G.A. Minutes 10-11-14
There’s not much of a wind but autumn is certainly in the air this evening. We hustle to get things set up and to get the fire started.
Some of the Occupiers are a little on edge. We know that after the visit from the DPD and the City Fire Department at our meeting last Tuesday, we are flying in their faces by openly having a fire at CJM.
Oh well….. Speaking truth to power always carries some risk. The issues we’re dealing with are of major importance. The publics’ right to make use of public space and the necessity of all people, rich or poor, powerful or powerless, to abide by the same laws are serious matters. We will need to back up our words with action.
Tonight we have all our ducks in a row. A Duluth city ordinance and a MN statute expressly state that our fire is legal and does not require a permit. We have copies of these laws with us in case somebody should feel like challenging our or anybody else’s right to congregate as we do.
The Occupier who regularly does a general pickup of the Memorial before we begin our meeting has an assistant this time. The developmentally disabled man joins him, efficiently getting all the bits of garbage cleaned up.
We gather around the blazing fire and are immediately joined by others from the neighborhood. Everyone will need to keep warm on a night like this.
A woman we know as schizophrenic walks by. She’s in a bad mood and is loudly cussing at everyone. The Occupier who is cleaning tries to talk with her. This does not go well and we encourage him to just leave her alone.
A man from the neighborhood passes by. He is carrying a purse, waving it over his head. He says, “Do you want me to throw this up on the roof?” A woman waving a large bottle of alcohol follows him and meekly says, “No”. He answers, “Well then, leave me alone. If you were not a woman I would knock you out”. He hands her back her purse and walks away. She does not follow him.
Back in the circle some folks question, “Hey, we heard the police were hassling you guys at your last meeting. What’s up with that?” We tell them the story.
An Occupier states, “We think they’re being pressured by the CJM BOD to make us stop having our fires. The Board has been making a lot of noise lately about wanting to kick all neighborhood people out of the Memorial grounds. We try to explain to the board that the so called problem goes so much deeper than their narrow little minds seem to be able to handle.
“If they want CJM to be free of people hanging out, they need to be working on getting housing, healthcare, education, meaningful work and other services for poor and working class people. Of course those country club wannabees don’t want to hear any of that. They just want all the neighborhood people to disappear to who knows or cares where. That’s how most rich people are; they just want anything they consider unsightly to get out of their line of vision. They actually think they have the right to demand that other human beings just disappear. They think themselves to be a better class of people. I will fight those morons til the day I die and maybe even longer than that”.
An Occupier informs us he may be leaving town for the winter. He has been homeless again for the last few months. A friend has offered to share a room with him in Mpls. We are happy for him. The Occupier and a street man begin to have a disagreement about semantics or something. We’re not sure what it’s about but people begin to leave the circle.
Fortunately the mood is broken by the arrival of our friend the grey haired woman. She says, “What the heck is going on tonight? People are so crabby. They have just been coming up to me on the street and yelling at me”.
An Occupier answers, “Yes, I’ve noticed that too. Everyone seems out of sorts”. Our grey haired friend manages to cheer everyone up as usual. She tells a few silly stories and many folks return to the fire.
One lone DPD SUV drives slowly by. We’d noticed his presence earlier. So far we think he’s been our only stalker.
Things are back to normal now with many friendly people sitting talking, laughing and warming themselves.
A young man we haven’t met compliments us on our use of the sage bundle. He begins to explain basic Anishinaabe culture. We are familiar with most of what he tells us but we listen politely and allow him to individually smudge everyone in the circle.
A boy about 10 or 12 years old rides up on a scooter. He asks for a cup of coffee. At first we briefly hesitate but realize these kids of the street are older than their years. He says, “It’s o.k., my Dad is back there on the ledge. If you ask him he will say it’s alright for me to have coffee. We give him some and invite him to sit and join us. He speaks with us as though he were a much older person.
Soon his Father and the others from the back ledge arrive. We have standing room only. Father and son have obvious respect and affection for each other. The son tells us his Father taught him how to drive a year or so ago. He says his Dad did this so he would be able to drive him home if he got too drunk. His Father replies, “Shhh…. You’re embarrassing me in front of my new friends”.
An Occupier notices it is almost 10pm. She says to another Occupier, “The way that cop has been scoping us out all night, we’d better watch the time. I’m not in the mood for an ambush”.
They quietly begin packing up. The Father also notices the time. He, his son and several others are staying at a small homeless shelter just up the hill. Their curfew is 10 pm. He says to one of the other men, “Do you need a place to stay tonight?” The man says yes he does and the Father answers, “You can stay in my room but you’ll have to climb in the window. There are guards at the door and I’m not supposed to have guests. You’ll have to crawl back out the window around 6am”.
Everyone is saying their goodbyes when the boy’s father looks over at the back ledge and says, “Oh no, that woman is still there”. The Occupiers look too and see someone passed out on the ground with their legs twisted up in the air. An Occupier walks over and sees it is the woman who was waving the big bottle of alcohol early in the evening. The occupier asks the boy’s father if she should call 911 and have them take the woman to Detox. The Father responds, “Yeah, you better do that. She’ll be really mad in the morning but at least she’ll be safe for the night”.
The Occupiers call 911, pack up, put out the fire and wait for the rescue squad to arrive. The woman sits up, shouts “F’ you” to no one in particular and falls down on her back again.
After 20 minutes or so the stalker SUV arrives followed by a fire department “O.D. squad”. They begin walking toward the Occupiers until one points to the back ledge. The police officer and the fire people begin talking to the woman.
We think that as long as the fire people are with the DPD officer, the woman will come to no harm. We have no idea who she is so can provide no further assistance.
Next Tuesday we will be going to the Sawyer Community Center to meet with Leonard and Mary Moose, 2 much respected Anishinaabe elders. We plan to be back at CJM on Saturday.