By Ebony Nava
This past Thursday, November 1, at 12:00am, “36,897” sprang up all over Lexington: on flyers tacked to telephone poles, makeshift “tombstones” outside of houses, and large in-your-face banners. “36,897” is how many homeless people died in the U.S., alone and on the streets, in 2011.
The local “36,897” campaign is run by “The Face of Homelessness of Lexington” and backed by local group the Street Voice Council, which serves as a voice for Lexington’s approximately two thousand homeless residents. The campaign was created to bring awareness to the city of Lexington’s decision to close The Community Inn on Winchester Road due to a zoning dispute, even though freezing weather—which can, and will, prove fatal for Lexington homeless—is quickly approaching.
A mere five hours after it began, the awareness campaign was cut short when Lexington’s clean-up crew performed a smash-up job of de-flyering the poles and destroying the “tombstones.” Local Lexington resident and activist for the homeless Jerry Moody stated, “Out of the twenty-five ‘Tombstones’ displayed, we could only salvage five. The rest were completely destroyed. The city even removed and destroyed the signs that were placed on private property.”
While Lexington Mayor Jim Gray was apologetic when approached by the Street Voice Council, as of this publication no remedy to the destruction of campaign materials has been agreed upon. Meanwhile, lawyers for the Street Voice Council are preparing to sue the city of Lexington for the destruction of private property and infringement of their right to free speech. While the city removed posters mentioning the 36,897 homeless people who died last year on the streets, the surrounding U.S. election posters and campaign propaganda all remained untouched.