Women in Black — a project of the Women’s Housing Equality and Enhancement League (WHEEL) — stood vigil on Dec. 21 in memory of 178 people who died outside or by violence by that point in 2021. The Longest Night event takes place on the Winter Solstice, which is also the day each year with the least amount of sunlight.
The mournful tradition began in 2005. It corresponds with the National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, an annual moment where people pause to consider the deaths of people failed by the social safety net.
Participants, including WHEEL members and members of the faith community, stood outside of City Hall at 4:21 p.m. — sunset — and read the 178 names aloud. They stayed with candles lit until 6 p.m.
The number represents a sobering leap in deaths that WHEEL counts. In 2020, the group read 139 names.
WHEEL called on the city to open emergency winter shelters several days before the snows hit the region. The organization also asked that the city fund hotel vouchers through 2022.
Read more of the Dec. 29, 2021-Jan. 4, 2022 issue.