G.A. Minutes 9-5-17
It definitely feels like autumn rather than late summer at Peoples Plaza this evening. It’s been raining off and on all day; we think it’s probably stopped now. The sky is overcast; the temperature is in the mid-50s and a strong north westerly wind threatens to blow us all away. There is also a full moon. In the past, we’ve noticed that things can become rather unhinged during full moon evenings. Hmmm……..
The Occupiers who bring all the supplies are the first to arrive. They find the high school aged member of Anonymous waiting. As he helps with the setting up of the fire circle, he tells them that his uncle tried to choke him to death on Sunday. His mother refused to defend him so he ran away from home; he spent the night on a friend’s couch.
He spent most of the day Monday and today at Life House talking with the staff and other young people. The counselors have agreed to help him; they’ve offered him a place in the new Center for Changing Lives in October. Until then he will be able to stay on his friend’s couch. He plans to continue attending school and to graduate. The Occupiers encourage the young Anon to accept all of the help that Life House offers him.
More Occupiers roll up and so does Chicago Man. We haven’t seen him in several weeks; that’s because he’s been working at his new job. In fact, he now has 2 jobs; at this rate he’ll be able to get a place of his own soon.
The new boyfriend of the former homeless African American man appears. He has a sack full of trinkets; he gifts each of the Occupiers with some of them. He asks if we have seen the former homeless man lately; we have not. The Boyfriend is bouncing around and talking non-stop; we don’t say anything but assume he’s “methed up” again. At least the stuff he’s yakking about sounds intelligent and makes more sense than what we usually hear from “meth heads”.
Many Anons arrive; they take seats around the big, roaring fire so they can warm up a bit. Once they’re toasty, they go out to the street corner to remind the general public about the really important things in life.
Our friend, The Anarchist, from Vets for Peace rides up on his bike. As usual, he gets some coffee, makes a donation and takes a seat. He comments, “So now I see that He Who Shall Not Be Named is taking aim at the Dreamers. What a fucking loser!” An Occupier adds, “I don’t think the immigrant community is going to take this lying down. The undocumented children who were brought here by their undocumented parents and have been raised up in the US school systems and the US culture are valuable assets to their employers, colleges and communities. HWSNBN is trying so desperately to come up with something that will actually succeed that he’s now going after children. I doubt it will fly; you’re right, he is a big f’ing loser”.
The Occupier who is the single parent of 3 boys arrives. We are so glad to see him. He’s been working out of town all summer but now that school is about to start again, he and his family have returned to the Twin Ports. After we’re finished with all the hugs and greetings, the newly returned Occupier says, “I’ve been able to read most of the meeting minutes over the summer but is there anything happening that I might not know about?”
Another Occupier answers, “Well, plans for the anti-white supremacist rally are taking shape. The theme of the event will be March to Dismantle the Legacy of Racism. It’s will take place on Saturday, October 14th starting from the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial at 10am, marching through the downtown and ending up at the Civic Center. At the Civic Center there will be speakers and music.
“We’re hoping that this march will be the start of workshops, discussions and such about how so-called white people can dismantle the legacy of racism in this country and in our immediate surroundings. Personally, I believe that every white American person, no matter how kind and well-meaning they are, carries some elements of racism within their psychological makeup. It’s impossible not to; this country was founded on racism and white folks are ingrained in racism from birth by our society.
“I don’t think we should blame or chastise ourselves; it’s not our fault that we were born into white privilege. However, it is our responsibility to see, understand and then eliminate the problem. Hopefully, some people of color will be willing to guide us but it’s really not their job to rid us of our racism. That job belongs to us. Of course, as usual, I think that getting rid of capitalism would make the job easier”.
A 30 something African American man who we have not met before has been sitting in the circle since the fire was lit. He hasn’t said anything up until now but it seems he has a story to tell. We all listen. He tells us he arrived in Duluth with his girlfriend a few weeks ago. He has been in a relationship with this girlfriend for the last year or so. They are both from Minneapolis but his girlfriend managed to make quite a few enemies there so she wanted to move to Duluth.
They have been staying at CHUM since their arrival and were waiting for her SSI check to be released. When that happened, they planned to pool their resources and rent an apartment. The girlfriend received her SSI check on September 1st and promptly took off with some guy to hole up and smoke crack until her money ran out.
