G.A. Minutes 10-6-15
There are only a few Occupiers present as we begin setting the fire circle up at Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial tonight. It’s only 6pm but the sun has gone behind the buildings. It’s a little chilly, not seriously cold; temperatures are in the low 60s, there’s an occasional cold breeze.
Lack of Occupiers is not a problem this evening as there are plenty of people on the back ledge. Many pitch in and the chairs, fire and food table are up and running in a matter of minutes.
A large number of neighborhood Native folks are present. Some we have known but not seen for many months and some who are new to us.
Everyone appears lighthearted and pleasant. Among those in the circle are the former male camper who seems to have pickled his brain over the last year or so, the female cousin of the infamous street woman and the tall, slender woman with the teardrop tattooed next to her eye. There are also 4 or 5 respectful young men we have just met. Many of the crowd are relatives of the still missing story telling woman.
Into this scene comes Ms. Community Cleanup. Her behavior is subdued and when an Occupier jokes about her calmer demeanor she replies, “Oh, it’s just because I’m not drunk. I finally found some pain pills so I don’t want to drink. I’m feeling a little better than I have been”.
Ms. Cleanup is accompanied by a young man we don’t know. He’s wearing a sleeveless shirt, he’s quite animated and his body is covered with tattoos of stars.
The gray haired woman arrives, gets herself settled and asks, “Are the cops going to come tonight?” We answer, “More likely than not but seeing as there have been an awful lot of sirens going off, maybe they’ll be too busy and we’ll catch a break”.
We notice the gray haired woman is speaking with a European accent and we comment on this. She tells us, “Yeah, I don’t know why I’m doing that but I’ve been doing it all day. Maybe it’s because I’m alone much of the time with no one to talk to but myself. If I talk in a foreign accent I might fool myself into thinking someone else is with me”.
A DPD squad drives by. We get a visit from a few others who we haven’t seen for a while. The very beautiful middle aged woman who cries when she’s drunk and the large young man who frequently talks about turning his life around. It doesn’t look like the man’s life has done much turning since we saw him last but he’s still in very good spirits. It’s nice to see him again.
Ms. Cleanup is living very hand to mouth since she got out of jail a week or so ago. She has a light long sleeved shirt and thick jeans now which are more than she’s had since she was released.
The stars are out and the air is chilly. Ms. Cleanup is shivering. The gray haired woman constantly collects clothes from the clothing giveaway places. When she observes Ms. Cleanups’ shaking, she takes off the 2 shirts and the jacket that she is wearing and gives them to the freezing woman.
Ms. Cleanup is genuinely grateful. The gray haired woman is only wearing 1 shirt and a rain coat. She says, “Well I’ll just be able to stay until I get cold. After that, I’ll see you next time”.
Another squad drives by….. Oh wait…. It’s only the transit police. Then a DPD squad drives by.
The man who is accompanying Ms. Cleanup has been behaving weirdly. He can’t sit still. He’s been up and down, running and leaping and trying to move burning logs with his bare hands.
An Occupier comments, “So what’s his trip?” A young girl responds, “Oh, he used to smoke bath salts a lot and after a while he got like that. Now it seems he’s gonna be like that forever”.
The gray haired woman doesn’t know what bath salts are. We all have a conversation about how some drugs are super dangerous and if one takes them one could become messed up for life.
None of us are worried about the possibility that the gray haired woman will start taking dangerous drugs. We think she’s probably never taken any of the not so dangerous ones.
There will be no breaks tonight. A squad car drives up and right behind it is a big fire truck. Officer Hurst #484 and Officer Roe #479 get out and walk to our circle. The fire truck guys get out of their truck and come over too.
The cops dispense with all the usual preliminaries. They just say good evening and we respond the same.
We start to move the chairs back so the fire guys can spray the fire. An Occupier says to the cops, “We’re working on getting all your bosses to get their minds back to reality so we can stop with this silly routine”. One of the cops replies, “That would be nice”.
The Fire Captain is writing on his clip board while his subordinate sprays out the fire. An Occupier asks, “Does it say Schumacher on your jacket?” The Captain tells her, “Yup. You’ve met me before”.
The gray haired lady begins to ask him why the fire is being put out. He starts to explain the usual fantasy about no fires on public property. When the Occupier attempts to contradict him he says, “I have to follow the orders of my fire marshal”.
The Occupier rejoins, “Oh I’ve worked all my life; I know about bosses”. The guy spraying the fire gives her a thumbs-up sign behind his boss’s back.
Then as per usual, all the city guys leave and we sit there in the cold.
Someone mentions that the funeral for our former homeless camper, who had many health problems, will take place tomorrow at 10am. We each tell stories about the experiences we’ve had with this deceased man.
There is a 30 something man in the circle who we met about a year ago. At that time he had just been released from prison. He had a job in a restaurant and was determined to pull himself together. When we meet him again tonight, he tells us that he still has the job and hasn’t had a drink in over a year.
This man makes a few comments in solidarity with the 3 men to whom CJMM is dedicated. He states, “I sure am glad I’m not a black man. Their lives are even harder than mine”.
A couple of the older women in the circle tell stories about the racial segregation that was very visible when they were children. An Occupier adds, “There’s only 1 race; it’s called the human race”.
One Occupier says to another, “With our fires getting put out so early, we’re not getting a chance to have much political discussion. Once the fire is out, it’s not easy to sit here for hours.
We decided at the last meeting that we’re going on Saturday to our friend the City official’s African Heritage Community event. We won’t get back here until next week”.
We continue talking with the few remaining street folks while we slowly pack up. We inform everyone that we won’t be back until next Tuesday.