G.A. Minutes 7-25-17
So the weather people say it’s supposed to rain this evening. It’s not raining as the first Occupiers roll up to People’s Plaza; we’re gonna try to get as much time in the fire circle as the rain gods will allow. The sky is overcast but not particularly dark, the temperature is in the low 70s and there is no breeze at all. The air is very muggy; uggg….. maybe the fire will take up some of the moisture.
Several of the Anonymous crew are waiting when we arrive. As they help set up the circle one of the crew tells us, “I’m not sure who’s gonna show up tonight. I’ve been without internet for an entire week so haven’t been able to communicate. We’re very dependent on Facebook for sharing information and for organizing”. An Occupier responds, “Yup, the internet is very convenient; we use it too. We’re going to have to look for other means of communication though. Once the revolution becomes stronger, the government will just close the whole thing down. The Anon adds, “When the government shut down the internet in Egypt everyone came out of their houses and congregated in front of the main government centers”.
The Stylish Native Woman and her partner arrive. Her partner tells us that he was recently arrested and hauled off to jail again. The arresting cop smacked him around too. The Partner is an unmedicated schizophrenic who has an uncontrollable need to just yell into the air sometimes. He doesn’t yell at other living beings and as far as we know has never physically harmed anyone; he just yells sometimes. When he’s finished he always apologizes to anyone within earshot.
Anyway, he’s been plagued with bouts of yelling for the last month or so. Somebody must have called the cops a week or so ago because one showed up to insult and harass him. Cops have been harassing him for well over 20 years. When he tried to verbally defend himself, the cop smacked him around and took him to jail. Now he’ll have to try to explain himself to a judge. He never has much luck with that.
All the so called professional people tell The Partner that the solution to all his problems is to just take his prescribed medicine. The Partner says, “I just really cannot take that stuff. When I take that stuff I become a complete zombie; I can’t even think”. The so called professional people seem to think that The Partner taking his medicine is a very simple and easy thing. They think that if he doesn’t take it then he doesn’t deserve any kind of help.
The Partner opines, “I wish there was somewhere I could go where there were no people and I could just yell and yell until I exhausted myself. I could then come back and associate with people until I had to go and yell again”.
We’d like to offer to help him file a complaint about being beaten up but we know he would never do that. He’d be too afraid that some of the cops would take him into a dark alley and break every bone in his body. There are some cops on the police force that would do that too.
More Anons are arriving; they hang around the fire circle and turn on their good music. Many Anon groupies also appear. We call them groupies because they are younger than the Anons and don’t have much knowledge or interest in what Anonymous is really about. They just think the masks are cool.
When an Occupier returns from parking his truck he reports, “There’s a guy without a shirt running around on the roof of the steam plant. A couple of squad cars are parked down at the bottom”. A few people go to take a peak over the back bushes; then an ambulance comes roaring across the overpass and off in the direction of the hospitals. The guy on the roof can no longer be seen. Someone says, “Gee, I hope he didn’t jump off the roof”. Someone else responds, “Naw, if he’d have jumped off there would have been a lot more squads and such around”. We all hope things work out o.k. for the dude.
When the Fire Magician finally gets a chance to light up the fire, the Anons go out to the street corner and start thumping. The groupies stay behind, hanging around just outside of the circle between forays for food from the table. We notice they’re acting extra “squirrely” tonight.
A street man who sometimes visits our fire and a street woman who we haven’t met in the past are discussing their previous and many stays in prison. The man states, “One time I spent a year in solitary. It wasn’t too bad; I read a lot of books and I appreciated the reprieve from having to interact with lots of people”. The woman replies, “I have grandbabies now and they need me. I have to stay out of the system”.
One of the street folks points to the water sculpture across the street and calls out, “Hey look, some tourists just brought Mr. Green a big pizza! Several of the street folks go running over to see if Mr. Green will share. An Occupier says quietly to another, “Oh, Mr. Green will definitely share. I know him; I was his nurse when he was in a chemical dependency unit about 15 years ago. He’s developmentally disabled; I know he looks real mean and scary but he’s actually a very sweet and innocent dude.
