf Coast have not and never will get their lives back”.

An Anon joins in, “Besides, there has never been a copper-nickel mine that didn’t pollute its surrounding area and more. Remember that copper-nickel mine tailings pond spill up in Mount Polley in Canada a couple of years ago? I believe the design for the tailings pond in Mont Polley is the exact same design as the one for the proposed Polymet Mine. A W.P. adds, “I was just reading about Mount Polley the other day; it’s been about 5 years since the spill happened, it hasn’t been completely cleaned up but the Canadian government has still not issued any fines, citations or anything at all. I guess they have a very lax regulatory system”. An Occupier opines, “Kinda like here in the U S of A huh?” We all shake our heads in disgust. Someone finishes our conversation saying, “I’m guessing that Hoyt Lakes, which is where the mine is planned to start, is an hour to an hour and a half drive from Duluth, deep in the heart of “Da Range” and all the mine supporting and prone to violence peeps. I doubt we’d be able to make it up to that area very often but we can lend support to groups like Water Legacy and Save the Boundary Waters”. Most of us already do that.

The college Occupier tells us, “I have one more question; I saw a little blurb about He Who Shall Not Be Named and Netanyahu holding a press conference or something today to announce some sort of Palestinian/Israeli peace deal. Anybody know what that is all about?” Another Occupier responds, “I saw that too; I’m guessing it’s just a diversionary tactic to take the general public’s minds off the fact that HWSNBN has been impeached and that Netanyahu has been indicted on corruption charges. The actual so called peace deal is just a bunch of shit. The Palestinians were not even consulted during the deal creation; it gives the Israelis everything they’d been fighting for over the last 70+ years and it tells the Palestinians they can have a few minor “rights”. I imagine that once the Palestinians and other Arab Muslim countries refuse to have anything to do with the bogus deal, HWSNBN will start bitching about them not really wanting “peace”. We all shake our heads in disgust….again. We’ve been doing a lot of that these past 3 years or so.

Last Saturday was the oldest of the 3 little girls birthday; her Mom had scheduled a big swimming pool party at the Black Bear Casino. Most of us had planned to attend but the poor little girl came down with the flu so Mom had to cancel her party and reschedule it for this upcoming Saturday. There was only one problem; the BD cake could not be rescheduled so the entire family showed up this evening carrying a 2 tiered chocolate cake with blue frosting. This is the kind of problem we can easily handle; we all chow down and now have blue lips, teeth and fingers. We make sure to carve out a few good pieces for the staff guys.

As we are cleaning up our mess and fixin’ to leave the Occupier who likes to announce things announces, “Socialist Pizza will be happening this upcoming Friday, January 31st, 6:30pm at the Womens Building. The next Housing Justice meeting will take place next Monday, February 3rd 6:30pm in the Kids Cafe at the Dom. A W.P. exclaims, “Hey, wait a minute….. the Police Riot Gear meeting and the Housing Justice meeting are both on the same day and time?” The announcing one replies, “Yeah, I’m afraid so, I haven’t figured out which meeting I will be most useful at yet”.

So with everything cleaned up, we settle accounts while waving and smiling at the staff guys; the staff guys wave and smile back to us. They have blue teeth and lips too. We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 1-7-20

G.A. Minutes 1-7-20

After a 2 week hiatus, we are back at Coney Island again this evening. We were on hiatus because the last 2 Tuesdays were Christmas Eve and New Years Eve; we knew the Coney Island staff peeps would be eager to close up shop and get on with their holiday celebrations. Maybe they weren’t even open on those evenings; we didn’t know because we all had holiday obligations of our own to deal with. Over the holiday season many of the Occupiers, folks from the Anonymous crew and some of the Water Protectors spent much of their time together.

When the first Occupiers arrive, they find a WP waiting for them. This WP is also a member of the Gitchigumi Scouts. The GS are a group of local people who look for murdered and/or missing Indigenous women and relatives. The number of MMIW&R has reached epidemic proportions in the western hemisphere. GS primarily searches for people who are lost in the Twin Ports, Cloquet and Fond du Lac Reservation areas. They have found quite a few people over the past several years; some were alive while others were not. The WP informs the Occupiers that another group of W.P.s from outside of our area will be joining us tonight. They’re coming to find out what kind of assistance they can provide for the GS.

The WP laughs and says to the Occupier who generally takes the meeting minutes, “I see you’re carrying a notebook and a pen, does that mean you’re actually gonna record some meeting minutes tonight?” The Occupier sighs and replies, “I’m gonna try. I have been really lame and disconnected over the last 2 months but so many things happened in my life since I wrote our last meeting minutes sometime in early November that I just couldn’t complete all my tasks. First of all, I always have quite a lot of cooking and freezing to do ahead of time for our big Christmas Day dinner. I caught that nasty cold that slowed me down for at least a week then I took a hard fall on the ice the day after the big blizzard. I was on my way to a potluck for the Housing Justice Duluth peeps and was carrying a big plate of homemade lemon bars. The streets were still mostly impassable so I had to park a good way away from the event location; I think I was paying more attention to the lemon bars than I was to the ice on the sidewalk. All of a sudden, KLABAM ! I was walking downhill when I started slippin’ and slidin” and flailing about trying to keep my balance. It wasn’t until the last minute that I realized my life was more important than the life of the lemon bars; I dropped the lemon bars and then fell with the left side of my face smacking into a thick metal railing. That didn’t feel very good but at least the lemon bars only fell upside down; they were still intact. A nice guy riding a bike saw me fall and stopped to make sure I was able to get up and make it into the building where the potluck was being held. Once I got into the building all the potluck peeps offered their support and then they just inhaled the lemon bars. I was very happy about that but it took about a week before the swelling and bruising on my face subsided.

“One would think that should have been enough bad luck for a person to endure all at once but….. NO… wasn’t. Once I was up and running again, my computer died. I took it to my computer fixing guy and he told me that the poor thing was toast. It took about 3 weeks until I was able to purchase a new one. I lost all my files too; actually, I still have them but will have to upload them myself whenever I can find the time to do it. Fortunately, it appears that my run of bad luck is over now so I’m gonna try to get back on track again”.

