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for 22 outdoor/violent homeless deaths December 2016-January 2017:

Henry Alexander, Thomas Payne, Jr, Aaron Roberts, John Cress, Jose Roman-Muniz, Robert C. Patterson, Iris Cloud, Jeffry Bierig, Nicole Williams,
Kevin W. Bouwkamp, Bruce Sarvis, Robert Trevino, Hong Ha, Patrice Pitts, Drew Fife, David Chaney, Kevin Hitchye, Paul Duran, Lannette Deffley,
Mark Rice, Kerry Ewing, & James McGinnis

 12 NOON—1 PM
In front of Municipal Courthouse/Seattle Justice Center

 Every time a homeless person is found dead outside or dies by violence in King County, WHEEL (a homeless women’s organizing effort) mobilizes for our silent witnessing vigil called Women in Black.


After an unprecedented delay, our group today received a new Medical Examiners Office list of homeless deaths by name, location and cause for the months of December 2016 through and including February 2017. There were a shocking, heartbreaking and enraging number of outdoor/violent deaths on this list, totaling 22 altogether, and including FOUR hypothermia deaths in a one-week span in December.

On Wednesday, March 8th, we will stand to honor and remember these 22 beloved and not-forgotten people. We will put out a Public Statement at or before this vigil. Please join us as we call out these names and cry out for justice. We’ll be remembering:

  • Henry Alexander, 41, who appears to have been hit by a car and killed in the 7200 block of Lake City Way on 12/8.
  • Thomas Payne Jr, 59, who died of hypothermia at the 2900 block of Colorado S on 12/8.
  • Aaron Roberts, 48, who died of hypothermia in Federal Way on 12/9.
  • John Cress, 50, who died of hypothermia at 1419 Alaska Way S on 12/9.
  • Jose Roman-Muniz, 51, who died of hypothermia at 7201 E Greenlake Dr N on 12/14.
  • Robert C Patterson, 37, who died of natural causes at 408 Corson (Georgetown) on 12/20.
  • Iris Cloud, 45, beloved of DESC, who died by OD at Courthouse Park on 12/24.
  • Jeffrey Bierig, 27, who died of toxic asphyxia at the Jiffy Car Wash in SeaTac on 12/31.
  • Nicole Williams, 36, who died on 1/7 at the 7900 bl Aurora; cause of death pending.
  • Kevin W. Bouwkamp, 60, who appears to have been hit by a car and killed at MLK Way/Cherry on 1/9.
  • Bruce Sarvis, 62, who died on 1/7 at an undisclosed location, unknown cause of death.
  • Robert Trevino, 27, who died by OD at the Northgate Library on 1/20.
  • Hong Ha, 52, who died on 1/18 at an undisclosed location, unknown cause of death.
  • Patrice Pitts, 52, who was shot to death at 619 Third Avenue on 1/29.
  • Drew Fife, 62, who died of natural causes at a Federal Way restaurant on 2/4.
  • David Chaney, 23, who died of blunt force injury at 2501 N Northlake Way on 2/5.
  • Kevin Hitchye, Jr, 24, who drowned in Federal Way on 2/8.
  • Paul Duran, 46, who died of sepsis at Aurora Ave N/John St on 2/14.
  • Lannette Deffley, 52, who died at an undisclosed location on 2/17, unknown cause of death.
  • Mark Rice, 67, who died of natural causes at Franklin Ave E/E Blaine on 2/21.
  • Kerry Ewing, 56, who died at Terminal 30 on 2/21; cause of death pending.
  • James McGinnis, 62, who died at 8th/Pike on 2/23; cause of death pending.

Much more information about these beloved individuals might be known by the time of our March 8th vigil. We will be making a statement by that time, and will share information as we get it.

By our current reckoning, at least 62 homeless people died outside or by violence in 2016, which is the 2nd-highest number of deaths in one year in our history.

 By our current reckoning, at least 15 have died outside or by violence already this year, which is by far a record-breaking rate of death in our City and County.

The dead exert a protective influence and their spirits rejoice when they know that their names are still used in the world!”     –Louise Erdrich, “The Antelope Wife”



 For more info: WHEEL #956-0334 or
or Homeless Remembrance Project on Facebook

Men are welcome to help leaflet at vigils or stand with us in solidarity.

Download a printable flyer and help spread the word

You are warmly invited to
The Homeless Remembrance Project’s
Summer Solstice Celebration: Standing in the Light

Saturday, June 21st, 2014 3-5 PM

at our Tree of Life in Victor Steinbrueck Park
(Western & Virginia North of Pike Place Market)

Join us for a fun gathering with food, music and inspiration—building the Beloved Community together!

