National Homeless Persons Memorial Day is led locally by WHEEL’s Women in Black each Winter Solstice, in keeping with the longest night annually.
The loyal group held a vigil Monday for the 139 homeless people who have died so far in 2020 in King County outside, in public or by violence. This is more loss than in any other year in the 15 that they have held the memorials.
The vigil began at sunset, which that shortest day was at 4:21 p.m., in pouring rain on the City Hall Plaza steps, and continued with calling out each name of the known people lost. A gong sounded each time. Then all present stood in silence for one hour.
An announcement for the event said, “Our hearts are broken, and we are scared and angry: This year on the Longest Night we’re remembering and honoring more homeless people who’ve died outside/in public or by violence in a single year than we ever have before.
“We’re seeing more misery, hardship, and division every day, and many thousands of our sisters and brothers have no shelter at all. Our own WHEEL women’s shelter is overwhelmed by the need. This lack of basic shelter should shock the conscience. Our vigil bears out our calling-cry: Without Shelter, People Die. ...
“WHEEL, an organizing effort of homeless and formerly homeless women, has stood Women in Black vigils ... for the past 15 years. The 139 people on the list-of-the-dead this year represent a devastation greater than we have seen in all these years.”
Read more of the Dec. 23-29, 2020 issue.