G.A. Minutes 8-28-18
Of course, the big tree planters are blocking the vehicle entryway again when the first Occupiers arrive at Peoples Plaza this evening. This is despite the fact that they were moved earlier in the day to accommodate the Farmers Market folks. Fortunately, a group of young ones from the Anonymous crew are already present and waiting for us. They all pitch in and the fire circle set up is quickly finished.
When the Food Bringing Occupier and the Fire Magician were leaving their apartment building up the street they noticed a heavy mist in the air; at the Plaza the mist has become a very light rain. When the Occupiers and Anons hold an impromptu conference about the evening’s plan, as most of us have not brought rain gear, an Occupier opines, “Oh, don’t worry about it. It’s just a little bit of moisture; the weather people say it won’t rain anymore tonight. This stuff will soon pass”. So the Fire Magician makes a big, roaring fire and then a smaller charcoal fire in a little grill. We have a big pot of pinto bean soup that needs to be heated up. One of the Anon/Water Protectors, who is a very good cook, has brought a tasty noodle hamburger casserole too. Along with all the other usual fixins, we’re gonna be well fed tonight.
The Plaza appears to be almost empty of street and/or homeless peeps but as soon as the fire roars up, many appear from wherever they were and take seats in the circle. The Anons gather up their signs and music speaker and head out to preach to the cars; because of the rain, there are few people walking on the sidewalks.
The Native man who used to help with the Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance Anishinaabe Taco Sales arrives. He rolls some cigarettes from the tobacco pouch and tells us that his partner has the flu so has decided to stay inside tonight. It sounds like his partner may have gotten into Women’s Transitional Housing in a big building a bit east of Central Hillside. This will be good for both of them; he won’t be able to live there with her but will be able to visit, rest,eat, take a shower and stuff like that. Another good thing is that Taco Man doesn’t appear to be drunk or unhappy tonight. That’s a good sign.
Fireproof Man is here again too; he’s wearing some really strange looking goggles that have yellow lenses. He’s still talking in “word salad” but doesn’t appear to be interested in “becoming One” with the fire. He gets food and coffee and takes off to somewhere else; we have no problem with that.
The city official and one of the Occupiers roll up; they’re dressed head to toe in rain gear. They’re people who know how to plan ahead. The city official is deep into a fundraising drive in order to raise money for travel costs for the group of high school students he’d like to take to Montgomery, Alabama. He and many others would like the students to see the Legacy Museum. The museum is newly opened and is the only museum in the world to show the history of lynching in the USA.
The young man who has recently lost his dreadlocks drops in too. He tells us he has to call his P.O. (parole officer) everyday now. When he calls, he’s put into a type of lottery system. If he wins, he doesn’t have to go into her office and is free for the rest of the day; if he loses, he has to go in and provide a urine sample that is then tested for drugs or alcohol. If the test comes back positive for any of these substances he will be sent back to prison for almost two years. He never knows if he’s gonna win or lose and is smart enough to stay straight just in case. He reports, “I kinda like my P.O.’s system because if I still want to use, I can do that on the weekends. The rest of the time I stay straight; things look really different from this perspective”.
The rain has become slightly stronger; we say, “Oh well……..whatever”. We can afford to do that; we all have homes to go to later where we can take off our wet clothes, take a shower, put on dry clothes and whatever else we see fit to do. The homeless ones can’t do that, they’ll be wearing their wet clothes until the clothes dry on their bodies. That’s a perfect prescription for catching a cold or worse.
Anyway, most of the homeless folks quickly disappear. A few of them run to the Mn Power building where they take shelter under a small overhang at the base of the building. They’re not doing anything, just standing there being protected from the rain. About five minutes later, one of the tall African American Duluth Police Department officers arrive; he doesn’t look too happy. He talks to one of the homeless folks for a bit then leaves. The people attempting to take shelter come over to the fire; we give them hot soup. They inform us that the cop said he was real sorry to have to do it but the Mn Power security assholes had called the police and demanded that the sheltering people be removed from standing next to the building.
Someone exclaims, “You. Have. Got. To. Be. Kidding. Me!” Shortly thereafter another cop comes walking up to the circle. She seems kinda nervous and softly states, “I’d like to contribute to the next meal you guys put on” and hands an Occupier some money. We tell her thank you and then she leaves. We suppose it just goes to show you, some cops have limits on how mean they are willing to be.
