G.A. Minutes 7-28-15
The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial is filled with a large group of middle class white young people upon our arrival this evening. They are from the regular church school organization that brings young people to Duluth every summer.
We set out a few chairs and chat with one of the youth leaders for a bit. We’ve become used to these church folks being surprised by our presence at CJM. They usually ask us a lot of questions.
Tonight is different. No one appears to find us unusual. We chat about the big rainstorm that was supposed to hit the city today. Apparently it went somewhere else.
Many street folks are on the back ledge and lining the street. We can tell they are waiting for us. We don’t want to put out the snacks and drinks until the youth group is gone. If we put things out right away, we will have to offer them to the kids too.
We don’t have an enormous amount of goodies; if the young people dig in, they will put a big dent in the refreshments needed by the people of the street. The church group has plenty of food back at their headquarters. The kids will have to wait awhile. As soon as the church people leave, street folks descend upon the snack table. Everyone wants a big glass of homemade, ice cold lemonade.
That’s because it’s really hot outside. At 6:30 pm the temperature is in the high 80s without a breeze. Many are dehydrated. All our chairs are filled. We have the fire pit set up and we’d like to make a fire but to do so would be ridiculous. No one talks much; we just sit, sweltering in the heat.
Ms. Community Cleanup comes around the corner. She’s singing and acting her usual goofy self. Ms. Cleanup is originally from the Cass Lake Reservation.
Several women, with whom we are unfamiliar, come walking by. They spy Ms. Cleanup and come right over. They are also from Cass Lake. Hugs all around and then they take the smudge dish and solemnly smudge each other. It’s kind of a little family reunion.
Ms Cleanup tells us her father is back in prison again. This time it’s rather final. He won’t be eligible for parole until he’s 77 years old.
The Cleanup woman tells a few stories about some of the wild escapades she shared with her dad.
The main homeless outreach worker drives by. She’s looking for the Spiritual Man. No one has seen him in the last few days but we’ll be sure to let him know she’s looking if he comes by.
After sitting for a while, the Occupiers get their powers of speech and movement again. An Occupier reports there is going to be a Kurdish potluck picnic at the end of Park Point tomorrow around 5:30pm. She doesn’t know the details but seeing as she was clued in by some of the folks who work with the Rania/Duluth friendship organization she’s guessing some people from Rania, Kurdistan are in town.
Another Occupier reminds us about the CHUM picnic on August 4th at 6pm.
It’s still early in the evening but the lemonade is gone and the water jugs are warm. An Occupier walks down the street to the liquor store to get a bag of ice. She returns and dumps the whole thing into the big lemonade jug. Everyone fills their glasses…….. Ah…..perfect.
A few young men who were with us at our 4th of July meeting and were able to watch the entertainment provided by the DPD and DFD arrive. The tallest of the young men says, “Hey, you’re back! So what happened?”
We tell them about filing complaints with both the DPD and DFD and about the long, stupid process we’ll have to endure. We assure them we will continue with the fire and meetings.
Only 1 squad car has driven by CJM so far and he didn’t appear to be paying any attention to us. Maybe they have something else to do.
The grey haired woman is with us tonight. She has noticed the camera in the next door pawnshop window that points down on the Memorial. The camera has been there for some time but she’s seeing it for the first time. It bothers her.
We tell her we know it’s there and that there are probably a few others hidden around. We believe every city in most of the world has cameras focused on the inhabitants these days.
A conversation about drones and other creepy stuff ensues.
The stylish, Native, older homeless woman comments, “I think cops are the ones who actually make the trouble. People will be sitting around just talking or resting and the cops come up and start yelling at everyone. They go through our belongings and throw stuff around. They act like they’re looking for a fight”.
An Occupier exclaims, “Hey look! I just noticed the magic marker scribbling is gone from the Memorial back wall. You can’t even tell it was there”.
Another Occupier answers, “Yeah, they probably sandblasted it. It’s probably not the first time they’ve had to remove stuff from these walls either”.
The grey haired woman says, “I wonder why the City does things the way they do around here. She glances over at the old, burned out Kozy apartment building and continues, “I mean, look at that mess. Why do they leave that eyesore sitting there when it’s right in the center of the city and right in the faces of all the tourists?”
One of the Occupiers replies, “They’re probably still afraid of all the ghosts around here”. The grey haired woman looks confused; the Occupier continues, “Well, you know those 3 innocent black men were dragged out of the City Jail and hauled up here to be lynched. There were some so called prominent people involved in the murder but no one except one poor man who drove a horse cart ever spent any time in prison”.
Another adds, “See that building across the alley from our old homeless camp? That’s where the KKK used to meet. There probably are some ghosts around here but they’re not looking for people like us. It could explain why City official types don’t come around here much”.
The grey haired woman is aghast. “I never knew any of this” she says. The grey haired woman is very forgetful. We don’t worry about giving her scary nightmares and such. She will have forgotten our whole conversation by the time she gets home.
A group of young and middle aged African American men are getting pretty loud over on the east end of CJM. However, they’re just laughing, joking and enjoying themselves. A few of them were over visiting with us earlier.
DPD officers on horse patrol appear. There are 3 officers on 3 horses. The horses are very beautiful; the officers…… not so much. They ride over to the group of laughing men. The officers don’t say anything; they just look at the men. The men become quiet; a few of them leave. The officers ride away.
The CHUM employment counselor is among the crowd. He comes to sit with us for a while. We talk about the Respect Your Mother Earth Festival we attended over the weekend.
A breeze suddenly passes through from a cool direction. It feels very good.
The sun is down. Everyone is tired. Time to get some sleep. We should be back here again on Saturday.