G.A. Minutes 5-30-15
It will be a big fire night again at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial. We’ve got chilly weather with daytime highs in the low 50s and an east wind.
Some of the “usual suspects” are sitting on the back ledge. The mood appears to be calm and friendly all around.
We set everything up but the street folks don’t join in right away. It’s only Occupiers at the fire as we start off this evening.
An Occupier is looking at his newly purchased tablet computer. He says, “I bet that police camera up there is connected to Wi-Fi”. Another Occupier teases, “Why don’t you play around until you find the password and use the DPD Wi-Fi to get on the internet?” The Occupier answers, “Oh sure, I’ll do that right now. In about a half an hour the NSA will show up and I’ll be arrested for spying, but you guys will have my back, won’t you?” We all laugh.
One other Occupier comments, “Did you hear about that former Speaker of the House that just got arrested? The charge is lying to the FBI. Hello??? Lying to the FBI? The FBI lies to everyone else all the time”. We laugh again
Another Occupier arrives. He says, “I’m just returning from the Saturday jazz session at the Saratoga Club. The music was really good.
“I’ve tried inviting some of my female friends to join me there but when I do it seems like they’re offended. I don’t understand. I know it’s a strip club most of the week but on Saturdays it’s a completely different atmosphere.
“Someone told me that strip dancing is somehow connected to trafficking”.
A female Occupier responds, “Oh yeah, stripping is a precursor to sex trafficking. When one is a dancer, the customers always want to see someone new, so after one has stripped in all the clubs for a while the customers won’t give them money anymore. Then the dancers have to move on to something worse if they want to stay in that type of business.
The arriving Occupier replies, “I didn’t realize that. Maybe some of my woman friends are under the impression that I support people being trafficked. Nothing could be further from the truth. I just wasn’t aware of the whole story”.
The folks on the ledge begin to join the fire circle. They get their coffee and snacks and move up close to the heat.
Our friend, the African American gay young man arrives. He is “hammered”. He kneels beside the fire and begins singing a popular song from the 90s about a woman who finds true confidence and freedom after her lover leaves her.
He’s giving an all-out performance. If he wasn’t so drunk, he’d be pretty good. He sings almost on key while striking pose after pose. Some of these poses appear to be very difficult. We hope he doesn’t knock over the fire pit. His balance is perfect.
The Occupiers are kind of impressed. The street folks have seen his performances many times already.
When he finishes his performance he stands up and begins acting like his normal self. That’s when he almost knocks over the fire.
The performing man brings a large group of very drunk people of the street with him. Most are known to us and all appear happy and in good spirits.
An overweight Native young man who we’ve seen in passing sits down. He asks if anyone can spare him some tobacco. He says, “I don’t know why people around here are so cheap with their tobacco. Tobacco is meant to be freely shared. It’s a big part of our culture.
“I’m from the country and have only been in this city for about 3 months. I’m very into our Native ways.”
The Occupiers have a pouch of tobacco and rolling papers which they always bring when they are at CJM. It’s meant for the use of anyone who needs it. We offer it to the large Native man.
A DPD squad has been occasionally driving slowly past the space. Every time the squad passes by, the man who recently lost his baby’s momma to a heroin overdose, waves at it.
We are only about halfway through the usual meeting time but the food and drinks are completely finished. We still have a warm fire and good conversation going.
One of the Occupiers reminds everyone that we won’t be at the Memorial next Tuesday because we’ll be attending the Clean Water event at our friend’s club up the street.
On next Saturday some of us will be taking the Northwoods 350 bus down to St. Paul for the big Tarsands Resistance March. Northwoods 350 is asking for $20 for a seat on the bus. However, for those who are unable to contribute $20, funds are being raised to allow everyone to come along.
Someone says, “Remember it will be Juneteenth on Saturday June 21st. We’ll need to attend and see what we can do to help out. There’s also going to be a Juneteenth celebration in Superior, WI on Friday June 20th”.
An Occupier reports, “I won’t be able to attend Juneteenth this year. I’ll be up at the Midsummer Festival at Mesabe in Hibbing”.
An African American woman and 3 young female children enter CJM. It appears they have not previously visited the Memorial. The children are in awe of the sculptures and writings on the wall. The woman takes pictures.
She and her children are friendly towards us. An Occupier goes over to converse and discuss the writings with her.
The infamous street woman has been sitting with us for most of the evening. She has managed to keep from drinking for many months now.
Tonight she has a cold and is coughing frequently. An Occupier says to her, “You probably need to drink lots of liquid and crawl into bed”. She answers, “Yeah, I know. I need to go home but my joints are aching so bad that it’s gonna be painful to walk and I’m 50 cents short for bus fare. I’m hoping someone will lend me their bus pass”.
The Occupier looks to see what is left of the money that has been donated over the last few meetings. There is exactly 50 cents. She gives it to the woman; the woman leaves for home immediately.
The large Native man asks why people are going on a march. We start a conversation about pipelines, Enbridge and such.
The man comments, “Pipelines are a confusing thing. The oil companies hire a lot of Natives to work on their pipelines. Natives are really in need of jobs”.
An Occupier responds, “But wouldn’t it be better if we got our energy from the sun? People could have jobs working on sustainable energy systems. The technology is already there; it just will take the will power to make the switch. If we did that, we wouldn’t have to destroy the planet”.
The big man smiles and answers, “Oh yeah, for sure. The sun is for everybody and it’s free. The companies don’t like that very much”.
He asks for details regarding the Tarsands march. Maybe he will attend.
It’s after 9pm and the streetlights have just come on. The fire was big tonight so we have many coals to watch. We begin packing up.
Seeing as many of us will be in the Twin Cities next Saturday, we probably won’t be back until Tuesday 6/9 or Saturday 6/13.
G.A. Minutes 5-30-15