A Lost Friend

This is the face of a friend who was homeless and died a senseless death in Fenway. When I first met Shawn, it was a warm Summers day and he’d been drinking with a couple of buddies. He started over-vocalizing his opinions on life to me. I was nice to him, despite feeling annoyed by him and the fact that the number 55 bus was late getting to the Jersey Street bus stop again. I didn’t see Shawn again for a few days and when I did he was sober and very well spoken. We had a long intellectual conversation about life and why he was on the streets and how he was hoping to get something soon. Like many people in Boston, he put in for housing with all the local housing authorities but he learned that he was going to be on the streets for anywhere from five to ten years before he got approved for anything. We had plenty of uplifting conversations during the two years that I knew him. Once a month he would show up with some friends over at Holy Trinity Orthodox Cathedral (the church across from St. Cecelia House on Kilmarnock Street) for dinner, music and conversation. He seemed happy to be there with his friends, and he was always making new friends. The entire Fenway neighborhood lost a good friend in him despite whatever flaws he had. He greeted you with a smile and words of encouragement whenever he thought you were having a bad day. Several times when I was having a bad day, it seemed that just talking about what was bugging me at the time was a good idea, so I told him about certain personal problems I was having and his advice to me was, “If you can’t fix the problem then forget about it because it’s going to drive you crazy if you let it.” I thought about that, and I realized that his were true words of wisdom. Why should I let something or somebody bug me so much that I feel obsessed over a problem that I can’t fix? We had many talks at the bus stop and around the neighborhood and he always gave me something to think about, or as Arsenio Hall would say; “It makes you go hmm.”

I will no longer have a friend to make me think about if it’s worth fighting for a cause or if I should just forget about it altogether, but he will live on in my heart just the same. Shawn Ryan Brian Rose was a good-hearted person who didn’t deserve to die from the beating he received while he was trying to sleep. Who are these cowards that go around beating up defenseless homeless individuals? If you want to know who the coward is that’s being held on $50,000.00 bail for killing Shawn then you’ll have to read the Metro, Fenway News or go to the Boston Globe’s website. They have long testimonials from friends who had known him far longer than I have. He is one more victim that should never have been on the streets or be attacked by some vicious killer who knew nothing about our friend. The killer didn’t know the gentle, kind, big hearted, loving and inspiring person that we grew to know and love over here in the Fenway neighborhood. We were blessed and honored to have such a friend in Shawn. He was truthful, blunt and honest with his advice when you needed it.

The difference between now and past articles regarding the homeless being killed is this time, you have an actual face to look at. The Fenway News states; “The Shawn R. B. Rose Memorial Fund is being established to fund a variety of services to the homeless in our neighborhood and beyond.” Today on June 4 it’s Shawn’s birthday and his friends are celebrating him. Is it too much to ask you to do the same for somebody else?

Years ago when I was homeless I met my sixth child’s father and we used to have fun together. We used to sleep in one of the storage trucks behind North Station when we couldn’t get into one of the shelters. Sometimes we even slept outside by Franklin Park near the zoo. Things changed for us after the murder of the mentally ill girl who was beaten to death by a couple, pissed on by a third person and then set on fire. We were no longer able to sleep behind North Station. Cops were everywhere, and if they caught you over there they were going to arrest you. Lucky for us we never got caught and arrested. You know why I bring this up? It’s because it was sad and still is to hear about homeless people attacking each other, but it’s even worse to hear about somebody who’s not homeless attack a homeless person.

For several years now we have been writing on occasions about the homeless being attacked and in some cases killed but it is still continuing to happen. Why? From what some people have said is that the homeless person started it first. What the friggin’ hell is the matter with you people who think like this? Are you two-year-olds in disguise? I heard that crap from my kids when they were between 2-5 years old. GROW UP!! Other people have said the homeless deserved what they got because they’re worthless pieces of garbage that are always high or drunk and they never try to improve themselves. That’s a lie. Did you know that on average over the last 10 years the homeless population has increased because of people losing their homes, family, jobs and because of mental illness? Check it out. The facts are that many homeless individuals are college graduates that have degrees from 1-5 different colleges. I had a boyfriend at one point when I was homeless in 2009-2010 and he showed me his degrees from Oxford, Yale and Harvard University. I’m still working on getting my degree from ITT Technical Institute. It’s going to be a while before I get my degree but I will persevere in my goal.

Other homeless people are the same as me. They go to school and they have a job or are searching for a job so that they can get off of the streets and into a nice home of some sort. Facts show that the average age of a homeless individual is eight years old and between 14-70 years old. Do you know why? It’s because families who were once secure in housing are now becoming homeless, and the people over the age of 21 are losing their homes to unfair banking practices and scam artists, or they’re leaving to end teen abuse, domestic violence or elder abuse. I have met over the last few years in the shelters women who say they don’t want housing because they don’t want the problems that go along with getting a section eight voucher. Other ladies whom I’ve met that are between 50-70 years old have said they don’t want section eight housing because they feel safer living in the shelters. On the rare side, many women have said that they can’t afford anything because they get too little money to rent a place to live, it takes too long to get a place to live and sometimes you can’t keep the place once you get it because of other people causing you problems, or you have to make a conscientious choice between paying your rent and bills or paying for your medications.

These are hard working individuals being beat down by society and getting back up to face round two, three, four or higher. Some people give up and others keep fighting to get what is their human right. A right to fair and equal, safe housing in Massachusetts. Do you believe that a homeless person deserves to be beat and killed while they are asleep in a park or somewhere on the street? If you do then I wonder what you would think if it was you, one of your friends or family members. Would you be okay in knowing that your child, parent, sibling, friend, spouse or other close individual to you became homeless and somebody killed them for no reason at all except that they were sleeping in a public place since they couldn’t get a bed in a shelter? Would you be okay with that? I truly want an answer to that question.

Are you a cold-hearted B**** that wouldn’t care no matter who was hurt and killed and whether or not they were young, old, or mentally ill? Are you that evil and despicable? I hope you are not. Shawn and the others who have died over the last few days, weeks, months and years didn’t deserve to be beaten to death by some random stranger while they were trying to sleep. It doesn’t matter if they had drug or alcohol addiction problems. Whether you are homeless or not you can be an addict. You are still a human being that deserves love, kindness, help, a home, food, medical care, water and all your needs to be met. You are not an animal with no morals of what is right and wrong. Animals don’t care about what happens when they attack somebody, they only care about two things: 1. self-preservation and 2. protection from harm to their owner. Nothing else matters. If you don’t believe me then go watch National Geographic. They have a nice episode about how a male lion will get a female pregnant and then turn around and kill his own babies or let them be killed by another adult male lion if they are not with their mother. Just so you know, I became homeless due to domestic violence and my incapability to pay my rent when I had a home between 1992-1995, 1996-1997 and 2008. I’ve never done drugs and I never will because I have seen the good and bad side effects of doing marijuana and cocaine as well as drinking alcohol to excessiveness. My mom was an alcoholic and died from it. She was in her early 40s when I was a preteen. She died on my 13th birthday. I’d say that’s an excellent reason not to drink or do drugs. Having a strong grandmother behind me helped too. Without my grandma, I probably would have become an alcoholic or drug addict, and then never grew up to have fun writing articles informing you about the injustices in the world or enjoying my life with my four sons and two daughters.

 

Beatrice Bell is a vendor and a writer for Spare Change News.

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