This post is gonna make you mad.
If you believe me, you will be mad about what I’m about to say. If you don’t, you will be mad that I said it, but I’m sorry, now that I know it, I can’t not say it.
Disclaimer: I do not hate policemen, but I do believe there are some things wrong with the system that has created police who are not thinking from a place of compassion and help.
This week a man froze to death in Kansas City. (News Coverage)That is not the worst part of my story. It should have been. I am haunted by the image of a man shivering in the cold, while warm buildings sat empty all over town. I can see the snow whirling around him in the gleeful giggles of my littles when the ice and snow was pouring around our house. I am devastated that while he was freezing to death, our house was warm, our Church was warm, schools were warm, vacant houses were warmer than outside was.
Today, though, today I am angry. Today I found something out that turns my anger at a society that doesn’t care into something totally different. Now, I know that people did care. This homeless man was given blankets, a tent, supplies to keep him warm. 2 days before the ice storm that we all knew was coming in, Kansas City police came in and swept the camp this man was living in. That means that they made them move and took away all of their belongings. Including the blankets, tents, hand warmers that they were given by our society that DOES care.
What’s even worse is that in the face of this information, I have seen people outright deny it, even when faced with second hand accounts(remember the first hand accounts are from the houseless who now have no possessions and are relying on the second hand account people for help.) The news left out critical information about the story, like the fact that yeah, they found him nakeda source, but that was probably not his fault because that is a symptom of hypothermia, and yes absolutely we do not have enough resources for the homeless, but he had a heck of a lot more resources 2 days before the storm than he did the night he died. Worst of all several people on the the thread could only talk about how the homeless don’t want help, and they are just trying to get free stuff, in the context of talking about a man dying. I’m sorry but if someone is having mental issues bad enough that they don’t want help in a blizzard, WE SHOULD STILL HELP THEM.
All of this comes just a few days after I had an extremely uncomfortable experience with a homeless person who treated me badly and got aggressive at me for not giving him enough, and then harassed me. Can I tell you something? Even if that was the man I was helping I still would not want him to freeze to death!
What would have been the harm in allowing the houseless to stay in their shelter just a few more days until the storm passed? In a city ravaged by COVID, and made more complicated by the holiday weekend, there were no shelters available(based on a personal conversation with Kansas City Homeless United.) If there were shelters available, they would have been extremely difficult to contact, I tried every shelter I could find on Saturday to see if they needed help and I could not get through any of the ones I tried. It’s possible that there are numbers we didn’t know about and didn’t catch, but whatever the case no matter how badly the houseless wanted help this weekend it was extremely difficult if not impossible to get it. Isn’t that an obvious enough special corcumstance where we should just make sure everyone is in a warm enough building that they will not die? We aren’t asking the police to put them up at some fancy hotel, although hey, it would be nice for them to be treated as special humans instead of inhuman. All that we(those that are concerned and I) are asking is don’t take away what little safety they have created for themselves.
If you are Christian, this should make you livid. Not just a little bit, you should be in anguish over people being treated this way. We believe each person has a deep and fundamental dignity and then God loves them, and if that’s the case, this should never have happened. Now that it has, we must pray for him, pray for those who have his blood on their hands, and work like we have never worked before to make sure this never happens again. I am not just talking to KC either, we have a LOT of work to do, everywhere, so get to it!
I can’t fix this by myself, and I am drowning in my desire to, so all I can do is tell you that if we do this together we can change things. Please, pitch in and do your part to help those who are struggling, even when it hurts or is hard. There are so many who need help right now, and everyone has something to give.
Mother Teresa, pray for us
St Zita, pray for us
All the angels and Saints, pray for us
Mamma Mary, our Mother, pray for us.
Lord have mercy on us.
For more information on how you can help, go to Kansas City Mutual Aid, KC Tenants, and Kansas City Homeless United. They are out fighting this fight where it hurts the most, and they need your help.