While waiting for others to arrive the WP had been standing with several of Coney’s regular neighborhood customers who were watching the TV behind the counter. In general, the TV seems to always be on and broadcasting Fox News so the Occupiers and others avoid watching it; that’s one of the reasons why their crew always sit way in the back of large restaurant. However, this time the broadcast is coming from a local news channel; the Occupiers stop to watch with the other customers. The announcer is talking about refugee resettlement centers; they report that every county board across the USA will be required to vote as to whether their county is willing to accept these resettlement centers. An Occupier comments, “I think it would be way cool if we could have a refugee center here in St Louis County. I would welcome the chance to do something to make life a little easier for refugees. Another Occupier opines, “Me too; I’m betting that all the counties up on The Range will vote against the opportunity but it’s possible that St Louis County will except the offer. We have a lot of progressive voices in our county”.

Blue, another Occupier and the WP/Anon with their 4 children roll up; they are quickly followed by a small group of W.P.s we have not met in the past. These folks travel around the northland gathering supplies for the various groups of W.P.s who are fighting expansion of old gas and oil pipelines and the creation of new ones. Of course, along with pipelines come out of town pipeline workers, Man Camps and then murdered and /or missing Indigenous women and relatives. The traveling W.P.s are familiar with the consequences of Man Camps; they are willing to gather supplies for the Gitchigumi Scouts too. Among the most needed items are food, gas cards, tents, sleeping bags snow shoes and vehicle repairs.

The Scouts are going to hold a free showing of the movie Indian Horse at noon on Friday, January 17th at the Central Hillside Community Center. The movie is about the Indian boarding schools that all Indigenous children were forced to attend starting in 1860 and continuing until the late 1970s. A major slogan of the boarding schools was “Kill the Indian, Save the Man”. These schools were responsible for the almost complete destruction of the Indigenous family and community. A WP tells us the personal story of their own family in relation to the experience of the boarding schools; the story is a very sad one, telling of violence, addiction, low self esteem, feelings of disconnection and suicide. Although these horrible schools were closed approximately 50 years ago; most Indigenous people suffer from the harmful affects of Indian boarding schools up to this very day.

A WP questions the reporting Occupier, “I heard you mention a group called Housing Justice Duluth earlier; I’ve never heard of them before. Are they a new group?” The Occupier answers, “Well yeah, kinda. They’re basically a reformation of the old Homeless Persons Bill of Rights Coalition. Personally I still believe that an HPB of R ordinance is a very good idea although I was never in the leadership of that group but just the rep from Occupy. The leadership peeps were all living within the Loaves N Fishes community and saw and spoke with each other on a daily basis. I’m sure they had good reasons for making the decisions they made. As far I can tell, it will be easier to push our so called City leaders to create more homes for homeless people than it will be to convince them and the general public that homeless folks are deserving of respect and are entitled to the same rights as white privileged folks with their own houses or whatever. Anyway, when I received an invitation to work with HJD, I accepted. There are a lot of very smart and kind people in HJD. I’ll still be representing Occupy; if any of you all want to come along with me to a meeting or event just let me know”.

An Anon remarks, “I’ve notice that many Duluth citizens believe homeless peeps are the most dangerous, despicable and worthless human beings in existence. The truth is that homeless folks are just as diverse, with different personalities, beliefs, abilities and life stories as the rest of us”. We all say, “Word”.

Someone observes, “I see they have a warming station up and running again”. An Occupier responds, “Yeah they do and it’s a NEW IMPROVED warming station. It opens from 8pm-8am and it will be open every night that the temperature is expected to be at or below 10 degrees F. Last year the hours were from 10pm-6:30am and it didn’t open unless the temperature was at 0 or below. Also, the new warming station is in Gloria Dei Church at E 6th St+3rd Ave E instead of way the hell out in West Duluth. I’ve heard the City is going to open another warming station either in West End (aka Lincoln Park) or West Duluth but I don’t think it’s been opened yet. I haven’t had a chance to get to our Central Hillside station yet but I plan to do so soon. If anyone would like to join me, just hit me up”.

One of the visiting W.P.s inquires, “I’m told that you folks have also been doing a winter clothing giveaway on Saturdays down at Peoples Plaza?” An Occupier replies, “Yeah, we do but we are just helpers for the Anonymous Crew”. An Anon informs, “We call the giveaways #Op Safe Winter. We collect winter type clothes and other stuff all year long and then when winter hits the “Great White North” we roll up with good food and all our winter gear and just wait for street folks to stop buy, eat and take whatever they want from the winter supplies. As always, the Occupiers bring their fire”.

We continue on with all sorts of good conversation when all the lights in the restaurant start flashing off and on. WTF? Then we look around to see that the place is completely devoid of customers, the staff guys have their coats on and it’s well after 8pm. Whoops! We quickly gather up our stuff, apologize and head out the door.

We expect to be back at Coney Island next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 8-27-19

G.A. Minutes 8-27-19

It’s raining this evening so, of course, we’re at Coney Island. The sky was only spitting but all the weather maps and forecasts predicted lots of rain so the group decided earlier not take the chance and end up hungry and drenched trying to meet at Peoples Plaza.

It’s never any fun to be having a meeting complete with a fire and food when all of a sudden big dark clouds roll up and pour lots of water on our heads. Then we all hafta run like crazy gathering up all the chairs, tables, food, fire pit and its accouterments while making sure that we don’t leave any kind of a mess behind. Many of the supplies are ruined and after it’s all over and we wind up at someone’s house drying ourselves off, the children and the old folks have colds. Nevermind…. it may not be paradise but Coney Island is the better option.

When the first Occupiers arrive, they find Chicago Man waiting for them; he’s been spending a little more time with the Water Protectors, Anonymous crew and the Occupiers this year so he knows when the meeting place has been changed. The Occupiers greet him and he tells them,”I just had to get out of my apartment; it’s driving me insane. There are so many drug dealers, heavy drug addicts and really mean people living there. It’s always very noisy and the management people couldn’t care less. If I try to ask the so called property manager a question or even just say good morning, she looks at me with complete disdain and refuses to respond. I have got to find another rent subsidized place to live!”

An Occupier comments, “I know the apartment building you’re talking about well. Everyone I’ve ever known who moved in there spent the majority of their free time trying to find somewhere else to live. The big rent subsidized buildings are all like that; in street parlance they’re called ‘crack stacks’. Duluth and most other big and small cities have severe shortages of rental housing that can be afforded by poor and working class people. Most landlords are not willing to accept people with any type of rent subsidy; I think there are two main reasons why they won’t do it. One is that along with government rent subsidies comes extra, very picky inspections that can force the landlord to spend a lot of extra money to make the apartment comply and cold running water, properly functioning drains and toilets, electricity and stuff like that. extra money to make the apartment comply with subsidy standards. Subsidy standards are good because everyone should have adequate heat, hot and cold running water, properly functioning drains and toilets, electricity and stuff like that. Sometimes though, the inspectors like to throw their weight around and make landlords do a lot of expensive but really petty things like replacing exit lights that have a superficial crack on the frame or windows that have a very tiny chip in the corner. Because we live under the stinking capitalist system landlords expect to make a profit on their rental units.

