G.A. Minutes 11-5-16
We’re about to have a fire circle at People’s Plaza for the first time in 2 weeks. Meetings related to the proposed Homeless Bill of Rights Ordinance and fundraising events for Standing Rock have taken up the time that is usually reserved for our fires. We’re happy to finally be back here again.
When we roll up, we find a fairly good sized group of people wearing Anonymous masks while holding signs and waving an Anonymous flag and having a rally out on the sidewalk outside of the Plaza. A squad car is parked close on the street and a single cop appears to be watching them. When we drive the fire supplies up into the space and begin unloading, the squad drives off.
The leaders of the Anonymous group are friends of ours. One of them says, “That cop has been sitting there watching us since we arrived around 1pm”. We’re impressed that the group of primarily very young folks has a canopy covered table with literature and food. They have a small sound system too.
The leaders had informed us they would be here tonight; we even loaned them some of our signs. We just hadn’t expected they would be so well organized. Basically they’re a bunch of well-meaning kids who are beginning to form their personal world views. Wearing the masks and marching around is fun for them.
The sky is already dark with a barely noticeable breeze. Temperatures are in the low 50s. No one can remember when the weather has stayed this warm this late in the year.
The Fire Magician gets the fire going. Once the sun went down the kids started to feel cold. They’re grateful for the flames and the hot coffee. We think that few homeless folks will visit us tonight. It’s the first days of the month; also the kids and their masks will keep the folks away too. Many unhoused people are quite conservative in an odd sort of way.
An Occupier asks, “So are we gonna have a fire on Tuesday? It will be election night you know”. Another Occupier responds, “Damn, I sure hope so. I’m so sick of the election circus! I won’t want to be anywhere where I’ll be forced to hear any more about it”. We all agree; unless there is a major blizzard, we’ll have a fire on election night.
Our friend, who we call The Anarchist, rides up on his bike. Now that he’s retired he spends a lot of time helping older Veterans for Peace. We haven’t seen him in a while.
An Occupier wants to know, “How did the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance taco sale go yesterday?” Another Occupier tells him, “Things were slower than usual but they still made a profit to add to their war chest. The most interesting thing that happened was that 2 of our All Nations friends who have been spending a good amount of time at Standing Rock dropped in. They gave us the latest news as to what’s going on there.
“They told us the cops are starting to send a lot of Native informant types into the camps. Many of these informants are actually people who are from the Standing Rock reservation. They’re mostly people who are addicted to various types of hard drugs. Of course, this creeps out all the real people. The informants are relatively easy to spot though because they can’t hang with the spiritual stuff.
“I tried to explain to our friends that sending informants is the next stage of the game that The Man plays. I don’t think they heard me though. The water protectors have a lot of good stuff going on but they don’t have the experience in protesting The Man that we do. There are things that we could teach them. However, I sure don’t want to be pushing my white privilege on anybody. I just go with the flow”.
Someone adds, “I think it’s the prayers and ceremonies that will be the most effective in the end. Real spirituality has the most power”.
Someone else changes the subject saying, “You’ll never believe the latest law they’ve just passed in Wisconsin. It says that a landlord no longer has to hold on to tenants’ personal belongings for any period of time after the landlord evicts them. They can do whatever they want to with the belongings right away”.
An Occupier exclaims, “Talk about kicking a person when they’re down! There are many people who are just one paycheck or misfortune away from being evicted from their home. So they should be dispossessed of their belongings too? Walker and his sorry assed government are seriously sick”.
Another Occupier changes the subject again. She says, “Weather permitting, it looks like we’ll be able to have at least a couple more fire circles on Tuesdays. The next Homeless Bill of Rights meeting will be Sunday, November 13th, 1pm at Dorothy Day House. We expect to bring the ordinance before the City Council during the first weeks of December”.
The Occupier goes on, “I don’t know how to tell you all this but I have it on good authority that we have had an informant of our own visiting this group for the last several months”. The Occupier gives the group various bits of information that back up her suspicions. It turns out that each Occupier has information of their own that had been putting a question in their mind too. As we all share our information, the picture becomes clearer.
The first Occupier continues, “The informant became connected to a few other groups through us. I believe she may be gone now. I’m thinking she didn’t find what she was looking for. She kept saying she was looking for a group that was really radical. I guess none of us fit the bill”.
Another Occupier opines, “Well, being radical is not synonymous with building bombs in the basement. If building bombs is what she wants, she needs to hook up with white supremacists”.
A middle aged white homeless guy sits down. He was in our circle a few months ago and we thought he was kinda cool. He’s technically a white guy but was born and raised up north a ways in an area where there are a lot of Native reservations. He spent most of his life hanging out with Native people and is respectful and well versed it their traditions. We welcome him.
The male half of the multiracial couple has been sitting at the fire for a while. He tells us that he’s quite happy with his new apartment. He also says that his female partner is out drinking a little and hanging with her friends. He says, “I’m just staying out so she’ll be able to find me when she’s done. If I go home and go to sleep she’ll be left out on the street all night. I don’t want for that to happen to her.
“She’ll be going into treatment soon. That means she’ll be gone for a few months but I think it will be good for her. I’ll hold down the fort for her until she gets back”.
One of the masked kids asks, “Where’s my phone?” The male of the couple says, “Was it sitting on the chair next to the white/Native dude?” The kid says yes it was and the male tells him, “The white/Native guy just picked it up and left. I thought it was kinda weird because I saw it sitting next to him so I asked him if I could use it. He said he didn’t have a phone then he picked up the one next to him and left. If I’d have known it was yours I would have said something”.
An Occupier says incredulously, “Wait a minute. The dude just smudged and then he stole your phone?” One of the masked women is from the neighborhood and lives in the Skinner Building. She says, “Oh yeah, the white/Native guy is notorious for stealing. He’s always hanging on First Street. He has nothing so he’ll steal anything”. We say, “WTF?”
The male of the couple stands up saying, “Look! There he is. I can see him from here”. A couple of the Anonymous guys go off to find the stealing dude.
We watch the fire for a bit; one of the Anonymous girls brings her phone over to the male saying, “The cops have the stealing guy but he doesn’t have a phone on his person. They want to talk to you”. The male takes her phone and tells the cops what he saw. An Occupier comments, “If the dude is a chronic thief he will have stashed the phone as soon as he knew he was being followed”.
A heavy set guy carrying a small walking stick arrives. He tells us that he is Native and from Louisiana. He was attracted by the smell of the sage. He wants to talk about how he is going to vote for Hilary Clinton because Donald Trump is the Anti-Christ. No one in the circle is interested in his line of thought. He soon leaves.
The Anonymous guys who went off hunting return. They say the cops searched the alleged stealer and could find no phone. We feel sorry that the young kid lost his phone. All the Anonymous folks pick up their signs and flags and go off marching and chanting in the direction of Canal Park.
The woman who lives in the Skinner returns shortly. She tells us she has a sprained ankle and just can’t hang. She then tells us part of her life story. It has to do with her and her husband both being disabled and forced to live off government benefits. They have a 6 year old child. They’ve lived in the Skinner for 7 years and have been trying to move somewhere else for a long time.
She states, “The Skinner Apartments are basically for people who are on their last chance of being housed. If they can’t keep an apartment at the Skinner, they will be out in the street because no other landlord will rent to them. My husband and I are not last chancers and really don’t belong there. As you can imagine, there is lots of drinking, drugging and fighting going on there during all hours of the day and night. A few of the people who live there are pretty cool but most of them are nuts”.
When the marchers return we decide it’s time to pack up. It’s nearly 10pm. As previously stated, barring a blizzard, we’ll be back at People’s Plaza on Tuesday.