On the 18th of December, DC homeless folks and their allies gathered at Mitch Snyder’s gravesite, then marched to Freedom Plaza to an all-night vigil for those who have died on the streets while homeless. Many carried signs bearing the names of people who died on the street. At the vigil a casket is set up in a tent representing those who have died, it will be marched up to Mitch Snyder’s grave site on Dec 19.
The vigil will go all night, with those who are not homeless invited to take the “homeless challenge” and spend the night on the street with those who must sleep on the street every night. Tents are heated, but the expected temperature tonight is 28 degrees F. I suspect police will refuse to permit use of the tents for sleeping, using the same logic and laws used to justify the February 2012 assaults on Occupy DC at both McPherson Square and Freedom Plaza.
At the vigil the People for Fairness Coalition announced a campaign to get public toilets opened in DC. There are very few right now, limited to the Mall and very few of the largest parks. This encourages fast food places to lock their toilets-and there were even meetings between the Park Service, local business, and members of the city government about ten years ago about trying to close public toilets and lock up as many restaurant restrooms as possible solely as a way to get homeless people to leave the city or areas within the city.
The lack of public toilets is just one of the many issues that make life difficult for those who are evicted to make way for more condos or luxury apartments. One attendee at the vigil reported seeing 5-7 new homeless folks at one location every day. Families with children are the fastest growing segment of the homeless. GLBT youth are so over-represented another attendee reported they are perhaps 40% of all homeless youth.
With all this going on, one of the first campaigns incoming Mayor-elect Murial Bowser is working on is getting the Olympics to come to DC, not trying to stop people from being evicted or provide housing for those now homeless. In fact, the Olympics will bring more gentrification, more evictions, more homelessness, and probably more pretext arrests of the homeless to this city. They should be called “The Eviction Games.”
Video-The march plus interview(begins 1:42) with vigil participant who discusses Mayor-Elect Bowser’s choice to support DC’s Olympic bid instead of helping homeless people
Setting out from Thomas Circle
Some motorists thought the march was inconvenient and honked their horns. Not very inconvenient compared to not having a home to return to
The casket representing those who have died on the street, known or unknown
Food available at the all-night vigil