G.A. Minutes 11-5-13

G.A. Minutes 11-5-13
The sky is completely dark as we enter the Memorial tonight. November is here; the time of year we huddle together, mourning the absence of the sun. It’s chilly but bearable if we get the fire going right away. Soon we’ll have to go inside for the winter. Soon but not yet.

The street and CJM appear devoid of inhabitants but as soon as we have the flames blazing, we see our gray-haired woman friend approaching. She is quickly followed by another woman who has visited previously. Other folks appear and all our chairs are promptly filled.

A young woman who had lived in our homeless camp walks up. This is a very pleasant surprise. We have not seen her in over a year and have been somewhat concerned for her wellbeing. She and her male cousin came up from the Twin Cities during the start of the Summer of 2012. They had expected to stay with family members. When that didn’t pan out, they ended up sharing a tent in our camp.

The two were inseparable. They were hip hop artists and would entertain us at night with their original music. They were friendly, kindhearted and loved by all. At one point, they had to return to the Cities for a few days. We said goodbye, expecting them back in a week. Within days the young male was ambushed and murdered. His female cousin was a witness to his murder. Because of this, the murderers were trying to find and kill her too. We took up a collection, bought a bus ticket and brought her back to camp. She was quite traumatized. She cried much of the time and began drinking regularly. We could see that she was extremely depressed. We were told she was talking about suicide. After the illegal eviction of our camp we lost touch with her. However, she was not forgotten. Now here she is again. Apparently she went back to the Twin Cities, hoping she would be safe. That was not to be so she’ll be living in Duluth. We exchange phone numbers and she gives us the link to a music video she has made. She seems more healthy and stable than when last we met. This is good.

The outreach workers stop by to chat a bit and to leave a package of snacks for anyone who might be hungry. These outreach workers specialize in caring for homeless youth and our young friend had just informed us that she was now 21 years old. The workers say they are allowed to help people who are younger than 22. We make a note to hook our friend up with these workers.

The workers leave and the conversation becomes focused around the fire. An Occupier comments on a recent article exposing the practice in some U.S. cities of rounding up all the homeless people and putting them in locked FEMA camps.

Someone says, “That’s totally unconstitutional!”

Another answers, “Yeah, but that doesn’t stop them from doing it. What about Indian reservations and Japanese internment?”

The grey haired woman says, “What did homeless people do during the depression of the 30’s?” An Occupier responds, “They built their own camps called Hoovervilles and the government came and burnt them to the ground”.

Another Occupier comments on the lack of Christian spirit among Christians and a discussion begins about all the mean and hateful things that are written in the Bible. Someone says, “The Bible is weird. It has good things too but it’s been written by so many different people and translated so many times, who knows what it really says. Anyway, there’s lots of other things besides the Bible. What about the 7th Spark and the 8th Fire, the Mayan Prophecies or the White Buffalo? One can go with gloom, doom, darkness and death or with light, healing and reclamation”. Everyone agrees, following the light is the way to go.

One Occupier tells another about the hard work everyone put in last weekend making the Overpass Light Brigade signs for this upcoming Friday’s action. They all have little blisters on their hands from using the glue guns. The homeless folk at the fire ask what we are talking about. We explain about the de-listing of the gray wolves and the fact that 6 states including MN are allowing hunting, trapping, torturing and killing of wolves. The MN wolf hunting season begins on Saturday morning and we are planning a Stop The Wolf Hunt action on Friday evening. The homeless people don’t think wolves should be killed either and they ask if they can join us. We give them the details of the action.

A young man wearing shorts comes running up. We make room for him by the fire; give him some hot coffee and the snacks left by the outreach workers. He tells us he’s just come from the Casino. Luckily he wasn’t noticed and was able to sneak in and use the bathroom. He speaks of the difficulty of finding a place to use the bathroom when one is shabbily dressed and without money. We have the conversation we have had many, many times about the absolute lack of bathroom facilities for homeless people and of the fact that it is illegal to relieve oneself anywhere else. The City has cops in the alleys making sure homeless people don’t pee there but won’t provide anywhere that they can pee.

A woman wearing a tiny shirt, sporting a bare midriff plunks down. She says she’s just arrived from Las Vegas and she sings us a song. She has a beautiful voice. Just as quickly as she arrived, she is gone.

One of the Occupiers is fighting off a cold. She suggests we pack up a little early tonight. As we do this we can tell the homeless wish we would stay longer. We know that we are all going home to warm beds. We’re not sure where the homeless ones are going.

We plan to change that situation.