My fourth strike: Still Standing 

It was 8 p.m. at night, Jan. 6. There was so many polices and U.S. Marshalls, Army, National Guard surrounding downtown.

I was really startin’ to get worried about what could happen to me, bein’ Black, bein’ homeless, bein’ out like that and seein’ guys like Proud Boys with scarves over their faces but also lookin’ like military with helmets on they heads, pads on they knees, wearin’ boots.

And also seein’ a lot of other homeless folks bein’ out. We all sittin’ out and talkin’ by Metro Center, 11th St. NW.

We’s all talkin’ about where we can find some place to go to be safe.

So what I did, I stepped up to the pastor, Father Jones, at the Catholic church across from MLK library. He know me, so he say, “Gerald how can I help you?” And I say, “Can you get me off the street?” and he say, “Sure.”

He made a phone call and told me where to go to, to a hotel on 14th St.—two blocks from the White House.

So when I went to go check-in the hotel, it was real funny when the lady told me there was no reservation for me. I feel like she was judging me, the way I was lookin’ with hair on my face and no suitcase.

But then a guy step out and say, “Yeah, Father John made a reservation.”

One time a security guard stop me and I had to show him the key to my room. It made me feel uncomfortable.

The whole two weeks I was there everyone lookin’ at me like why was I at that hotel.

When you homeless it feel like everyone lookin’ at you like you don’t exist in the community. But if you stop a homeless person, they can help you with directions and other things. We all not bad people.

To me it was a amazing thing for me to be able to get up and shower and clean myself. Eat, watch TV, take a shave. They give you soap, shampoo, deodorant, razor laid out for you. Towels and all that too.

I was feeling more safer. I come out the hotel during the days. At night I could look out the window and see the White House lit up. I could see crowds walkin’ right by the hotel, day and night. You could hear gunshots. I think it was just to keep the rioters away.

I think the police overuse their authority, hittin’ innocent folk with rubber bullets. Well, I didn’t know who the people was, getting’ hit with big ol’ rubber bullets.

It was before my spinal cord injury and I was riding around on bicycle—I found a bikeshare bike that was unlocked. I seen all kind o’ groups like BLM, they got into it with a group of Trump supporters. It didn’t last long because the cops came through and broke it up.

The guy from the really nice restaurant Zaytinya was feeding homeless people. It wan’t the first time.

It’s across the street from where I sell my papers. It’s like a celebrity place and it feel good to be eatin’ from it and they would welcome me to walk in and eat there if I want. But I choose to eat outside. Because I wear a lot of undershirts and I don’t want to go in like that. Lamb, white fish, chicken wraps—you gotta get those at lunch time. When you bite it, juice shoot out.

Just about all food places downtown, Pie Pizza, Shake Shack and others, they all help feed me.

About a month later—in February—something happened that changed my life forever. 

Issues |Community|Living Unsheltered

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