WHEEL began Women in Black vigils in 2000 because our hearts were broken by many deaths of unsheltered homeless people, and by the way those deaths were ignored. We stood for people we had known, and for people we had not known, and named them all as one of ours, one of our community.
We developed a close relationship with the people at the King County Medical Examiners Office, who have themselves always made great effort to honor the dignity and the humanity of the dead. For the past thirteen years, the Medical Examiners Office, through Health Care for the Homeless, has provided monthly lists of people who were presumed homeless at the time of their death, and with sufficient detail about location and cause of death that we could determine who had died outside or by violence.
For reasons we’re not entirely privy to, our group has not received a new ME’s Office list of homeless deaths by name, location and cause since an accounting for deaths through November 2016.
We’ve just been provided “aggregate” death data through December, and we now know that at least 15 homeless deaths in 2016 have not been reckoned with yet. We do not know how many of these 15 were outdoor/violent deaths, we do not know the names of the dead, or the death locations or causes.
Women in Black discussed this situation, and decided we will stand vigil from noon to 1 PMWednesday, March 8th, outside the Seattle Justice Center (5th/Cherry) to honor the as-yet unnamed, unknown dead.
Named or not named, they are ours. JOIN US!