G.A. Minutes 6-20-17
One could not ask for a more beautiful evening before the first day of summer than the one we are about to enjoy at People’s Plaza. The sky is partly cloudy, the temperature is in the mid-70s; the gentle breeze from the west creates an atmosphere of perfection.
We find quite a few people waiting for us when we arrive. A few are friends of the Anonymous crew; most are various folks from the street. Apparently the word has gone out that the Occupiers are bringing their fire pit to the Plaza tonight. Everyone begins helping set up the circle and the supplies.
An Occupier jumps in one of the supply vehicles, planning to take it out to the street to park it. He drives just a few feet when……BOOM!!!…… we hear a loud explosion. The driver slams on the brakes; we all stop what we’re doing and look around. No worries, the driving Occupier ran over the bottom end of an unopened bag of veggie chips. Who woulda thought the air being forced from a bag of chips could make such a big noise?
Among the people who have been waiting is a young homeless couple that we haven’t seen in a while. They used to stop by and help out at the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance NDN Taco Sales when the sales were held at the former All Nations office.
We think both members of this couple may be developmentally disabled but we don’t really know. They are both pretty deep into alcohol and drug abuse so their general behavior may be a byproduct of their addictions. We think they are in their early 20s; the female has never appeared to be interested in political things or anything at all other than where to find her next meal or her next substance to abuse. However, the male is interested in all kinds of things but he has a tendency to get his information all mixed up.
He begins to give a lecture about recent American history or something like that. As he talks, he keeps referring to Barack Obama as our second black president. We tell him that Obama was our first black president; he responds, “Oh no, there was another black president, I just can’t think of his name”. We start throwing out the names of every famous recent black person that we can think of. When an Occupier says, “Martin Luther King?” the young man responds, “Yes, that’s it! He was our first our first black president”. Someone gently informs the young man that MLK never was actually the president but seeing as the fact is not particularly germane to his lecture we just let it slide. The big Native Anon jokes, “If I was president, the first thing I’d do would be to order all the American flags in the country to be turned upside down cuz’ the USA is definitely in distress”.
At some point the young man stops lecturing, turns to an Occupier who he’s well acquainted with and exclaims, “I know that alcohol and drugs are very bad for me but I just can’t seem to find a way to stop. Many of the elders in my family are spiritual people and healers. My grandmother, who passed away some years ago, was a very skilled healer. She comes to me sometimes; she tries to talk to me but I can’t understand what she is saying. I know she has passed on but she’s here in this life too. One time I was sitting by the lake and some elders appeared and were standing on the water. They wanted to talk with me; they said they had information that would help native people. I became afraid and ran away”.
His Occupier acquaintance invites him to attend the monthly Duluth Sobriety Feast. She also suggests, “Man, if you’re looking for the way just put out your tobacco every day and pray. The answer will come to you”. The man’s girlfriend calls him to come over to a back bench and sit with her. We ask the man to be sure and visit us another time.
A large group of Anons arrive; they have lots of signs and a sound system. They’re planning on going out to the street corner to wake up the drivers but first they want to sit around the fire for a while.
A street woman who lives in a Board and Lodge walks up. We’ve know her for many years; she says, “Oh good, you guys have food. I missed dinner tonight, can I have some?” We answer, “Of course, eat all that you need”. She does, says thank you and goes off down the street.
The Anons begin chalking the Plaza stairs; some of them are really talented artists. Others go out on the corner; they hold up various anti-capitalist signs and crank up the music. Soon car horns are beeping their support.
The Occupier who reports things gives a quick report, “There’s going to be a big block party sponsored by Neighborhood Youth Services up on 4th St between Lake Ave and W 1st St 1pm-5pm on Sunday. INM/NWA has been contracted to make NDN tacos for the event; of course they will need our help. Then across the street at the Central Hillside Community Center the main CHUM staff person is sponsoring a Chili Feed Fundraiser to raise money to increase the reward for information about the disappearance of the Woman Who Tells Good Stories. It will also happen from 1pm-5pm. That area of the Hillside is sure to be thumping on Sunday. I just hope we can finish making tacos in time to get over to the fundraiser. Also, Socialist Pizza will happen on Monday, June 26th, 6:30pm at Luce’.”
Another Occupier comments, “Hey, it sure was great to hear the city official give a shout out to Occupy Duluth when he gave his speech at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial Day of Remembrance last Thursday. I liked how he said we are true to our word and don’t let people down”. An Occupier adds, “For real. Most of the time when anybody talks about Occupy they say we’re real dangerous because we make bombs and stuff. Or else they think we’re real cool because we make bombs and stuff. Occupy is not or ever was about making bombs and stuff. It still amazes me how most people sucked up all the bs that the major media put out about us. Remember how the former CJMM BOD co-chair used to publicly accuse us of doing the work we do to help the community so as to make ourselves look important? Damn….”
