G.A. Minutes 9-26-15

G.A. Minutes 9-26-15
We are already wearing our warm clothes when we arrive at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial this evening.  It’s foggy, temperatures are in the 50s and there’s no wind to speak of.
A large group of people are sitting in a circle on the ground by the side ledge.  We are acquainted with a few of these folks.  They are in the process of getting shitfaced drunk and appear to be having great success.
We get the fire going, snacks out and people from the ledge and from the rest of the neighborhood gather around.  An old man from the Skinner says, “Man, this feels good.”  An Occupier cautions, “Well I don’t know how long this is gonna last.  We’ve been getting harassed by the police again.  They may show up tonight too.  If anybody here doesn’t want to be around the DPD, feel free to leave if they come.  We won’t think poorly of you if you have to leave”.
The partner of the stylish Native woman is on the sidewalk yelling at the sky again.  Maybe he’s talking to his God.  We expect he’ll finish in a while and come and sit with us and be normal (or whatever it’s called).
An Occupier reports, “I went to the Citizens Review Board yesterday.  It was a short boring meeting but afterwards I was talking with the BOD president and telling him about what the DPD and the FPD have been doing to us.  I told him we want to file a complaint against the DFD but don’t believe there is a process to do this.
“The president suggested we alert the City Councilors who support us as to what’s going on. The Councilor of the CJMM district is retiring soon but maybe I can alert another Councilor who also supports us.  I can also file a complaint about last Tuesday.  What do you guys think?”
Another Occupier answers, “I don’t see why we file complaints and play their stupid game”. The first Occupier replies, “You’re right, filing complaints isn’t going to get this fire circle much of anything.  It does call attention to the problem though.
“This is a small city so it won’t be impossible to get the word out.  First we file complaints like they want people to do.  It seems like we should file a lot if we have to.  Then we can tell the City Council what’s going on. 
“The City and the Council and their PR workers are portraying our city as one that cares about all its citizens.  The City Council has requested the Human Rights Commission to write a Homeless Bill of Rights Ordinance.
‘If the City Council won’t listen, we have friends in the media and many supporters in the general public.  If we get enough attention we’ll be able to get an out of town attorney and take the City to court.  They’re gonna look awful silly when exposed for the way they actually treat the homeless.”
Someone says, “Yeah, they support human rights but only for some humans.  ‘All people are created equal but some are more equal than others’.
The hesitant Occupier agrees, “Well, we’re non-violent so I suppose we should do it that way. We just have to be sure we don’t get too caught up in their game.  They like to play smoke and mirrors you know”.
The young African American man who visited on Tuesday gives some of the other street men a lecture about alcohol and how bad it is for everyone.  The street men all support this idea. Unfortunately, all of these men are regular drinkers and half in the bag as they listen.
Things are calm and quiet so of course……… here comes Ms. Community Cleanup.  She likes to be in the limelight so plunks down and starts bouncing around and talking loudly about nothing.  A squad car drives by.
Most folks are used to Ms. Cleanup’s personality but some are not.  It really bothers the stylish woman’s partner so they say goodnight.
As they are leaving, they are stopped by two DPD officers.  The officers begin questioning the partner.  The partner is stressed by this but he keeps his cool.  We all closely watch the interaction.
One of our former homeless campers arrives with packages of hotdogs and throws them on the grill.
A young Native man we don’t know is attempting to have a conversation with another Native middle aged former camper.  The former camper is in his 24/7 brain damaged alcoholic stupor. The young man calls the middle aged man a fool.  An Occupier complains, “Ah man, that’s rude.  That’s no way to talk to another human being”.  The young man doesn’t say anything but appears embarrassed.
The DPD officers allow the departing couple to take off.  One officer walks toward the fire circle.  An Occupier goes to meet him.  The officer states, “Well you know what’s got to happen now.  You’re going to have to put out the fire.  If you don’t, I’ll call the fire department”.  The Occupier asks, “Why is that?”  The Officer rolls his eyes and says, “Same reason that I told you last time”.
The Occupier asks for his name and badge number.  He’s Officer McShane #420.  A street man in the circle laughs, “You’re #420?  Do you know what that means?”  Officer McShane rolls his eyes again.
The Occupier tells him, “I recognize your face and your name but I don’t remember what you told me last time.  All you bald headed guys look the same but then I suppose that’s intentional”.  Officer McShane nods and replies, “This is City property.  You can’t have a fire on City property”.  The Occupier knows this to be false but also knows it’s pointless to argue with this guy.
