Over the weekend, three of my kids and I drove downtown to
Denver’s City and County Building to join the Colorado Coalition for the Homeless’s 30th Annual Homeless Persons’ Memorial Vigil. I’d say 200-300 people attended the 45-minute vigil this year. Various organizers spoke and a choir performed several songs, although the portable speakers installed for the occasion didn’t work very well.
The vigil’s program listed 180 people who died unhoused in the Denver area during 2019. Each name was read aloud, followed by the crowd’s refrain, “We will remember.” An invitation was then given for members of the crowd to shout out the names of those not represented on the program. I shared one — “James Wasielewski” — who died unhoused in Broomfield last summer.
It’s only the second year I’ve attended this vigil, but I already consider it an important part of my annual rhythm. Similar vigils were held recently in Boulder and Longmont and beyond. Around the country groups of people gathered on or near the longest night of the year to remember their neighbors who died unhoused in 2019. #ThingsThatShouldNotBe
By my count, that includes at least 240 people locally:
- 180 in the Denver area,
- 48 in the Boulder area,
- 11 in the Longmont area, and,
- One in the Broomfield area.
I didn’t gather statistics for other Front Range communities. There are undoubtedly many dozens more, and, likely, the more or less “official” numbers given at these various vigils undercount the actual number of our neighbors who died unhoused.