The train blew past at breakneck speed, bringing to mind the fact that many of our nation's homeless are encamped within mere feet of eminent danger. The wind generated by the passing of the massive cars filled the covering of a nearby tent causing it to billow and jerk. Some of the boxcars were stacked two high, barely clearing the height of the bridge leaving only about 2-feet to escape peril.
About a week ago at this very location a young homeless man, named Austin, was struck and killed by a freight train as it barreled through the underpass he called home. The 27-year old was wearing headphones and apparently didn't hear the racing, steel giant closing in on him. The train was Florida bound when it struck the him at 7:00 Sunday morning (10/18/15).
Why, I wondered, would so many homeless choose such a dangerous locale to set up camp? Then it occurred to me...we push them to the fringes. For much of the housed population, misinformation, prejudice, and fear of the homeless has caused them to be viewed as dangerous and undesirable by default. In Nashville, Tennessee this overarching view has led city council members and government officials to push many homeless off of city or state land, sighting that their presence was a public nuisance and endangerment to the average citizen. Such a lack of empathy in decision making forces the homeless to seek other less noticeable places, spaces unsuitable for development...like those next to railroad tracks.