“The other reason is that some landlords have negative attitudes towards people of color, immigrants, folks who work in certain occupations, LBGTQ+ peeps, non-Christians, poor people and just about any other group of people you could imagine. If they accept government rent subsidies they generally can’t get away with that shit. To quote a really lame, trivial saying, ‘I feel your pain dude’. There’s a huge shortage of affordable housing in Duluth and tons of people are struggling just like you. I promise I will keep my eyes and ears open; if I find out about any available place I’ll let you know right away”.

A couple of Anon/W.P.s arrive, they have the three little girls with them. Tomorrow is their mom’s birthday and in a turnabout, Mom has brought a homemade birthday cake, fry bread and the fixins for Indian tacos. We think this is absolutely wonderful and everyone begins to chow down. As more folks roll in they fill plates and take seats. One of the good things about Coney Island is that the staff does not mind if we bring in outside food as long as we also order some food from them. We notice there are generally few customers coming in on Tuesday nights, so maybe our presence which takes up the entire back section of the restaurant, creates job security for the workers?

The Occupier who is a single parent drops in; he’s been working a job outside of town over the summer so we haven’t seen him in a while. After much hugging, pats on the back and such, he assures us, “I’m done with that job now and I don’t think I’ll be working out of town over the summer anymore. I prefer to be in the Twin Ports so will look for work here next summer.
He nods toward the Occupier who has been defending our little recreational fire in the court system and asks, “Hey, I heard that the D.A. dropped all the charges against you; is that true?” The Occupier/Defendant replies, “Yeah, it’s true. At my second court hearing the D.A. tried to get me to accept a plea deal that said I was guilty of violating a City fire ordinance and that I promised to not make another fire for at least a year. In return, if I was able to be a ‘good girl’ for a year then they would drop the charges. Oh sure, like that was gonna happen. I told him no, that I was not guilty of anything so he tried to threaten me with increasing the whole thing to criminal charges which, if I was found guilty, would result in a one thousand dollar fine and 90 days in jail.

“The funny thing was, he was using the same MN Statue the we have in our defense arsenal; it shows that our fire is legal. I think he was relying on my being ignorant and scared. So my attorney friend and I went over all our evidence, got all our ducks in a row and I went to my third court hearing prepared to throw down. I’m sitting in the hall waiting to be called into the court room when a woman carrying a clipboard walks up and tells me that all my charges have been dropped. The actual D.A. was nowhere to be seen. When I go into the court room the judge tells me the same thing and says, ‘You’re free to go’. So I went.

“I kinda wanted the whole thing to go to trial because I’m pretty sure we would win. Then there could have been no more arguments about whether our fire is legal; we also would have been able to publicly expose MN Power for the hating, classist, racist, corporate motherfuckers that they are. With the D.A. dropping my charges, all that says is that I am not guilty, it doesn’t say anything about the legality of our little fire. So the cops can still come and put it out. We really need to get the ‘suits’ and their minions off our backs.

My attorney friend says that the reason the D.A, dropped the charges is because they know our fire is legal, they don’t want to lose the case and have that fact become public. My attorney friend and I have a few things up our sleeves that will probably make the so called government leaders back off”. The formerly criminally charged Occupier turns to the Occupier who records things and asks that none of the information about to be divulged be written down. The Occupier then begins to divulge.

She is about to finish but recollects, “Oh right, I almost forgot. When I got home from all the court stuff I opened my mailbox and found a threatening letter from the Acting Fire Marshal. She threatened to charge me with violating three different MN Fire Codes and to serve me with a two hundred dollar Administrative Fine. The only thing is, the fire codes she cited were either completely irrelevant or incorrect as pertains to our particular fire. It seems that someone in City government is really desperate to stop us from giving the homeless ones respite. My friend tells me that the Acting Fire Marshal actually can fine me but that there are several ways to appeal the fine. That would also expose what is going on with ‘the powers that be’.

A conversation begins regarding all money and programs for poor and working class folks that He Who Shall Not Be Named has discontinued. The Occupier who is a college student sighs, “Yeah, school is just about to start up again and when I went to the financial aid office to get all the grants I have been given every semester, I was informed that HWSNBN had canceled one of the grant programs. That meant I was twenty five hundred dollars short and had to take out a loan. When I finally graduate and go looking for a job, that loan is gonna come back and bite me in the ass”.

Several of the W.P.s who live on the Fond du Lac Reservation are also members of the Missing and Murdered Indigenous Women and Relatives Coalition. Many of the rest of us serve as allies. The Coalition members speak about their anger and frustration with the various police departments on the Rez and in Cloquet, Duluth and surrounding areas. One member explains, “The reason we search mainly for Indigenous and sometimes other people of color is because no one else does. When a so called white person goes missing, the media puts out tons of publicity and search parties containing hundreds of searchers are organized. When an Indigenous or other person of color goes missing, the only people who care are the immediate family members and sometimes not even them.

“We attempt to assist the family members in searches or we do it by ourselves. Most of the time we only find the dead bodies of the missing; occasionally we find a person who is still living. When we find a body, the cops label it a suicide no matter what the circumstances. Many times the circumstances point obviously to murder but if the cops label it a suicide they don’t have to do an investigation. They say the murdered person doesn’t matter anyway because they were involved in the drug or sex trade or what ever. We say NO! Everyone is somebody’s child, sister, brother, father, mother, lover or what have you. Every missing person has value; many of us have family members or friends who have been lured into dangerous situations. That doesn’t mean that we no longer worry about them or love them. MMIW&R work is extremely stressful but we still do it because no one else does”. Those of us who live in the Twin Ports area find it difficult to make it out to the Rez to participate in a search at the drop of a hat. We attempt to assist the Coalition by printing up and/or distributing flyers that have pictures and information about the missing persons. When we are able we help out with gas money.

Several of the Occupiers attended the Husky Oil Refinery meeting yesterday in Superior WI. One of those in attendance reports, “It was pretty lame; there were about twelve of us who were there because we’re concerned about the fact that the Husky hydrogen fluoride tank could blow up and easily annihilate all 180,000 residents of the Twin Ports in a matter of minutes. There were also about one hundred refinery and other extraction industry union members. Their main concern was, of course, jobs. I’m sure that Husky scheduled the meeting for 11:30am in order to prevent other working people from attending.

