G.A. Minutes 11-7-15
The weather this evening is the coldest we’ve experienced since we packed things in for winter last year. Temperatures are in the upper 30s with an occasional breeze.
Ordinarily we’d be talking about packing up the fires at the Clayton Jackson Mcghie Memorial for winter around this time. However, we’ve been receiving so much illegal harassment since the big drama on the 4th of July that we need to stick around and defend the people’s right to use of public/common space.
The homeless ones tell us they’re grateful for the warming fire, simple snacks and chance to partake in meaningful conversation. They don’t often experience feelings of relaxation or safety in their daily lives.
Most of the Occupiers have previous and/or current experience being homeless. Most feel a moral obligation to call attention to injustice. We can see that everything is connected. An old song tells it like it is …..”None of us are free…..One of us is chained?…. None of us are free”.
While receiving praise from folks on the street is gratifying, it makes us feel kind of embarrassed.
The first to visit the fire circle tonight are a group of young Native men. They are all close friends and live in a camp or a building close by. One man goes around the circle smudging everyone. He then asks us if we have a Bible. We don’t.
They’ve been having a conversation about women and continue it around the fire. They have been discussing one of the young men’s infatuation for a particular woman and also the confusion all of them have about relating to women in general.
One of the men asks if women deliberately try to be seductive. They ask us what the Bible teaches about the relationship between men and women. We find this all to be rather weird but the men appear to be serious.
A few of the Occupiers have past experience in bible studies but the deep questions the men are asking do not have immediate yes or no answers. They want us to tell them about sin and judgement; we can’t really help them there.
An Occupier offers, “Women are the life givers, for that they must be sincerely respected”.
The Ho Chunk man arrives. The young men all know him. They say hello and then the Ho Chunk man nods off in a chair close to the fire.
A couple of middle aged African American women from the Skinner dance on in. They’ve probably been drinking; they’re playing music on a cell phone and are singing along.
An Occupier comments he had heard that the older, very thin African American man from the Skinner had died a few days ago. One of the women verifies this is true and everyone is saddened by the news.
The Skinner woman tells us, “It was his 59th birthday on Monday and he passed away on the following Wednesday. He was already in bad health but we think he died from something he smoked”.
An Occupier who has recently moved back to the area appears. He tells us he is trying to save a disabled vet who lives in his building from being evicted. He lives across the bridge in Superior, WI where social services are much less than they are in MN.
One of the women from the Skinner knows all the ropes in Superior so she gives advice about all possible resources available there.
An Occupier reports he spoke to the drum keeper from the drum group that drummed for the Stop the Enbridge Invasion rally last Monday. The drum keeper told him there would be another rally against Enbridge in Superior in two weeks or so.
Another Occupier comments, “Oh good, I was so hoping that was gonna be the next move. Some people want to go after Nolan about this and we should do that too, but I think Superior is the next logical place to go”.
The Occupier who generally takes the G.A. minutes apologizes for neglecting to write them last Tuesday. She says, “I and another Occupier were scheduled to meet with the Deputy Fire Chief the following day. I needed to get a full night’s sleep before that meeting so I just went home from CJMM and went to sleep.
“It turned out the dude wasn’t even there. I think that was because the appointment for the meeting was made for me by the Fire Marshal. She probably didn’t make sure her boss knew he was meeting with us. I get a bad vibe from her and I think she’s been listening to the lies some of the CJMM BOD member tell about us. Anyway, we rescheduled for this upcoming Thursday and I’ll be sure and contact the Deputy Fire Chief beforehand myself”.
An additional Occupier reports, “The Idle No More-Northwoods Wolf Alliance NdN Taco Sale was pretty wild yesterday. We were short 3 of regular helpers and had almost no publicity because the guy who takes care of that went into the hospital for emergency surgery. Everyone was really tired when it was done but things turned out o.k. and we even made a small profit”.
A young white girl, known to a few of us, sits down. She seems nervous and exclaims, “One should never take drugs for mental illness. I’m a paranoid schizophrenic and they’re always trying to give me drugs. The first year I was homeless I was really scared; when I found a place to try and sleep I would jump and wake up every time I heard a sound. The main homeless outreach person is trying to have me committed to St. Peter’s for life”. She stands up abruptly and leaves.
The Drowsy Man and his cousin Birdman roll up. Drowsy Man is upset; he states, “My old lady is in the hospital. I left her alone for just a few minutes and somebody gave her 2 lines of heroin. She started to OD. I was trying to keep her awake while calling 911. I had to call a couple of times before an ambulance came.
“Seeing as I spend so much time on the street, I think I should get some of that Narcan. I sure wish I had some last night”.
An Occupier with medical experience tells Drowsy Man he can get Narcan for free at the Needle Exchange office on W 1st St and 1st Ave W. She explains the method of injection to him.
The Skinner women are still playing music on their cell phone. A song comes on and all the African Americans in the space say, “Oh yeah, this was the Skinner Man’s song”. They begin to dance.
We don’t know the song and the cell phone acoustics are not good so we can’t really understand the lyrics. One thing we do hear is “Why work hard if you never can play?”
A young African American man, who we don’t know but see around often, is meditating on the fire while swaying to the Skinner Man’s song.
The Crabby Old Man walks quickly and unseen up to the swaying manfrom behind, puts his finger, as though it were a gun, to the swaying man’s head and says, “Stop talking all over about my business!”
The swaying man snaps alert and mumbles something. The Crabby Old Man calls out as he quickly walks away, “And it can happen…JUST LIKE THAT”.
The story telling woman still has not been found.
It’s about 8pm and we notice a squad car drive slowly by. The CJMM space is now filled with many of this year’s regular fire circle attendees.
Conversation becomes light and casual. A DPD SUV drives by. We put a few more logs on the fire and everyone scoots up close.
Around 8:50 pm the police SUV is back again. One Occupier says to another, “It’s very close to 9pm, do you think we should pack it up?” The other Occupier answers, “I suppose we might as well. I sure don’t feel like dealing with the
City’s nonsense this late into the evening”.
Everyone helps us put things away. An Occupier reminds, “We won’t be here next Tuesday. We are meeting with 1 of our City Councilors. We’ll show him all the facts and details about the illegal harassment of our fire”.
As we are about to drive off, we see a big red pickup truck. It has ladders attached, lots of flashing lights and says Duluth Fire Department on the door.
One of our vehicles drives around the block to check things out. When our vehicle comes around again the fire truck is parked across the street. Its lights are still flashing. CJMM and the streets around it are completely empty.
We plan to be back next Saturday.