G.A. Minutes 5-5-15
The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial is surrounded by squad cars when we arrive tonight. The main homeless outreach worker is talking with them.
We drive around the block a few times to access the situation. They begin leaving; we park and go to chat with the outreach worker.
An Occupier asks, “So what’s going on now?” The worker replies, “Not much. Some street folks were fighting, same as always”. She continues, “I don’t know what it is I’m supposed to do anymore. Just talk to people I guess. I work with street folks and help them get into treatment, get counseling and health care, get their paperwork together and begin to have a little self-esteem. After they accomplish all that, there’s still no housing available for them. They end up dumped out into the street again, right where they came from. It sucks”.
We shake our heads and sigh in agreement. We know the government continues to cut back on all services to the homeless and working poor.
With all the protestors taking to the streets over the last 4 or so years and regular people appearing more aware, something’s gotta give pretty soon.
We need to keep our spirits up, do what we can and be ready for the big change that is sure to come.
All the cops are gone now and folks are congregating and looking expectantly at us. We excuse ourselves and hurry to get everything set up.
One of the regular visitors to our fires, a street man we have known for years, approaches one of the female Occupiers and tells her, “My babies’ momma died over the weekend. She overdosed on heroin. The DPD is trying to blame it on me.
“I was with her when she died but I went to sleep. I thought she was sleeping too. I don’t take any of that stuff so I didn’t know. When I woke up, I tried to wake her up and saw that her face and her lips were all blue. I saw she was dead.
“The cops came, they took my phone and said they thought she got heroin from me. When they finish looking through my phone they’ll see it wasn’t me. I don’t do that stuff, I don’t sell it, I don’t hook people up…… nothing. I just drink and panhandle, that’s all.
“I need me some smudge”.
The Occupier says, “Gee man, that’s rough”. She hurries to get all the stuff out of the big carrying box and to fire up the sage bundle. She smudges the man down.
She thinks to herself, Just because he’s innocent doesn’t mean the DPD won’t try to charge him with accessory to murder or something. He’s a young black male after all. He should try to find some legal counsel before they come for him.
The CHUM employment counselor arrives. We invite him to take refreshments but he takes a rain check. He needs to get home to his family.
The counselor has come looking for Ms. Community Cleanup. Ms. Cleanup has an out of town court date in 3 weeks and the CHUM employee wants to talk about plans for transportation and housing for this date.
The young woman is still rather beat up from her encounter a few days ago with the casino security guards. Her wrist and her ankle are quite swollen and she has a constant sharp pain in her side. She has attempted to go to the ER but has been turned away.
Ms. Cleanup listens politely but doesn’t have any answers. She appears to be the sort of person who prefers to live in the moment and tries to forget her problems and responsibilities.
She promises to meet the CHUM man at his office in the morning. Somehow, her promise doesn’t sound convincing.
The editor of a well-known community newspaper stops by. She brings hot dogs and all the fixins. We thank her and throw the dogs on the fire.
Everyone is hungry and everyone is fed. After all have eaten, some decide to sit for a while.
Ms. Cleanup and her friend, a well-known veteran homeless woman, get to giggling and telling vulgar jokes. When they start in on bodily functions, an Occupier says. “Oh come on now. You’re grossing me out”.
They giggle some more and then Ms. Cleanup leaves. She returns shortly saying, “Well I did what I had to do”.
The two women begin making vulgar comments again and the same Occupiers responds, “Please don’t talk like that. Can’t you think of something good or happy to talk about?”
Another Occupier, who has been observing the women carefully, states, “Well you know, she does have a point. It’s absolutely ridiculous that some people aren’t allowed a place to go to the bathroom when they need to. They’re forced to use the bushes and the alleys. When they do that, people call the cops to have them arrested”.
The women stop joking and Ms. Cleanup comments, “Yeah, that’s right. It sucks to have to poop in the alley”.
Someone mentions, “I was looking over my calendar for the next week or so and except for tomorrow night’s 30 Years of Punk Politics, there doesn’t seem to be much going on”.
Someone else responds, “Don’t forget the NdN Taco Sale on Friday, the Loaves N Fishes fundraiser on Thursday, the NAACP meeting on Sunday the Idle No More meeting on Friday, May 15th and our friend who owns the club down the street’s tribute to his father on Saturday May 16th”.
The first Occupier laughs and says, “I stand corrected”.
A student activist friend of ours joins the fire circle. He asks, “So what have you guys been up to?” This student is active in MPIRG activities at his college.
We tell a little about our recent adventures and say, “Man, we are so down with going after Enbridge and alerting people to what’s really going on with the Alberta Clipper, Sandpiper and their various other schemes. We’re just waiting for you guys to say the word and we are on it”.
A group of young boys on bicycles drive up. One of them says, “Can I have a cup of coffee please?”
An Occupier replies, “No, we can’t give you coffee but you can have some apple juice”. The boy answers, “But I’m 13 years old. I can have coffee”.
One of the street men cheerfully calls out, “Hey, didn’t you just tell me the other day that you were 12?” and the boy responds, “Well I’m going on 13”.
We laugh. Another Occupier says, “Well it’s too late for you to have coffee”.
As the boys leave, an Occupier jokes, “I can see it all now. We give him a big cup or our coffee. He gets all buzzed up, goes home and his mother says, “Boy, what’s wrong with you?”
He tells her, she calls the DPD. The DPD says, “Oh great! Something we can get them for!”
“We all to off to jail for contributing to the delinquency of a minor. I can hardly wait”.
A couple of regular street African American young men who we know are sitting with us. They have a white male friend around their age with them. The white guy is from a more affluent area of the city.
He asks his friends for a little money to buy something that someone is selling around the corner. His friends tell him, “No man, don’t do it. It’s not good for you. Nothing good will come of it. Here’s enough money for you to take the bus home. Don’t be messing with the shit around here”.
All the food is gone, sage has burned down and so has the fire. We pack up and expect to be back on Saturday.
G.A. Minutes 5-5-15