Things are starting to wind down and we’re beginning to gather our dirty dishes when a Water Protector from the western US walks in. We are so pleasantly surprised! He hasn’t been around for many months; hugs and other greetings abound. Seeing as we are just packing up, some Occupiers invite everyone over to their house where we can catch up on old and new times.

We hope it doesn’t rain next Tuesday because we prefer to be back at Peoples Plaza.

G.A. Minutes 6-18-19

G.A. Minutes 6-18-19

It’s no big surprise that we’re back at Peoples Plaza again this evening. We’ve been holding fire circle meetings here every Tuesday evening for the past month but because of all the trouble we’ve been getting from City government, MN Power and all their minions (read street cops) and all the work required to defend ourselves, the Occupier who records stuff has had no time to publish any reports.

The weather is a little iffy but an Occupier checked the weather map before he came down and assured everyone that if it did rain it would be very minor. The sky is lightly overcast, the temperature is in the low 60s with occasional slight and variable gusts. It will be comfortable for our little fire circle tonight, unless it rains.

Of course, the vehicle entryway is blocked by gigantic planted trees again, just like it’s been for the last year and a half (except for winter time which is when we don’t use the Plaza). The Occupiers who bring most of the supplies are delighted to find a young man from the Loaves N Fishes community waiting and ready to help them unload; he carries all the heavy stuff which makes things much easier for the somewhat elderly, supply bringing Occupiers.

We are just beginning to set things up when two bicycle cops from the Duluth Police Department come up the stairs; they’re trying to look cool by riding their bikes right up the stairs. It doesn’t work too well though; the more junior of the cops tips over and lands flat on his face. The Occupier, who generally plays the role of police liaison, pretends she didn’t see the one cop disgrace himself (that’s how cops look at it anyway) smiles and says, “Good evening”. The slightly senior cop responds, “Good evening; you know it’s illegal to have a fire in a city park.” The Occupier has to bite her tongue to keep from saying, “Do you have any idea how many times I’ve heard that stupid ass remark from all you DPD clones?” She doesn’t say that though, instead she answers, “Well actually it’s NOT illegal to have a fire in a city park; no worries though, tonight we are using charcoal”.

The bike cop replies, “Just a minute, I gotta call my supervisor”. He walks off and blabs on his phone for a few minutes, returns and informs the Occupier, “Well, as long as you’re using charcoal your fire is o.k. but you have to get your vehicles off the sidewalk right now”. The Occupier tells him, “Oh yeah, for sure. We’re almost done unloading; the MN Power security guards have blocked us from using the vehicle entryway so we’re forced to park and unload in that little space that is next to the sidewalk”. The cops growls, “Get your vehicles off the sidewalk right now or I’m gonna write you a citation!” The Occupier who brings most of the food and the Fire Magician look at each other and roll their eyes; the Fire Magician gets into one of the vehicles and drives it out on the street and into the nearest parking spot. When he returns for the second vehicle the cops are happy and ride off on their bikes; presumably to right all the other wrongs going on in the neighborhood.

So now we’re stuck having to haul all the stuff that is still in our vehicles from across the street and halfway down the block, this is ridiculous. The LnF guy is unperplexed, he starts hauling all the stuff onto the Plaza. The Occupiers stand and watch him in amazement. One says to the other, “Do you think we could get him to come and live with us? Then we could bring him with us every Tuesday and he could haul all the stuff”. The super hauling guy’s girlfriend shows up just then and the other Occupier opines, “Probably not”.

We know that legally there is no difference between burning charcoal or burning firewood in our fire pit but a couple of weeks ago some cop who showed up with the fire department to put out our fire said to us, “If you were burning charcoal then everything would be o.k.; we wouldn’t have to put your fire out”. We decided to test it out so the next week we made a fire consisting of charcoal and mesquite and were amazed and amused when the cops showed up, called their supervisor and reported that as long as our fire was made with charcoal, we were good to go. That is so f”ing dumb. We’re guessing that some sargent or lieutenant decided that a charcoal fire was permissible and then all the other bosses just fell in line; they probably don’t really want to put out our fire anyway. There is absolutely nothing in any of the ordinances, statutes or fire codes that establishes a wood fire as legally different from a charcoal fire. We don’t know for certain why the MN Power security guards hate us so much; we’re betting healthy doses of classism and racism combined with the currently popular, “He Who Shall Not Be Named is President so we can do what we want” mantra has a lot to do with it. We don’t know if the upper echelons of MN Power actually support what their security guards are doing or if they are just unaware of the true situation. It would not surprise us if the so-called bigwigs are in support; the only thing we do know is that the real reason police forces exist is to protect the rich folks from the rest of us. When the wealthy call on the police forces, the police forces promptly fall in line. In spite of this, we hope to get to the bottom of this mess sooner or later.

We do have one big problem right now though; charcoal fires just don’t cut it. They don’t give off enough heat to keep the folks in the circle warm and they don’t have that wonderful wood fire smell or the snap and crackling sound. Wood fires also serve as an effective focal point capable of allowing homeless and/or street peeps a few hours of feeling safe and relaxed; something they rarely experience anywhere else. So we think we won’t be having charcoal fires indefinitely. To be continued…….

A couple more Occupiers, a Water Protector and her friend, 2 street guys who have visited our fire in the past and a young woman who does not appear to be a homeless or street person join the circle. They’re just in time too; the homemade soup that sits on a small charcoal grill between 2 Occupiers is hot and ready to eat. This evening we are having a cream of potato soup with carrots, celery, onions and spices; almost everyone takes a bowl, some ask for seconds or thirds. It’s also deluxe PB+J sandwiches night, along with our usual killer coffee, apple juice, chips, pickles and cookies.

As we are eating, an Occupier comments, “Hey, do you guys know that the city official is running for a seat on the City Council representing District 3 (this is the district where many of us live)? He just announced his candidacy today”. Most had not heard and comments like, “Whoo Hoo!” and “Alright!” come from all who know the city man. We think he would be the most honest, incorruptible and effective City Councilor our small city has ever had.

A Native street guy who visits our fire, from time to time, rolls up. He greets us by saying, “Aaniin”. Some people in the circle respond, “Boozhoo” or Aaniin”. The guy chats for a bit and then goes on his way. An Occupier asks, “What’s the difference between aaniin and boozhoo?” Another Occupier opines, “I believe they’re interchangeable”. The Water Protector who is Native from Mille Lacs explains, “Actually, it’s deeper than that; aaniin means hello but boozhoo is something different. In our history there are many teachings about a spiritual man named Nanaboozhoo (sometimes Wanaboozhoo) who was sent by The Creator to help the Anishinaabe (human beings). He was a very humble, kind, gentle and loving being; he lived with his grandmother.