Now that the money is gone, she’s back. Because she spent all of her money and didn’t give any of it to CHUM for safe keeping, she is no longer allowed to stay there. She tells the man who is telling this story that she’s sorry and wants him to take her back. She wants him to take all of the savings he has brought with him from his job in The Cities and use the savings to rent an apartment for the both of them. He told her no; he’s not gonna do that and he doesn’t want her back. Now she’s running all over the street telling anyone who will listen that he is a terrible person who has robbed and abused her.
The heartbroken man opines, “During all the time we were together, I never hit her or disrespected her in any way. I always took care of her and made sure she had everything she needed but I’m done now. I know I have to be civil to her when I see her. I don’t want her to flip out and kill herself or something. No way do I want to have to carry that with me for the rest of my life. I guess I’m supposed to feel bad for leaving her but I really don’t. Am I doing the right thing?”
People in the circle tell him that he hasn’t done anything wrong. It appears that Chicago Man is actually the expert on this type of situation; he’s had to remove harmful people from his life over the past several years. He begins to counsel the perplexed guy; they move off a little and start talking. Chicago Man has a certain amount of sense and is African American too. We’ll leave him to deal with this one.
Menagerie Woman rides up. She’s wearing a soft, warm hooded sweatshirt tonight. Clever and practical girl that she is. She’ll sit with us until her bus arrives.
A street man who we have been aware of for years sits down. We’d like to chase this evil dude off but we don’t. We met him back when we had our homeless camp; one of the homeless women brought him in. He hadn’t been in camp for even a day when he got into an argument with a guy who accused this evil dude of raping his daughter. Mr. Evil stabbed the accuser; we had cops running around everywhere and eventually both Mr. Evil and the accuser went off to prison. Mr. Evil has spent quite a lot of his life in prison.
Mr. Evil also abuses any type of substance he can get his hands on. Tonight is no exception; he’s messed up on something and half drooling, half mumbling about who knows what. Despite his many faults, the evil doer is quite physically handsome and generally has some innocent woman at his side. This evening he is accompanied by a well put together older woman who appears to want to take care of him. We doubt she’ll stay around for long; none of them do.
Anyway, the couple sits for a bit, then leaves. The woman says they are going to catch a bus. Once they are gone, The Boyfriend notices that his bag of trinkets is missing. One of the young female Anons comes back to get her backpack and finds that it is missing too. Everyone starts looking around. We find The Boyfriend’s bag but the Anon’s backpack is definitely gone. A few of the Anons go up to the bus stop; Mr. Evil and his companion are nowhere to be found. Bummer. We remind people that if they want to leave something by the fire, they need to tell us so we can put it somewhere safe. The street can be dangerous at times.
When a woman who has been sitting on a bench outside the circle asks for a cigarette, an Occupier reaches for the tobacco pouch on the table. It’s not there; after questioning everyone in the space, it is determined that the tobacco pouch is missing too. It was still on the table after Mr. Evil left; that means someone else has taken it. This is not good, especially since the tobacco is put out for everyone to freely use. In all the years that we have been making this fire circle, nothing has been stolen from the table. This is a very unusual evening.
An Anon and the single parent Occupier begin a discussion about the existence or non-existence of God. A few of the other Anons join in. The Occupier is well versed in the subject; in fact, it’s one of his favorite topics. Being younger, the Anons are less experienced so the conversation is rather elemental. Still, it’s a good conversation.
After a while some of the Anons ask to take a picture. They plan to make a flyer and want to have a picture of the Occupiers, Anons and others around the fire on the flyer.
We all get up, take a protest sign, hold it up and get our picture taken. Once that is finished, the Fire Magician goes to get his truck so we can pack up, put the fire out and call it a night. As everyone goes back to their chairs, an Occupier accidently bumps the edge of the fire pit, the pit is up-ended and the fire burns brightly on the brick floor. Fortunately, the Magician and his truck arrive, someone grabs a shovel, the fire gets quickly scooped up into the metal trash can, all remaining dust and ash gets swept up with a broom and the floor looks like nothing ever happened. We are all shaking our heads as we hurry to pack everything else up. Geez……
We plan to make some minor adjustments and try again at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.