Another installment of “The Invisible Ones” of Washington, DC
I was on my way to Union Station one morning last week, walking along 1st Street, NE. when I came across this young child and a woman who may or may not have been his mother. The child did not appear in any distress and was smiling and waving at passersby. I asked if the person sleeping behind him was his mother and he nodded affirmatively. He said, “she was sleeping and that she sleeps a lot.” I tried to arouse this woman by calling out to her and shaking her arm beneath the blanket. She was unresponsive but breathing and not in any visible distress. The two of them were surrounded by piles of blankets, clothing and assorted belongings. An elderly homeless woman camped out on the same stretch of sidewalk told me the child and woman had been there for about three days. When I returned to the child the woman was awake but groggy and was now angry with me for bothering her. I asked her if she needed any help and if she was able to look after the child. She tried to spit on me but missed. I left her and the child and contacted the DC Child Protective Service hotline to report what I had seen as well as emailed them this photograph for reference.
It makes me very angry that in a city as wealthy and influential as Washington, DC there are families sleeping on the street. It makes me even more angry that on this particular day, during the morning rush hour, literally hundreds of people walked within three feet of this child and his unconscious mother. They either didn’t see, didn’t care or couldn’t be bothered to look at this tragic scene right at their feet. Shame on them and shame on my city and it’s elected officials for allowing this to go on.