She says, “Well we’re not going to willingly put out the fire so you’d better call the fire guys”.
Officer McShane calls and a big fire truck arrives in a flash.  The fire captain gets out.  He looks exasperated.  An Occupier asks him, “Aren’t you the same guy who was here last time?”  Yes he is and he’s #296, Captain Tim Pagelkopf.  When the Occupier asks him why he is going to put out the fire the captain replies, “It’s illegal to have a fire on City property and I have to do what Fire Marshal Grundahl tells me to do”.  He has his water sprayer and starts spraying the fire.
Another official car drives up and a big older cop with hair gets out.  The rest of the guys in the fire truck get out and stand around like last time.  Only this time they don’t look like they’re all ready to put out a fire.  They have blue uniforms on so they look like cops too.
An Occupier asks one of the fire guys standing around what he thinks of the situation.  The fire guy answers, “Actually I can’t see anything wrong or dangerous about your fire”.
The captain is done spraying and starting to leave when the cop with hair starts digging in the fire pit.  He turns a log over and sees it still has burning embers.  He calls the captain back and makes him spray some type of smelly white foamy stuff on the logs.  The stuff sprays all over. It gets the food wet.  The flyers about the still missing story telling woman are toast.
The cop with hair has Olson written on his shirt so an Occupier questions, “Officer Olson, please give me your badge number”.  Officer Olson says, “I’m not a cop and I don’t have a badge!”  The Occupier responds, “Well then, please give me your DFD number”.  Officer Olson says, “No!” and stomps off.
So all the City employees leave.  Most of the street folks have stayed through the whole ordeal.  We’re all sitting around, starting to feel cold.  This is where it starts getting unbelievable, but it really did happen.  Chief Gordon Ramsey comes walking into the Memorial.  He recognizes one of the Occupiers and walks over to her.
“So how are you doing tonight?” he asks.  The Occupier responds, “We were doing fine until your police and fire departments came and put out the fire we were using to keep warm”.  The Chief says, Oh really?  Who did this?”  The Occupier gives Officer McShane’s name and number.
“So what’s the history on this?” says the Chief.  The Occupier tells him, “Three years ago your police harassed us about our fire, we filed a complaint, you wrote us a letter and your cops left us alone for about a year and a half.  Starting a couple of months ago they started up again.  I think it has something to do with one of the co-chairs of the CJMM BOD.  Gordon Ramsey agrees and the Occupier continues, “So when did the co-chair of the CJMM BOD start running this city?”
Chief Ramsey suggests, “We should have a meeting about this”.  The Occupier agrees, “Yeah, we could probably do that”.
The Chief takes his leave.  It seems he is cruising the hood.
It’s getting late but nobody wants to go so we just sit and talk.  Some of this year’s new regulars straggle in.  The street man with the drowsy nickname tells a story.  He begins, “I remember the first time I met Chief Ramsey.  I was living in a motel.  I met him in the hallway and he said, “Don’t you know who I am?”  I stood up all tall and shit and answered, “Don’t you know who I am?”  We all crack up and the man continues, “He let me go though and I was drunk too”.
We really have to go now.  It’s very late and the Occupiers all have stuff they have to do tomorrow.  In fact, they’re forced to take a PTO day for next Tuesday as everyone has other things they must do.
We’ll be back at CJMM on Saturday.  Campfire and all.

G.A. Minutes 9-22-15

     G.A. Minutes 9-22-15
     We’re not sure what we’re going to find when we arrive at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial this evening.  Things on the street and in the homeless community have been very tense and crazy over the last week or so.
     The woman who tells good stories has still not been found.  It’s probable she is no longer alive.  This hits home with most street folks.  The story telling woman is/was one of them.  The same thing could happen to them.  They could be “disappeared” and the only people who would care would be some of their street friends.  The street folks believe they are powerless so probably would do little to force a police investigation.
     The Occupiers, the Native community and many homeless advocates are making a big stink about the disappearance of the much loved story teller.  It looks like the DPD is actually investigating.  So far, they haven’t found the answer or at least they’re not telling us the answer.
     There is an epidemic across the North American continent.  An epidemic of missing or murdered indigenous woman.  It’s been going on for a long time.
     Anyway, CJM is completely empty when we enter the space.  The sun is shining; it’s in the upper 60s with a soft eastern breeze.  It feels real good but we know that as soon as the sun goes down it will be cooler.  We’ve brought clothes suitable for autumn weather.
