It's 7am on March 23, 2019 and it's freezing. It's 28 degrees out there.
I just let my dogs out and instantly felt that bitter cold hit me. It penetrates your skin. Even my black lab who LOVES being outside just did his business and was ready to come in.
“If the temperature falls between 13°F and 31°F, you should take breaks from the cold approximately every 20 to 30 minutes. If wind chill temperatures are 13°F and below, you should remain indoors," says David A. Greuner, MD, FACS, co-founder and director of NYC Surgical. (from here.)
The extremely poor all across America are trapped in the cold. It is their prison. There is nowhere to go.
I'm at a point now where I honestly don't know what is better: living in a house with no utilities or living in a tent. At least in a small tent your body heat helps warm up the space. A propane heater will warm the space quickly. If you can afford propane.
Have you ever been in a house where people live with no utilities? It's often pitch black 24 hours a day. The windows are covered with wood or blankets to keep the biting wind from seeping through the leaky window frames.
The kitchen sink is filled with dishes that haven't been washed for many days because hauling water from blocks away in the freezing cold is brutal. You use coolers to try to store what little water you have. Coolers become warmers. Leaving water in your house will freeze in a few short hours.
You use pee bottles or go to the bathroom outside.
But in America there is nothing more important than rich people getting their money. So our government has decided this is an acceptable trade off. And even our government is in on these torturous games because they sell the water. A leaky toilet will set you back $100s of dollars and then the city comes and turns off your water because you can't afford the bill. They will pour cement into the outside shutoff valve if you dare turn on your water yourself. And then, of course, they'll charge you to fix it if you ever can scrape enough money together to attempt to get your water turned back on legally.
I guess in America that's what we call collateral damage. They didn't intend to kill these people. It just happens when you're making mad stacks of cash. We like to condemn drug dealers for selling drugs that kill their customers. But somehow it's fine when the utility companies kill their customers.
I came to work on Monday and a young woman immediately needed to talk to me. Her name is Stormy. Here's a picture of her:
She's just this young woman who has all the regular young woman feelings and thoughts. Like any of our daughters would have. Yet she has experienced and seen some serous shit. Things you wouldn't believe, much less have stored in your memories.
The thing she saw this past weekend was a man frozen to death in an abandoned house.
And it wasn't the fact that he was dead that bothered her. It wasn't that his body was ice cold. I'm quite sure she's seen a dead person before. Many of these people I work with watch their friends die right before their eyes.
She was disturbed to her core that people messed with the corpse.
He had been turned over on his face as people clearly searched his pockets for money and drugs.
Someone took his shoes.
She carefully turned him over on his back. She went and found shoes and put them on him. She covered him up. She visited him several times to make sure he was ok.
There's another young woman named Cat that found him first. She confirmed what Stormy said.
Cat, too, wasn't disturbed by seeing a dead person. She was disturbed that she had to walk away. That she had to leave him there. She told me she kept thinking about his mom. How sad his mom would be if she knew her boy was laying dead in this abandoned house.
We have a powerfully, good relationship with the police. But many people I work with have warrants for things like parole violations. These people aren't angry or hateful towards the police. They just can't talk to them directly out of fear of going to jail.
So Cat didn't feel she could go directly to the police. So she came to me. I can be a safe middle man between the two people.
I got to meet with the officer on this case on Thursday. He got to talk to some people at our facility familiar with the situation. He needed to fill in some holes in the case. Police often come to us looking for missing people.
He thanked us. His last words to me was that his best friend from high school is addicted to opiates. "It can happen to anyone" is the mantra of people touched by this epidemic.
The man who died was at IBH Addiction Recovery Center.
He walked away from the program. He probably was living in this abandoned house. His tolerance went way down for opiates while in the program. He probably took too much and died.
He is a perfect example of someone we could have potentially helped in our village. But instead he was forced to live in an abandoned house with no support. No friends. Alone.
We have Narcan ALL throughout our facility. That's the amazing drug that revives people from opiate overdoses. I've stopped counting the people we bring back from overdoses. It happens all the time.
We have free Narcan training classes at 15 Broad Street in Akron in our upstairs community room the 1st and 3rd Tuesday of every month from 9:30am to 11:30am. ALL PEOPLE ARE WELCOME.
There is no reason why you shouldn't have Narcan if you are even remotely close to someone who is an active drug user. Drug dealers are putting fentanyl in all drugs now. It's incredibly powerful and can easily kill an unsuspecting user.
Surprise surprise: Active drug and alcohol users aren't allowed in our one and only homeless shelter. And Mayor Horrigan destroyed our emergency shelter. So people end up dying alone in backyards and in abandoned properties because there is nowhere else to go.
It's just collateral damage to these elected officials. I'm sure they blame the victim without ever taking a fleeting second to look in the mirror.
My life is a vortex of good and evil. They both whirl around me like demons and angels. Sometimes I stand looking at both simultaneously.
Those two young women, Stormy and Cat reminded me of the women that went to the tomb of Jesus. They cared for this man. They looked after him. They made sure he was safe.
I live in a world where the Bible is re-enacted every day. The acts of Stormy and Cat are the beautiful manifestations of everything good the Bible teaches us.
And simultaneously, I see the bad the Bible warned us about.
The sin of omission is often times worse than the sin of commission. Doing nothing does not make you innocent. It sometimes makes you worse than the person who did the evil act.
The American liberators made sure that residents of Dachau and other towns were forced to confront the horrors of the concentration camps.
According to Peter Wyden, in his book "The Hitler Virus," a few of the Dachau notables, who were forced to view the corpses, fainted. Some cried and many shook their heads. Most of them turned away, eager to avoid the scene. Afterwards, they were heard to whisper, "Unglaublich!" (Unbelievable.) The Dachauers could not understand how the prisoners could have starved to death since the townspeople had regularly sent food packages to the camp. (from here.)
Dan Horrigan has never once looked at our people. He and his administration NEVER ONCE acknowledged the suffering and needs of the people we were helping. They have never once come to our village.
He told me once that he "stays out of programming." He "stays in his lane."
Except he DOESN'T stay out of programming. He is against our programming. He chose to destroy it.
It fills me with rage. I do everything in my power to write in graphic detail because I know they read what I write. They are reading this sentence right now.
But they aren't reading it out of concern for the suffering and dying constituents they are supposed to represent. They are reading it out of egotistical fear.
They are afraid of how the truth might make them look. They give no fucks about the truth itself.
I make them look.
Look at the pain and suffering you are allowing to happen at your feet, Dan Horrigan. You are responsible for these deaths because you tore down our low barrier shelter and put nothing in its place. You are as much to blame for these deaths as the drug dealer that feed them the drugs.
Did you think being mayor would make you a murderer? Well it did.
You do nothing to help and that makes you culpable, Dan.
I swirl in the emotions love and hope and anger and hate.
Right now it feels like evil is winning. Make no mistake, the government of Akron is just out for themselves. They want all the power and give all the money to their friends. The poor and the homeless are nothing more than annoying obstacles in their grand plan to turn all of Akron into a trendy urban center where rich people walk the streets with Starbucks cups in their hands.
They are the empire in Star Wars.
And yet the rebel alliance continues on. They do the work the empire sees as nothing more than enabling a people they hate. A people that have the audacity to continue living in their city ruining their Utopian plans. If we would just make it painful enough for them maybe they would leave (or die).
Make no mistake, the sin of omission is just extermination by other means. And this is the policy of Akron's government.
We won't stop, Dan. We are right. We are on the side of everything that is good in the world. You are on the side of fear and money and self-interest.
We will win.