G.A. Minutes 10-27-15

G.A. Minutes 10-27-15
Apparently, daytime temperatures will be in the 40s now.  At least until things get even colder. Tonight we have a fairly strong, cold wind to add to the mix.  Guess we’ll have to sit close.
The space at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial is empty when we arrive.  We see a few folks up and down the street but they’re too far away for the Occupiers to be able to tell who they are.
We’ve barely started setting up when the man with dozy type nickname, his main sidekick, who we’ve christened as Birdman, and the drowsy man’s girlfriend of the week arrive.
As usual, they are drinking.  The girlfriend is yelling, “Come on man, give me a drink!”  The drowsy man answers, “No.  Every time you get drunk you start hitting me”.  She keeps demanding; finally the he gives in and lets her drink.
Then guess what happens….. She gets drunk and starts hitting him.  She says, “So every time I get drunk I start hitting you?  So is that what it is?  You wanna fight?  Come on you p—- a—- n—— (she lets loose with some seriously insulting name calling).  Then she puts her fists up like a boxer and starts swinging at the man.  He dips and dodges saying, “Come on now, stop it”.
The Occupiers look at them like they are out of their minds; they continue their drama on down the block.  Of course, street people and others come out of the woodwork.  Everybody has to watch the fight.  Humans are a sorry lot, sometimes.
Reports from those who know tell us this particular couple’s battle end when he finally punches her.  They separate for a while then continue their drama until he punches her again.  It stops when he hooks up with another girlfriend.  Once that girlfriend leaves, the couple starts the dance all over again.  This couple is young; we can only hope they grow out of it.
An Occupier says to another Occupier, “I just received an email from one of the City Council members.  The councilor is asking to meet with us at 5pm on November 10th.    I accepted the invitation, will you go with me?”  The second Occupier agrees to attend the meeting.
The drama is still going on loudly around the corner.  Many street people join us at the fire. They’re looking for something more than drama.
There are several people we have not met until now.  One middle aged Native woman seems familiar to us but we can’t quite place her.  She tells us her name; we are amazed.  She is the beautiful woman who always cries when she’s been drinking.  She tells us she’s not drinking tonight and hasn’t done so for several days.
An Occupier comments that the woman’s face looks very different when she’s not drinking. She answers, “Yeah, several people have told me that.  I guess I must look angry when I drink”.  The Occupiers replies. “Actually, I always thought you looked sad”.
An African American man with a marijuana leaf on this hat tells a story about getting beat up for no apparent reason by some guy who was just driving by the liquor store.  The guy had 2 little kids in the backseat of his car.  They sat and watched as the guy beat up a stranger.
The moral of this story according to the man with the 420 hat is, “A person should not do bad stuff in front or their kids.  When the kids grow up, they will do the same stuff to you.  Children are not responsible for stupid shit that we, as adults, do”.
One of the street folks in the circle says to another, “I feel really relaxed here.  Don’t you feel relaxed?”  Everyone agrees with her.
An Occupier questions, “I know we’re having problems finding a good place to meet when it’s too cold to be at CJMM.  I wonder if we could try meeting at Coney Island?  It’s pretty centrally located and doesn’t have a white privilege vibe”.  The other Occupiers say they think it could be a possibility.  The first Occupier agrees to go and scope out the place.
Another Occupier reports, “I received a call on my voice mail today from the Fire Marshall.  She wants to set up a meeting with me and the Deputy Fire Chief.  She suggested the afternoon of November 4th.  I can call her back tomorrow but I want someone to go with me to the meeting”.  One of the Occupiers offers to accompany the requesting Occupier.
The neighborhood retired man arrives.  As usual, he stands outside the circle and observes the interactions.
It sounds like the drama is returning.  The drowsy man, his girlfriend, his sidekick and their small entourage come arguing up the sidewalk.  As they enter the outer parameter of CJMM, an Occupier calls out, “Oh no, don’t bring that shit over here!”
They don’t listen and march right into the circle.  The drowsy man asks the girlfriend to sit down and listen to him.  He calmly advices, “We are gonna  have to break up.  You keep hitting me; I don’t like that.  I don’t want to hit you and I don’t want you to hit me.  You can’t seem to stop though so we’re gonna have to break up.
