G.A. Minutes 10-1-13
We find the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial looking pretty good when we arrive tonight. The YMCA cleaning crew is back and they are doing a very good job sweeping and picking up garbage. They are just finishing; so quickly say hello and go off to their next project. There are a few young men we don’t know on the back ledge. They appear to be “businessmen”. It’s the first of the month which means street people who receive small government checks may have been paid today. Other street people are more than willing to assist them in spending their money. We expect the neighborhood to be a bit weird this evening.
As we are setting up, many more people arrive and the area becomes quite full. The crowd consists of some we know but most we have not previously met. It’s obvious some type of commerce is taking place. Oh well, we generally don’t pay any attention to such things unless it looks like loss of life or limb is imminent. The folks who frequent the Memorial were here way before we arrived on the scene. We are the guests.
Someone comments that 2 very recent events will affect this community soon. Today the Tea Party Republicans voted to shut down the U.S. government rather than accept that a minor increase in benefits be given to the general public. We know this will cause the poor to be short changed……again.
Yesterday the DPD descended on the Graffiti Graveyard, ordering approximately 200 homeless people to get out. They stated the Graffiti Graveyard homeless camp would be barricaded to ensure no one could reenter. Of course, another place for the homeless to go was not provided. Television crews, reporters, city officials, activists and many others were present at this event. Promises of housing sometime in the future were made.
Nobody seemed to know where masses of homeless people were going to spend the upcoming winter. We know the DPD spent all summer breaking up small homeless camps all over the city. We know they told the evicted residents to go and camp out at Graffiti Graveyard. Now they’re evicting Graffiti? Something is up; we just don’t know what (yet).
An Occupier reports a load of wood has been purchased. It should be enough to last until Spring. The website is also paid for another year. The Occupy treasury still has a little money in it. This is good.
An old friend who had lived at our homeless camp for a pretty long time rides up on his bike. He is accompanied by his marvelously street wise and well behaved dog. We stop our conversation in order to chat with him. He is a veteran of homelessness and had been living at Graffiti. He’s already set up camp somewhere else.
He tells us, “Word on the street is that someone is going to be murdered tonight. I came by to tell you because I want to make sure it won’t be one of you guys”. We thank him for the information but realize he’s always tended to be a bit overly dramatic. In the year we’ve been meeting here we’ve never felt really afraid or in actual danger.
A man we don’t know plunks himself down in a chair and begins to drink a can of beer. An Occupier says, “You’d better be discrete about that. If you start flashing it around people are going to be all over you wanting some”. The man complies. He is very drunk and we can’t understand much of what he is saying. We manage to hear that he was living in his van and the police, knowing he was living in it, had it towed away. They want a lot of money before they will give it back to him so now he has nowhere to live.
An Occupier says, “There are some really malicious people on the police force”. The crowd swirls around our circle and the man disappears into it.
Someone asks what’s going on with the upcoming March Against Monsanto. No one knows or has seen any publicity about it. An Occupier reports that the march was originally scheduled for Oct. 12th at 1pm. She says the Wolf Walk scheduled their Oct 12th event for 3pm so as not to interfere with the march.
She is just beginning to give the details about the Wolf Walk when our friend, the older man from the neighborhood shows up. He tells us about a speaker he had gone to hear recently. He laughs and says,” Well this topic was a lot more upbeat than the one about exponential growth I talked about last time. It was about all the land all over the world that can still be used for planting food. I’m always over excited about whatever is the last thing I’ve heard”. The older man has also heard about the destruction of Graffiti and expresses his concern. He’s a little uncomfortable with all the noise and activity surrounding us so takes his leave.
Immediately, a woman asks to sit in one of our chairs. We invite her and as the fire light shines on her face, we realize she is someone who sat in our circle many months ago. She was vulgar and we did not enjoy her company. She starts right in and it looks like we’re in for a replay. She’s very drunk and begins yelling vulgarities at the various men walking up and down the street.
The men are not familiar to us but they seem to know her. They are tolerant of her behavior. Suddenly another woman walks up to her and says, “Where is the money you stole from me?” The vulgar woman says, “I don’t know what you’re talking about”. The usual bickering starts up. Many people crowd around them and it appears they are trying to prevent any violence from happening. For reasons unknown to us, the street people are always respectful of our space and attempt to shield us from “bad actors”.
When we hear the accusing woman say she’s going to pick up our fire and throw it at the vulgar woman, we decide to pack up. As we gather things, a regular woman from the street picks up the still burning sage bundle and smudges herself. She tries to hand it back to an Occupier but the Occupier says, “Why don’t you keep it. Maybe you can make some good come from it”. The street woman smiles and says, “I’ll do my best”.
The Occupiers are not angry or afraid. They understand street drama is the most excitement that folks get around here. The Occupiers just find street drama rather boring. However, we’ll be back on Saturday.