     The short, usually drunk, older white guy cruises by, helps us set up, smudges and then leaves.  The gray haired woman arrives.  She’s in a giggly mood tonight. 
     We light the fire and a few regular folks take their seats on the back ledge.  A young African American man calls over, “Hey, are you gonna barbeque tonight” and an Occupier answers, “Nah, we’re just gonna have a fire, we don’t have any food to cook”.  The young man says, “I’ll go to the store and get some hot dogs in a while”.
     Around the corner comes Ms. Community Cleanup.  We haven’t seen her in months. She tells us she was just released from jail up in Bemidji earlier in the day.  She’d been locked up for almost three months and when they released her this morning, she hitchhiked back to Duluth and has just arrived in town.  As she goes to the back ledge to greet the peeps she calls back to us, “Oh yeh and I’m a born again Christian now”.
     The partner of the stylish Native woman is having some type of a breakdown.  He’s been walking around the block across the street and screaming really loud.  It’s hard to understand what he’s saying but he seems to be yelling at someone we can’t see and his dialogue has a lot of Fs in it.  He’s generally a smart, nice guy; we empathize with him.
The stylish woman is just hiding in the shadows, waiting for him to get a grip. Eventually he does and they come into the circle.
     If things weren’t weird enough already, here comes two DPD officers.  It’s #484, Officer Hurst; he’s one of the few cops we can physically recognize because he’s a neighborhood regular cop and has visited our fires in the past.  Once in a while he makes a probably feigned attempt to be just a regular, friendly guy.
     It’s also #479, Officer Roe.  He’s been around before but only in his professional capacity.  
     Officer Hurst reminds us that the last time he attempted to join our circle he was told to leave.  We remind him that it was only the most obnoxious street man who told him to leave and tell him he is welcome to join us.
     He says, “O.K. but first I have to ask you to put out that fire”.  We look at him like he is nuts.  He continues, “Look I have to do what my bosses tell me.  I have a memo from Deputy Chief Tuscan that says that every time I see you guys having a fire, I have to make you put it out.  If you don’t put it out then I have to call the Fire Department and have them put it out. If I have to do that, it’s going to cost money and time for the fire department.  So please be helpful and put the fire out”.
     We show him the letter we have from Chief Ramsey and reply, “We not going to willingly put it out so you’ll have to call the fire people.
     Officer Hurst calls and a big fire truck pulls up and a bunch of young fire dudes, all dressed up in their new fire pants and tee shirts, jump out.  They appear to think they are “all that and a bag of chips” so they stand around looking manly.
     The head fire captain tells us he’s going to put out our fire.  He doesn’t really know the relevant fire codes but he insists he does.  He gives us a brochure that says there can be no recreational fires on public lands.
     We are not impressed and tell him, “Anybody can make a brochure”.  We show him some of the copies of state and local ordinances we have but he doesn’t want to look at them.  A couple of his guys spray lots of water on the fire.
     While we’ve been dealing with all the bad guys there’s been something else going on beside our food table.  The woman from Mississippi has been observing things. She’s freaking out and going into her semi-trance about, “Why you messing with these good, innocent people when there’s criminals all around that you don’t do nothin’ about?”
     The gray haired woman has never seen Mississippi woman on a rant before so she’s trying to reason with her and calm her down.  She finally gets exasperated and walks over to the cops.  She implores, “You just have to do something about that woman, she’s disturbing the peace”.  Officer Hurst rolls his eyes and answers, “That’s just Mississippi woman.  She gets that way sometimes”.
     All the bad guys leave; the sun is down and it’s chilly without a fire.  An Occupier comments, “No way are they gonna think they can make us leave”.  Everyone puts on all their extra clothes.
     The young African American man and a few others arrive with bags of hot dogs and fixins.  There’s no fire.
     We consider restarting the fire but think a better move will to be to plan strategy.  We pull our chairs together.  Most of the street folks go off walking around in order to keep warm.  A few stay with us in the circle.
     We have quite a discussion about the real meaning of ‘Merika’.  The CRB is meeting tomorrow and an Occupier plans to be there.  It looks like we’ll have to file a complaint against the Fire Department too.
     The highlights of our good conversation include:  The gray haired woman, when speaking about the so called rulers of our city, exclaims, “It’s because they’re not free.  When they see that we are, it really pisses them off.
     Also, the middle aged Lakota man states, “All of this is my land”.  We respond, “Yeah, we know but please let us stay.  We are so removed from our homelands that we don’t even know where they are”.