The girlfriend is sitting up straight and acting obedient.  “Oh no”, she cries, “You love me, we shouldn’t break up”.  He answers, “I am not a P—A—N—–.  I don’t like it when you call me that”.  The girlfriend blurts out a couple more racist slurs.
An Occupier states, “You cannot bring that kind of talk into this circle.  You need to leave”.  The girlfriend replies, “I’ll be good”.  The Occupier retorts, “No you won’t, you cannot control your own behavior”.  “Yes I can” says girlfriend.  The Occupier states firmly, “NO YOU CANNOT”.
During this interaction, all the street people in the circle are trying to convince the drowsy man that he is disrespecting the circle and should leave.  Drowsy Man is coming up with every excuse he can think of to avoid getting up and leaving. 
An Occupier explains, “Dude, this is not about you.  It’s about her.  She can’t control herself and she is with you.  She follows you everywhere you go so if you leave then she will leave too. 
This explanation seems to satisfy Drowsy Man and allow him to save face in the fantasy world where he is king.  He walks off, girlfriend follows.
The neighborhood retired man has just received an important lesson in how a community can police and provide justice to its own without interference from “The Man”.
The employment counselor from CHUM walks up.  Tonight he is promoting an event that he is planning for tomorrow at noon.  He says, “I’ll make a big pot of chili and there will be prizes”. After he leaves, some of the street women laugh and say, “There will be prizes!  He just wants us to show that we’re interested in improving ourselves”.  One woman says to another, “Are you gonna go?’  The answer is yes.  He’s a nice guy and they like him.
Our friend, the neighborhood socialite stops by.  Upon noticing her, the partner of the stylish Native woman whispers to an Occupier, “Is that my ex-wife?”  The Occupier assures him that the socialite is not his ex-wife.  The partner is visibly relieved and responds, “Oh good.  I saw she was someone I didn’t know and it’s been so long that I can’t remember what my ex-wife looks like”.
Drowsy Man and Birdman return.  They are minus the girlfriend.  Drowsy Man is off signifying with a group of his African American acquaintances.  Birdman is standing just outside the circle talking on his phone.  He’s telling the person on the other end about this evening’s goings on.
An Occupier hears him say, “I’m at 3 (n-word) park”.  3 “n-word” park is a slang term for CJMM used by the less conscious street folks.  The Occupier turns to the stylish woman and says, “I find it particularly fucked up when even THEY use that expression.  The stylish woman just shakes her head.
The beautiful not-drinking woman comments, “I wish we could have this fire all night”.  An Occupiers responds, “We do too but we have stuff we have to do tomorrow and besides, we’re going to run out of wood for the night before too long”.
Someone reminds us about the Stop the Enbridge Invasion event planned for Monday, November 2nd, noon at the Central Hillside Community Center.  At first the street folks are confused, “Enbridge what?” they say.  We start explaining about pipelines and wild rice and they all get it right away.  “Oh yeah, we want to go to that.  Tell us again, when and where is it?”
We think that if we had some flyers about the event maybe some of the street people would actually attend.  We’ll ask the event organizer for flyers.
The big clock chimes 9pm; the last of the wood is burning down.  Everybody helps to pack up. We expect to return to CJMM on Saturday.     

G.A. Minutes 10-24-15

G.A. Minutes 10-24-15
One might consider this evening a perfect autumn evening for sitting around a campfire. Providing one has a campfire. 
If no campfire is involved, a person would need to keep moving in order to tolerate being outdoors on a night like this.
The Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial space is almost empty save for the young and very large Native man and his friend.  There aren’t many folks moving on the streets either.
The Occupiers purposefully get the fire started and everything set up.  As soon as everything is done and folks have taken their seats, the Occupier tasked with communicating with the various government entities that want to keep their less privileged citizens “under control”, introduces a letter she received from DPD Chief Ramsay.  “So what do you make of this? She asks.  The letter basically says the Chief believes too many people are unnecessarily calling the police whenever they don’t like what is going on at CJMM.  The Chief says expecting the cops to show up continuously is bad for relationships between the DPD and the Central Hillside neighborhood.
An Occupier comments, “Well it looks as though he’s supporting the fact that we have regular community campfires however, he doesn’t say he’s going to make the government bad actors back off from us.  Another Occupier suggests, “Guess we’ll just have to wait and see”.
