In the early morning hours on July 2, 2005 Carlos Holguin, a homeless person, age 48, was found burned to death under the Nickerson St. Bridge overpass near Fisherman’s Terminal. It is not known if this was an accident caused by himself or if it was a hate crime.
Women in Black have stood for 25 homeless people of Seattle/King County who have died thus far this year, the highest rate they have seen since they started holding vigils in 2000. They claim that according to a 2003 study by the National Coalition for the Homeless, Seattle ranked as 7th worst city in the country for hate crimes against homeless people. Washington ranked as the 3rd worst state.
During a memorial service at the Quest Church and Café / Community Center people who knew Carlos share their thoughts about him and life on the streets in Seattle.
Peter, age 34
“He was a good friend of mine. I was the last one he talked to before he passed away. Carlos was a good person. Me and my old lady we was like being homeless for 5 months and he took us under his bridge with him, where he’s dead at. (sob) Can’t believe who would’ve done this sort of thing. I don’t know who woulda wanted to hurt him.”
Howard, age 42
“We’re all homeless. We see each other on the street. We always give each other a hug or kiss or whatever. But we’re all friends. And to see something like this go on it hurts us. I’ve been to too much of this stuff. And when someone says “Help” you better make sure you have some friends around because it ain’t nice out here.”
Bobby and his dog Lucky, age 46
“I’ve known Carlos for about 8 years. He’d give the shirt off his back. He wasn’t mean or anything. Sometimes like the rest of us he’d have a little too much to drink. But they haven’t discovered yet if he was murdered or if it was an accidental death. ….He was one of the guys who hung out in Ballard on Market St. And then last two years we’ve lost 4 and I know 2 more who are going down, and I’m losing another close friend, and I may be after that. (tears) I’m not sure. ….Where I live, I’m safe. I’ve got several friends around me. If there’s a problem all anybody has to do is holler. And whatever the problem is its solved right then and there. There ain’t no callin no cops. We take care of it. I’m homeless but I’m not on the streets. I have a camp. I don’t live in doorways. I don’t live in the alleys. Unless I can’t make it home. But I would like to see the police and coroner get to the bottom of this.”
Meredith Dancause, age 25, barista at Q café
“Carlos would come in regularly and see me. And everytime he came in he’d tell me to lean in and (he’d) say ‘I have something to tell you.’ And I’d (say), ‘what Carlos? What is it?’ And he’d go ‘Why did God make you so beautiful?’ So yeah, I will miss his face around here. He’s a good man.”
Michael, age 34
“I live on the streets. I don’t feel safe about nothing no more ‘cuz people are doin’ stupid stuff out here and we got to live with it. And it’s a tough life. We all hang together and make sure we got friends. If we don’t have friends we ain’t got nothin’ out here. I’ve been out on the streets after my wife passed away. I was in Desert Storm. I came home and I turn around, and my wife died 6 months after I come home. So this is what brought me out to the streets ‘cuz I couldn’t deal with life no more. I’m on a mission to die but they (friends) won’t let me.”
Pastor Eugene Cho, Quest Church
“One of the things I think he would say to me is “Priest, have some good conversations with people.
Candace, age 32
“He was a real good friend. Everybody loved him, you know. He was happy all the time. He like talking to people, didn’t matter who it was. Me and my boyfriend, we’re homeless too. We know Carlos from the street. We got rained on, you know. Our blankets got ruined and we told him about it. Without any hesitation, he just took us under his wing. We lived under that bridge for quite awhile with him. The one night we wasn’t there, that’s when that happened. We told him not to go. We spent the day with him, but he went to the bar. He’s a very loveable but stubborn man. (smile) We just had a bad feeling about it so we didn’t go back. And we told him not to go back either… We told him to come back to where we were. I don’t know what it was. Everybody told him ‘Don’t go.’ Actually, nothing ever happened there. It was always safe. It kept us out of the rain. It was a little loud from the traffic but you know it was a safe place to sleep.”