G.A. Minutes 7-4-15
So we’re at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial again tonight. We have very few Occupiers; we don’t expect many more will show up as they have various 4th of July obligations.
Those of us who are unobligated have decided to observe what “The Land of the Free and The Home of the Brave” has to offer its homeless and/or poor citizens for today’s birthday celebration.
The sky is overcast; temperatures are in the low 70s with a slight east wind. The wind cools things a bit. The fire will be needed later.
A few of the regular street people are on the back ledge. We assume they’ve all been drinking a little; most are happy and they wave to us. However, one couple appear to be completely wasted. We are acquainted with the long haired Native man. Whenever we come across him, he’s extremely intoxicated. This evening is no exception. He can barely walk. We don’t know the woman who he is with. She’s young, heavyset and appears Native. She’s sitting slumped over and nodded out.
We’ll have to keep an eye on those 2 so they don’t hurt themselves.
Things look pretty quiet all around so we set up just a few chairs. As we are finishing, the Spiritual Man arrives, greets us, smudges himself and dives into the hard boiled eggs. “I’m really hungry”, he says, “I have to apologize because I’m kinda drunk. I know that’s not right but I’m in a lot of emotional pain right now”.
When he sits down some of the ledge folks come over. We get more chairs. A middle aged woman who we have seen in the past is among these folks.
It appears she is a friend of the Spiritual Man. As they converse we discover they had been in a romantic relationship sometime in the past. It was during a time in their lives when they were involved in so called outlaw behavior.
The woman sounds bitter. She pulls up her sleeve to show the Spiritual Man’s name tattooed on her bicep. “Remember this?” she says. She waves her hands over her body and adds, “This used to be yours”.
The Spirit Man responds, “Those were some dangerous but exciting times. I was not a good person then. I’m very different now”.
We’re surprised they are having this very personal, painful conversation in front of us. Perhaps it’s the only way they can speak to each other at all.
They reminisce about some of their crazy escapades, then the woman asks, “Why did you leave me?” He tells her, “Because I thought money was more important than you. I’m not that guy anymore. It was a very long time ago but I was wrong and I’m sorry. I’m truly very sorry”.
The woman sits and thinks. Our friend, the city official, stops for a visit. He sits with us for just a few minutes. A big van containing many high school aged young people drives up. They have come to view the Memorial.
Our friend is one of the founders of CJM. He’s offers to take them on a tour. The kids are very lucky as our friend will be able to give them a complete history about everything concerning the space. After examining the wall, our friend takes them on a tour of the neighborhood.
All the people from the ledge and many others from the neighborhood are around the fire now. The drunk man with the long hair is passed out stone cold under the tree behind the ledge. We’ll keep an eye on him; we may have to call for medical assistance.
Another Occupier and our friends, a mother and son, whom we have worked with in many actions, arrive.
An Occupier points out that the president of the CJM BOD is standing across the street.
Almost immediately a fire truck pulls up. We assume someone has called about the passed out long haired man.
We are wrong. About 5 fire people jump out and come straight over to us. Several DPD squads arrive right behind them. CJM is filled with all kinds of people in uniforms with guns, fire extinguishers and who knows what else.
Much to our surprise, the majority of the peeps at the fire just stay put right where they are.
A big sized cop (#464) who we’ve seen before stomps over and barks, “By order of the police department, you have to put out this fire! The president of the CJM BOD is in charge of this place and he says he doesn’t want you having a fire!”
Of course, all of this is completely contrary to all the negotiations and nonsense we went through with the DPD for a year and a half. That was almost 3 years ago. Since then we have not been bothered by the police. On the rare occasions we have interacted with them, they have been most kind and polite.
An Occupier calmly tells the officer, “The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Board has absolutely no legal jurisdiction over this CJM space. I have plenty of paperwork that shows we do have a right to have a small, safe fire at CJM”.
She attempts to hand some of the paperwork to Officer #464. He refuses to take them and roars, “I have orders from my lieutenant to make you put out this fire! If you don’t like it you can call the police department on Monday. Right now, deal with the fire captain!”
The Occupier asks, “What is the name of your lieutenant, please?”
The officer who must think he is John Wayne, answers, “I’m not going to tell you that!”
The Occupier explains, “Well if I call the police department on Monday I’m going to need to tell them the name of the lieutenant.
Mr. #464 responds, “These orders come straight from Deputy Chief Tuscan!”
The Occupiers find this strange because Officer Tuscan (he wasn’t a deputy chief back then) was the main person we dealt with during the time we originally fought for our right to have our fires.
A fireman identifying himself as Fire Captain #233 says, “It’s against the law for you to have a fire here”.
The Occupier hands him a copy of a letter from DPD Chief Gordon. The letter says that DPD officers are being ordered to not disturb us at our fires. It says all issues from now on will be addressed to the Duluth Fire Department.
The Fire Captain says, “Yeah, so what?” The Occupier replies, “That’s just to show you what it says about these cops. Here are copies of all the City and State fire ordinances. As you can see, they state that a small, safe fire like ours is completely legal”.
So the captain reads the papers……… and you know what?…… He Doesn’t Care.
Several firemen surround our fire with fire extinguishers and put out our fire. The Spiritual Man picks up the sage and begins attempting to smudge the firemen. Officer #464’s head just about blows up.
He screams, “I’m gonna cuff you and take you in!” The Spiritual Man is no dummy. He sits right down and says, “You’ll have no further problems with me, officer”.
Once the fire is drowned, the firemen go to the back ledge to deal with the passed out dude.
Many of the neighborhood people around the fire are just furious. The place is crawling with cops. Some are trying to reason with these officers.
The Occupiers have seen this movie already. They just sit and watch. An Occupier takes pictures.
The girlfriend of the passed out guy who is pretty far gone herself, begins to scream and freakout. An Occupier counsels, “Honey, there are a lot of cops here. If you don’t calm down, they will haul you in too”. She doesn’t listen; they cuff her and take her off to Detox.
Another fire truck pulls up; they put the passed out dude on a stretcher and say they are just taking him home.
Cops are talking in cop talk to Officer 464. Basically they’re saying, “Hey, there’s a lotta shit going on out there right now. I have things to take care of”. #464 tells them to go ahead and leave.
Soon all the government employees disappear. Our friend, the city official returns. He looks around, confusion on his face.
Without the fire it’s chilly. Most of the street folks leave too. It’s just a few Occupiers, our friend and a few regular visitors.
We laugh and shake our heads. An Occupier sighs, “Oh great, now I’ll have to make lots of copies of all our evidence, then we can go through the stupid process of proving our case all over again”.
Actually, we have had our knowledge validated. The Land of the Fee, Home of the Slave, is operated solely for the benefit of the rich. When the rich man commands, all the soldiers fall in line.
Or not……… Guess we all have to make that choice?