The tasked Occupier states, “Well I’m glad somebody from the City has seen fit to at least act like they have some type of common sense.  I think we should still attempt to meet with the Fire Chief and the City Attorney.  It would be good for us to establish our legal right to meet here”. 
The Occupier who has been living out of town arrives.  He tells us he’s living in the Twin Ports area again.  We’re all pleased to hear this.
A man from the street comments on the sage we are burning and a conversation ensues related to the various types of sage, growing methods and such.
An Occupier mentions the recent allegation that McDonald’s poison/ fast food corporation has a policy of not serving homeless people.   
Another Occupier adds, “I’m told our own local whole foods, organic co-op has asked its customers to refrain from purchasing food and giving that food to homeless people”.
Someone exclaims, “What!!!”  Another says, “Hey, this is something we can do something about right away”.  Someone else agrees and says, “The first thing we need to do is talk to the management and the workers and find out if this accusation is true.”
The partner of the stylish Native woman is having a meltdown again.  He’s walking across the street and cussing out God or someone.  This is a fairly regular occurrence with the good hearted partner.  It appears that at times, he becomes so overwhelmed with frustration and anger that he just has to let it all out.  He doesn’t want to subject innocent people to his rants so he walks away for a while.
When the overwhelmed fellow calms down he takes his place in the circle.  As usual, he apologizes.  We say, “Ah man, don’t worry about it.  Come on in”.
A local organizer who has been our friend for years stops by.  He wants to make sure everyone knows about the Stop The Enbridge Invasion event scheduled for Monday November 2nd.  We tell him we all plan to be there.
Another Occupier arrives.  He brings a woman who is a professional singer along.  She has just finished performing and has come to check out our fire.
Many people are now filling the CJMM space.  Little groups of folks conversing are scattered about.  Everyone is giving off good vibes.
The partner asks the Occupier who reads poetry and such to give a reading.  The Occupier replies, “Well I didn’t have anything prepared for tonight but I have this book about all kinds of circles.   You know, like fires circles, prayer circles, ceremonial circle’s and stuff like that”. 
He hands the book to the partner and continues, “A major point is that climate change is already here.  In another 20 years or so we will have refugees fleeing drought and storms. They’re going to want to live here and we’re going to have to become a whole lot more neighborly if we’re going to survive”.
An Occupier states, “So I see our friend, the City official is hosting Keith Ellison at St Mark’s Church.  Mr. Ellison is supposed to be speaking on the State of Black America.  So then I see that Rick Nolan is going to show up too, so now our friend has to hustle to find a larger space”.
Another adds, “I think that what is meant when one says that an event has been co-opted.  Is anyone here interested in hearing what Rick Nolan has to say about the State of Black America?”  We all roll our eyes.
Somehow the conversation gets around to discussing the issue of homeless people being thrown out of CHUM.  A homeless man explains, “It’s not the problem that someone has been thrown out of CHUM that is the issue.  It’s the problem that it is done just on the whim of any one of the CHUM workers.  They each have different standards and some of them are just on power trips and take pleasure in tormenting homeless ones that have severe mental illness”.
The best friend of Ms. Cleanup bounces in.  An Occupier asks him if he has seen Ms. Cleanup this evening.  He replies, “Yeah but she just got hauled away by 5-0”.  The Occupier says, “Oh no.  I’ve had her backpack in the trunk of my car since last week when she got hauled away. Best friend answers, “Just give it to me.  I’ll take care of it”.
A Native woman in the circle comments that she is the sister of the still missing story telling woman.  An Occupier puts her hand on the woman’s shoulder.  We all sigh and shake our heads.
The neighborhood retired man drops by.  He jokingly makes an attempt to get us excited about next year’s presidential madness sponsored by the 2 party equals 1 party shysters.  We all laugh. 
The crowd has dissipated; we are all standing up close to the fire with the palms of our hands over what remains of the flames.
The man who is always laughing drives up.  He’s on his way to somewhere but stops in to see what we’re up to. 
The court hearing that will decide whether he can gain custody of his infant daughter is going to be held in 4 days.  He appears confident he will prevail.  We all hope he is correct yet, we realize the ease with which the CPS organization robs people of color and the poor of their offspring.