Winter Solstice Candlelight Vigil for All 2013 Homeless Deaths

Saturday, December 21st, 2013
Starts at SUNSET, 4:20 PM, at the TREE OF LIFE
(Victor Steinbrueck Park, north of Pike Place Market),

then silent procession to
Silent Vigil at Westlake Park (4th & Pine) 5-6 PM

then Post-Vigil Gathering @ the Josephinum (1902—2nd Ave)

December 21st is the Winter Solstice, the longest night. The National Coalition for the Homeless designates it “National Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day.” On this day, WHEEL (a grassroots organizing effort) and Church of Mary Magdalene (an ecumenical ministry) will stand a special one-hour, candlelight, Women in Black vigil to remember all the homeless men and women who have died this year outside or by violence in King County.

This year the death rate among homeless people has been EXTREMELY high; almost twice the rate of death as last year.  As of early December, at least 51 people died have outside/by violence in 2013.

Please join us for our Women in Black Solstice activities, which start at sunset (4:20 PM) at our Tree of Life!  Women and men are welcome; candles are provided, and we’ll join together for a post-vigil gathering to share stories, fellowship and comfort.

For more information: WHEEL (206) 956-0334

Sunset through the Tree of LifeWHEEL and the Homeless Remembrance Project invite you to gather at our Tree of Life in Victor Steinbrueck Park at 8:30 PM Tuesday, July 23rd, just before sunset.  AT sunset, 8:55 PM, we’ll sponsor a brief Ritual to honor and remember those who’ve died this year, and then we’ll have an inspiriting Call to Action!

This Sunset Ritual and Call-to-Action are part of a 24-hour-long demonstration at Victor Steinbrueck Park (north of Pike Place Market, noon Tuesday, July 23rd to noon Wednesday July 24th) sponsored by a coalition to Occupy the Committee to End Homelessness in King County (CEHKC).  For more than a year, Occupy CEHKC has worked to get the Governing Board of CEHKC to get real, and to support survival shelters including encampments, car camps and other innovative efforts that keep people alive TONIGHT while we wait for affordable housing.

We’ve now found out that the July 24th CEHKC Quarterly Governing Board Meeting has been CANCELLED due to members’ vacation schedules.  We will proceed with our 24-hour demonstration at Victor Steinbrueck Park, since for homeless people, there’s no holiday.

Here’s why:  At least 25 people have died outside or by violence in King County already in 2013, compared to just 13 deaths in the same period in 2012.  This year so far, three homeless people have been murdered, three died by suicide, one person burned to death, one drowned, and one woman was found dead of hypothermia in January, on the night of the One Night Count of unsheltered homeless people.   Nearly a quarter of the deaths this year have been women.  These stark facts should shock the conscience, and spur us all on to doing more to provide survival shelter to all who need it.

We urge you to join us next Tuesday and Wednesday at Victor Steinbrueck Park.  In addition to the Sunset Ritual at the “Tree of Life” we urge you to attend a Rally of our Coalition at 5:30 PM Tuesday, July 23rd and again around 7:30 AM Wednesday morning, July 24th, when we will march from the park to a nearby meeting location and facilitate our OWN End-Homelessness Meeting.

For more information about the Occupy CEHKC Coalition and our July 23-24 schedule call WHEEL at (206) 956-0334 or email

Thank you for your support and solidarity!





Bless you for coming today! I welcome you on behalf of the Homeless Remembrance Project, and all the people— both homeless and housed—who worked to create this beautiful Tree of Life gathering place.

On Memorial Day people gather in many ways. We remember those who died in wars. Families take flowers to the graves of loved ones. Clans and clubs and neighbors gather for picnics, celebrating the life and relationships that go on, even though some are missing from the table. On Friday the Chief Seattle Club led a walk through town to this park, affirming the close connection we who are living have with those who have journeyed to the Spirit World.

Our gathering here at the Tree of Life also affirms that connection, with 45 people who were homeless, and who died outdoors or by violence since last Memorial Day. Surely there were others, whose names we do not know. Today we will lift up their names, and then we will celebrate life that goes on—as a community determined to reach that day when this kind of dying ends, and everyone is safely sheltered.


Let us pray: God of Life, of Love, of Justice—you walk with us, sharing our grief and anger each time someone dies for lack of the help and safety a compassionate city should provide. Today we remember these who were homeless in our community, who died outdoors or by violence. This circle of small stones marks a place for each one, reminding us of their place in our hearts, and their place in your eternal love. Hear us as we call out their names, responding, “WE REMEMBER.” (Names are read by five readers, and the response is given each time.)