As the homeless people who were not allowed to keep out of the rain eat their soup and pb+j sandwiches, the male of the group sits next to an Occupier and begins to explain himself a bit. He states, “I’ve been watching you guys and your fire for at least a month now”. The Occupier informs him that she has noticed him hanging around the edges of the Plaza. He continues, “I wanted to see what you all were up to, if you were for real. I’ve concluded that you probably are for real. I’m always paranoid about people who come around us out here because they usually have some kind of ulterior motive. I’ve been living on these streets for a long time; people who have houses to live in always tell me that I should go stay at CHUM. Not everybody can stay at CHUM. The Occupier opines, “Yeah, I’ve noticed that sometimes CHUM closely resembles a psych ward”.
The new homeless friend replies, “The best thing we ever had was Graffiti Graveyard. Some people didn’t like to go there because they said it was dangerous. Well, it was dangerous but so what? Veteran homeless people know how to handle that shit. Regular people complain about the fact that there are so many homeless people on the streets. That’s true but Graffiti Graveyard kept a lot of unhoused folks off the streets. The City made a big mistake when they closed it down about five years ago.
The man’s girlfriend is sitting a bit away from the man and chowing down like she hasn’t eaten in a week. The man confides, “I’m trying to take good care of her but she makes it very difficult. She says that I’m going to abandon her but that’s not true; when she says or does stuff that makes me angry I always walk away so I can calm down and not yell at her. I never walk more than a block away and I’m watching her the whole time. If she were to be in danger, I’d be right there. I’m always watching her back. I suppose that you’ve noticed that I have a very deep voice?” The Occupier nods in agreement. “I can’t help that, it’s the way I was born. Whenever I have any emotion in my voice she accuses me of yelling at her. I’m not yelling at her; I’m actually a naturally kind person”.
The Occupier suggests, “It sounds like your girlfriend might have PTSD”. The frustrated man replies, “She’s from a very small town outside of Duluth. I know that her father kept her locked in her room most of the time and that he was very abusive. She’s not with her father now though; she’s with me. She should just put all that stuff behind her”. The Occupier answers, “It doesn’t work that way; people with PTSD can’t just put their past abuse out of their minds. They need to face their past; they need to get therapy or counseling and talk about what happened to them. If they don’t do that, their PTSD just gets worse and worse”.
The Anons return from the corner, they are cold and wet and stand up close to the fire. One of them reports, “Hey, the porta potty across the street is now gone. WTF?” The man who was refused shelter from the rain expounds, “A few nights ago someone stole all our clothes and stuffed them down the hole of the potty”. An Occupier remarks, “How awful! I received a message a few hours ago from my contact in the City Planning Department. It said that she wanted to talk with me about the porta potty on Lake Ave and Superior St. I’ll take a guess that the potty was removed because the porta potty company said they weren’t gonna keep putting potties there only to have them destroyed. I’ll call the City woman back tomorrow and see what’s up”.
An Anon cries out, “That is so sick! Why would anyone want to deny the homeless ones a place where they can go to the bathroom? These damn HWSNBN supporters are seriously fucked up; just because The Moron pulled a lot of dirty tricks that made it appear like he was actually elected to be the president, they think they rule the country now and can do anything they want to”.
An Occupier inquires of an Anon, “I think I’m gonna file a complaint with the Human Rights Commission about the Mn Power Company’s security guards denying us the passage of our vehicles onto the Plaza. If I do that, would you be willing to sign on as a co-complainant?”. The Anon responds, “Yeah, I could do that”.
The Occupier who reports things reports, “Remember that the Anons are having an event, this Friday from 1p-7p here at the Plaza. They’ll be silk screening t-shirts and doing other art stuff. Then, I told you wrong last week; Socialist Pizza is this upcoming Friday, 6:30pm at the Women’s Building”.
We are all thoroughly soaked. All the street people are gone; they’re smarter than us, they’ve gone somewhere to keep as dry as possible. It’s only 8pm but we decide to pack up. We don’t want word to get around that we don’t have enough sense to come outa the rain.
We expect to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.