The Ho Chunk man stumbles in.  He says he was sleeping soundly under a bush but the cops rousted him out.  He missed the last bus to where he has his camp so will have to try and keep out of sight until early morning when the buses start up again.  The bus system in the Twin Ports leaves much to be desired.  We offer him food and strong coffee.
It’s that time again…….  The coals are dying.  We pack up.  An Occupier offers to give the Ho Chunk man a ride to his camp.  The man happily accepts.
We expect to be back here next Tuesday.     

G.A. Minutes 10-17-15

G.A. Minutes 10-17-15
It’s mid-October and we still have green leaves on some of the trees.  We wish we still had the type of weather that’s supposed to go along with green leaves.  No such luck, the temperature is in the low 40s without any breeze.
Tonight, as we roll up on the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial, we start the fire first; then we set up chairs and snacks.  We are a group consisting of 3 Occupiers and 1 gray haired woman.
The gray haired woman is 76 years old but she can carry 4 metal folding chairs at once and set them up without help.  Way cool.
Several young Native people walk up.  They are family members of the woman who tells good stories.  She still has not been found.  It’s been 2 months since she’s been in contact with anyone.  Not being in contact with her family is very unlike the story telling woman. 
The young people take seats and chat for a while.  One of the young men tells us he “fell off the wagon again today”.  An Occupier advises him to just get up and start over again.  The young man replies, “Yeah, that’s what my counselor keeps telling me”.
An Occupier reports, “Next Tuesday is the Solutions to Poverty Forum at the Dom.  I don’t have much faith in our current government system but I think it will be interesting to hear what the City Council and the mayoral candidates have to say.  Do you want to go?”  We decide yes, we want to go.
Another Occupier asks, “Do you want to hear the most recent news about the DPD, DFD and our fire?”   Everyone wants to hear so she continues, “I received an email from Chief Ramsay a few days ago.  He says he’s going to confer with City staff this week and will contact me next week so we can meet.  I talked with Rep. Eric Simonson last Saturday.  He asked me to try and set up a meeting with him and the DFD fire marshal.  I called him to get his times of availability but he hasn’t responded yet.  I also got an email response from another City Councilor who supports us.  He wants a meeting too.  I hope you guys realize, I’m not going to all these meeting by myself.  At least 1 of you is coming along.”  An Occupier volunteers to attend meetings as necessary. 
As we are talking and warming, different types of sirens are going off almost constantly throughout the neighborhood.  Several squads with lights flashing are zooming around.
Someone comments, “I see where the governor of Hawaii has declared a state of emergency related to homelessness”.  Someone else replies, “We have a homeless state of emergency here too”.
The circle is filling up now.  The man who is always laughing arrives accompanied by the very large Native young man and several of his friends.
One of the friends asks the question, “I don’t understand; why don’t they want you to have this fire?   One Occupier explains, “It’s really only a very few people in power in this city.  I guess they think we’re not high class enough to be seen in public like this”.
Another person in the circle responds, “The cops are like that too.  They don’t know what the laws are; they just make things up and try to bully you”.
The infamous street woman and the tall street woman with the teardrop tattoo beside her eye join in.  The infamous woman looks rough.  She says her stomach ulcer is acting up.  She went to the hospital but was told because she drinks and takes drugs; the hospital wasn’t going to help her.
Then, as per usual, with the exception of the Occupiers, everyone stands up, says goodnight and leaves.
The flames burn high and hot as the neighborhood retired man enters the circle.  He wants to talk about the Democratic Presidential Debate that was on TV a few days ago.  Unfortunately none of us watched it.
Someone comments, “I read today that Bernie Sanders has come out against the occupation of Palestine.  I think it said he was critical of the Israeli government”.  Someone else jokingly responds, “Gee, Bernie Sanders must really hate himself”.  We laugh.
One Occupier says, “I’d pay more attention to him if he hadn’t joined the Democratic Party. Time will tell but I think there’s something fishy about the whole thing.  I’m just gonna do what I always do, vote for Jill Stein”.
The Spiritual Man arrives in the circle so quietly; we don’t notice him at first.  He talks about his closest brother who died of a heroin overdose about 8 months ago.