“He helped the people in every way for a long time but eventually the people got so used to him that they began to disrespect him and take him for granted (i.e. “Hey Nana! This thing is broken; you need to get your ass over here and fix it!). Nanaboozhoo, being a humble being, tried to just continue helping but eventually it proved to be too much. He packed up his grandmother and left; as he was leaving, he promised the people he would come back some day. Once he was gone, the people missed him greatly and looked everywhere for him but no one knew what Nanaboozhoo was gonna look like when he returned. Therefore, whenever they would meet someone they would first ask, “Are you Nanaboozhoo?” Over time it became shortened to, “Boozhoo?” Now days, when we greet someone with “Boozhoo” we are saying hello but we are also recognizing the spiritual aspect of that person”.

Some of us are familiar with Nanaboozhoo and a few of the many stories; we always love to hear them again though. Suddenly everyone stops talking; somebody gasps, “I think I just felt some rain drops; a few others add, “Yeah, so did I”. The probably not homeless or street woman concurs, “It feels kinda misty on my cheeks”. An Occupier explains, “The weather people said it wasn’t gonna rain tonight; if you look carefully at that little cloud above us, you will see that it’s just a little bit darker than all the rest of the clouds. The other clouds all look perfectly harmless. Once the cloud currently over our heads passes by everything will be fine”. All activity ceases; in silence, everyone watches the small, slightly gray cloud hovering over us and then…….it just moves along and eating and conversation return.

Menagerie Woman rides in on her bike; she tells us that she’s scored big today. She got fired from her job in the morning, walked a couple blocks down the road to another establishment and was hired on the spot. The woman with a houseful of animals reports, “ They’ll be paying me $6 more than I was making at the other place and all I have to do is wash dishes. I think the bosses are gonna be nicer too”.

While we are listening to her story, Chicago Man arrives, he’s followed by a small group of young street guys. Chicago Man appears restless, he’s walking around, talking on his phone and conversing with folks in the circle all at the same time. As usual, he croons to the Occupier who brings most of the food, “Hey Grandma, do you have an extra cigarette?” She gives him one and he kisses her on the cheek. The young street guys are getting coffee and standing in the shadows talking about stuff that young street guys talk about.

The neighborhood retired man stops by; this is the first time we’ve seen him this year so we have to fill him in on all the latest developments. An Occupier begins, “Well, as you can see, the vehicle entryway is still blocked and we’ve been having to fight with the cops again too. Every Tuesday evening since we returned to Peoples Plaza on May 1st, the entryway’s been blocked so we have to park our vehicles up on the little place just off the sidewalk and unload and haul everything up the stairs. As soon as we start unloading, the MN Power security dudes call the police to complain about our impending legal recreational fire and the fact that our vehicles are parked up past the sidewalk. The cops tell us the same, tired, old stuff they were telling us 5 or 6 years ago. You know, like ‘it’s illegal to have a fire in a public park’. Another Occupier picks up the story, “They have a new one this year when we explain to them about all the actual laws that support recreational fires, they say, ‘The laws have changed’”. The neighborhood man exclaims, “What?!?” The storyteller laughs, “I know. We had to try really hard not to laugh when they sprung that one on us.

“We’re hoping to bring this thing to a head this time though; I’m going to court next week to present evidence to a judge showing that our fire is legal and that the Duluth Police Department and the Duluth Fire Department should not be messing with it. I’ve been going to meetings of government people, emailing back and forth with City Councilors and trying to get some attention as to what has been going on here with MN Power employees and us. Tomorrow I’ll be going to have coffee with one particular Councilor who has actually shown some interest in our situation. I’ve been pretty much working my butt off with this since May Day. I’m just trying to prove that our fire is legal; I’m thinking the storm troopers leaving us alone should follow”. Another Occupier sighs, “There you go again, using logical thinking. You know that the City rulers don’t operate according to logic”. We all laugh and the storytelling Occupier continues, “For real; this court thing will be pretty much a thing of good luck or not. The justice system in our country is seriously broken; I think it will mostly depend on which judge I get. I don’t know one from the other but I do know that some judges are more supportive of regular people’s civil rights than others.”

The neighborhood man comments, “Well I’m happy to see that you guys are still doing this thing, you all are performing a service that’s very necessary to this community”. As he is speaking, we notice the 2 bike cops trying to surreptitiously look up the stairs and over the flower beds to see what they can see. Fortunately, neither one of them smacks into a pedestrian or light post while performing their spy duties. The neighborhood man continues to chat with us for a bit and then he is on his way home. As he is leaving, he gives us a generous donation. The LnF guy observes, “It appears that man is your patron”. We say, “Truth”.

An Anon/Water Protector couple, 3 little girls and another W.P. appear. The little girls are always thrilled to be at the fire circle in the Plaza; they have a box of differently colored chalk so they immediately begin decorating the floor. They’re having a great time. Their parents are a little hesitant about letting the kids go on a decorating spree but an Occupier reassures them, “No worries, it will all be gone by tomorrow and besides, who’s gonna complain about little kids chalk drawings?” We know the security guards will complain; they complain about everything.

It’s a little after 9pm, the sun has set and the temperature takes a nose dive. Time to pack up; we expect to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 5-21-19

G.A. Minutes 5-21-19

After being rained out last week, we’re back at Peoples Plaza this evening. It’s been raining a lot over the last few weeks and the weather people predict more rain for the next few days but tonight we’re being given a break. The sky is overcast, temperatures are in the mid-40s and the wind is unbelievable. The weather people said there was gonna be an east wind with gusts up to 40 miles per hour. They were not kidding; the gusts are blowing everything off the tables and knocking over some of the chairs too. We can handle this; we put rocks to hold the table things down and we sit in the chairs. It works; we realize the strong breeze is gonna burn up a lot of wood and sage but…… whatever.

When the first Occupiers arrive on the scene, they find the big guy from the Anonymous crew waiting to help unload the main supplies. Perfect; while the Fire Magician and the big Anon unload supplies, the Occupier, who brings most of the food, scours the flower beds for decent sized rocks. Soon a few others arrive, our small group now consists of a couple of Occupiers, the big Anon, an Anon/Water Protector and her elementary school-aged daughter, the no longer dreadlocked, persistently homeless young man who has attended our fire circles for several years, the African American guy from the neighborhood who drops by from time to time and a street woman we are meeting for the first time.

