I am a member of the Housing Committee. Over the past two weeks I have personally heard stories from a number of homeless people staying over at Grace's place who state that both Brian and Seth (who are keyholders for some reason at Grace's) are acting like little Napoleons over there and arbitrarily deciding:
who can and can not stay there, and how many can stay on any given night;
what time people can arrive in the evening;
arbitrarily waking people up in the middle of the night and kicking them outside into the rain (this happened on the night of Dec. 3);
DENYING PEOPLE FOOD even though there is (according to people who are in a position to know this for a fact) a lot of donated food at Graces that is so old that it is ROTTING!;
HOARDING CLOTHING AND OTHER DONATIONS and not allowing homeless people to obtain any of our donated materials which were expressly donated for use by HOMELESS OCCUPIERS!
And generally making it obvious to anyone with any sense of decency that neither Brian nor Seth can handle the responsibility of the position of keyholder/security at Grace's.
I went tonight at 11:45PM to walk over to Grace's on my way home. There were 6 people standing in the cold for no reason while Brian sat inside and refused to let anyone in, even though he had already let a few people in. I knocked on the door and he sat there and pointed at his watch and said "ten more minutes". I said "bullshit" and knocked again and he came to the door but would not let us in. He waited until 12:00 midnight on the button to open the door. I introduced myself to him as a member of the housing committee and I asked him what committee he was on. "Organizations" he replied. So I asked him: "You are a member of the Organization Committee?" He stated: "I AM Organizations"!
I told him that I had heard some very bad things about his treatment of homeless people at Grace's from several people. He responded by telling me that I wasn't allowed in Grace's and that if I didn't leave he would call the police! I said: "You are prepared to call the police on an Occupy Chicago committee member?" and he had someone get him his phone and he started to pretend to dial the cops. Not wanting to start a big ruckus at Grace's, I left.
Obviously, this man can not handle the responsibility he has usurped at Grace's.
I was also told that last night, Dec. 3rd, apparently Brian let people in "early" - about 11:00. Seth, who was downstairs doing who knows what, came upstairs about an hour later and while everyone was asleep, started whooping and hollering that they weren't supposed to be there so early, and then he MADE EVERYONE GET UP, GET DRESSED, AND THREW THEM OUT INTO THE COLD to wait until 12:00 midnight exactly, when he let them back in again!
These two men must be removed from their positions at Grace's IMMEDIATELY and we need to have someone capable of handling this job put in their place. I myself will be happy to assist and can start on Monday night if necessary. I will be bringing this issue to every single GA from now until this happens, and I will be also notifying the Housing Committee and the General Discussion forum of this outrageous conduct. If your committee is responsible for appointing these two two "gentlemen" to lord it over the homeless folks staying at Grace's then you had better straighten it out immediately or the Housing Committee will.
The idea that people from Occupy Chicago would be allowed to treat homeless people like this is absolutely disgusting and reprehensible. And this has been going on for WEEKS!
Committee for an Independent Workers Party
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But above all else, I am more than concerned about the treatment of the homeless at Grace Place. It is important to also hear Brian and Seth's versions of recent events. In order for us as Occupy Chicago to even be allowed at Grace Place, there are certain rules that have to be followed and perhaps it's just been that in an attempt to follow these rules in exchange for a place to store donations and sleep, Brian and Seth have been strict when they deemed it necessary.
Clothes should never be denied to the homeless. I, too, have heard of food being denied to the homeless which is absolutely fucking astonishing. This needs to change and I encourage you to bring up these issues at every single G.A. until the issue is resolved. I don't think it would be resolved by simply getting rid of Brian and Seth and tossing them aside, forgetting about them as if they were never there. I don't mean to put words in your mouth, but that is what I have gathered from your suggestion.
Brian's claim that he 'is Organizations' is in my mind not far from the truth. I know there is Seth and there is Brian. They are the ones who stay there almost perpetually to organize and sort out food and other donations. At the same time, they are the ones who deny people clothing and a place to sleep. Why? Because they feel that it is necessary to impose these rules on the backs of everyone else because these are the rules established and laid out by Father Ted. Please, double-check on my last claim, that the curfews and such are a rule by Father Ted, because I have heard this numerous times from Seth and others that only a limited number of people are allowed to sleep. This could be due to safety/health codes, I don't know. But I do know that we are at Grace Place because of Father Ted, and if there are rules there are rules - which we may or may not be able to get around if appropriate.
These two men must be removed from their positions at Grace's IMMEDIATELY and we need to have someone capable of handling this job put in their place.
Again, I don't think they need to be removed or replaced. I think a few other trustworthy people should rotate in and out.
And I think in order to resolve this, we need to have a seated discussion of some sort with all parties involved/affected (Brain, Seth, the homeless, Father Ted if available, all other Occupiers) or continue to discuss this at G.A.
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First off Seth and Brian are not the only members of Organization BUT they are the ones who are there nearly 24 hours a day, every day. So if Brian did say 'I'm Organization' he wasn't really wrong.
Two... the rules are the church's, Seth and Brian are just trying to protect this valuable resource. Perhaps repeating the rules endlessly to people who refuse to understand makes them less than sweetly polite. I have personally seen Seth patiently explain over and over to one person and then turn to another person and repeat the same thing again for at least an hour!
Three... people need to consider their sources. The homeless people who sleep over at Grace Place don't want to be cold or sleeping on the streets. Our homeless don't want to wait at night or leave in the morning, you wouldn't either. Their resentment is understandable but when Organization set limits those rules are what they are BECAUSE they are the church's!!! Please accept their resentment but don't fuel it or accept it as gospel.
Four... if anybody wants to set up a 24/7 soup kitchen go ahead. It would be a great thing. In general Org. puts out food regularly and has recently expanded that.(Thanx Tim) I haven't heard any complaints except that people are tired of peanut butter and jelly. Plus I have witnessed a number of times when people ignored the food that was put out and it wasn't just PB and J but rather hot soup etc.
Five... if Brian or Seth let people in early they are most likely those of us who stay up all night to monitor those sleeping at Grace Place. This is unfortunately a necessity due to past experiences that have put our welcome at the church in jeopardy.
Six...every night I've been at Grace Place Brian, Storm or I ask each person what they need - clothes, toiletries etc. We do this again when we wake people up.
Lastly, I think the homeless are doing the heavy lifting at HQ and are due our full support but I am embarrassed that they are usually the only ones out there. People who are so quick to condemn Seth and Brian need to get their asses out to HQ.
The 'GA people' are really alienating those of us at HQ. Can nobody find an hour a week to hold a sign? HQ is extremely important, to my mind the most important aspect of Occupy Chicago. Occupiers from out of town don't know the Horse or the soon to be the indoor GA space on Cermak. They come to LaSalle and Jackson expecting to find Occupy Chicago but just find a few people if any. HQ is important because we need to spread the word outside of academic enclaves. WE NEED John Q. Public in our 99%, we won't go anywhere unless we have broad based support.
These are just my opinions but I think they have weight because I'm out at HQ in the morning and Grace Place at night. (Recently I haven't been out because of broken ribs but I'm back now.)
- Grace Lloyd
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