G.A. Minutes 6-13-15
Upon our arrival at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial this evening, we observe a very long line of motorcycles lined up in front of our friend’s club, located down the street. That part of the street is overflowing with bikers.
We find it rather odd but we know our friend welcomes all types of people in his club. We’ll wait to see how the presence of bikers affects our meeting.
The weather could be referred to as lukewarm. It’s overcast with a slight east wind; the temperature is in the low 50s. It might get cold and it might not. We’ll have to wait and see about that too.
A few street folks on the back ledge appear to be waiting for us. They tell us the bikers are from the Christian biker group that passes through Duluth every year.
The group is holding a rally in the old Christian Encounter building. They have a Christian rock band performing and a big picnic meal is being served outside. The event is open to everyone including all the people of the street. They are not serving alcohol.
We’re relieved to hear this. It means the bike rally won’t be creating any problems for us or anyone else.
As we’re getting things ready, the man who is always laughing drives up. He comes over to say hello. We see that his girlfriend is in the car.
An Occupier asks, “So did you guys have your baby yet?” He responds, “Yeah, we did but the State took it away from my girl. We’re going to court about it though and I think we’ll win”.
We don’t say anything but we know this is probably wishful thinking on his part. We know that his girlfriend has serious mental health issues, a history of serious drug abuse and she has had all the other children to whom she has given birth taken away by Child Protection.
We don’t know a lot about the laughing man but we suspect he hasn’t held down a slave job for many years and he is not legally married to the baby’s mama.
We do know he really wants to do the right thing and that he feels responsible to care for his child. We hope he can work things out.
A couple who are very well respected anti-nuclear and human rights activists have come to join us. They haven’t attended any of our meetings at CJM in the past but they immediately fit right in.
A large group of regular street folks come back from the biker event carrying plates full of food.
One of the activists is writing an article about real grassroots groups. As people sit and eat, she asks us a few questions.
She wants to know how we think our local Occupy group has changed since the beginning days at our first camp at the Civic Center.
An Occupier postulates, “In the beginning I think Occupy was sort of a fad for some. A number, especially the younger people, saw the camp and its meetings, rallies and such as sort of a game or fantasy.
“Some of the younger folks were also tricked by the idea that was called Black Bloc. My personal feeling is that Black Bloc was put into the Occupy Movement by the FBI, CIA, NSA or whoever else works security for the 1%. Major media then used the phony “mini movement” to convince the general public Occupy was a dangerous and violent group.
“Some of the young ones were really attracted to the clothes, scarves and tough talking offered by Black Bloc. The first time they got their heads beat in by the cops, most changed their minds.
“It’s not like that anymore. The people who have remained over the years are serious about what they are doing. They know the basic message the Occupy Movement introduced into the general public about 1% per cent of the human population controlling the majority of the wealth, natural resources, political systems and decision making power over the entire earth while 99% of the human population is subjected to various forms of servitude or slavery in order to survive is true.
“So now days we are a much smaller group of activists. As such, we ally with various likeminded activist groups and organizers, try to assist them in a good way and while doing so we remind people that the 1%/99% fact of life is central to progressive (some say radical) change.
“As far as we can tell, that’s pretty much what’s going on with all the Occupy groups across the country”.
The activist writer asks how we ended up at CJM and we tell her the story of how we politely (mostly) stood up to the DPD and showed them the actual City ordinances and fire codes which supported our meetings and recreational fires at the Memorial.
An Occupier states, “It took us about a year and a half but the cops finally backed off. This is the fourth year we’ve been here”.
“So what’s the point of you all having your meetings at CJM?” she wants to know.
Another Occupier tells her, “Well, the neighborhood street folks seem to appreciate us giving them snacks, a fire, conversation and treating them as the valuable human beings that they really are.
“We also are making the point to the City and to its citizens that people have the right to use of public space. The subject of the people’s loss of the “commons” is too big to go into now but the use of this space and others is the right of everyone. Not just the people who can afford to pay money for it”.
The Spiritual Man has been sitting in the circle for a while. Usually he has many good things to add to the conversation. Tonight he just listens. He probably hasn’t heard the Occupiers speak about these things previously.
We hear a male’s falsetto voice singing a Broadway show tune from across the street. We don’t have to look; we know who it is.
Our African American, gay street friend brings his plate and comes to sit. He shows us a new store purchased sewing pattern that he’s going to use to make a shirt.
One of the Occupiers jokes, “Man you are so intelligent and you have so many skills. If you ever put down that bottle you’d be a force to be reckoned with”.
The gay man responds, “Yeah, I know”. He then begins a conversation about animal factory farming, pollution, climate change and the possible destruction of our Mother Earth.
Shortly after the large group of regular street folks joined the fire, a big flock of seagulls descended upon the roofs of the surrounding buildings.
The man who always feeds the birds is in this group. He is laughing as he runs up to the table, grabs a few pieces of good whole grain bread and waves it up in the air. “Here you go guys!” he hollers.
We feign alarm, pretend to grab the bread away and say, “Oh no you don’t! That’s for us”.
One Occupier comments, “I swear those birds know who you are”. The bird man says, “They do”. He walks off down the street. Within seconds, all the birds fly off after him. We crack up.
The street lights come on. It will be dark soon. The activist couple say goodbye.
It’s time to pack up but we want to watch the fire die out.
The crowd has wandered off. Most Occupiers, the Spiritual Man and a street couple are all who remain.
A woman arrives; the Spiritual Man introduces her as his girlfriend. She is a different woman than the one he introduced us to last year.
He says, “We’ve been arguing for the last two days. I’ve been feeling bad and I’ve been taking it out on her. That’s not right. You know, when a man speaks hatefully to his woman, it’s the same as if he smacked her in the head”. He and his girlfriend say goodnight and go off together.
The bikers are leaving in groups of three and four. Their loud noise breaks our contemplations.
Time to go. If we don’t have to make a run for firewood, we’ll be back on Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 6-13-15