G.A. Minutes 9-26-15
We are already wearing our warm clothes when we arrive at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial this evening. It’s foggy, temperatures are in the 50s and there’s no wind to speak of.
A large group of people are sitting in a circle on the ground by the side ledge. We are acquainted with a few of these folks. They are in the process of getting shitfaced drunk and appear to be having great success.
We get the fire going, snacks out and people from the ledge and from the rest of the neighborhood gather around. An old man from the Skinner says, “Man, this feels good.” An Occupier cautions, “Well I don’t know how long this is gonna last. We’ve been getting harassed by the police again. They may show up tonight too. If anybody here doesn’t want to be around the DPD, feel free to leave if they come. We won’t think poorly of you if you have to leave”.
The partner of the stylish Native woman is on the sidewalk yelling at the sky again. Maybe he’s talking to his God. We expect he’ll finish in a while and come and sit with us and be normal (or whatever it’s called).
An Occupier reports, “I went to the Citizens Review Board yesterday. It was a short boring meeting but afterwards I was talking with the BOD president and telling him about what the DPD and the FPD have been doing to us. I told him we want to file a complaint against the DFD but don’t believe there is a process to do this.
“The president suggested we alert the City Councilors who support us as to what’s going on. The Councilor of the CJMM district is retiring soon but maybe I can alert another Councilor who also supports us. I can also file a complaint about last Tuesday. What do you guys think?”
Another Occupier answers, “I don’t see why we file complaints and play their stupid game”. The first Occupier replies, “You’re right, filing complaints isn’t going to get this fire circle much of anything. It does call attention to the problem though.
“This is a small city so it won’t be impossible to get the word out. First we file complaints like they want people to do. It seems like we should file a lot if we have to. Then we can tell the City Council what’s going on.
“The City and the Council and their PR workers are portraying our city as one that cares about all its citizens. The City Council has requested the Human Rights Commission to write a Homeless Bill of Rights Ordinance.
‘If the City Council won’t listen, we have friends in the media and many supporters in the general public. If we get enough attention we’ll be able to get an out of town attorney and take the City to court. They’re gonna look awful silly when exposed for the way they actually treat the homeless.”
Someone says, “Yeah, they support human rights but only for some humans. ‘All people are created equal but some are more equal than others’.
The hesitant Occupier agrees, “Well, we’re non-violent so I suppose we should do it that way. We just have to be sure we don’t get too caught up in their game. They like to play smoke and mirrors you know”.
The young African American man who visited on Tuesday gives some of the other street men a lecture about alcohol and how bad it is for everyone. The street men all support this idea. Unfortunately, all of these men are regular drinkers and half in the bag as they listen.
Things are calm and quiet so of course……… here comes Ms. Community Cleanup. She likes to be in the limelight so plunks down and starts bouncing around and talking loudly about nothing. A squad car drives by.
Most folks are used to Ms. Cleanup’s personality but some are not. It really bothers the stylish woman’s partner so they say goodnight.
As they are leaving, they are stopped by two DPD officers. The officers begin questioning the partner. The partner is stressed by this but he keeps his cool. We all closely watch the interaction.
One of our former homeless campers arrives with packages of hotdogs and throws them on the grill.
A young Native man we don’t know is attempting to have a conversation with another Native middle aged former camper. The former camper is in his 24/7 brain damaged alcoholic stupor. The young man calls the middle aged man a fool. An Occupier complains, “Ah man, that’s rude. That’s no way to talk to another human being”. The young man doesn’t say anything but appears embarrassed.
The DPD officers allow the departing couple to take off. One officer walks toward the fire circle. An Occupier goes to meet him. The officer states, “Well you know what’s got to happen now. You’re going to have to put out the fire. If you don’t, I’ll call the fire department”. The Occupier asks, “Why is that?” The Officer rolls his eyes and says, “Same reason that I told you last time”.
The Occupier asks for his name and badge number. He’s Officer McShane #420. A street man in the circle laughs, “You’re #420? Do you know what that means?” Officer McShane rolls his eyes again.
The Occupier tells him, “I recognize your face and your name but I don’t remember what you told me last time. All you bald headed guys look the same but then I suppose that’s intentional”. Officer McShane nods and replies, “This is City property. You can’t have a fire on City property”. The Occupier knows this to be false but also knows it’s pointless to argue with this guy.
She says, “Well we’re not going to willingly put out the fire so you’d better call the fire guys”.
Officer McShane calls and a big fire truck arrives in a flash. The fire captain gets out. He looks exasperated. An Occupier asks him, “Aren’t you the same guy who was here last time?” Yes he is and he’s #296, Captain Tim Pagelkopf. When the Occupier asks him why he is going to put out the fire the captain replies, “It’s illegal to have a fire on City property and I have to do what Fire Marshal Grundahl tells me to do”. He has his water sprayer and starts spraying the fire.
Another official car drives up and a big older cop with hair gets out. The rest of the guys in the fire truck get out and stand around like last time. Only this time they don’t look like they’re all ready to put out a fire. They have blue uniforms on so they look like cops too.
An Occupier asks one of the fire guys standing around what he thinks of the situation. The fire guy answers, “Actually I can’t see anything wrong or dangerous about your fire”.
The captain is done spraying and starting to leave when the cop with hair starts digging in the fire pit. He turns a log over and sees it still has burning embers. He calls the captain back and makes him spray some type of smelly white foamy stuff on the logs. The stuff sprays all over. It gets the food wet. The flyers about the still missing story telling woman are toast.
The cop with hair has Olson written on his shirt so an Occupier questions, “Officer Olson, please give me your badge number”. Officer Olson says, “I’m not a cop and I don’t have a badge!” The Occupier responds, “Well then, please give me your DFD number”. Officer Olson says, “No!” and stomps off.
So all the City employees leave. Most of the street folks have stayed through the whole ordeal. We’re all sitting around, starting to feel cold. This is where it starts getting unbelievable, but it really did happen. Chief Gordon Ramsey comes walking into the Memorial. He recognizes one of the Occupiers and walks over to her.
“So how are you doing tonight?” he asks. The Occupier responds, “We were doing fine until your police and fire departments came and put out the fire we were using to keep warm”. The Chief says, Oh really? Who did this?” The Occupier gives Officer McShane’s name and number.
“So what’s the history on this?” says the Chief. The Occupier tells him, “Three years ago your police harassed us about our fire, we filed a complaint, you wrote us a letter and your cops left us alone for about a year and a half. Starting a couple of months ago they started up again. I think it has something to do with one of the co-chairs of the CJMM BOD. Gordon Ramsey agrees and the Occupier continues, “So when did the co-chair of the CJMM BOD start running this city?”
Chief Ramsey suggests, “We should have a meeting about this”. The Occupier agrees, “Yeah, we could probably do that”.
The Chief takes his leave. It seems he is cruising the hood.
It’s getting late but nobody wants to go so we just sit and talk. Some of this year’s new regulars straggle in. The street man with the drowsy nickname tells a story. He begins, “I remember the first time I met Chief Ramsey. I was living in a motel. I met him in the hallway and he said, “Don’t you know who I am?” I stood up all tall and shit and answered, “Don’t you know who I am?” We all crack up and the man continues, “He let me go though and I was drunk too”.
We really have to go now. It’s very late and the Occupiers all have stuff they have to do tomorrow. In fact, they’re forced to take a PTO day for next Tuesday as everyone has other things they must do.
We’ll be back at CJMM on Saturday. Campfire and all.