G.A. Minutes 8-29-17
It looks like we’re going to get at least one more pleasant, late summer evening at Peoples Plaza this year. The sky is clear, the temperature is in the mid – 70s and there is no breeze at all.
The Occupier who transports all the food is the first to arrive; she drives her vehicle up to the usual spot in the Plaza and spots a middle-aged, chronic alcoholic, Native guy who used to frequently pass out under the tree in the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial when the Occupy fires were held there. We used to check occasionally to make sure he was still breathing and if he was still passed out when it was time for us to leave we’d call the para-medics. The dude lived at the Wet House so the para-medics wouldn’t take him to Detox; they’d just drop him off at his residence.
Anyway, the Wet House guy is sitting up, talking with a middle-aged white guy who has recently begun attending our fire circle. The white guy is from the Deep South and likes to dress and act he’s from the deep ghetto of an inner city. He sags his pants, wears his cap backwards and sprouts off hip-hop lyrics whenever he gets a chance. He appears to be friends with all the black street guys who are into that same type of thing. They seem to genuinely like him; he seems to be a nice enough guy but we find him to be somewhat amusing. He has red hair, a ruddy complexion and a noticeable southern twang. Occupiers are easily amused at times.
As the first Occupier turns her car to face the street, the white guy comes running and says, “Whoa! Do you notice that the stairs are in front of your car? You’d better stop”. The Occupier laughs and assures him she’s just parking and won’t be driving down the stars. He asks her if she has any spare change; she answers, “I think I have a little in the big food bucket. When some more of our folks arrive to unload everything, I’ll see what I can find”.
More Occupiers and a few young bloods from Anonymous roll up. The circle gets set up and the fire is lit. The Anons crank up their music and take seats in the circle. The food Occupier gets out the jar where we keep all the donations of money that we receive from street folks. She recycles a handful of nickels and dimes into the palm of the southern hip-hop dude. He and the man from the Wet House leave immediately; you get one guess as to where they’re going.
The Stylish Native Woman and her partner stop in. The partner is rather quiet this evening; he doesn’t appear to be agitated or sad, just quiet. They get coffee and juice and sit and watch the fire for a while. Then they head off to their sleeping place for an early bedtime.
A couple of middle-aged guys who we haven’t met in the past sit down. They are either unbelievably drunk or something or they’ve burned out their brain cells to the point where they barely function anymore. One of the guys tries to talk but just can’t get any words to come out. Whatever… They’re welcome in the circle but we’ll have to keep an eye on them in case they’re about to fall into the fire.
The Anons go out to the street corner as our friend (we affectionately call him The Anarchist) rides up on his bike. He gets some coffee, leaves a generous donation and takes a seat. We start a conversation about the proposed Enbridge Line 3 that will run through or near the manoomin (wild rice) beds of all the northern MN and WI. reservations. When someone mentions the several water protector camps that are being set up along the proposed pipeline route, the Anarchist asks, “I wonder if we’re going to be in for another Standing Rock?” An Occupier responds, “Well, Standing Rock is actually not over, you know. I noticed that the white folks in North and South Dakota seemed to be really blatantly racist. It looked like the majority of them supported the tactics used by the police and mercenary security force.
“Of course, there’s plenty of racism here in the Twin Ports but I can’t imagine the majority of the people in Duluth/Superior putting up with the severe and illegal abuse that was dished out to the water protectors at Standing Rock. However, I’ve been told that TigerSwan, the security force hired by Energy Transfer at Standing Rock, is now here in our area. They drive black pickup trucks with Texas license plates. They’re mostly seen around the Fond du Lac Reservation area and they’ve been following the people closest to the water protector camp whenever those people go anywhere”.
Menagerie Woman rides up on her bike. She got out late from her plasma donation so missed her movie; she’s going to sit to eat her sandwich then catch a bus to her home. She tells us, “Bush Man stayed home tonight; he doesn’t have any money so he’s not drinking. As soon as he gets money he starts drinking then he becomes abusive and I can’t stand him”.
An Anon groupie they call Lil’ Bear staggers in. He smudges himself and comments, “My girl got locked up today”. All the wise Native people tell us that one should never smudge when one is drunk. Doing so will take the blessing from the smoke and turn it into a curse. Very occasionally, we witness an obviously drunk Native person smudging themselves. We don’t say anything; we just put the dish and the sage out for anyone who wishes to use it. We figure that if a person knows how to use it then they also know the proper protocol. If a person stops by, wishes to use the sage but doesn’t know how and asks then someone will advise them.
An Occupier reports, “I’ll be driving the Veterans for Peace float in the Labor Day Parade. If anyone wants to ride the float or march with it, just tell me. One would need to be at the beginning of the parade route by 11am.
He then says to another Occupier, “I’ll be at tomorrow’s meeting as soon as I get off work”. Someone inquires, “So what’s going on tomorrow?” The Occupier explains, “There’s going to be a big nationwide march and rally against white supremacy and all that in mid-October. We’re just helping the Superior Organizer with the initial planning for the event in Duluth. Everything will become public in a matter of days”.
