Speaking out, silently
Their silence was an outcry.
Something special happened in Belmont Shore, and I would like to spread the good news. However, the bad news first: a man named Todd, who was homeless, was senselessly beaten a block from my home on August 2. Here was a man many of us knew– mentally ill, harming no one, and at times responding to a friendly hello.
Now the good news: A candlelight vigil was held for Todd last Thursday, August 20. About l00 people quietly carried candles and signs on a route from Granada and Ocean, where the incident took place, to Starbucks on Second Street and back. Some carried signs such as “homelessness is not a crime” and “stop the violence against the homeless.” The silence of the walkers was an outcry against the violence perpetrated on Todd and other homeless persons who are so vulnerable, lacking shelter and constantly exposed to danger in the dark of night.
What was so amazing was the number of organizations and associations who endorsed this candlelight vigil. First, I would like to recognize the Belmont Shore Residents Association. Then a host of others including California Conference for Equality and Justice, Catholic Charities-San Pedro Region, Saint Mary Medical Center, Long Beach Community Action Partnership, City of Long Beach Department of Health and Human Services, Community Action Team, Mental Health Association, The Starbucks which Todd frequented (provided coffee for the event), La Strada (offered pizza), and Alfredos (opened its space for us to congregate on the beach).
So much caring was evident. But, as many of us know, it will take more than a caring event to end homelessness. Still, the answer is simple: Affordable housing ends homelessness, and supportive services end homelessness for the mentally ill.