Dozens protest lack of housing for man who froze to death

By MELANIE LIDMAN
February 4, 2012 22:31

 
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Demonstrators placed a mock coffin in front of the Prime Minister’s Residence on Saturday night to protest the death of Yohanes Barko, a 40-year-old homeless man who froze to death in Levinsky Park two weeks ago.

Around three dozen people gathered in Jerusalem to demand the government create more affordable housing and use the empty buildings owned by the state for housing homeless families. A memorial service for Barko was also held on Saturday night in Levinsky Park.

“What makes this particularly awful is that his tent was torn down [when municipality inspector took down the tents in Levinsky Park in October],” said Rabbi Arik Ascherman, the head of Rabbis for Human Rights. “He could have had shelter, it wouldn’t have been great living in a tent but he may not have frozen to death. This is our message here tonight – that there is direct responsibility for his death,” he said.

A mock coffin was covered with candles as demonstrators implored the authorities to step in before more homeless people freeze to death. Barko had lived since the beginning of the summer in the Levinsky tent encampment.

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