G.A. Minutes 8-21-18
Earlier today when an Occupier drove by Peoples Plaza; he noticed that the yearly Farmer’s Market that always happens in the Plaza during harvest season was in full swing. There were lots of people, booths and fresh produce throughout the space. The big tree planters that have been blocking the vehicle entryway for several months had been moved and there were lots of cars parked up in the Plaza too.
When the Occupier reported this news back to a few others, another Occupier commented, “Oh good, we’ll be able to drive our vehicles up for the fire circle tonight. That will make everything so much easier”. However, no such luck; when the first Occupiers arrive at 6 pm they find the planters have been put back in place in order to block the entryway. Just great…. no one else is there yet so they start hauling and dragging all the supplies up the stairs again. Within a few minutes, the mother of some of the Anonymous crew joins in, one of her sons arrives shortly thereafter. An Occupier asks, “Where is everybody?” The work is difficult with only four people to do it but it gets done; the older folks need to sit and rest for a bit once all the basics are complete.
After the last few weeks of really intense heat, the weather tonight is normal. The sky is clear although a good rain that probably made all the trees and gardens happy came through around mid-afternoon. The temperature is in the low 70s, a soft variable breeze skips through from time to time. As the evening progresses, we’ll possibly need long shirts or light jackets. Maybe summer is fixin’ to move on?
A mid-sized group of Anons roll up; they have signs and their sound system Tonight they plan to put the issue of Abolish Ice and No Human Being Is Illegal out to the cars and people on the street. The American immigration system and everything related to it is seriously out of whack. The 1% types, who caused the problems that the immigrants are now fleeing from, are pissed off because the people who are forced to leave their own ruined countries are now at our borders asking for protection and a job. Go figure. If we didn’t have to feed the people and watch the fire, we’d be out on the corner with the Anons in a minute. One of the Anons contributes a burrito casserole to the table….. Yum! We get some right away; we know it will all be eaten within the next half an hour.
The youngbloods go out to the protest corner; a few street folks, the Anarchist, and the city official take seats in the circle. One of the women who is new to our fire this year but a regular on the street tells us, “Well, I went and moved into a Board and Lodge this week. It’s not the greatest but I just couldn’t take sleeping in the alley or under a bush anymore. I told my boyfriend, that I love him and all that but my nerves just can’t take the stress of being homeless. I think I’ll call him now and invite him down here to join us”.
We haven’t seen the Anarchist in at least a month, he’s been having a few health issues and tells us he’s trying to lose a little weight. We tell him we don’t know where he’s gonna lose it from; he’s pretty much solid muscle. The Anarchist is older than any of the Occupiers or anyone else in the circle; he’s also more physically fit. It probably has something to do with his vegetarian diet and the fact that he rides his bike everywhere that he goes.
The city official asks if anybody has been paying attention to today’s news related to the big investigation into the presidential campaign of He Who Shall Not Be Named. An Occupier responds, “Well, I noticed that something that was supposedly important happened today but I don’t remember what it was”. The city man explains, “Oh, this is really big, it looks like HWSNBN is going to be taken down. His former presidential campaign manager was found guilty on eight counts; he’ll definitely be doing some prison time. Then his former personal lawyer agreed to fully cooperate with the lead investigator so he’ll be ‘spilling all the beans’. It’s very possible that HWSNBN will be impeached”
An Occupier opines, “Impeachment would be nice but then we’ll just end up with the vice president. He’s an insanely evil scumbag too only more subdued and sneaky”. The official man replies, “I think the vice president will be taken down right along with HWSNBN”. Another Occupier adds, “It goes down the chain of command from there. I think the speaker of the house comes next; he’s already announced his retirement. I wonder if he could just refuse to accept the presidency? He’s just as evil as the rest of them but I don’t think he was ever part of HWSNBN’s circus After that, I think it goes to the secretary of state. Oh man, just think of the amount of damage that SOB would do”.
Someone states, “Whoever they get to be the president out of that bunch is sure to be a serious disaster. In fact, almost all the people in the entire congress are a bunch of whores for the corporations. The real problem is that no matter who’s running the show, it’s the regular people living in our country and other countries too who pay the price. Nothing will work properly until we get rid of the capitalist system”. Enough said.
The schizophrenic guy who lives in the Skinner Apartments, the former partner of the sadly deceased Ms. Community Cleanup, the homeless dude with two different hairstyles, the chronically homeless young guy who recently lost his dreadlocks and a young woman who is crying all take seats in the circle. The generally pleasant and friendly guy who’s trying to grow his dreadlocks back tells us that the main homeless outreach worker is helping him to get an apartment in public housing. He expects to be off the street by winter. We say, “This is wonderful news!” An Occupier asks the crying woman what is the matter; she replies, “Oh, nothing in particular, I just need to have a good cry”.
It’s dark now and those that have long shirts and such put them on. We all move closer to the fire. An occasional Anon and his finance’ stop in for a minute. They are waiting for a bus and will sit by the fire until just before it arrives. Many more street folks join in; the chairs in the circle are full so the peeps in the overflow stand around the almost empty food table or behind the chairs. Among the late arrivals are the Stylish Native Woman and her partner; they sit quietly in the shadows. An Occupier sees them and remembers how much the Stylish Woman loves our coffee. The Occupier quickly grabs a cup and pours what is almost the last of the good brew into it.