The veteran homeless young man appears; he sets down his pack and goes to a back bush to relieve himself. When he returns he says, “Yuck, there’s at least five dirty needles lying back there. An Occupier remarks, “If they would just save them they could take them to the Needle Exchange and get new ones for free. Dumb… then again I guess they’re not thinking too clearly after they take their hit”.
A homeless young man, with kind of orange hair, who has been attending our fires this year runs into the circle. He’s very agitated and he’s wearing clothes that aren’t usual for him. The shirt and pants are mismatched and too big for his body. He exclaims, “Did you see what happened to me?!? I was bit by a dog and attacked by the police. It has something to do with the President. It’s all on YouTube!” He runs off. We are all totally clueless.
A well-dressed, Caucasian appearing, male and female hippie couple and their dog join the circle. The dog quickly eats up all the organic potato chips that have fallen on the floor; we give the dog some water. The man tells us he is from Minneapolis; a couple of years ago he lost his job and decided to go traveling instead of looking for another capitalist job.
He traveled to Costa Rica and then to Guatemala. In Guatemala he hooked up with some spiritual people who taught him how to meditate and to understand how everything in the universe is connected. The experience changed his life. He met his dog in Guatemala; she was a homeless street puppy. He says, “We rescued each other”.
The guy with the orange hair returns. He’s wearing his regular clothes and just talking normal and being friendly. He goes out to hang with the Anons. Trust me, it’s the same guy. Go figure.
Next, Coma Man comes up the stairs. We don’t recognize him at first. His face looks different; maybe he’s put on weight. His manner of dress is different too and most of all…..HE’S TALKING IN COMPLETE SENTENCES, PARAGRAPHS EVEN!!! He states, “I just came to say hello. I’m so glad you guys are still doing this”. We guess he’s probably stopped drinking. It’s a miracle.
The Anons are beginning to wind down and come back to the circle. One of the Anons is of Mexican heritage. He begins talking with the hippie man about various spiritual practices; the Native man who became a Christian while serving a prison sentence joins in. Soon they’re talking about the Chinese Zodiac and looking up New Age type stuff on a cell phone. Something about a yellow star and dispersing oneself into the universe.
It’s well past time for us to leave. An Occupier says to another, “Shall we let the fire burn out and pack up?” The other Occupier replies, “Naw, the vibe is good and more people are coming; throw on a few more logs”.
As soon as the words exit her mouth, Spiritual Man appears. We’ve been wondering what he was up to; we haven’t seen him in about a month. He’s tells us he went back home to Spirit Lake to visit family and then found work on a dairy farm. He’s looking for a place of his own now because his girlfriend’s dog is driving him nuts. It’s a grownup dog but it ate one of his shoes recently. Forced to make a choice, his girlfriend will take her dog over him.
The male from the multiracial couple drops in; he’s closely followed by Mississippi Woman. Multiracial Man is wearing a Superman shirt; Mississippi is rather quite tonight but she can still eat. Unfortunately, most of the food was eaten hours ago.
Southern Hip-Hop Man returns; Native Wet House Man is not with him. Southern Man begins spouting off a bunch of hip-hop lyrics. The lyrics make use of the N-word. An Occupier says to him, “Dude, we’re trying to keep a good vibe going here”. He responds, “Sorry, I didn’t mean nothin’”.
Actually we do understand. A certain genre’ of hip-hop makes frequent use of the N-word but there are several non-hip-hop African Americans in the circle. Even if there weren’t, lots of people are offended by the N-word and a white dude throwing ethnic slurs around without his close black friends around to back him up is just asking for trouble.
A young man of indetermanent ethnicity comes across the Plaza pushing a big garbage can on wheels. There is a guitar in the garbage can and the dude says, “Is it o.k. if I play a song for you?” We say, “Sure”. He sings an original song while playing the 12 bar blues on his guitar. He’s pretty good; we all clap when he finishes. It turns out that he works for the cleaning company that cleans the big MN Power office next to the Plaza. He’s been watching our fires from the office window for many weeks. He’s on break right now and decided to check us out. Hence, the guitar in the rolling garbage can.
Someone notices that it’s now 11pm. It appears that the cops have been too busy to bother us tonight but we don’t need to push our luck. Besides, most of the Occupiers have things they have to do tomorrow.
Just as we’re all packed up, an Occupier spots an older looking man who is passed out or something behind one of the big planters just off the street.
Southern Man is hanging out in the front corner with some of his friends who have just arrived. The Occupier calls out to him, “Hey, do you know this guy? I wonder if he’s breathing”. Southern Man goes over and gives the passed out guy a hard kick in the leg. The dude sits up immediately; they talk for a minute then the guy lies back down. As she gets in her car she calls out to Southern Man, “Thanks, that’s all I needed to know”. Southern Man answers, “Thanks for asking”.
We plan to return to Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 8-29-17