Under the Tree of Life you see a circle of small stones—45 of them representing the people whose names we have just called out, and a few more whose names we do not know. As a way of honoring and remembering these sisters and brothers, I invite you to take a stone and put it in your pocket. Carry it for the days ahead. Each time you find it there, remember what we have done today. Give thanks for the lives of those we honored. And call to mind those who are vulnerable and facing hardship now, living without safe shelter. May these small stones be a guard against forgetting. May they be a sign of commitment and hope.


In Sunday’s paper we found these words from Drew Gilpin Faust, author of the book This Republic of Suffering. Speaking about the origins of Memorial Day after the American Civil War, she says:

“I like to think of Memorial Day as being created together by a nation rather than a single town or individual. You have to remember that probably half the Civil War dead were never identified because there were no dog tags or official next of kin notifications. It was a shared loss in the sense that so many dead belonged to everyone because they weren’t identified as belonging to any single one. These were also not the kinds of deaths that society believed were appropriate at the time.”

This speaks to our situation today. We will bring an end to homelessness only if we band together as one community with shared determination. This is proving to be a long struggle that belongs to us all, and for that we need ties that hold us together. These moments when we look back in memory and look ahead in determination. Leaves of Remembrance that honor the dead by name around the city. This Tree of Life that stands for hope. Most of all, our shared commitment to the work of compassion and justice that will restore our community so that everyone has a decent, safe place to live and thrive.

As we break bread together, sharing food and music, building relationships, let us celebrate the power and potential that is here when we come together. May it be so!


Memorial Day 2013
Call to Community Celebration

On May 27, 2013, approximately 200 people gathered at the Tree of Life in Victor Steinbrueck Park to celebrate a Call to Community with the Homeless Remembrance Project.   The event began with a brief and moving ceremony, followed by music, food, and mingling.

Presiders were Rev Pat Simpson, United Methodist Church, Father Paul Magnano, Christ Our Hope Chapel, and Joanne Engquist, Gethsemane Lutheran.
Food was provided by Uli’s Sausages, Mt Townsend Creamery/The Tasting Room, Tom Douglas’s Etta’s Seafood, and the WHEEL Women’s Empowerment Center.
Music was provided by Market Busker Dee Barlot, and a young-people’s trio on violin who did “The Star Spangled Banner” on violins.
Betty Williamson smudges with sage before the ceremony.

Betty Williamson smudges with sage before the ceremony.

Gathering around the Tree.

Gathering around the Tree.

Gathering around the Tree.

Gathering around the Tree.

Gathering around the Tree.

Gathering around the Tree.



Claiming the stones.

Claiming the stones.

Claiming the stones.

Claiming the stones.

Tree of Life

Tree of Life

Given to the Citizens of Seattle by the Homeless Remembrance Project.

Given to the Citizens of Seattle by the Homeless Remembrance Project.



And more food.

And more food.

Pat Simpson & Martha McLaughlin.

Pastors Pat Simpson & Marcia McLaughlin.

Memorial Day Call to Community Leaflet

List of Homeless Deaths in 2013
outside or by violence


2103 List of the DeadThis is the highest number of deaths we have witnessed in such a short time period (January-March) since we began standing Women in Black vigils in 2000.

December 21st, the longest night of the year, is designated Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day by the National Coalition for the Homeless.  WHEEL/Church of Mary Magdalene Women in Black will sponsor a special vigil on Friday, December 21st naming all the people we’ve stood to honor and remember during the year.  This year, we’ll begin our Winter Solstice Vigil at the Tree of Life (northeast corner of Victor Steinbrueck Park) at sunset, 4:21 pm.  We’ll light our candles there and carry them to Westlake Park, where we stand vigil at the corner of 4th & Pine for an hour, from 5 to 6 PM.  Then we’ll have a meet-and-mingle at the Josephinum, at 2nd & Stewart!  Please join us for this special annual event.

Victor Steinbrueck Park is north of Pike Place Market.  The Tree of Life is in the northeast corner of the park.

View Larger Map

The vigil at Westlake Park is at 5th & Pine.

View Larger Map

The candlelight march route:

View Larger Map

On October 21, 2012, we celebrated
and dedicated the Tree of Life!


Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams

Parks Superintendent Christopher Williams speaks at our Dedication


Seattle Parks & Recreation: Tree of Life Project Information Page

Other news coverage: