BY FANNIE BATES
Last weekend, I attended a memorial service for Louis Rodriguez, an 18-year-old Hispanic male who died in Oklahoma City’s Kerr Park on Oct. 31, while protesting injustice along with Occupy OKC.
Louis spent about two weeks with us in the park before we lost him. He was a brilliant and loving person. None of us knew his real name. He called himself “Street Poet” or “Poet.”
He had been homeless for a couple of years. There are 1.3 million homeless kids in the United States.
With an IQ of 160, Louis understood the Occupy Movement and embraced it completely. He led marches and wrote poems about the movement.
Here is the last poem Louis wrote before he died:
Organize this nation
Show lives some appreciation
Cultivate a democratic nation
and maybe we’ll be complacent
Corporations purchase our voices.
Shouldn’t we make our own choices?
Unite the 99 percentage
of Americans at a disadvantage
Populate the seeds of occupation
Freedom is our living precipitation
Yearning for our messages spoken
To be acknowledged by the people, be awoken.
I have not seen the autopsy report but, in my opinion, the true cause of Louis’ death was the attitude of this nation towards homeless children and teenagers.
Oklahoma City is a good example of this. We can afford to build canals and rivers where God chose not to put them, and build monstrous skyscrapers out of glass, but we cannot find the money to give beds and protection to all of our homeless children.
Instead, Oklahoma City participated in bulldozing down shelters like Grace Mission that have provided shelter for the homeless for years, replacing them with a day center which kicks homeless people out at night.
Noam Chomsky wrote:
“These are among the natural consequences of rejecting Muste’s warning, and the main thrust of his revolutionary pacifism, which should direct us to investigating the grievances that lead to violence, and when they are legitimate, as they often are, to address them. When that advice is taken, it can succeed very well. Britain’s recent experience in Northern Ireland is a good illustration. For years, London responded to IRA terror with greater violence, escalating the cycle, which reached a bitter peak. When the government began instead to attend to the grievances, violence subsided and terror has effectively disappeared. I was in Belfast in 1993, when it was a war zone, and returned a year ago to a city with tensions, but hardly beyond the norm.”
Louis is gone, but there are still 1.3 million other homeless kids who deserve better than they are getting. Maybe it is time to start listening to these homeless youth.
Louis wrote a lot about pain. He said we don’t know pain.
– Fannie Bates lives in Oklahoma City