Memorial Held for City’s Homeless Who Died This Year

memorial flowers 

Photos by Stephanie Rivera.

Some of the city’s most vulnerable residents were honored during a memorial at Harvey Milk Park in downtown Long Beach Wednesday night. While each individual died under different circumstances—such as a traffic collision, a shooting, and AIDS—all of their conditions were amplified by being homeless.

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“I’m a lifelong Long Beach resident and these folks here are residents too,” said Steve Be Cotte, president of the Long Beach Area Coalition for the Homeless. “They don't have an address, they don't pay property taxes, but they are really part of the fabric of this city.”

In total, 25 names were remembered last night. Each name was called out twice by attendees who also laid a flower down on a table in their memory.

Be Cotte said organizers chose December 21 because it is traditionally the longest night of the year: the winter solstice.

“It signifies the struggle of people who are experiencing homelessness and that long night, the darkness and what goes along with that,” Be Cotte said.

names

The following persons were remembered:

  • Brenda Melchar
  • Thomas Tracy
  • Joseph Moser
  • Mark Stuart
  • Emmanuel Agyei
  • John Courtney
  • Margaret Alderete
  • Maria Ramos
  • Michael Pyle
  • Paul Willis
  • Michael Stickles
  • Eugene McCree
  • Robin Zaratian
  • Ann O’Hearn
  • John Morales
  • Vanessa Robinson
  • Enrique Alvarez
  • Adrianna Kirkendall-Sosa
  • Ronald Ernest
  • Frank Lennon
  • Mark Carter
  • Maria Sierra
  • Anthony Nunez
  • David Twoeagles Redfeather
  • Samantha Lan

During the service, a prayer was offered by the Rev. Kyle Blake of the Gathering Lutheran Church and local chamber singers performed chants and closed with the late Leonard Cohen’s “Hallelujah.”

group

While the memorial service has usually been held at the city’s Civic Center in the past, the recent construction of the new one has forced organizers to look elsewhere to celebrate these lives. Be Cotte said this year they chose Harvey Milk Park because it has become a place for people to come together and mourn.

The 25 people recognized this year were obtained through the Multi-Service Center and verified by the coroner’s office, according to former coalition president Patricia Benoit. The amount of deaths each year range from as low as eight to as high as 30, she added.

For more information on the coalition, click here



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