     The man who is always laughing arrives.  He’s not laughing too much tonight.  He asks what happened and we tell him.  He then says he still has not had his baby returned to him by Child Protection.
     He’s been to many court hearings and jumped through every hoop he’s been given. He fired his Public Defender as the PD told him no one, including the PD himself, cared about his baby or was gonna try to help him.  He’s lost the phone number we gave him for the African American community activist.  The always laughing man says, “I talked with that guy once and he gave me a lot of good advice.  I really need his help again”.
     We write down the number and give him another one too.  As he leaves we tell him we’ll keep him in our thoughts.
     We’ve been having such a good discussion we hadn’t noticed the time or the cold. Time to pack up.
     We plan to return on Saturday.  The wood will be dry by then so we’ll have a fire. You could join us if you wished.

G.A. Minutes 9-12-15

G.A. Minutes 9-12-15
          The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial is empty upon our arrival.  The street looks fairly empty too. It’s mostly cloudy, almost no wind, with temperatures in the low 60s.
          We think things will become progressively cooler so we’ll start the fire right away.
          Our first visitor is the sensible woman who we met at our last meeting.  She’s a little upset.  She tells us she was robbed last night.  An acquaintance invited her to spend the night in a low priced motel room.  She was one of several homeless people who were allowed to sleep over.
          When she woke in the morning, she found her belongings had been disturbed.  Several electronic devices owned by her young son were missing.  She’s very disappointed.
          Next, the African American gay man and a few other regulars swing through.  We exchange pleasantries and jokes.  They’re on their way to somewhere else.
          The Spiritual Man and a regular street woman arrive.  They get drinks and join the circle.
          Last night some of the Occupiers were notified that the street woman who tells really good stories has gone missing.  Apparently she hasn’t been seen by her family or anyone else for almost two weeks.   
          This is highly unusual as she is a very social person and is on the street or at CHUM almost every day.  These days she’s generally with the crabby old man.  The crabby old man is still around and has been interviewed by the police.
           We’ve been told the story telling woman had been planning on going back to her reservation for a visit.  She was expected but hasn’t arrived.
          An Occupier has made some flyers containing her picture and a statement from the DPD.  He’s put them on the food table.
          As people get their snacks and notice the flyers, they become very upset.  Most everyone had been wondering why the missing woman wasn’t around but most hadn’t realized her disappearance was such a serious matter.  They all take flyers.
          The Spiritual Man is particularly upset and talks about the epidemic of murdered and /or missing Native American and First Nation women in North America.  “Why would anyone cause harm to a life giver?” he says.
          All the people in the circle exchange tales of their experiences with the woman who tells really good stories.
          During a break in the conversation, an Occupier comments to the partner of the stylish Native woman, “I checked with my friend who works at CHUM.  He says no one has brought your bag there”.
          The partner comes to sit next to the Occupier to tell her about his experience being arrested last week.  He was sitting on the sidewalk outside of the feeding station at the Domiano Center.  A DPD cop drove up, seized him, threw him into his squad car and grabbed his genitals.
          When his genitals were grabbed, the partner went into a blackout.  He doesn’t remember anything until he found himself in the shower inside the jail.
          He’s sure he was drugged by the DPD officers.  The Occupier knows the partner to be a person with serious mental illness and anxieties.  She imagines he was probably not drugged but knows he was seriously mistreated.
          The man reports he was arrested for a previous charge that he is scheduled to go to court for in November.  He’s confused and angry.  He was also given a ticket for loitering or trespassing or something, so now he has another charge and a fine.  He says the officers seemed to think all of this was very funny.
          The Department of Corrections has also been garnishing part of the man’s monthly disability money.  He receives very little as it is so this garnishment is very damaging.
          The Duluth police routinely harass, insult, laugh at and ticket our homeless ones.  These tickets require the homeless to pay fines which they cannot afford.  Once they accumulate a certain amount of fines, they spend months in jail.
          As the partner tells his story, he becomes agitated.  The stylish Native woman walks over to him, putting her hands on his shoulders.  This helps him to collect himself.  The love they share between them is evident.
          The Spiritual Man calls for a moment of silence.  He puts a pinch of tobacco in each of our hands and invites us to silently say a prayer for the woman who tells good stories and then sprinkle our tobacco over the fire.  We all do so.
          The Occupier who enjoys poetry arrives.  He has spent the day at the Bayfront Harvest Festival.  An Occupier states, “Crap, I go there every year but this year I didn’t find out about it until last night.  I couldn’t rearrange my schedule on such short notice”.
