G.A. Minutes 9-12-15
The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial is empty upon our arrival. The street looks fairly empty too. It’s mostly cloudy, almost no wind, with temperatures in the low 60s.
We think things will become progressively cooler so we’ll start the fire right away.
Our first visitor is the sensible woman who we met at our last meeting. She’s a little upset. She tells us she was robbed last night. An acquaintance invited her to spend the night in a low priced motel room. She was one of several homeless people who were allowed to sleep over.
When she woke in the morning, she found her belongings had been disturbed. Several electronic devices owned by her young son were missing. She’s very disappointed.
Next, the African American gay man and a few other regulars swing through. We exchange pleasantries and jokes. They’re on their way to somewhere else.
The Spiritual Man and a regular street woman arrive. They get drinks and join the circle.
Last night some of the Occupiers were notified that the street woman who tells really good stories has gone missing. Apparently she hasn’t been seen by her family or anyone else for almost two weeks.
This is highly unusual as she is a very social person and is on the street or at CHUM almost every day. These days she’s generally with the crabby old man. The crabby old man is still around and has been interviewed by the police.
We’ve been told the story telling woman had been planning on going back to her reservation for a visit. She was expected but hasn’t arrived.
An Occupier has made some flyers containing her picture and a statement from the DPD. He’s put them on the food table.
As people get their snacks and notice the flyers, they become very upset. Most everyone had been wondering why the missing woman wasn’t around but most hadn’t realized her disappearance was such a serious matter. They all take flyers.
The Spiritual Man is particularly upset and talks about the epidemic of murdered and /or missing Native American and First Nation women in North America. “Why would anyone cause harm to a life giver?” he says.
All the people in the circle exchange tales of their experiences with the woman who tells really good stories.
During a break in the conversation, an Occupier comments to the partner of the stylish Native woman, “I checked with my friend who works at CHUM. He says no one has brought your bag there”.
The partner comes to sit next to the Occupier to tell her about his experience being arrested last week. He was sitting on the sidewalk outside of the feeding station at the Domiano Center. A DPD cop drove up, seized him, threw him into his squad car and grabbed his genitals.
When his genitals were grabbed, the partner went into a blackout. He doesn’t remember anything until he found himself in the shower inside the jail.
He’s sure he was drugged by the DPD officers. The Occupier knows the partner to be a person with serious mental illness and anxieties. She imagines he was probably not drugged but knows he was seriously mistreated.
The man reports he was arrested for a previous charge that he is scheduled to go to court for in November. He’s confused and angry. He was also given a ticket for loitering or trespassing or something, so now he has another charge and a fine. He says the officers seemed to think all of this was very funny.
The Department of Corrections has also been garnishing part of the man’s monthly disability money. He receives very little as it is so this garnishment is very damaging.
The Duluth police routinely harass, insult, laugh at and ticket our homeless ones. These tickets require the homeless to pay fines which they cannot afford. Once they accumulate a certain amount of fines, they spend months in jail.
As the partner tells his story, he becomes agitated. The stylish Native woman walks over to him, putting her hands on his shoulders. This helps him to collect himself. The love they share between them is evident.
The Spiritual Man calls for a moment of silence. He puts a pinch of tobacco in each of our hands and invites us to silently say a prayer for the woman who tells good stories and then sprinkle our tobacco over the fire. We all do so.
The Occupier who enjoys poetry arrives. He has spent the day at the Bayfront Harvest Festival. An Occupier states, “Crap, I go there every year but this year I didn’t find out about it until last night. I couldn’t rearrange my schedule on such short notice”.
A couple of young women and a child hesitantly approach us. We welcome them and when they see the flyers on the table, they freak out. They are relatives of the missing storytelling woman. They too, were not aware their aunt’s disappearance was now a police matter.
The women tell stories about time spent with the missing woman.
The preacher from the storefront church drops off a couple bags of chips. A man in the circle says, “Hey Padre, what’s up?”
Three young African American men come bounding into the street. They’re seriously playing basketball. Although they come close to being hit by a car, they don’t seem to notice. The game continues into the Memorial. We think they don’t realize we are there but when they lose control of the ball, we throw it back to them. They come halfway out of their trance and go off up the street.
Our friend, the City official stops by. He asks if the pawn shop next to CJMM is still closed. It is and he thinks it may have gone out of business.
The wall of the pawn that overlooks CJMM has always been an issue for those frequenting CJMM. It’s only half painted with an ugly rose red color. The color of the part of the wall that hasn’t been painted is a color that has yet to be determined.
The City official tells us; many years ago the original CJMM BOD offered the pawn shop owner enough money to complete the paint job. The owner refused……… go figure.
The official and several Occupiers begin talking local politics. Another Occupier chimes in, “Oh, that reminds me. Voting for the primary of the City elections is next Tuesday September 15th”. Some of us will vote and some will not.
A couple of grown African American men with whom we are sort of acquainted, come through. They are pleasant, stop to chat a bit and look at the sculptures of Mr.Clayton, Mr. Jackson and Mr. McGhie.
A young, white hippie looking guy who has been wandering around outside the circle all evening comments, “That’s not Jesus up on that wall”.
One of the pleasant men walks back to the hippie guy and softly but firmly relies, “You should not disrespect this space man. Don’t disrespect the circle or this space. It’s not right”.
As it’s getting late, the Ho Chunk plunks himself down. He’s two and a half sheets to the wind.
An Occupier asks, “Hey, did you know the DPD now has an undercover white pickup truck?” We laugh and another Occupier responds, “Oh great, like I don’t have enough stuff to look out for already”.
As we’re packing up someone announces, “I almost forgot. Our good friend and occasional Occupier is having his senior art show opening reception next Tuesday September 15th 5pm at the Tweed Gallery. Do you all want to go?” We all agree, that’s what we would like to do.
So we’re off………. Some to our homes; some to find a place where the police won’t find us, to sort of comfortably lay our heads.
We plan to return to CJMM next Saturday.