Sitting alone at the edge of the parking lot outside Baltimore's 24-hour homeless shelter, Robin Bolden watched the dozens gathered nearby Saturday to remember her husband, Dana, who was stabbed to death at the facility earlier this month.
Tears stained her face while she listened to Tony Simmons call on the homeless individuals and activists assembled to demand city leaders step up plans to find permanent homes for the more than 4,000 men, women and children who sleep outside and in shelters every night.
"Where do you want us to go? We can't disappear," said Simmons, a 51-year-old homeless man.
Simmons said he slept in the cot next to Dana Bolden, 46, the night he died.
Police arrested Gary Burton, 50, on a first-degree murder charge. The two men had an argument inside the shelter in the 600 block of Fallsway shortly after 5 a.m. on March 17 when the victim was stabbed in the chest. He was transported to Johns Hopkins Hospital, where he was pronounced dead soon afterward.
Linda Boyle, the director of the shelter, said the stabbing took place in the parking lot of the Harry and Jeanette Weinberg Housing and Resource Center.
But there is a disagreement over where the stabbing occurred. Baltimore Police Sgt. Eric Kowalczyk said the stabbing took place inside the building.
Robin Bolden said she had been visiting family in Washington when her husband died. She's been carrying around his ashes, trying to determine the best place to sprinkle them.
"He was good to me," she said. "I miss him so much."
Simmons urged the men and women staying in the shelter to channel their frustrations with life's challenges into pushing for change.
"You're living in a shelter," he said. "Everyone here has their demons.
"If you want to fight, fight to get out of here, don't fight each other. No one needs to die on the floor of the shelter — nobody."
Jeff Singer, a longtime activist for the homeless and an adjunct professor at the University of Maryland School of Social Work, said the city's 10-year plan to end homelessness, the Journey Home, will only be successful if wealth inequities are solved and individuals can earn livable wages and find affordable housing.
Singer said "the funeral I want to attend" is the one that puts an end to an economic system that makes the rich richer and the poor poorer.
"The distribution of wealth is only getting worse," he said.
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