          A couple of young women and a child hesitantly approach us.  We welcome them and when they see the flyers on the table, they freak out.  They are relatives of the missing storytelling woman.  They too, were not aware their aunt’s disappearance was now a police matter. 
          The women tell stories about time spent with the missing woman.
          The preacher from the storefront church drops off a couple bags of chips.  A man in the circle says, “Hey Padre, what’s up?”
          Three young African American men come bounding into the street.  They’re seriously playing basketball.  Although they come close to being hit by a car, they don’t seem to notice.  The game continues into the Memorial.  We think they don’t realize we are there but when they lose control of the ball, we throw it back to them.  They come halfway out of their trance and go off up the street.
          Our friend, the City official stops by.  He asks if the pawn shop next to CJMM is still closed.  It is and he thinks it may have gone out of business.
          The wall of the pawn that overlooks CJMM has always been an issue for those frequenting CJMM.  It’s only half painted with an ugly rose red color.  The color of the part of the wall that hasn’t been painted is a color that has yet to be determined. 
          The City official tells us; many years ago the original CJMM BOD offered the pawn shop owner enough money to complete the paint job.  The owner refused……… go figure.
          The official and several Occupiers begin talking local politics.  Another Occupier chimes in, “Oh, that reminds me.  Voting for the primary of the City elections is next Tuesday September 15th”.  Some of us will vote and some will not.
          A couple of grown African American men with whom we are sort of acquainted, come through.  They are pleasant, stop to chat a bit and look at the sculptures of Mr.Clayton, Mr. Jackson and Mr. McGhie.
          A young, white hippie looking guy who has been wandering around outside the circle all evening comments, “That’s not  Jesus up on that wall”.
          One of the pleasant men walks back to the hippie guy and softly but firmly relies, “You should not disrespect this space man.  Don’t disrespect the circle or this space.  It’s not right”.
          As it’s getting late, the Ho Chunk plunks himself down.  He’s two and a half sheets to the wind.
          An Occupier asks, “Hey, did you know the DPD now has an undercover white pickup truck?”  We laugh and another Occupier responds, “Oh great, like I don’t have enough stuff to look out for already”.
          As we’re packing up someone announces, “I almost forgot.  Our good friend and occasional Occupier is having his senior art show opening reception next Tuesday September 15th 5pm at the Tweed Gallery.  Do you all want to go?”  We all agree, that’s what we would like to do.
          So we’re off………. Some to our homes; some to find a place where the police won’t find us, to sort of comfortably lay our heads.
          We plan to return to CJMM next Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 9-8-15

G.A. Minutes 9-8-15
          Temperatures are in the 70s but falling rapidly.  A cool breeze blows across the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial space as we arrive.  We’ll need to start a fire as soon as the sun dips behind the surrounding buildings.
The place appears empty but as soon as we start bringing out the chairs and things many street people appear and start helping us.
          As we’re setting up, the partner of the stylish Native woman questions one of the homeless Occupiers.  He asks, “Did you see what happened to my bag?”  Apparently the partner had been arrested by the DPD, without any warning, a couple of days ago. He had a minor outstanding warrant.  The police cuffed him and threw him into the squad car.  They left his bag sitting on the sidewalk.
          The partner continues, “All my most important belongings were in that bag.  I can’t find anyone who says they have seen it”.  The homeless Occupier was present when the partner was arrested but he didn’t see what happened to the bag.
          Another Occupier says, “Did you check at CHUM?  When people find backpacks and things that they can see are important but they don’t know who they belong to, many times they just drop them off at CHUM”.
          “I can’t go to CHUM,” the partner replies, “I’m 86’d for life”. 
          The Occupier replies, “I’ll message my friend who is one of the head workers at CHUM and ask if anyone dropped it off”.
          The circle is beginning to fill when the infamous street woman arrives.  We haven’t seen her in many months because she’d been doing so well.  She’d quit drinking and been given her own apartment.  She appeared to be happy.  The last time we spoke with her she told us, “If you don’t see me around, that will mean I’m o.k.  If you start seeing me out in the street again that will mean I’m not o.k.”
          Tonight she’s crying, yelling, hopping around and talking about beating people up.  She cries, “None of the people who say they are my friends are really my friends.  They take advantage of me and then kick me to the curb”.
          The tall Native artist enters the circle and sits down next to the infamous woman.  He says hello and she tells him, “You’re one of the few people who is really my friend”.
          To make things worse, the most infamous street man arrives.  He and the infamous woman are close relatives. 
