Winter Solstice Vigil 2016

Long before people knew about the Earth’s tilted axis and its orbit around the sun, they observed the Solstice, and created rituals around its occurrence. In our northern latitudes the nights grow longer until we reach this hinge moment. Though Spring is a long time coming, the turning soon begins, toward the light. Hope begins in darkness. In that spirit Women in Black remembered the homeless dead on the Winter Solstice, Wednesday, December 21st, 2016.

The people we honored were our neighbors, and in some cases, our friends and our kin. Many died heartbreakingly young, many by violence or accident. Even deaths we might call natural cause us to lament—for no one should have to die without shelter and safety. No one should have to live that way.

We reckoned with and remembered ALL the year’s outdoor/violent homeless deaths with a simple ritual, starting at sunset (4:21 PM) at the Tree of Life at Victor Steinbrueck Park. Joined by faith community leaders, we then walked in a silent, candlelit procession through the Market to Westlake Park where we silently stood vigil for one hour. Afterwards, we gathered together nearby for food and fellowship.

We extend our sincere gratitude to all who bore witness and stood vigil with us on the Solstice (Longest Night). Being in solidarity with 60+ people sure helped our hearts. We remembered by name 54 homeless women and men who died outside or by violence in King County in 2016: James Q. Tran, Jeannine Zapata, Jonathan Stanton, Blake Kimble, David Ramisky, Tonya Enriquez, Patrick Larner, Donald Parks, Alicia Nickerson, Harold McDuffie II, Gilbert Lopez, Chad Rogers, Dante Kelly, J.T. Grogan, John Watkins, Paul Rodrick, Richard Wenz, Francis Walker, Jr., Alex Kelley, Paul Fehr, Mark Woodley, Gary Oaks, Andrew Charlie, Norm Scofield, Scott McHone, Michelle Hargrave, Aaron Esposito, Abriannah Hicks, Bruce Loughridge, James “JR” Smith, Maja Brandli, Gena Ranger, Jordan Lemmel, Jacob Evans, Malcolm Spotted Calf, Tony Lee Fountaine, Sr., Renee Whitmore, Robert Dias, Louisa Campos, Earnest Readus, Jeanette Matthews, Michael Duwayne Gilbert, Walter Burton aka Stroud, Doneen Penn, John Nichols, Rachel Spradlin, Tung Truong, Skyler Velez, Michael Taylor, Rock LaFrance, Bruce Thomas, Tiffany Galsworthy, William Hackney, and Gene Pitzer.

Gathering at the Tree of Life.
Patrick Barredo of St. James Cathedral reads the ritual.
Reverend Pat Simpson of U Temple UMC, Lisa Gustaveson of SU, and Michael Ramos of the Church Council of Greater Seattle.
Candles by the Tree of Life.
Silent procession through Pike Place Market.
Pausing to light candles.
Chief Medical Examiner Dr. Richard Harruff.
Supporter Susan Platt.
Supporters stand vigil with candles.
Supporter Sinan Demirel.
Elise DeGooyer of FAN leafletting.
Women in Black banner.
Supporters Hattie and Andrew.
Standing vigil.

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