The Fire Magician lights the fire and the wind joins in, it shoots the flames way high up. The Anon/W.P. and her daughter have brought all the ingredients for the making of s’mores. They will fit nicely with all our usual food offerings; the young girl is having a great time toasting marshmallows, putting the s’mores together and passing them out to all the so-called grownups. This is her first time attending our fire circle; we’re betting she’ll ask her Mom to bring her again.

The big Anon asks one of the Occupiers, “I heard the cops gave you a citation on May Day; so what’s going on with that now?” The Occupier tells him, “Well I’m gonna plead not guilty of course. I have my first court date on Wednesday, May 29th. I don’t think I’ll need anyone to come with me for moral support as I think this will be just a meeting with the prosecutor. I’ll just bring copies of all the ordinances, statutes, fire codes and that type of stuff, show them to the prosecutor and take it from there. Then the prosecutor will say something to try and intimidate me and when I don’t flinch they’ll either dismiss the case or move it on down the line to wherever it goes next. You never can tell with The Suits, some are actually conscientious, professional people who try to be compassionate while following the law and some are mean, nasty, power-hungry sickos who will go to great lengths to get a person to do as they’ve been ordered to do.

“I know I have white privilege so I probably won’t have to do any jail time”. We all laugh and she continues, “I spoke with one of the court clerks the other day and she told me that my the fine for my violation, that in reality was not a violation, is $278. Give me a break! If a financially stable person gets a citation, they generally just pay the fine as it’s more convenient for them but, this is a major way that cops destroy the lives of poor people. They issue citations over really petty things just because they can. Even if the charges are eventually dropped, a poor person still has to show up, on time, to court which is not that easy if one needs to hustle up bus fare or try to get time off from their very low waged slave job. I mean, shit, slave jobs don’t acknowledge an employee’s right to anything. If the employee needs time off for any reason, the boss will just fire them. If the cited person happens to be homeless, they may not even receive the paper in the mail that tells them when they’re supposed to be in court.

“If the person who has been given a citation is unable to make it to court at the assigned date and time, a warrant for their arrest will be issued. Sooner or later a cop will run across the cited person, find they have an outstanding warrant and then take them to jail. That really fucks poor people up; they may miss very important appointments, be unable to pay their rent or have their children taken away by Child Protection Services. All this because, in many instances, some cop wanted to throw his/her weight around”.

A W.P. comments, “I’ve heard that cops have monthly quotas that specify the number of tickets they have to issue”. The Occupier replies, “I’ve heard that too but I don’t know if it’s true. The cops say they don’t have quotas but who really knows? Cops have been known to lie, you know”. An Anon incredulously exclaims, “No!?!?” Everyone chuckles.

The currently cited Occupier sighs, “I’m sorry to have to inform you all that things are getting even more precarious for our friendly little fire circle. I went to the monthly Planning Commission meeting last week because I’d been told that MN Power was going to inform the Commission about a new plan they had related to Peoples Plaza. An MP+L dude was there; he made a presentation, part of which, contained a plan to discontinue the public easement (vehicle entryway to Peoples Plaza) that goes in front of the MN Power building and then turns onto the Plaza. The dude made a point to say they’d be happy to open the entryway for the Christmas tree people and for the Farmers Market. After he was done, I went up to the mic and asked, ‘Well, if the easement is gone, how will all the other people who need to get their vehicles onto the Plaza be able to do that?’ One of the City people put a picture of the three big planters currently covering the entryway up on the big TV screen so I could easily show everyone in the room what’s been going on for over a year now.

“The Commissioners asked the MP+L guy for an answer; I could see that this really pissed him off. He runs up to the podium and growls, “They can ask us and we’ll let them in!” We all say, “Yeah, right”. The cited one continues, “So… now we have more shit that we’ve gotta do! All I can think of is that we need to ask ourselves and our supporters to email ALL of their City Councilors requesting that they NOT ALLOW MN Power to vacate the easement. I think that the official legal name of Peoples Plaza is Lake Superior Park West. MN Power is scheduled to present their marvelous new plan to the City Council on Monday, June 10th, 7pm at City Hall in the Council Chambers. I think we should start the emailing around June 1st. Also, we need to get a few people who are willing to speak to the Councilors in support of keeping the entryway open. I hate public speaking but in this case, I will do it. So, that’s all I can think of; if you guys have better ideas please step up, I can’t do this by myself”. We will all step up but first we need a little time to digest this new information.

Just as we begin our digestion, a group of Duluth police officers accompanied by two Duluth firefighters with big water tanks strapped to their backs come walking up the stairs. An Occupier mumbles to himself, “Oh crap! Not this again!” All the cops and firefighters appear to be just fresh outta high school. The cop who appears to be the lead one tells us (with a straight face), “Before you say anything I need to inform you that the laws have changed; you can no longer have a fire here”. An Occupier needs to turn her face away for a moment so that she doesn’t laugh; she responds, “Oh really? Who told you that the laws have changed?” The tells her, “Chief Tuscan and the City Council”. Seeing the skeptical look on the Occupier’s face, the cop continues, “Hey look, I’m just a grunt; I have to do what they tell me”. Someone opines, “I’m guessing the MN Power security guards called to illegally report us again”. The officer nods in agreement.

The Occupier pretends to empathize, “Oh I definitely get that. I’ve spent a large portion of my life having to bite my tongue while working with oppressive supervisors and such. I’m very happy to be retired”. One of the firefighters begins to absolutely drown our fire. Another Occupier laughs, “You must be trying to make up for May Day when your boss yelled at you for not putting it all the way out”. The fire dude smiles and nods his head to say yes.

The first Occupier gets the name and number of the lead cop, the rest of the cops just stand around like they’re watching some kind of training session. She attempts to get the same information from the one fire guy who doesn’t have a water tank on his back but he won’t answer her. None of the fire guys will admit to being the person in charge. Once the heroic deed is done and all government people prepare to leave, the lead police officer says to the first Occupier, “Thank you for being cooperative”. The Occupier nods her head to acknowledge that she heard him.

