Photo and Reporting by Jose Olivares for Our Town Reno
This Thursday, Reno-based activists will be hosting an event to honor homeless individuals who have died while living on the streets. The event, called “Winter Vigil for Our Houseless Neighbors”, will take place from 6 p.m. to 8 p.m. on Thursday, Dec. 22, at the Potentialist Workshop, located at 836 East Second Street.
Alese McMurtry, a student at the University of Nevada, Reno and local activist, is one of the main organizers of the event.
Police, From Caring to Problematic?
According to McMurtry, a vigil is not foreign to Reno. Her uncle was a police officer for the Reno Police Department and would help organize yearly vigils for homeless individuals who died that year. Unfortunately after he left the police department, McMurtry says the yearly vigils withered away.
“Now, I think that the Reno Police Department has been extremely problematic and harmful towards the houseless population,” McMurtry said. “I don’t think they should be a part of it until they actually start showing some compassion and care to the houseless folks in Reno because that’s they’re job -- to serve and protect.”
Unknown Numbers for a Forgotten Population
As the exact number and names of recent homeless deaths in northern Nevada is not known or presented as such, McMurtry said this is telling.
“I think that that is so indicative of how houseless people are forgotten in life and forgotten in death, too,” she said. “I think it’s important there are events to try to remember people, because no one deserves to die and be forgotten.”
ACTIONN released a statement which reported that "in Washoe County this winter, several individuals have already died and another has fallen into a fire after having a seizure, leading to severe injuries. Some are victims of crime and suffering from intense injuries, while freezing outside each night. We must do more to value human life and protect our community. "
Everyone is invited to attend the event. The organizers hope to make it an annual vigil. This year's vigil will also have a list of demands the organizers hope to send to the City of Reno.
What: Winter Vigil for Our Houseless Neighbors; a vigil to honor and remember houseless folks who have passed away.
When: Thursday, December 22 from 6 to 8 p.m.
Where: The Potentialist Workshop (836 East 2nd Street)
Who: All are invited to attend