A skateboarder, with purple lighted back wheels, comes squealing around the west corner of CJM.  His wheels hug the wall past the side ledge and the back ledge, where he ducks under the tree.  He hits the bump (this is where most fail) at the top of the ramp going out on to the street.
We all hold our breath while he skates around the Memorial and when he hits the bump, nails it and gracefully cruises out to the street, we erupt in a big cheer!  The skater waves and rolls on down the road.
A squad car driving at normal speed cruises by as the CHUM employment counselor appears. The CHUM counselor is on his way home to his family but stops by to watch the coals die.
With the fire going out, the Occupiers notice how cold it actually is outside.  We think how in the world are these folks gonna manage to stay out and socialize on a Saturday night?  For some of them, their choices are very limited.
An Occupier gives her extra pair of gloves to one of the street women.  We say goodnight and that we’ll return on next Saturday.  

G.A. Minutes 10-13-15

        G.A. Minutes 10-13-15
        We think it’s pretty cold tonight but we know there will be many colder nights to come.
        Temperatures are in the upper 40s; the air is still.  Half of the leaves have turned their autumn colors.  Springtime will not appear again for at least 100 years.
         A small group of the usual suspects are huddled together on the back ledge.  They’re drinking covertly; they need to keep warm.  When they notice a couple of Occupiers arriving, most pitch in and help get everything rolling.
         The first person to sit up close to the fire is the man who’s always laughing.  The last time we saw him he wasn’t laughing much.  He’s laughing as per usual this evening.
         He’s still got the same problem but he’s handling it.  His new little baby has been in the clutches of Child Protective Services for 4 months now.  The laughing man has jumped through all the hoops they have given him.  He contacted the community organizers we advised him to contact and now has good counsel.  His court date is at the end of this month.  He feels confident he’ll get his baby back.
        The man who’s always laughing is African American; his baby’s mama is petite and very blond. An Occupier comments, “This whole thing with CPS has been fishy from the start.  I’m guessing there’s a lot of racism involved”.
        Laughing Man answers, “Oh yeah, that’s for sure.  I’ve been living with racism all my life.  You just gotta deal with it”.
        Ms. Community Cleanup and her most recent best friend come bouncing off the back ledge. The best friend is incoherent and trying to leap over the fire.  We’re not having any of that.
        Ms. Cleanup is in her drunken personality so is sizing up all the males in the circle.  When she chooses one, she will taunt her prey, attempting to make him angry.  If she succeeds, she’ll laugh and run away.
       The other people drinking on the back ledge come over to get food.  We don’t know them and they don’t say much.  They just eat.  We’ve brought 38 hardboiled eggs and they are gone within 5 minutes.  Oh well…… people are hungry.
        The man with the pickled brain stands close to the fire.  At times it seems he has a lot to say but can’t manage to get it out.  He says, “Thanks for doing this”.
        A DPD squad drives by; shortly after that, another one does the same.  An Occupier opines, “They’re starting a little early don’t you think?”
        The CHUM employment counselor walks up.  “So I heard they don’t want you to have this fire anymore?” 
        An Occupier answers, “Yeah, we heard that too”.  We all laugh.
        Then another squad car pulls up and 2 officers get out.  They walk over to the back ledge and begin talking with the people.  We think they’re some of the regular cops that are being forced to put out our fire.  It’s dark so we can’t really tell.
        Best Friend is still doing his incoherent leaping routine.  The cops try to get him to stop but he just gets worse.  The cops cuff him, take him out to the sidewalk and tell him to sit down.  He sits down, rolls around on the sidewalk and then stands up.  The cop who is trying to control Mr. Friend is having quite a time.  We think he won’t hit or tase the friend because he knows we are watching.
        When Ms. Cleanup realizes the Best Friend is being arrested she does everything she can do to get herself arrested too.  The second cop knows her well and keeps telling her to stop. 
        When she runs up and pushes him, he’s finally had enough.  He cuffs her too.  She begins crying, “What did I do?  What did I do?” 
         The second cop rattles off a bunch of scary sounding charges.  Another squad car arrives. Looks like backup is needed.  Things calm down. All the cops drive off, taking Ms. Cleanup and Best Friend with them.
