G.A. Minutes 5-2-15
We’re back at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial again tonight. The pleasant weather is still holding up. Temperatures were in the high 60s today and will probably remain in the 50s throughout the evening.
The Memorial is empty when the first Occupiers arrive. An Occupier comments, “I don’t expect we’ll have too many people around tonight. Many street folks got their small checks over the last day or two so they’ll have purchased the recreational substance of their choice and will be off getting high somewhere until their money runs out”.
We don’t expect many Occupiers tonight either. It’s the biggest night of Duluth’s annual Homegrown Music Festival. Most Occupiers are music fans and will be out listening to their favorite bands.
We take our time setting up. As we do, Ms. Community Cleanup stops by. She says, “I just got out of jail an hour or so ago. Last night at about 4am I went into the casino to use the bathroom. All the security guards came running, jumped on me and threw me to the floor. Then the police came and took me to jail. The guards were really rough with me and now my hand and my knee really hurt”.
We ask her if she had been trespassed from the casino in the past. She responds, “No, but I guess I am now. Damn, I was just using the bathroom. What was I supposed to do? I have bodily needs and there was nowhere else to go”.
We shake our heads in bewilderment. It never ends. Where are homeless people supposed to go to the bathroom? The CHUM Center is open from 8am til 4pm. Other than CHUM, there is no place in the city that will allow the homeless to use their facilities. Some homeless people are even 86’d from CHUM. So what are they supposed to do?
If they attempt to relieve themselves in the bushes, alleys or doorways the police will ticket them and eventually take them to jail.
Homeless people have bodily functions just like everyone else. So what are they supposed to do?
Another Occupier arrives carrying a bag with hot dogs and all the fixings.
The occasional Occupier who lives out of town appears, then a woman who is probably not homeless and a well-known homeless man and his dog. We invite a quiet man who we haven’t met in the past to join us. He agrees but insists on giving us a dollar before he will sit.
An Occupier says, “It seems like almost no one is around but just throw those hot dogs on the fire and I bet we’ll see people appearing from all directions”.
He is correct. As soon as the smell of the meat cooking on the grill hits the air, another 10 or so people arrive. All are folks we already know. They stand around talking and waiting for the food to be ready. We feed them all; they thank us and wander off.
Except for the man who is always laughing. He’s still laughing but not as much as usual. Tonight he has a lot on his mind. Apparently his pregnant girlfriend is angry with him again.
He explains, “When I came home last night she was waiting for me. She was yelling and throwing things. I don’t know why. I never know why when she gets this way. I don’t think I can take it anymore. Anyway, so I tried to leave but she came after me. I ran through the building, out of it and into another building and she was still chasing me.
“Nine months pregnant and she can still run like that! She must be doing meth again. I finally got away but had to sleep in my car last night. I have nowhere to sleep now but I’m not going back. I’m 47 years old. I just can’t keep living like this.
“I notice that for the last couple of weeks she’s been hitting on some other guy. Just about to give birth to my child and she’s hitting on some other guy!
“She won’t be able to keep the baby, she takes too many hard drugs and she’s already lost her two other kids. Those kids live with their Daddy.
“I guess I’ll end up a single parent. I got to figure out how I’m gonna do this. This is a serious situation”.
We all agree that this is very serious and verbally offer him support. We only know him through our contact at CJM over the years but we’ve met his girlfriend and think his story must be at least partially accurate.
An Occupier reminds us that the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NdN Taco Sale is this upcoming Friday.
She also reports that on Tuesday, May 26th we will need to attend the City Council meeting at 7pm. Funding for the proposed Housing Access Center is on the council’s agenda and we need to show our support.
Someone else mentions the documentary “30 Years of Punk Politics” will be shown on Wednesday, May 6th 7pm at the Jefferson People’s House.
Over the last hour or so we’ve noticed several squad cars cruising the neighborhood. They don’t even glance over at us as they drive by. A young man who is sitting with us says, “Yeah, they’ve stopped me twice tonight. They’re looking for someone”.
So far, this evening has been very calm. As if to break this spell we are visited by the most obnoxious street woman we know. There are very few street people we find intolerable but this particular woman is one of those few.
We’ve just put more hot dogs on the grill. She plunks herself down and demands that we give her one. An Occupier offers her the first one done but she refuses it. She growls, “Nah, I don’t want that one, it’s too burned. Give me a different one!”
We give her a different one and look up to see seagulls flying overhead. Seagulls always know when people are eating.
An Occupier remarks, “They want our hot dog buns but bread isn’t good for seagulls so we shouldn’t give it to them”.
As if on cue, the obnoxious woman begins tearing hot dog buns apart and throwing them to the birds. Immediately, all the seagulls in the entire city descend on the Memorial. We roll our eyes and sigh.
The woman has a boyfriend with her tonight. This is very unusual. The boyfriend is older than her, polite and soft spoken. She is a little less obnoxious than usual. Not much, just a little.
As the sky darkens, the parade of Homegrown attendees begins. A band rocks out at our friend’s club down the street.
The folks in the parade look over at us. We wave and some wave back. We invite them over but they’re not interested. Many appear afraid of the company we keep.
We think that what they are doing is not that much different than what the street folks are doing. The Homegrown folks just drink more expensive alcohol.
We think it’s time to leave but many are mesmerized by the fire. Ms. Obnoxious is dancing with her boyfriend to the music of the band.
We’ll let the fire burn down all the way and then we’ll be back again next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 5-2-15