G.A. Minutes 9-19-17
When the Occupiers roll up to Peoples Plaza this evening they find the guy who is the head of maintenance in the MN Power Building waiting for them. We’re not sure what he’s doing here but he’s very friendly and accommodating. He apologizes for the fact that his staff is not always able to keep the Plaza as clean as they would like. We are all generally suspicious of “suits”, even though he’s not wearing one. We imagine that the maintenance dude has some kind of ulterior motive but his true intention is not obvious. Whatever……
Some of the Anonymous crew have arrived early and have already begun chalking anti-Enbridge slogans all over the space. They expect the personable guy to disapprove but he says, “Aw, don’t worry about it. It’s gonna rain tonight and anything the showers don’t remove we’ll just wash off in the morning”. He wishes us a good evening; we respond in kind, he leaves and that’s the end of that, for now anyway.
The weather is pleasantly autumn-like tonight; it’s partly cloudy; the temperature is in the mid-60s and the wind is strong and variable. The gusts are not cold though; we think, if we weigh down everything on the table, wind will not be a problem.
The Fire Magician gets the fire going right away; the strong breeze shoots the flames up really high and then out in all directions. The flames almost touch the folks sitting in the circle. An Occupier asks, “Whoa! Are the flames higher than 3 feet?” The Fire Magician answers, “Yup.” and the Occupier exclaims, “Oh no! We’re out of compliance”. Everyone laughs and then the flames settle down to normal size like they always do and that’s the end of our fun. Bummer…..
More Anons arrive; so do the Stylish Native Woman and her partner. Everyone is getting food including some of the street folks who we don’t know. Apparently, word is getting around that everyone is welcome to the contents of the table. We just ask that everybody do their best to maintain a good vibe.
The city official arrives; he’s been very busy as of late because several well established community groups have requested his expertise for their newest projects. Tonight he’s on his way to the meeting of the Duluth School Board. He says, “I want them to know that I am always watching them”. The city man reminds everyone about the unveiling of the mural at AICHO this upcoming Saturday from 6p-9p.
The Occupier who works at the Mission rides up on his bike. He’s been put in charge of managing the security for the Dismantle the Legacy of Racism event on October 14th. He tells us that he’s asked a few of the Anons to work as marshals during the march. The marshals main jobs will be to make sure the marchers stay within the agreed upon marching area and to be alert for any march infiltrators who attempt to commit violence and/or property destruction. The marshals will also be on alert for any white supremacist types who may attempt to disrupt the event. Duluth has had very little of this type of behavior at peaceful events in the past so we are not expecting any at the October 14th happening either. However, we think it’s always wise to be prepared.
The Occupier tasked with heading up security says to another Occupier, “I’m gonna have to miss tomorrow’s Dismantle Racism meeting because I have to attend the U.U. Board meeting. If you’re going to go to the event meeting will you give my report for me?” The other Occupier will be going to the meeting. She carefully writes down everything that he wants her to report.
Chicago Man sits down; he tells us that he’s been having some trouble with his co-workers on his job at the big box store. He’s the only African American working on the pm shift and some of his co-workers are openly racist. By nature, he’s not a big people person so he’s not sure how to handle the situation. He’s afraid to complain to his supervisor as he figures the supervisor will see HIM as the problem and probably fire him. He needs to keep his job as he has only himself as a source of income.
We want to attempt to counsel the worried man but more people arrive, the conversation switches gears and when we mentally return to Chicago Man and his problem, we find that he is gone.
The Occupier who is a single parent appears. When he joins the circle he remarks that he’s been conversing with Evangelical Christians again. He reports, “We’ve been discussing the “dominion teaching”. The Bible says something about mankind having dominion over nature. The Evangelicals say that means humans are entitled to do whatever they want to the earth, the water and the air. I’ve been trying to tell them that it means that they’re supposed to care for and protect nature. They don’t like that very much”.
Another Occupier adds, “You are so right! When parents have children they have “dominion” over those children for several years. Parents are supposed to teach, nurture and love their children. They’re not supposed to make them work constantly and use them up until they drop dead. It sounds like the Evangelicals you’ve been talking to are a bunch of bozos”.
Spiritual Man arrives; he states, “I snuck away for a while. Whew!” He gets coffee and is about to sit down when his phone rings and he’s off again. Probably to wherever it was that he escaped from.
The single parent Occupier and the partner of The Stylish Native Woman begin a conversation about the Bible; others join in. They talk about all the translations that have been done since the writing of the original compilation of the Bible. The single parent has done some research and has found that the original Bible written in Hebrew is very different than most of the English translations.
The Partner has been calm and coherent all evening but now something sets him off and he starts ranting. He stands up; he’s very excited and starts talking about past events from his childhood. He bounces from topic to topic; rants about being adopted, about being hospitalized and being tricked into allowing his fingers to be amputated and about the social workers who confiscated his money.
The Stylish Woman is visibly upset by her partner’s behavior; she stands up and begins to walk away. The Partner calls out, “Wait! Where are you going?” She calls back, “I’m not going to listen to this again”. The Partner rants for a few minutes longer then goes off to find her.