        Except for the folks in the fire circle, the Memorial is empty.  The CHUM counselor offers to give a few of the street folks a ride to wherever they are going to sleep for the night.
        Our friend, the neighborhood retired man appears.  After friendly greetings, he inquires, “So I see the police and even the fire department have been bothering you and your fire?”  He looks around nervously and continues, “Do you think they will bother you again tonight?’  
         We tell him we don’t know.  He wishes us good luck and hurries off. 
         The middle aged woman who called the DPD last year every time someone looked at her funny joins the circle.  We’ve seen her a few times this year.  She’s been much subdued and she seems to have misplaced the chip on her shoulder.  We think she is still homeless though.
        The old man from the Skinner sighs, “This is so nice, just looking at the fire and meditating”. We all sit in a compatible silence for a while.
        The Preacher drops off a couple of bags of cheese curls and we pass them around.
        A young woman we have just met this evening remarks, “So what is this all about?  How come you guys get to do this?”
        We explain the history of our fire to her.  We tell her what has been happening with the DPD and the FPD since July 4th.
        An Occupier adds, “What this whole thing is really about is the use of public space, common space.  You know, “The Man” tries to tell you that you work for him and you belong to him. You’re supposed to just keep your nose to the grindstone, spend all of your life working and making money for him.  If you’re not working you’re supposed to stay in your own little box and be distrustful of your neighbors.
        “Well that’s not true.  People are meant to be together and there must be common spaces where people can be together as long as they’re not hurting anyone else.  So we’re just exercising our right to common space.  The fire is just something that keeps us warm and brings us together”.
        The Skinner man agrees, “Yeah, we have rights”.
        Another squad drives by.  In a short while another one cruises by ….. real slow.    For whatever reason, it looks like they’re going to give us a break tonight.
        The big clock on the old Central school strikes 9 o’clock.  The fire is down to the last coals.  We pack up, with plans to return on Saturday.    

G.A. Minutes 10-6-15

G.A. Minutes 10-6-15
There are only a few Occupiers present as we begin setting the fire circle up at Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial tonight.  It’s only 6pm but the sun has gone behind the buildings. It’s a little chilly, not seriously cold; temperatures are in the low 60s, there’s an occasional cold breeze.
Lack of Occupiers is not a problem this evening as there are plenty of people on the back ledge.  Many pitch in and the chairs, fire and food table are up and running in a matter of minutes.
A large number of neighborhood Native folks are present.  Some we have known but not seen for many months and some who are new to us.
Everyone appears lighthearted and pleasant.  Among those in the circle are the former male camper who seems to have pickled his brain over the last year or so, the female cousin of the infamous street woman and the tall, slender woman with the teardrop tattooed next to her eye.  There are also 4 or 5 respectful young men we have just met.  Many of the crowd are relatives of the still missing story telling woman.
Into this scene comes Ms. Community Cleanup.  Her behavior is subdued and when an Occupier jokes about her calmer demeanor she replies, “Oh, it’s just because I’m not drunk.  I finally found some pain pills so I don’t want to drink.  I’m feeling a little better than I have been”.
Ms. Cleanup is accompanied by a young man we don’t know.  He’s wearing a sleeveless shirt, he’s quite animated and his body is covered with tattoos of stars.
The gray haired woman arrives, gets herself settled and asks, “Are the cops going to come tonight?”  We answer, “More likely than not but seeing as there have been an awful lot of sirens going off, maybe they’ll be too busy and we’ll catch a break”.
We notice the gray haired woman is speaking with a European accent and we comment on this.  She tells us, “Yeah, I don’t know why I’m doing that but I’ve been doing it all day.  Maybe it’s because I’m alone much of the time with no one to talk to but myself.  If I talk in a foreign accent I might fool myself into thinking someone else is with me”.
A DPD squad drives by.  We get a visit from a few others who we haven’t seen for a while.  The very beautiful middle aged woman who cries when she’s drunk and the large young man who frequently talks about turning his life around.  It doesn’t look like the man’s life has done much turning since we saw him last but he’s still in very good spirits.  It’s nice to see him again.
Ms. Cleanup is living very hand to mouth since she got out of jail a week or so ago.  She has a light long sleeved shirt and thick jeans now which are more than she’s had since she was released. 
