G.A. Minutes 5-19-15
Many people are sitting on the back ledge and there are at least 100 seagulls flying overhead or running around inside of the Clayton Jackson Memorial as the first Occupiers arrive this evening.
We had expected to see a lot of folks out tonight. We’ve had a week’s worth of much needed rain. Everyone is happy to see the sun.
The Damiano and the CHUM center usually give away large amounts of day old white bread. Street folks bring the bread out in the street and feed the seagulls for their own and maybe the seagull’s amusement. The gulls mostly fight though; they don’t look too amused.
When they notice the Occupier’s arrival, most begin throwing the bread across the street so the space will clear for us.
We take our time setting up. As we do this we casually check out the scene, noting who is here, who we know, who we don’t know and what is basically going on.
Most folks appear to be “under the influence” of any number of substances. This is unusual for this time of month. The majority of homeless people are pretty short on cash the first week or so after getting their small checks.
Somebody sets off a firecracker. This sudden loud noise makes everyone jump. An older African American man says to a younger man, “What’s wrong with you boy? You gonna make the police come. If they do, you gonna be the one we send to talk to them”.
Once the chairs and things are setup, people start smudging and getting snacks. A middle aged street woman we have known for years and another middle aged and physically very beautiful street woman who we have met off and on over the years, come to sit with us.
The beautiful woman is very drunk and crying profusely. The other woman is attempting to comfort her.
We give the crying woman some chocolate cookies. Her mood brightens immediately.
She tells us there is going to be a major cleanup of the neighborhood on Thursday. CHUM will be gathering all the willing homeless folks together for a street cleanup day.
The beautiful woman wants to be sober by then so she can participate. She wants to stay sober as she is planning on going back to the reservation to see her mother on Saturday.
She has just finished talking on the phone to her boyfriend. He has been sober for years and he wants her to just come home and sleep it off. Maybe that’s why she’s crying?
The street man who makes flutes shows up, gets coffee and sits. His hair is normally shoulder length but tonight his head is shaved. An Occupier comments, “Getting ready for summer?”
The same Occupier then informs the others, “On Saturday some people from Food Not Bombs are supposed to be joining us here. They’re interested in feeding people at CJM when we have our meetings”.
Another Occupier says, “There are a few things we will need to be doing in the next couple of weeks.
“The Transform Now Plowshares anti-nuclear protestors were released from prison over the weekend. There will be a welcome home event for Greg Boertje Obed this Friday at 7pm at the Community Church on 38th and E. Superior St.
“On Tuesday May 26th at 7pm the Human Rights Commission and others need everyone to be at the City Council meeting to help request funding for a new Housing Access Center.
“On the following Tuesday, June 2nd, the Red Herring will host a MN 4 Clean Water event. Several of our friends will be speaking. I think we should attend and give them support”.
Someone reports we are very close to being completely out of fire wood and the Occupy treasury only has $3 in it. We purchased the last load of wood about a year ago.
An Occupier volunteers to pay for the next load and says if we get any donations over the next months we can give them to her.
As our discussion has been going on, the two middle aged women have been sitting quietly. Suddenly the beautiful woman starts yelling.
“You need to shut the fuck up!” she screams at an Occupier. “Do you think all we want to do is to listen to you talk? You need to let someone else talk!”
The screaming woman’s friend looks at her in horror. The Occupiers roll their eyes and sigh. Arguing or defending one’s self is pointless. Things are not always as they seem.
Just as suddenly, the screaming woman covers her mouth with her hands. “I can’t believe I just said that! I’m so sorry”.
The well-known and flagrantly gay male street man drops in. He’s also drunk and very sad. He’s returning from the funeral of a good friend who committed suicide.
He’s shows us the dead man’s picture. We realize, although we didn’t know the man, we’d seen him around. We offer our condolences.
The beautiful woman continues yakking. She’s laughs and says, “How come no people are coming to sit by the fire?”
Her friend answers, “Maybe it’s because of you and the way you’re acting”. The pretty woman stops talking.
It’s too much for the Occupiers. They can’t help but crack up.
As the two women wander off, many other folks come to join the circle. No one talks much; we just sit together watching the flames.
Soon the two women return. The beautiful woman has a cut on her chin, it’s bleeding and she’s crying again. Apparently, another street woman punched the crying woman in the face a couple of times.
It’s unclear what actually happened. We really don’t care to know. The bleeding woman thinks it’s finally time to go home. We agree and give her money to take the bus. Her friend accompanies her.
One of the Occupiers walks to the corner and looks down the hill. She sees the women getting on the bus.
The regular street man whose baby’s mother has died of a heroin overdose recently arrives and asks to be smudged.
Normally, when people have been drinking, they won’t touch the sage bundle themselves. They will ask someone else to smudge them.
He states, “The police said I could come and get my phone tomorrow. I guess they realize I didn’t have nothing to do with her death. You know I got that phone so she could call me. Now that she’s gone, I don’t know why I even need a phone”.
An older African American asks, “So what exactly are you guys doing here?”
An Occupier answers, “We’re taking over the government”.
The older man’s eyes get really big, he holds up his hands and says,”O.K., guess I’ll just let you alone then”. We all laugh.
Another woman we have known for years appears. This is the first time we’ve seen her this year. She is commonly drunk; tonight she is sober.
She tells us, “My boyfriend is trying to fight with me so I just left the house. I was gonna go sit by the lake and pray or something but I saw your fire. I’m glad you’re here”.
She tells us about her boyfriend’s gambling addiction and about the fact she had attended her father’s funeral three weeks ago. She says her father had cut her out of his will because she was a “N-word” lover.
The fire is dying; it gets dark later now days.
As we say goodbye to everyone and pack up, an Occupier comments, “What a weird night. I think it was a really sad one. Sometimes when people laugh, it sounds like they’re crying”.
Another responds, “Yeah, I know. There’s a lot of sorrow and pain out here. I think that’s probably the main reason most people drink and take drugs like they do”.
Life goes on. We’ll be back on Saturday.
G.A. Minutes 5-19-15