After they leave, the guy from the neighborhood interjects, “They sure is some dumb muthafuckas”. An Anon/W.P. groans, “So I guess we just sit here now until it gets too cold or until it’s dark”. An Occupier opines, “We need to find a way to stop this shit. If we just do nothing but jump through their hoops we’ll still be fighting this years from now”. The city official arrives; he looks around and asks, “So, they put the fire out again?!” We say. “Yup”. He exclaims, “This is not right!” An Occupier agrees, “I know, this needs to stop”. The city official and the Occupier step out of the circle; they are formulating a plan. To be continued……

The city official needs to leave as he’s not dressed for the kind of weather we’ve been left sitting in. A couple of young men from Natives Against Heroin stop in; a street woman who has attended our fires,off and on for many years follows close behind. They commiserate about our fire; we offer them bowls of soup. Our soup tastes mighty good in the cold weather; the cops and fire people didn’t even notice our little charcoal grill quietly burning away. The young girl and her mom warm their hands over the hot coals.

The Occupier who likes to report stuff reports, “By the way, the Indigenous Commission DOES want us to bring our fire to the Naming Ceremony at Gitchie Ode Akiing Park on Friday, May 31st at 1pm. Then, Socialist Pizza will happen on that same day at 6:30pm in the Women’s Building”. An Occupy elder remarks, “Imma help do the fire then go home and take a nap so I’ll be able to say something intellectual, if needed, at Socialist Pizza” We all crack up.

It’s getting dark now so we begin to pack up. We expect to be back at Peoples Plaza, with our fire pit, next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 5-7-19

G.A. Minutes 5-7-19

We are about to hold our first recreational fire of the year at Peoples Plaza this evening. As usual, the Fire Magician and the Occupier who brings most of the food are the first people to arrive. They notice that the big tree planters are blocking the vehicle entryway again; this forces them to park their vehicles up on the sidewalk in order to unload all the fire stuff. The food bringing Occupier exclaims, “Oh for christ sakes! The entryway was left open all winter and there were many vehicles driving on and off the Plaza the whole time we were gone. I suppose the MP+L security goons realized we were due to return soon so they ordered some maintenance workers to put the big planters across the entire entryway. The goons must think they’re still in jr. high”.

The Fire Magician replies, “I know, it’s such a drag that we and most of the rest of the people in the world have to fight tooth and nail to have even a few hours of actual freedom in our lives. I wonder why the Human Rights Commission hasn’t addressed our human rights complaint yet; we been waiting over half a year haven’t we?” The Food Bringing Occupier answers, “I think so, they’re meeting tomorrow evening at City Hall; I plan to attend and I’ll insist that they put our complaint next in line to be dealt with”.

So now, the old and battered Occupiers are faced with the job of hauling a shit ton of stuff up the stairs and across the Plaza. If they have to do it alone, it will take them at least an hour just to get everything over to the fire circle area. Never fear, another Occupier, several Anonymous peeps, the city official and many Water Protectors roll up. With everyone working together things get hauled and set up in about 15 minutes.

The weather is cold, cloudy, misty and kinda miserable. Strong gusts from an annoying east wind aren’t helping either. The Fire Magician gets a roaring fire going; that helps a lot. He also sets up a small charcoal grill which will keep a big pot of homemade tomato-rice and vegetable soup warm. A Water Protector/Anon provides a couple of different and very tasty hotdishes to go with all the usual stuff on the tables. There are deluxe PB+J sandwiches, pickles, chips, cookies and our semi-famous “stay awake forever” coffee. It’s early enough in the month that many homeless and/or street people are still relaxing in inexpensive motels or in some cases, drug houses. The few folks, who may not receive small government checks and are still out on the street, join us for a good meal, the warmth of the fire and the friendly and interesting discussion going on in the fire circle… Sweet.

An Anon reports, “In case you don’t already know, there’s going to be a No Line 3 rally right here tomorrow morning starting at 9 am. There will be an Enbridge shareholders meeting going on tomorrow in Calgary so there will be No Line 3 rallies across northern MN and Canada in all the places that are threatened by the planet-destroying Black Snake. The rally here is sponsored by the Sierra Club, MN 350 or Honor the Earth or maybe all three of them, I’m not sure, but I think it means that a lot of people will show up”. All of the fire-worshipers who are able will be there too.

An Occupier in a chair in the circle that faces the street sighs, “Don’t look now but I think we’re gonna have a replay of May Day”. Some W.P.s and Anons say, “What!?!”. An Occupier mutters under her breath, “Oh, fuck!” A couple of very young guys from the Duluth Fire Department come walking up the stairs; they have water spraying tanks strapped to their backs. The Occupier, who reports and records things, gets up and goes to greet them; in the most friendly manner she can muster she says, “Hey guys, what’s up?” The slightly older firefighter responds with the standard but false statement generally utilized by Duluth government types who have no idea what they’re talking about, “You can’t have a fire in a public park; the Plaza is a public park so you have to put your fire out. If you refuse to put it out then we have to put it out ourselves”.

The recording Occupier attempts to explain, “Actually, what you are saying is just not true. One CAN have a fire in a public park under certain circumstances and our fire complies with all those circumstances. Let me show you a copy of the City ordinance regarding fires”. The fire dude is not interested and tells her, “Let’s just wait until the police get here”. As if on cue, 2 cops arrive. The bigger and older officer is one half of a pair of brothers who are both on the Duluth police force; these brothers are the only African Americans in the DPD so they’re kinda famous. The other cop is a much younger white guy that we sort of recognize. Everyone who for various reasons, does not want to interact with the police, leaves the circle and quickly disappears. The older cop is friendly but still says, “People can’t have fires in public parks”. The explaining Occupier states, “I know that is a DFD policy but it is overridden by the City Ordinance, the MN Statute and the International Fire Codes”. She shows the officer copies of all these things; as they are chatting, the Occupier is surprised to see that the cop appears to actually be listening to her.

The older officer opines, “You know, this is really stupid; you guys aren’t doing anything wrong or causing any trouble. Let me call my lieutenant to see if we can fix this”. He gets on his phone; the recording Occupier turns to go back to the circle and sees that the firefighters have quickly snuck in, put out the fire and left. An Anon remarks, “They probably wanted to get back to the fire station so they could eat their dinner”. The big cop returns, looks around and says, “Wow, it’s really cold now; as soon as we leave just start your fire up again. We won’t be bothering you all anymore tonight”. He tells the younger cop, “Go into the MN Power building and tell the security people that this fire is on City property not MN Power property so they have no jurisdiction. Tell them we don’t like it when people call in frivolous reports”.

The cops leave, the Fire Magician cleans up the mess that the fire dudes made and starts up a fire again. Yes!!! Everyone crowds around it; we were all freezing. As the folks who needed to leave begin to come back again, an Occupier jokes to a couple of returning W.P.s, “The Revolution is over, we won and… YOU MISSED IT!” We all think that’s pretty funny.