First the infamous man walks up and starts the fire.  He doesn’t to a very good job of it and thick smoke arises from the fire pit.  An Occupier finishes the job properly.
          The infamous man then calls the meeting to order.  He proclaims, “The first thing we need to do is to take back our former homeless camp.”  We don’t know whether to laugh or cry.  It looks like it’s going to be a long night.
          A woman we haven’t met begins praying in the traditional Anishinaabe way.  Something distracts the infamous man and he wanders off.
          A few of the women from the Skinner apartments take a few of our chairs and begin a meeting of their own on the side ledge.
          The infamous woman and a few other street women begin arguing about a misplaced purse.  They accuse one particular woman, who is a known thief, of stealing the purse. 
          A woman we have met in the past butts in and begins talking sense to all of them.  The accused woman tells the others where the purse has been hidden and the accusing women go off to look for it.
          We have known the accused woman for quite a while and believe she has some type of brain damage.  The rational woman tells the accused woman to stick close to her tonight so she won’t get beat up.
          During all this drama the Occupiers have noticed squad cars passing by CJM four or five times.
          The Occupier who has been living out of town appears.  He tells us he will be moving back to the Twin Ports area in about a month.  This is great news.
          An Occupier reports that several members of Idle No More/Northwoods Wolf Alliance are driving down to the court hearing about White Earth vs the US State Dept. early Thursday morning.  They may have room for others.
          Another Occupier reports that the INM/NWA NdN Taco Sale went very well.   She then lists some upcoming events:
          The Human Rights Commission meeting will be tomorrow at 5pm in City Hall
          The Bridge Festival will be held this upcoming Friday at Bayfront Festival Park.  Tickets are $30. A discussion ensues.  None of the regular memorial folk will be able to attend as $30 is more than anyone there can afford.  None of the occupiers can afford it either.
          The gray-haired woman walks up.  She usually doesn’t arrive this late.  We don’t ask her where she’s been as we know she won’t remember.  She quietly listens to the ongoing conversation and then asks questions of the rational woman.
          The gray- haired woman is of a generation even older than that of the oldest of the Occupiers.  She hasn’t had any close Native friends and has a rather exotic view of Native people.  The rational woman answers the gray-haired woman’s questions kindly and the gray-haired woman listens with interest and respect.
           A big Duluth fire truck comes driving down the street, stops in the intersection and appears to be checking out ourselves and our fire.
           An Occupier says to another, “Are we going to have visitors?”  The other Occupiers answers, “It appears so”.  The fire truck drives slowly by CJM and then drives away.
          The Lakota man from the Black Hills stops by.  He smudges himself and sings a Lakota song.  He tells us he has fathered 16 children and has 37 grandchildren.
          The short white man who is usually drunk and crazy is not so drunk and crazy this evening.  He asks if we have a band aid.  Unfortunately, we don’t.  All we have is duct tape and napkins.
          An Occupier takes him into the light to get a look at his injured forehead.  When the Occupier returns he says, “It looks like he has a blister”.  Another Occupier comments, “You know, we really should carry a first aid kit but I suppose with the way the so called governing bodies harass us, they’d probably charge us with practicing medicine without a license”.
          Someone responds, “Two of us are actually licensed medical professionals so I think we’re covered”.
          Somehow we get into a discussion about the dangerous lack of pay phones in this city. We know that people who don’t have cell phones will have difficulty calling 911 if they should need to.
          The Skinner group on the side ledge has increased at least three fold.  They have music playing and some are dancing.  We figure they’re drinking but that’s their business, not ours.  There’s much talking and laughing.  They are certainly LOUD. 
          They would never be allowed to have a party like this in their own apartments.  We’re glad they are having fun but we can’t even hear each other anymore.  Oh well….. We quietly sit and watch the fire.
          An Occupier who has been at his choir practice rides up on his bike.  He joins the fire watchers.
As the coals die down, the street folks say their goodbyes.  The Skinner folks say good night also.
          It’s just the Occupiers at the fire.  The infamous woman returns.  She’s come to apologize for her previous behavior.
          She tells us that she’s been doing meth and then she has to come down from the meth by drinking.  She doesn’t want to do this but has been unable to stop.
          She tells us that her father died recently and since then she’s been having a problem with her sobriety.  She says, “I just can’t stand this grief.  I should be over it by now”.
          An Occupier advises, “I’m told that in the Anishinaabe way, the grieving period for a close relative is supposed to last for one year”.
          Another adds, “The grief you are feeling is completely normal.  It’s something you are just going to have to go through.  Trying to run away from it won’t work; it will just prolong the process”.
