Not forgotten: Community honors homeless man killed in NYC

NEW YORK (AP) – A homeless man lay unseen for most of the winter, tied in a sleeping bag on a New York City sidewalk, as pedestrians quickly moved along a busy street in lower Manhattan.

Unbeknownst to hundreds of passers-by, Abdoulaye Koulibaly’s body had hardened in the cold, about 12 hours later an assailant attacked and shot him.

The murder, which took place almost two weeks ago, may have gone unnoticed for a long-standing homelessness where violence against the homeless rarely attracts attention or sparks public outcry. But similar shootings in New York City and Washington have raised fears that a serial killer may be hunting homeless people. Within days, a suspect was in custody.

As Koulibaly’s family was making arrangements to comfort him on Thursday, the shooting focused on the homeless, an issue that has long plagued elected officials in New York City and other urban centers.

For many years, Coulibaly’s family had tried to persuade him to return home to Ohio with them. But he declined, said Bakery Camara, his half-cousin, who had met him only once nearly two decades ago, when Koulibaly first arrived in New York.

“He was never forgotten,” Camara said.

In an annual report on New York City’s homelessness released Tuesday, the Coalition for the Homeless said the recent shootings underscore the “real uncertainty of life for people without homes.”

A record number of homeless people – 640 last year, up from 404 two years ago – died of a variety of causes, according to the coalition, including COVID-19, drug overdoses, exposure to the elements and untreated medical illnesses.

“While the brutal nature of the shooting garnered a significant amount of media attention and public concern, last year 18 homeless people died due to exposure to natural cold or heat, without notice – without neglecting our city. Invisible victim,” the report said.

The coalition urged elected officials to avoid treating people without homes as criminals, saying that homeless individuals are more likely to be victims of crime than criminals. It called on public officials to do more to reduce homelessness by providing proper shelter, more mental health services and access to affordable housing.

Coulibaly was one of five people who police say were shot by Gerald Brevard, 30, who is now in custody in Washington.

Two died: Morgan Holmes, whose body was found in the nation’s capital, and Collibly, who was found dead by another homeless man in New York’s SoHo district.

For years, Coulibaly’s family considered her lost and lost.

“We didn’t know he was sleeping on the streets until we got to know about his death,” Camara said.

Had he known, he said, the family might have been insisting on taking him back home.

Camara, who lives in the Bronx, said her mother and her siblings never left her side: “Every time they visited her, they would go looking for her and beg her to come home.”

Many die alone and are forgotten, said James Winans, chief executive officer of Bowery Mission, a nonprofit that provides nightly shelter and services to hundreds of New York City’s homeless.

“Often our neighbors who are experiencing homelessness live a life of anonymous obscurity, completely isolated from community and family,” Winans said.

The mission is holding a memorial service on Thursday for Koulibaly, who was an occasional guest at its shelters for years.

“He was someone who occasionally came to Bowery Mission for various services—not a regular but certainly a guest we’re familiar with,” Winans said, adding that the monument is “an acknowledgment that his life has eternal value.” is one of them.”

Over the years, the mission has been training concerned souls—everyday New Yorkers, fashion designers, bankers, real estate agents—to participate in a program that calls on ordinary citizens to connect with the city’s homeless “Don’t Walk By”. ” They say.

Venus said Coolibel was found dead over the weekend, police searched for other possible victims of the shooter, and found another sleeping bag containing someone who had died in their sleep.

“You’d be surprised,” lamented Winans, “how long that person went unnoticed in his sleeping bag.”

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