G.A. Minutes 7-21-15
The atmosphere at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial this evening can be described in one word…… Hot.
Temperatures are in the mid-80s with no breeze. One can start to sweat without even moving. We’re not complaining though. It’s not winter.
Several community organizer friends are waiting for us when we arrive. Everyone scurries to set up the circle, fill their glasses with homemade lemonade and then, wordlessly, we plunk down in the chairs. Whew!
A street friend arrives and directs our attention to a particular spot in the center of the wall. WTF? Someone taken purple magic marker and actually written right across the Memorial wall. This is unbelievable; we are speechless.
The writing appears to be that of an adolescent. It says something like so and so plus so and so forever. More street folks arrive. It sounds like everybody on the street is really pissed off about this.
They tell us the name of the young woman who created the sacrilege; it’s someone we don’t know. The street folks say that when they confronted the woman she didn’t understand why what she had done was so terrible. They say the woman is about 25 years old. We think she may be developmentally disabled. Anyone who would disgrace the Memorial wall can’t possibly be in their right mind.
The woman from Mississippi sits down. It appears she’s been drinking a little. She sits next to the Occupier who likes to talk about the Bible. The Occupier attempts to engage her in conversation but it’s not happening. The Mississippi is on a roll. She’s talking about the difference between the Bible and Holy Bible. Her story is hard to follow, it sounds like something she has memorized and it’s kinda boring.
We make several attempts to distract her. Nothing works until Ms. Community Cleanup arrives.
Ms. Cleanup is hooping, hollering and a dancing, as per usual. A young man in an electric wheel chair accompanies her. She tells us he’s her new boyfriend. It quickly becomes apparent they have met for the first time a few hours ago.
Ms. Cleanup takes the stage from the Mississippi woman but she’s not much of an improvement. Her speech doesn’t make a lot of sense either. Must be the heat.
As Ms. Cleanup goofs around, the Occupiers carry on a quick side conversation. On Friday, July 24th, some Native folks are holding a water ceremony in memory of the 10 year anniversary of the huge Endbridge/Kalamazo tars sands oil spill. The ceremony will take place in Canal Park at 3:30pm. All Occupiers who are able will be attending.
The vigil for the woman who was recently murdered is not going to happen this upcoming Saturday. We will meet at 2pm this Saturday July 25th and drive out to spend the whole day at the Respect Your Mother Earth Festival.
The Occupier tasked with conversing with the DPD and the DFD reports, “I’ve been emailing back and forth with a DPD administrative lieutenant concerning the police and fire people harassment we experienced at our last 2 meetings. Today she sent me an email stating the police department was completely aware the Clayton Jackson McGhie was under the jurisdiction of the City. She said she’d send official notification to all the police supervisors reiterating this fact and asking the supervisors to make sure all the beat cops were aware.
“Then of course, she went on to say that the police and fire departments don’t interpret the city ordinances and state codes the same way that we do. Personally, I don’t see what other way they could be interpreted; they’re pretty straight forward.
“Oh well, at least we may get the CJM BOD off our backs. We’ll have to keep fighting for the people’s rights. I don’t expect we’ll ever get anything even resembling an apology. I just want them to leave us alone”.
More and more people are arriving. A very large group of Native folks, male and female, young and not young come storming across the street and into CJM. It looks like they’re marching instep. The young ones are doing the gangsta walk. Anger and much pain are evident in their faces.
Not to worry…….. We know them all. They’re part of a large extended family from White Earth. Something has happened, we don’t know what. They look at the defaced Memorial wall. That doesn’t help their mood any.
One of the men from White Earth takes the sage bundle and smudges everyone down real good. That helps. The Spiritual Man arrives. He reminds the group about the need for calmness and respect. That helps too.
The CHUM employment counselor walks up. People are now in small groups all around the space. The CHUM man visits for a while in each group. He has much experience with construction and tells us the words on the wall can be sandblasted off.
An Occupier reads a few poems. One of the men in the White Earth group takes the book and reads also.
Everything is pleasant and peaceful……..Then Ms. Cleanup returns. Her eyes are flashing; she grabs chairs and throws them around. No one has a clue what brought on her sudden change of behavior. Street folks are trying to calm her but it’s not working.
As a last resort, we start packing our things. That works. Someone hustles Ms. Cleanup off the sight. Everyone regroups to the circle.
We didn’t need to put out the fire because we never started one up. We may be crazy but we’re not so crazy as to start a warming fire when temperatures are still in the mid-70s.
People just sit, talking quietly. The CHUM man and an Occupier converse. The CHUM man states, “The street folks have so much pain and sorrow. There aren’t nearly enough houses to house all those who need them. It gets worse every year but the people with the resources to actually solve some of society’s problems won’t listen much less look. Don’t they realize the capitalist system is doomed? They’re dining on caviar or whatever while the world is being destroyed”.
The Occupier responds, “I agree with everything you’re saying man. I think the only thing we can do is to keep trying to do good work, to help anyone we can. The shit is gonna get seriously real, probably sooner rather than later. Do as much as you can to protect the planet and the people. Our children and grandchildren are the ones who will really carry the load. Try to lessen their burden as much as you can”.
On that note everyone says good night. We’ll be at Respect Your Mother Earth on Saturday. Weather permitting; we’ll be back at the Memorial next Tuesday.