          We hug her and one Occupier offers her a ride home.
occupy the streets poster original  copy from net 0           Everything gets packed up and we leave with plans to return to CJMM next Saturday.

G.A. Minutes 9-5-15

G.A. Minutes 9-5-15
          There’s a big party going on when we drive up to the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial this evening.  It’s Pride Weekend and our friend who owns the club a little ways up the street from CJMM has been throwing down with a block party since around noon.  The street is blocked off just outside the Memorial and only those with tickets are allowed in. However, everything is happening outdoors so everyone in the surrounding neighborhood can enjoy the music too.  Our club owning friend is generous like that.
          CJMM is packed with people and they help us quickly set up.  The music is top notch and the woman from Mississippi is dancing right on the corner.  She has a big smile on her face.  The weather is in the lower 70s and the autumn chill in the air is back.  A fire would be just the thing…. so we get one going.
          An occasional cop drives by.  They don’t seem to be paying attention to us.
          As usual, street folks are stepping up to get their snacks and drinks.  There are many more than we are accustomed to serving.  Everything is disappearing quickly.
          As the Occupier who recites poetry arrives, we ask him if he went to the so called Bernie Sanders picnic today.  He answers, “No, when I saw that the food was going to be only for the union members and their families, I decided not to attend”.
          Another Occupier remarks, “Gee, they’re really damaging their reputation by being so exclusive” and the first Occupier replies, “You know, I think they’re just short on funds these days”.
          Our anarchist friend rides up on his bike, sits down and says, “Wow, this is really cool”.  We offer him a cup of coffee only to find that both large carafes are completely empty. 
          An Occupier who lives close by says, “Hold that thought”.  She drives off to fill up the coffee pots again.  Upon her return she passes off the full pots to another Occupier.  As he carries them across the space to the table, he is met with a round of applause from the folks on the ledges.
          The returning Occupier sits down and asks, “Where are all our chairs?  Do we have more in the truck?”  The others inform her that all the chairs are scattered around the area.
          The man from Senegal and one of his friends have a couple of them and are sitting around the corner.  The big group of older folks from the Skinner apartments has the rest by the tree at the back ledge.  They don’t get to come out often as sitting on the ledge is too uncomfortable for them.
          The next band is starting up and one Occupier suggests, “We shouldn’t even try to have a meeting tonight.  We can hardly hear each other so let’s just listen to the music with everyone else.  We could even stay a little later tonight so all the people can comfortably enjoy this party”.  Everyone agrees.
          The place is swaying and grooving as one.  Everybody happy, no bad vibes.
          An Occupier calls out, “It’s supposed to rain tonight. 
          Another responds, “Yeah but that’s not gonna happen for several hours”. 
          The first Occupier states, “The weather forecast on my phone says it will start at 9pm”.  As he says that, we feel little raindrops on our faces. 
          An Occupier jokes, “Don’t worry about it. If it rains, all that will happen is that we’ll get wet”.
         Those words are barely out of her mouth when…… KABOOM!!!  Rain comes pouring down.  We think we’ll just calmly pack up but the rain shower turns into a serious deluge.
          Everybody runs for the nearest doorway.  When the rain slows down we come back to the fire.  It appears the music will move into our friends club as strong showers are expected for the rest of the night.  People pack up the food and chairs.  Most of the CJMM partiers are gone but the fire and the sage bundle are still burning.
          Reluctant to leave, we stand around the fire, drying and warming our hands.  Spiritual Man and his friend join us.  We’re sorry to see the party over as the neighborhood folks have so few chances to really enjoy themselves.  Finally, it’s really time to go, unless we want to get soaked again. 
          We plan to return to CJMM next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 9-1-15

G.A. Minutes 9-1-15
          It looks like climate change has kicked the autumn chill to the curb.  Tonight is hot (mid 80s) and very muggy with absolutely no breeze.  The Occupiers move very slowly; sweat drips, even while standing still.  Eventually the chairs get set up, snacks are on the table and the few folks from the back ledge are joining the circle.
          It’s the first of the month.  That means things will be really quiet as most street folks who get small government checks will have been paid.  Most will be off getting high somewhere….or…..the place will turn into a major drug dealing festival with dealers and customers blatantly making exchanges.  We’ll wait to see what happens.
          Peace and quiet don’t look too promising as the most infamous long term street man arrives and plunks himself down.  He lived in our former homeless camp for a while; he drove most of us nuts there too.  A middle aged Native fellow, rumor has it he once held a professional position supervising many young people.  Then he had a brain aneurism and everything changed. 