“He just doesn’t understand the connection between hanging out with the real hardcore street drug users and being kind of stuck in the life he leads. Every month when he gets his SSI check all bad guys hang out with him and he buys them drugs and alcohol. Once his money runs out, they beat him up and leave. As far as I know, no one has tried or been able to get him to understand about addiction or that another life is possible”.
After the pizza is gone, Mr. Green comes over to our circle to drink coffee and smoke cigarettes. He doesn’t recognize his former nurse.
The city official and another Occupier come up the stairs. Once they are settled an Occupier reports to the city man, “I have 3 people who are willing to go on your radio show. Two of them could be available any Wednesday, Thursday or Friday afternoon”. The city man answers, “Those times would work for me too”. The Occupier continues, “I still have to contact the third person and then we’ll be good to go”.
The newly arrived Occupier asks, “So what did you think of the Democratic Socialists of America’s Open House last week?” Another Occupier replies, “I arrived very late so most of the food was gone but I think the sponsors have a very nice house, garden and back yard. The band playing was good too. Our old friend, the band’s guitar player has certainly advanced his chops since the last time I heard him play a couple of years ago. I was able to sit and chat with a few people I hadn’t seen in a long time. Also, Rich Upthegrove is definitely the best person for City Councilperson at Large. I’ll have no problem voting for him. We all agree, Rich Upthegrove is the best candidate.
An Occupier announces, “I went to Detox last week because I think I need another round of treatment for my alcoholism. They interviewed me and put me on a waiting list. I don’t know how long I’ll have to wait to get in. A street person adds, “Yeah, I’m having some pretty serious mental health issues but I can’t get in anywhere. Everything is full and there are long waiting lists. Another street person chimes in, “Even St. Louis County Jail is full. They’re contracting out to other smaller jails in the state. There sure are a lot of people hurting out here”.
The conversation turns to the subject of the Homeless Persons Bill of Rights. The official man reminds us about his idea to purchase cheaply priced used buses from the DTA and turn them into portable shower facilities. An Occupier comments, “I like that idea. Myself and 2 other people from the HPB of R Coalition are tasked with exploring solutions to the 24/7 access to bathroom facilities human right. Mayor Larson has asked for a meeting with us. She says she has some ideas too. When we meet I will bring up the DTA bus solution”
The gay African American former street guy who was a regular at our Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial fires appears. He’s been at several of our fires this year too. He and the street man with the prison record see each other, break out in big smiles and hug each other for a long time. We were aware the African American man had fallen in love with someone but we didn’t know who it was. We don’t know the former prisoner well but, on the surface at least, he appears to be intelligent and kind hearted. We hope he really is because the African Heritage Man deserves to have a real relationship with someone who cares about him.
The Anon groupies have been running around the Plaza and acting silly all night long. It appears that some of them are drunk. Now they are sitting in the circle and trying to burn each other’s hair with their lighters. We tell them to stop. They do stop but begin wrestling with someone’s bandanna. They come within inches of the fire; everyone is yelling at them to stop. They have become deaf.
It’s about 9:30pm and we were planning on watching the fire die out. The Fire Magician sighs, “That’s it! We gotta go. If these kids won’t respect the fire circle then we’ll have to take it away”. All the non-groupies help pack up; the Anons come off the corner. The groupies just stand there looking confused.
An Occupier walks out of the Plaza to get her vehicle and load on the food stuff. She spots 2 cops that she doesn’t recognize, sitting on bicycles in the shadows; she hears the 1st cop say, “Hey, they have a fire going up there!” The 2nd cop says something that she can’t make out. The 1st cop says, “You mean they can do that ?!?” The 2nd cop says, “Yeah”.
The stupid acting groupies come walking down the stairs, appearing to be ready to harass the cops. At first the Occupier thinks she should go back to the circle but then she remembers the city official is still there. No worries, cops NEVER mess with the official man.
The light changes and the Occupier continues her mission. When she returns, the cops are gone and so are the groupies. Everything is ready to go; an Anon puts his sound system into her trunk and we are off….. Until next Tuesday of course.
G.A. Minutes 7-25-17