A kinda hippie looking white dude who we haven’t met before joins the circle. He has a back pack and tells us he’s homeless. He starts talking about He Who Shall Not Be Named and says, “I’m really excited about all the jobs and stuff that he’s gonna bring to the people”. An Occupier replies, “You’ll be waiting for the rest of your life. HWSNBN is definitely a 1% ‘er who only cares about himself. He is one lying motherfucker”.
The hippie looking dude answers, “Well, I’m a conservative person myself but I bet you guys really liked Obama. An Anon who is still at the fire tells him, “No, we didn’t like Obama but we like HWSNBN even less”. The conservative dude then attempts to explain how climate change is a hoax; it’s something about how before 150 or so years ago people were unable to take accurate measurements of the temperature of the air.
One of the Occupiers is an actual scientist and another is well versed in scientific stuff. They go a few rounds with Conservative Man but it quickly becomes apparent that the guy doesn’t have any actual knowledge of his own. He’s just sprouting stuff he’s heard on Fox News and wherever. BORING……. If Conservative Man doesn’t become too rude or violent, we’ll let him stay in the circle.
A Native couple who live in the neighborhood appear; they bring a case of sodas and lots of hot dogs and buns to share. An Occupier goes to his car to get the roasting sticks and people start roasting the dogs. As we look around we notice there are people everywhere in the Plaza. A guy is teaching a couple of young girls in the back how to ride a skate board. Many people are chalking the stairs; all the benches in the entire People’s Plaza have various street folks on them. Maybe they’re too shy to join us but they feel safe to sit on the benches because as long as we are here, the cops probably won’t bother them?
The food that we brought disappeared during the first hour. Now that there are hot dogs, it looks like everyone is hungry. All shyness evaporates; people politely share the roasting sticks and chow down.
Some people ride up on their bikes; when they stop we see they are Menagerie Woman and Bush Man. We’re rather surprised but attempt to conceal it. We haven’t seen either one of them since last autumn. We know that Bush Man had become violent with Menagerie Woman. The police came and hauled him off to jail and then he was sent to the Twin Cities because of some pending charges there. We thought that was the end of it but obviously we were wrong. They seem to be getting along well enough tonight; we hope things will stay that way.
And then…….will wonders never cease…. Someone steps out of the shadows. It’s Mississippi Woman. She’s a longtime resident of the Skinner Apartments so we see her frequently on the street but she hasn’t been to one of our fires since we moved to People’s Plaza. It looks like she’s hungry too. She’d been out on the corner reading the Anon signs and smelled the fire.
When she finishes eating she gets ready to start her usual rant. We’re all pretty familiar it. Much of her rant sounds like the words of a southern black preacher but some of it has truth to it. She hollers, “They out there sayin’ the system is broken. Ain’t nothin’ wrong with the system, it’s wrong with the people! They don’t put God in their life”.
For some unknown reason, Conservative Man decides to challenge her. He stands next to her and loudly proclaims, “The problem with the black community is the lack of fathers in the home!” Mississippi Woman responds, “My mama and my daddy wasn’t married but they raised all us kids real good”. Conservative Man repeats, “The problem is lack of fathers in the home!” An Occupier taps the Man on the shoulder and says, “Excuse me but how long have you been black?”
Conservative Man tries again but soon realizes he is no match for Mississippi Woman. She is at least 30 years older than him and her game is down. He quietly leaves; if he had a tail it would be between his legs.
We had thought the Native couple from the neighborhood had gone home but no, they return with another load of sodas and hotdogs. The starving masses return and the feeding frenzy begins again.
It’s now 9:45pm and the sky is still light. An Occupier whispers to another, “We’d better pack up; I have things I have to do tomorrow”. The other Occupier responds, “I know, me too but there’s still food to be cooked. We’re gonna have to wait until everything is eaten”.
About a half an hour later all the food is gone and many are moving considerably slower. The Anons are still thumping on the corner and many folks are still in the space. We think the cops don’t know that there’s a 10pm curfew for city parks; or maybe they don’t care. We hope it’s the latter.
Anyway, we bring the vehicles up and apologize to all the remaining folks. An Occupier discovers a mislaid bag of veggie chips in her car and gives them to one of the Anons. We wish everyone a good night and a good time and plan to be back here next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 6-20-17