          Over time he became alcoholic and homeless.  The problem for us is that he still thinks he’s a boss.  In whatever situation he finds himself, he will begin giving orders and expecting these orders to be followed.  He cannot be redirected and will become violent if things don’t go his way. 
          A regular neighborhood DPD officer and his trainee join our circle.  He says, “Is it o.k. if I visit?” An Occupier says, “Sure man, everyone is welcome here as long as their behavior is reasonable”.  The most infamous street man says, “No! You don’t belong here”. 
          The cop says pleasantly, “It’s o.k., I’ll leave” and off he goes.
          He’s the regular bike cop who’s been coming around occasionally for years.  He’s still a cop and we realize that but if he’s not with his superior officers he can carry on an intelligent conversation.  We’re sure he knows the most infamous man and the whole trip so won’t be holding a grudge in the future.
          With the cops gone, the infamous man begins directing the show.  He supervises the smudging and placement of the sage; rearranges all the food stuff and generally makes a mess.
          A young girl we haven’t met rides up on a bike.  She’s rides rapidly around and around the circle while loudly reciting hip hop poetry or something.
          The infamous man tries to stop her.  She jumps off the bike and into the middle of our group. She begins throwing fake karate chops and kicks into the air, close to the unlit fire pit.
          The oldest Occupier woman attempts to take charge.  All she can do is to say loudly over and over again, “You can’t do that here!  You can’t do that here!”
          The infamous man tells her to behave.  She points to the Occupiers and says, “This is a Native American meeting; they should not be here”.
          The young woman is a relative of some of our regular street folks.  They manage to distract her and get her to the back ledge.  After a while the karate bike girl and the infamous man walk off together.  The infamous man has our whole gallon of apple juice under his arm, taking swigs from it as he walks.  We think if that’s what it takes to get rid of him, we have no problem with that.  We bring out a big container of ice water.
          An animal rights activist friend of ours arrives, our friend the City official also stops by and then the CHUM employment worker.  The street folks have all wandered off somewhere.
          An Occupier hands everyone an INM/NWA NdN Taco Sale flyer and asks them to put it up in the neighborhood somewhere.
          Someone brings up the topic of the City’s attempted fight with the Fond du Lac band and the casino.  We think it’s pretty ridiculous that the City is spending enormous amounts of our money on legal fees in a case they cannot possibly win.  The City official comments, “If you or I were attorneys and we pulled something like that, we’d be fired from our jobs immediately”.
          We also talk about the last Citizens Review Board meeting.  At that meeting Deputy Chief Tuscan gave a report explaining the breakdown of police calls over the year.  The City official asked the deputy for a breakdown of calls by race of caller and perpetrator (if known).  The deputy replied that the DPD didn’t record statistics that way.
          The City official and a CRB member suggested the police department begin to record their statistics by race also.
The City official tells us, “If they’d record calls by race then we could see who’s really committing most of the crimes and who’s calling 911”.
          An Occupier adds, “The DPD scopes out this neighborhood 24/7.  If they’re paying constant attention to this area it stands to reason that they’re gonna find a lot of so called crime.   If they’d scope out some other neighborhood 24/7 they’d get the same results.  Anyway, they should scope out the banks and the people who live in mansions.  That’s where the real crime is”.
          Our friend the Hillside socialite and another friend, a member of the Human Rights Commission, stop by.
The socialite reminds us that this upcoming weekend is Pride Weekend.  She tells us our friend who owns the club up the street will be having a block party on Saturday.
          We say, “Oh good” because everyone will be able to listen to the music while sitting at CJMM.
Some of the street folks have come back to the ledge.  They’re keeping their distance, probably because they don’t know most of the people now sitting in the circle.  When the sky darkens and the street lights come on, our friends all say goodnight.
          The gay African American street man is the first to join us.  He’d been singing and dancing on the corner until all our non-street friends departed.  He has a new phone and is setting it up.  As soon as he’s finished, he calls his mom.  He passes the phone around and we all say hello.  He and his mother chat a while and then she informs him that his favorite aunt has died.  He sobs profusely.
          A few members of a neighborhood Native family come over.  They are full of apologies for the behavior of their karate/bike riding niece.  We thank them for taking her away.
          As we are packing up, the Spiritual Man stops by.  We stop to chat a bit and tell him about the block party on Saturday.
          We’ll be back then and will hopefully make a fire for the event.