Advocates and friends yesterday held a memorial vigil for a man experiencing homelessness who was found dead in northern Over-the-Rhine Feb. 19.
Danny Lee Miles, 61,often slept in the doorway at 1600 Race Street where he was found, advocates like Brian Garry and Maslow's Army's Sam Landis say.
"He had a lot of friends, a lot of family, a lot of love out here," Landis said. "We stood out here (for five hours) last night and everyone had a Danny story. Danny has a face and Danny has a name, and that's what we're out here to do today, so that a man who has met his fate in a doorway is not forgotten. We must do better as a city. With the all the resources that are out there, it's a shame."
Miles grew up in Kentucky and was a talented baseball player, his family says. According to advocates, he lived for eight years in a group home in Northside as he grappled with mental illness. His condition deteriorated in the past year, they say, and he had been on the streets in OTR since last October. Earlier this winter, Maslow's Army found Miles in the frigid polar vortex and took him to a shelter.
"Imagine if you had a child and your child was mentally ill and living in the streets," Brian Garry said during the vigil, recounting Miles' struggles with mental illness. "He didn't get the help that he needed. I feel regret. I feel guilt. What could I have done different? What I can do with that is try to make this not happen again."
The temperature dipped down into the 20s the night Miles died. The Hamilton County Coroner's Office is conducting an autopsy, but it is not complete yet. Miles is not the first person experiencing homelessness to die in the cold of a Cincinnati winter. Last winter, just after Christmas Day, 55-year-old Ken Martin died at Government Square downtown.
Following remarks remembering Miles, advocates and his friends played Louis Armstrong's "Wonderful World" and released 61 red balloons, one for each year of his life.
"Freedom," one woman said as she released balloons. "No more pain, Danny. No more pain."