The stars are out and the air is chilly.  Ms. Cleanup is shivering.  The gray haired woman constantly collects clothes from the clothing giveaway places.  When she observes Ms. Cleanups’ shaking, she takes off the 2 shirts and the jacket that she is wearing and gives them to the freezing woman. 
Ms. Cleanup is genuinely grateful.  The gray haired woman is only wearing 1 shirt and a rain coat.  She says, “Well I’ll just be able to stay until I get cold.  After that, I’ll see you next time”.
Another squad drives by….. Oh wait…. It’s only the transit police.  Then a DPD squad drives by.
The man who is accompanying Ms. Cleanup has been behaving weirdly.  He can’t sit still.  He’s been up and down, running and leaping and trying to move burning logs with his bare hands. 
An Occupier comments, “So what’s his trip?”  A young girl responds, “Oh, he used to smoke bath salts a lot and after a while he got like that.  Now it seems he’s gonna be like that forever”.
The gray haired woman doesn’t know what bath salts are.  We all have a conversation about how some drugs are super dangerous and if one takes them one could become messed up for life.
None of us are worried about the possibility that the gray haired woman will start taking dangerous drugs.  We think she’s probably never taken any of the not so dangerous ones.
There will be no breaks tonight.  A squad car drives up and right behind it is a big fire truck. Officer Hurst #484 and Officer Roe #479 get out and walk to our circle.  The fire truck guys get out of their truck and come over too.
The cops dispense with all the usual preliminaries.  They just say good evening and we respond the same.
We start to move the chairs back so the fire guys can spray the fire.  An Occupier says to the cops, “We’re working on getting all your bosses to get their minds back to reality so we can stop with this silly routine”.  One of the cops replies, “That would be nice”.
The Fire Captain is writing on his clip board while his subordinate sprays out the fire.  An Occupier asks, “Does it say Schumacher on your jacket?”  The Captain tells her, “Yup.  You’ve met me before”. 
The gray haired lady begins to ask him why the fire is being put out.  He starts to explain the usual fantasy about no fires on public property.  When the Occupier attempts to contradict him he says, “I have to follow the orders of my fire marshal”.
The Occupier rejoins, “Oh I’ve worked all my life; I know about bosses”.  The guy spraying the fire gives her a thumbs-up sign behind his boss’s back.
Then as per usual, all the city guys leave and we sit there in the cold. 
Someone mentions that the funeral for our former homeless camper, who had many health problems, will take place tomorrow at 10am.  We each tell stories about the experiences we’ve had with this deceased man.
There is a 30 something man in the circle who we met about a year ago.  At that time he had just been released from prison.  He had a job in a restaurant and was determined to pull himself together.  When we meet him again tonight, he tells us that he still has the job and hasn’t had a drink in over a year.
This man makes a few comments in solidarity with the 3 men to whom CJMM is dedicated.  He states, “I sure am glad I’m not a black man.  Their lives are even harder than mine”.
A couple of the older women in the circle tell stories about the racial segregation that was very visible when they were children.  An Occupier adds, “There’s only 1 race; it’s called the human race”.
One Occupier says to another, “With our fires getting put out so early, we’re not getting a chance to have much political discussion.  Once the fire is out, it’s not easy to sit here for hours. 
We decided at the last meeting that we’re going on Saturday to our friend the City official’s African Heritage Community event.  We won’t get back here until next week”.
We continue talking with the few remaining street folks while we slowly pack up.  We inform everyone that we won’t be back until next Tuesday.

G.A. Minutes 10-3-15

G.A. Minutes 10-3-15
Brrrr….It’s a really cold one tonight.  When we arrive at the Clayton Jackson McGhie Memorial the temperature is in the low 50s with a very strong east wind.
The space and the streets are empty but we know that as soon as we start setting up, many people will arrive from wherever it is that they come from.
Yup, that’s exactly what happens.  As soon as our vehicle doors are open many street folks appear; some of them know our routine too.  Everything is quickly set up; people are cold and were hoping we’d show up this evening.
Every time, as we’re leaving a meeting, we tell those who live on the street what day we plan to return but either they forget or just don’t know what day it is.
Ms. Community Cleanup is among the first to help.  She’s really drunk and that just increases her normally aggressive and confrontational behavior.  We notice her left eye is practically swollen shut; we can’t imagine how that happened.