The Anons are returning early from their marching and chalking. They tell us, “When we got to the Enbridge building, a cop was sitting there guarding the door. When we turned around to come back to the fire, the cop drove off, then circled around and followed us here.
We think they will need to be less predictable but we don’t say so. We know they will figure these things out as time goes by. If they ask for our advice, we’ll give it but otherwise, they are very capable of finding things out for themselves.
Menagerie Woman rides up; she’s donated and watched her movie. She still has a little money left so she’s going to go and gamble at the Casino. “Wish me good luck”, she laughs. We all do so.
The young man who the Anons call Lil Bear comes up the stairs. He has a young woman with him. She has a smile in her eyes but is very quiet. Lil Bears gets snacks and tobacco for her. For the first time since we’ve come across him, Lil Bear appears to not be drunk. He appears to be kind hearted and intelligent. Lil Bear asks if anyone has spare blankets; an Occupier has some in his vehicle that he has been keeping for just such an occasion. He goes to get them.
An Occupier says to another, “So how did your meeting with Mayor Larson about more public bathrooms go last week?” The other Occupier replies, “Actually it was rather surprising. The meeting consisted of myself, another member of the Homeless Person’s Bill of Rights Coalition, the mayor, the City manager and the acting head of Parks N Rec. I thought they were gonna argue with us and try to convince us that more and better public bathrooms were not necessary, blah, blah, blah. Instead, they acted like more bathrooms was a done deal.
“They offered to keep the heated public bathrooms at the Rose Garden and at Endion open for longer hours. They also said they had no problem getting at least 5 porta-potties set up around our homeless areas. They were very happy to see that we just wanted the porta-potties installed in places commonly frequented by homeless folks. I didn’t say anything but I wondered why they thought we would want the potties installed in places that WEREN’T frequented by homeless folks.
“Anyway, they were intrigued with our ideas about using the old shower facilities at the Washington Center and refurbishing a discarded city bus with showers. Of course, I’m always wary of “suits” so they may just have been faking it and plan to set us up for something in the future but the meeting went way better than I expected”.
A male and female couple who we haven’t met come into the circle. The woman explains that the man is new to the street scene and that she is showing him around. She is angry that she has been kicked out of CHUM and has been unable to find any other place where she can sleep. We converse about other possibilities but it seems she’s been banned from all of them. She feels she’s been unfairly treated and it sounds like she has.
Suddenly, we hear all kinds of sirens and see flashing lights all over the place. Some of those in the circle go to stand on the back benches and peer over the bushes to see what’s going on. When they return they tell us that there is an ambulance, a fire truck and 3 squad cars across the street. A woman was passed out on the floor of Lake Place Park but the para-medics now have her up and walking.
Someone opines, “Kinda overkill for one passed out woman. Someone else responds, “With all the heroin overdose deaths that are happening all over our city, I suppose they’re on high alert these days”.
Once the commotion dies down, we think it may be time to pack up. The Fire Magician goes off to get his truck. As the Occupiers and some of the street folks begin to take up the chairs, we notice that Lil Bear is gone and his female friend is sitting alone on a chair. The fire is dying and she looks cold.
Just as we are about to question her to see how we can help her……KABOOM!!!! The woman who is banned from CHUM comes running up from somewhere and leaps on the cold and alone woman. She knocks her on to the floor and begins pounding on her. WTF????
The woman being assaulted screams and wraps her arms and legs around the attacking woman’s body. The attacking woman’s friend and another street man are on the situation immediately. They each put their hands on the women and gently try to pull them apart. As they do this, they are both talking calmly and gently talking to the women. The Occupiers just stand and watch, looking like a buncha dummies.
However, it looks like the street men have everything under control. The friend gets the attacking woman to let go and stand up. She looks confused, like she just woke up. The friend hauls her off saying, “Sorry, sorry” as they leave.
The other street man helps the assaulted woman on to the one remaining chair. She looks stunned. An Occupier offers to put her inside the cab of the truck where she can feel safer. She gratefully accepts. Another Occupier comments, “Well, now I see why the attacking woman has been banned from CHUM”.
Once everything is packed up, the Occupier goes to talk with the battered woman. The woman exclaims, “I’ve never seen that woman ever in my life. She asked me a couple of questions about people I’ve never heard of so I just told her I didn’t know any of those people” The Occupier asks, “You came with Lil Bear, didn’t you?” The woman replies, “Yes I did and I have no place to go now”. The Occupier calls out to everyone still in the Plaza, “Does anyone know where Lil Bear is?”
The older burned out Native dude, who’s been coming around lately, comes over and informs her, “He’s just across the street; if you’ll watch my bag, I’ll go over and find him”. Off he goes. Lil bear returns shortly; he’s carrying all the blankets. When the Occupier tells him what happened, he looks concerned. He goes to sit with the assaulted woman and he puts a blanket around her.
When it appears that everything has settled down to a dull roar, an Occupier opines to the others, “We need to talk about what to do when violent things happen. Maybe we could talk about it next Tuesday”. Another Occupier agrees, “Yeah, it seems like if we want to stop relying on the police, we need to discuss other options”.
After all that, we plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.
G.A. Minutes 9-19-17