G.A. Minutes 5-30-17
The sky is covered with rain clouds this evening as we roll up to People’s Plaza. We know it’s not going to rain though; we checked the weather map before we drove down here. The map showed us that a string of rain clouds would pass over the area but Duluth was on the tail end of it. The temperature is in the low 50s with occasional gusts of south wind. Everything will be just fine.
As we begin setting up a large group of young bloods from Anonymous arrive. It looks like the entire crew is here. They help with the set up; then some of them take their signs and sound system and go out to the street corner to preach to the cars.
The rest of the Anons sit around the fire circle. The city official asks, “What do people think about the idea of a guaranteed annual income?” The Occupiers think it’s a good idea; some of the Anons are unsure about what it is. We explain the concept. An Occupier tells them, “Some people believe if our country had a guaranteed annual income most people would quit their jobs and lie around drinking and taking drugs all day. However, in European countries that are currently experimenting with giving out the income, that’s not what they’re finding.
“They find that people are using the funds to meet their basic necessities, pay off their debts, access education and training and to try to start their own businesses. They find that people are no longer homeless and/or starving anymore”.
An Anon inquires, “Did you guys see that He Who Shall Not Be Named signed an executive order making it legal to hunt bald eagles?” No one has heard about this; most say “What!?! Or WTF!?!” An Occupier remarks, “An order like that will certainly be struck down by the court system. Bald eagles are on the endangered species list. HWSNBN cannot just make pronouncements about anything he damned well pleases and supersede any law he wants. I wonder if he’ll ever be able to figure that out”.
A stylishly dressed, very pretty young woman walks up. She says hello to one of the Occupier couples and asks if they remember her. The couple does not recognize her but they don’t say so. After chatting a little they’re able to determine that the young woman is a regular at the monthly Indigenous Commission Sobriety Feast.
The Feast is open to all people but is generally attended by young Native families from the Central Hillside neighborhood who are struggling with various types substance abuse and addiction. The Occupier couple also attends the monthly feast; they always make a big healthy hotdish to share. Most of the attendees are struggling financially too, so a good free meal is appreciated.
The stylish young woman takes a seat, looks around at all the people in the circle and out on the sidewalk and says, “So what do you guys all believe?” An Occupier tells her, “I think we’re all on similar versions of the same page. I’d say the one thing we all are is anti-capitalists”. The woman responds, “What does that mean?”
The Occupier continues, “Well, you know how some people are born with access to more money and material things than the rest of us? Those people then get to have agencies, companies or whatever where they hire some of the rest of us to do the work. They pay their workers very little and keep most of the profits for themselves. Basically they’re allowed to get rich from the labor of others”. We see a look of recognition on the young woman’s face. She understands a lot; she just doesn’t know the current terminology.
She says to us, “I have a really hard time focusing on just one thing. I’m always aware of and watching everything in my surroundings. A therapist told me that I’m hypervigilant. I guess it’s because I have been hurt and kicked around so many times; you have no idea what I have been through. I’ve even been hurt by churches”. When some of the Anons return from the sidewalk we notice the young woman is already acquainted with them.
A middle aged, chronically homeless man who has been attending our fires for several years sits down. He has a bus pass that he is trying to sell. No one in the circle is interested but the man has always really liked our coffee; he gets a cup and takes a seat. He fills us in on this week’s street gossip.
The man asks an Occupier, “Don’t I see you up at the Mission?” The Occupier has recently accepted a job as a greeter for the evening meal at the Mission feeding center. He answers the man, “Yup, that’s me. I’ve only been there a few weeks. The most people we’ve served so far were 160 within 45 minutes. I think I’m doing o.k.; no one has physically or verbally attacked me anyway”.
Two young men who are vaguely familiar to us arrive. Their appearance suggests they are some of our neighborhood’s homeless and living on the street folks. The Native guy smudges and they both sit down. The Native guy gestures toward a bush at the back of the Plaza. He says, “That’s where I’m living these days. I need to go check and see if my stuff is still there. When he returns, he is carrying a jar that is about half filled with coins. He sits to count it out then puts all the pennies in a cup on the table. He and his friend wander off, presumably to spend the rest of the coins somewhere.
An Occupier asks, “Did you all see where a bunch of inside information has been leaked that shows there was coordination between the security company hired by Energy Transfer, the local cops, several other police departments and the U.S. military during the water protector camps at Standing Rock? They called the water protectors terrorists and treated them as such. Another Occupier adds that she was appalled by the extreme racist attitudes displayed by people from the dominant culture of North and South Dakota.
The big Native Anon exclaims, “It’s been over 500 years since we came into contact with Europeans and many of them still don’t see us as human beings!”
Someone remarks, “With all the wars that HWSNBN is trying to start, I wonder if they’ll bring back the draft”. An Occupier answers, “I don’t think that would work anymore. Too many people are aware of the bullshit”.
An Anon opines, “Yeah, we’re not stupid anymore. We’ve learned about Vietnam. We know the real story about Iraq and Afghanistan. The wars are never for the reasons the so called rulers say that they are. We know that it’s not a coincidence that opium poppies are the major crop in Afghanistan and the United States is in the midst of a major heroin epidemic”.
Another Anon states, “Hey did you know that those little denture cleansing tablets can be used as a detoxifier to allow a person to pass a drug test? A while back I got a call from my P.O. She said I had to come to her office in two days to take a piss test. I thought, ‘Shit, I’ve been smoking weed all weekend. What am I gonna do now?’ My uncle showed me how to use those denture tablets. I passed my test”. The Anon explains the denture cleanser process.
An Occupier exclaims, “I sure wish I had known about that when I was still working. I spent a lot of money on those detoxifier kits from Last Place On Earth in order to keep my job. Denture tablets would have been a lot cheaper”. We all laugh.
Another Occupier reports, “The documentary First Daughter and The Black Snake is going to be shown free of charge at the Zinema on Thursday at 7pm and at AICHO on Saturday at 5pm. I think Winona LaDuke expects to be at the Thursday showing”. We all expect to attend one of the showings.
The partner of Ms. Community Cleanup arrives. We’re surprised at how good he looks. He tells us, “I’ve got 100 days sober”. We see that most of the Anons also know him. One of them comments, “You look really healthy dude”. He does; he’s put on weight and is speaking coherently. Everyone congratulates him.
A woman from the Skinner Apartments comes up. She has attended our fires at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial in the past. She gets coffee and observes, “So you guys are still kickin’ it, huh?” We reply, “Yup”.
It’s now 8:45pm and still light out. An Anon points to a cloud coming down from hill and says, “That one looks like a real rain cloud”. An Occupier disagrees, “Nah, it’s gonna pass”. Everyone sits quietly just watching the roaring fire.
The big clock strikes 9pm and…….SWOOSH!!! Rain comes pouring down. Everyone jumps up; the Fire Magician runs to get the vehicles. We throw a sheet of plastic over the table and stack up all the chairs. The fire and the sage are still burning brightly in spite of the downpour. The street folks all run for cover.
The Occupiers and Anons just stand around the fire and laugh. We’re getting drenched but it’s not very cold. Someone comments, “This feels kinda good”. Eventually, the vehicles arrive and we load everything up. We pack up the Anon sound equipment too; fortunately, it’s water proof. Once we are done and the fire is put out………. The rain stops.
Oh well, time to go home and dry off. We’ll be back next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 5-30-17