An Occupier lights up the fire.  The wind is blowing mightily and shoots up ginormous flames. Yes!  Finally some warmth.
Our friend who is running for City Council arrives.  She scoots close to the fire with the rest of us.  The local election campaigns are in full swing so she’s busy.  The majority of the citizens around the fire don’t even vote so we take it as a real compliment that she chooses to spend her Saturday evening with us.
Ms. Community Cleanup wanders off, allowing us some peace.  Spiritual Man joins the circle, he says, “There’s something really powerful about a fire.  It just draws me to it”.  An Occupier agrees, “Yeah, it’s kinda mesmerizing”. 
Another Occupier rolls up.  He comments, “I see the fire department is having a fire for homeless people over in Peoples Plaza.  It’s been going on since yesterday and their fire circle looks just like ours except all their stuff is more expensive”.
Someone reports, “Ms. Cleanup told me she went over there and asked them for a sandwich. They didn’t give her one and they told her if she didn’t go away they were gonna call the cops”. Everyone laughs.
With only one empty chair left, the Ho Chunk man plunks down.  He’s either very drunk or frozen, maybe both.
Ms. Cleanup returns.  This is not good news.  She begins to taunt several of the men in the circle, calling them vulgar names.  It seems she’s trying to make at least one of them angry.  No one takes the bait so she saunters off to the back ledge.
We’re about to relax again when a DPD squad pulls up.  Officer McShane #420 gets out and comes to the circle.  In a manner as though he were an older uncle talking to his slightly rambunctious younger relatives, Officer McShane states, “Well you know what we have to do now”.
The Occupiers roll their eyes.  Officer McShane has a warm hat on; he puts on his gloves and agrees that it is cold tonight.  He just stands around for a bit and then says to an Occupier, “So I suppose you guys are not going to put out this fire?”  She answers, “Nope”.  He responds, I’ll make a call then”.  He pulls out a little tablet and asks the Occupier for her name and birthdate. She knows he already has this information but provides it again.  The DPD keep their records and the Occupiers keep theirs.  ‘Merica.
While we’re waiting for the fire department to arrive, an Occupier tells the officer, “You know we’ve contacted some City Councilors and are going to arrange a meeting with Chief Ramsey. This is a legal fire and we are taking steps to get this acknowledged.  The officer responds, “Good, I’m glad to hear that.  We’re getting really tired of doing this”.
Ms. Cleanup comes back to the circle and whispers to the African American man with the slumbering nickname, “I’m gonna tell the cop that you beat me.  I will if I want to.”  The slumbering man looks mildly concerned.  He knows if she says this, as a black man, he will be going to jail.
The fire truck drives up and a few of the passengers get out.  The Fire Captain tonight is #233. He looks familiar and says we already know him.  Who can tell anymore?  We’ve spent too much time with too many of the protectors of the wealthy to be able to remember them all.
So they put out the fire with just water this time.  They really drench it too.  The crabby fire dude from last Tuesday probably ordered them to make sure it was really out.  Like it matters.  We have a truck full of wood; if we wanted to we would just start up another fire. 
As all the government employees are leaving, another DPD officer walks over to an Occupier and imparts, “We have got to get this fixed.  I want to thank you folks for being cooperative. We don’t like doing this”. 
Sounds good but trouble is, cops lie so much one never knows if they are telling the truth.  At least we know what they want us to believe.
It’s cold right away; most of the street folks have scattered.  Most of the Occupiers have warm clothes and warm homes so can afford to stay a while and talk.  The street folks who are homeless need to get to the warmest place they can find quickly.
The City Council candidate questions, “So this is what it’s really like?   You guys make a fire so everyone can keep warm and the DPD comes and shuts it down?”  An Occupier answers, “Yup, that’s what’s been happening for the past several weeks”.  The candidate continues, “Wow, it’s really cold out.  How can they do that?”
As we leave we notice Ms. Cleanup is on the back ledge snuggling up to the Ho Chunk man. Knowing her, she may try to pick his pockets if he passes out.  Not good.  Unfortunately, he’s in such a zombie like state there’s not much we can do for him.
We plan to return on Tuesday and….(wait for it)…..of course we’ll have a fire.