A 40 something homeless guy, who has attended our fires regularly over the past few years, inquires, “So what happened on May Day?” Someone replies, “Pretty much the same thing that just happened here except there were a lot more people from all sorts of local progressive groups joining in the celebration. The weather was just as crappy as it is now but we had a good sound system, good music, and a big canopy tent over many tables full of food. Of course, we had our fire and a pot of soup heating on the little grill. Some folks went marching around the neighborhood and upon their return, about 20 Duluth cops and some from the Sheriff’s Department showed up. The lead cop was a real asshole. The recording Occupier agrees, “Yeah, he was definitely an asshole. I had forgotten to bring copies of all the relevant ordinances, statutes and codes but I gave him the appropriate numbers and info so he could look it up on his phone. He refused to do so; I asked him to call a supervisor but he refused to do that either. After asking him about 10 times he finally looked up the City Ordinance but then refused to read or interpret it properly. I hate having to deal with blockheads.

“Anyway, he said, “I really don’t want to issue a citation to anyone so if you guys put out your fire yourselves then I won’t have to give a citation to anyone”. We told him we would not put out the fire so he says, “Well, whose fire is this?” We know that game already; if we say it belongs to everyone (which it does) then the cops say that means it doesn’t belong to anyone and they confiscate it. I was the only Occupier who had never been issued a citation for anything up until then so I said the fire belonged to me. The asshole cop asked for my ID; I said I had to go get it from my car so he follows me all the way there. My ID was in my pack in the trunk and I noticed he was looking in my trunk and inside my vehicle. He didn’t ask to search my vehicle though, which was a good thing because I would have said no and we’d probably still be there arguing right now.

“Officer Asshole kinda changed his tune after he looked at my ID; he was definitely middle-aged but I imagine he noticed that I was 10 or 15 years older than him. He began speaking politely and acting friendly towards me but I couldn’t have cared less, he was still an ignorant jerk in my book. So he goes back to his vehicle to write the citation and I went back to the fire circle. The fire dudes had already put out the fire and left but they didn’t put it out completely and it was starting to flame up. Everyone was standing around in a circle with their backs to the fire; they were trying to shield it so the cops wouldn’t notice that it was still burning. No such luck, one of the cops noticed and they called the firefighters and told them to come back. When they returned a supervisor stood over a young recruit, instructing him exactly how to put out the fire. Hello? I doubt that anyone would need instructions on how to put out our little fire.

After that was done we were all freezing our asses off; the Anons still had their sound system on and a really rocking hip hop tune came on. The singer said ‘fuck’ every once in a while so Officer Asshole turned it off, saying, ‘you can’t play that vulgar language in public’. That caused one of the Anons to blow a gasket, and he said, ‘What about freedom of speech? What about the Constitution?’ The cops just ignored him and started to leave, then Asshole comes back again and I blew a gasket; I scolded him and said, ‘Now what? Whatdaya want now?!?’ He mumbled something and left.

“The rest of us just sat around for a few more hours, freezing ourselves to death because there was no way we were gonna let the cops think they could drop in and spoil our event whenever they felt like it. Some of us came down with colds from sitting in the cold, rainy weather for so long but that’s a small price to pay in order to defend our right to freedom of assembly and all that. I’m gonna take the fucking citation to court, plead not guilty, present all the laws that protect our fire and see what happens. I’ve already turned in a request to view Asshole’s body cam footage and I’ll file a complaint with the Citizen’s Review Board too. The so-called ‘powers that be’ are not gonna get off easy this time. So anyway, that’s what happened on May Day”.

Another Occupier adds, “Yeah, May Day was quite a fiasco this year. I had to go pick up my kids so couldn’t stay around for the freeze your ass off part but damn! There sure were a lot of cops that day; most of them were just standing around sorta not knowing exactly why they were there. It was only Officer Asshole running around trying to make a big deal outa nothing.

“I wasn’t able to make the 1 Year Anniversary of the Husky Oil Refinery Explosion and Fire event; how did it go?” A W.P. states, “It went really well, a good bunch of people showed up at the former Enbridge building that’s across the street from the jail and County Court House in Superior. Winona LaDuke was there too with the big Honor the Earth decorated bus and many HTE folks. The local media was there and some of us gave speeches and interviews about how Husky needs to get rid of that hydrogen fluoride tank and replace it with something safe”. An Anon interjects, “Better yet, they should close down the refinery and get the hell offa our land!” The W.P. agrees, “For real. So once the rally was over everyone took various modes of transportation out to a boat landing in East End; I think it was on the Nemadji river. It was nice and quiet; the Occupiers had a fire going and some food and coffee. Peeps from the Honor House showed up with a big pot of soup and a chocolate cake; one of our good traditional friends from the Fond du Lac Rez brought a bunch of tipi poles and showed everyone how to put them up and take them down.

“After a while one cop showed up but he was acting all laid back and chill”. An Occupier concurs, “He was, wasn’t he? I went over to chat with him; he was a sergeant or something. He said that he got a frantic call from his supervisors demanding that he get out to the boat landing right away to see what we were up to. He told me, ‘I don’t see what the big deal is; you guys have a rally or something, speak your mind to get your message across and hopefully get on TV then you leave and go on about your business and we go on about our business too’. He went on to tell me about members of his family who had worked for Husky or Enbridge and then came down with serious illnesses. Apparently, anyone who gets a job working hands-on for Enbridge has to sign a waiver promising not to sue Enbridge after they retire. Most of the retirees come down with some rare and deadly type of cancer within a few years of retiring. He also confided, ‘I’ve noticed that all the Enbridge people are just TERRIFIED of you guys’. As he left he said, ‘A lot of people are gonna be really pissed about you guys being here. After all, this is where the teenagers come to have sex’.

Everyone laughs. The Occupier who reports things reports, “They’ve finally officially decided when the Naming Ceremony for Gitchii O’de Akiing Park is gonna be. Friday, May 31st at 1 pm; I still don’t know if they want us to bring our fire or not. I’ll find out in plenty of time to be ready, I hope”.

It’s getting late and we think we should pack up; tomorrow morning at 9 am will arrive very soon. Some of us live a little ways outside of Duluth and will sleep over at the houses of those of us who live nearby so as to make it to the event at the Plaza on time.

We start packing up; once the fire is put out, we realize just how really flipping cold it is outside. So even though most of us are already tired, the cold air gets us moving quickly. We expect to be back at Peoples Park next Tuesday.

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.

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.