She brings it to the Stylish Woman who smiles and says, “Thanks, what time are you guys starting the fire this year?” The Occupier tells her they start around 6 pm and the couple make a mental note to get to the Plaza early next week. We know their lives are very stressful and it’s difficult to remember what day it is and stuff like that.
The Skinner Man has been chatting with this one and that one all evening. He tells everyone the same thing, “I have a 40 oz waiting for me in my apartment. I’m not allowed to have visitors through”. As time goes on he begins to describe the type of beer that is waiting; we think his beer is calling to him but he’s enjoying the good vibe and relaxed atmosphere of the circle.
The Anons return from the corner; a Water Protector/Anon reports, “There were a lot more haters than usual out on the street tonight”. They bring their good music with them. Mr Two Hairstyles is out in the middle of the Plaza dancing with a girl who is on roller skates. The food is long gone; everyone is quiet, nodding their heads to the music.
An Anon quires the Occupier who reports things, “So what is going on for the rest of the week?” The reporter responds, “Hmm… that’s a good question. I forgot to look at my calendar before I left home. Off the top of my head, I know that the Citizens Review Board meets tomorrow, 5 pm at City Hall. That’s always kinda interesting in an odd sort of way. Socialist Pizza will be this upcoming Friday, 6:30 pm at the Women’s Building”.
A middle-aged, alcoholic man, who has been on the street and at our fires for many years, appears; we haven’t seen him since our first fires of spring. It appears he has lost quite a bit of weight. The middle-aged man isn’t looking for food or anything; he just wants to speak with one of the Occupiers for a while. He seats himself very close to the Fire Magician and imparts, “I think I’ve made a big mistake, I’m addicted to a drug now. If I don’t have it I get real sick. I don’t like this but I don’t have the courage to change. I want to be like you guys, I want to be a good person and help others”. He begins to silently cry. The Fire Magician offers the man words of encouragement; he says, “I think you’re stronger than you think. You will be able to conquer your addictions”. The tear-stained fellow dries his eyes, replying, “Thank you for listening to me”. He gets up and wanders off.
The Anons are getting ready to leave; we all exchange long goodbyes. There are only a few people around the fire now. A tall, skinny guy, who we have not seen before, walks quickly up to the roaring fire. He looks around as if he wants to see who is watching him; then he sticks his entire head directly into the fire and turns it from side to side. An Occupier yells, “Hey! Don’t do that!” Another Occupier mumbles, “It’s a good thing he has a shaved head”. The fire-breathing dude stands up then plunks himself down next to an Occupier and begins babbling. The Occupier tries very hard to understand what Fireproof Man is talking about but she just can’t get it. He’s talking in what mental health workers call a “word salad”. The most the Occupier can gather is that the guy is or was a firefighter in WI.
A young Native man, who has been spending small amounts of time in our circle this year, arrives. He remarks, “Sorry I’m showing up so late but I was in Canal Park celebrating my 27th birthday”. The birthday guy takes the sage dish and begins to smudge himself; Fireproof Man begins babbling again. Birthday Guy tells him, “Please don’t talk to me while I’m smudging, it’s disrespectful”. Fireproof Man jumps up, runs to the fire, takes a big chunk of red hot, burning embers in the palm of his bare hand and holds it up, posing like he’s the Statue of Liberty. The Fire Magician jumps up, grabs the really big water jug and dumps the whole thing on the fire, dousing it completely. He states, “O.K. that’s it. Time to go home”.
The remaining Occupiers begin to pack things up; Birthday Guy and another guy we don’t know who comes out of the shadows help us. Fireproof Guy grabs the burning sage bundle and carries it like a torch over to the eastern ledge of the Plaza. The Food Occupier exclaims, “Damn! There’s still a lot of sage in that bundle; we can use it again next week”. Birthday Guy tells her, “Don’t worry, I’ll take care of it. I’ve gotten into fights with dudes a lot stupider than him”. The food bringing Occupier cautions, “Don’t bother with it, man. The guy is obviously very mentally ill; he can’t help what he’s doing. Besides, there’s something not quite right about fighting with somebody because they stole your sage”.
We see the middle-aged, currently drug addicted man coming down the sidewalk. He’s stumbling and has the look of a zombie in his eyes; he clearly does not see us. He squeezes himself into a dark crevice next to the sidewalk and looks unseeingly out on the street. He appears to be very sad.
When everything is packed up and the last Occupiers are heading towards the stairs, a Duluth Police Department bicycle officer comes riding up. He asks, “Is everything alright over here?” An Occupier replies, “Oh yeah, we’re fixin’ to head out now”. The Occupier watches as the cop rides over to the eastern ledge. She notices that all the people who normally sleep under the Plaza trees and bushes are sleeping on the benches under the lights, right out in the open. She remembers the stories she’s been hearing from the street folks about being beaten and robbed while they were trying to hide out and get a few hours of uninterrupted sleep.
The bike cop has a brief conversation with Fireproof Man but doesn’t bother any of the sleepers. He rides off; the Occupiers ride off too. They plan to be back at Peoples Plaza next Tuesday.