Saturday, October 29, 2005

Street Names

The memorial for Symeon Hurt was appropriately respectful and a move toward some healing. We learned that Mr. Hurt used a street name of Mike Youngblood, which is why we had a hard time finding contacts in the homeless community. He was known on the streets as Mike. This is common in the community to have a street name. Most are more like nicknames (Red, Spaz, Tree), but some people have an entirely different identity. Some are hiding from some past trauma. Others enter an entirely new world when they enter homelessness, and in doing so create a new personality. Others do not want this experience to haunt them in the future and so they create a temporary identity that they will leave when they get back into permanent housing.

We also heard from the owner of the Car Wash that Mike or Symeon worked. She had a genuine friendship with Mr. Hurt and tried to take care of him over the last few years. We heard about his volunteer activities at the Bishop Cosgrove Center, and Angelo Anderson recognized him from his years managing 2100 Lakeside Shelter. Other speakers included Len Calabrese of the Catholic Commission, Rev. Greg Jacobs of Trinity Cathedral, Earl Pike of the AIDS Task Force, and Rev. Kelly Burd of NEOCH. We heard that Mike or Symeon was kind and thoughtful. Melvin Hurt, Symeon's father, as well as Mr. Grey his uncle from St. Louis also told personal stories of Symeon's life. The family was preparing to assist Symeon with a move to St. Louis to live with his uncle who was a professional counselor. The family were actively involved in trying to get Symeon help with housing and some of his other problems. He visited them usually every week. The family graciously talked to media in their time of mourning, and asked the media to continue to put out the call for witnesses to come forward.

The AIDS Task Force set a somber and appropriate setting for a memorial, and a local caterer donated a wonderful spread of food. I pledged that NEOCH would continue to focus some energy on this incident to make sure that our public entities do the proper investigation and respect Symeon Hurt's memory. It would only compound this tragedy if we had let Hurt's passing quietly slip by us. We will not forget.


Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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