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The First Fatality: The Death of Street Poet at Occupy Oklahoma City

By dlindorff - Posted on 01 November 2011


By Lori Spencer

You say you feel my pain
You don't even know what pain is.

– Untitled final poem by Street Poet

Oklahoma City -- After spending the last three weeks in Oklahoma City covering the Occupy OKC encampment, I was shocked to learn of Street Poet's passing yesterday. It just didn't seem possible that this talented, loving young man whom I had known for just ten days could be taken away so suddenly.

The man we all called “Street Poet” was about 18 years old and homeless. He said he had spent a lot of time in foster care growing up. In his final days, he had complained about asthma attacks in the morning. He showed no other signs of physical or mental health problems, drug addiction, or suicidal tendencies. He was a joyous presence in Occupy OKC.

Street Poet was discovered unresponsive in his tent by another camper around 2:45 on the afternoon of Halloween. There was no blood, or signs of trauma. No alcohol, street drugs or drug paraphernalia by his bedside. It is generally believed that Street Poet passed sometime during the night, as rigor mortis had already set in by the time his body was found.

“Due to the victim's young age and because the body was unattended at the time of death, we are currently processing this as a crime scene,” said Lt. Kevin Barnes of the Oklahoma City Police Department. “It appears he died of natural causes, but the medical examiner will ultimately determine the cause of death. We are conducting an extensive investigation and making every effort to figure out what caused this young man to die.”

Homicide detectives worked into the night at Kerr Park, site of the downtown OKC occupation, looking for clues. Police cordoned off the tent city area in the plaza's mezzanine, while allowing occupiers to remain in the lower level of the park. Once the crime scene investigation was concluded, campers were allowed to return to their tents. But one tent was now conspicuously missing from the family circle.

Here is one of his recent poems:

It is so hard to find help
out in the world
When the world doesn't care.
My life is like an open book
Just read the words and you know
every blessed curse.
Don't be concerned if you find
my past startling
'cause so do I.


I first met Street Poet around the 20th of October. He bounded up to me, introduced himself in the middle of an interview I was conducting with someone else, and proceeded to lay down some poetic rap about sleeping under bridges...

For the rest of this article by Lori Spencer in ThisCantBeHappening!, the new award-winning independent online alternative newspaper, please go to:

It's very strange to me that a relatively healthy 18-year-old could just die without having serious health problems or being killed, accidentally or otherwise, and Street Poet evidently didn't die due to accidently falling down a flight of stone stairs, or some other accident. 

But, whatever the cause of death, it definitely seems fitting to say, "God bless him".  And it doesn't matter if he believed in God, or not. After all, saying "God bless" someone is a way of wishing the person well, rather than being about proselytization.

His soul will encounter the Holy Spirit (take it conceptually, if you don't have these religious beliefs), and they will fly together.  Of course, the Holy Spirit appears in the form of a holy dove of peace, love and justice.

What is the Holy Spirit?  No human can answer this question based on facts, and we can otherwise leave this Q&A for another time, thanks.  I don't want to extend this post much.

Given his life, he'll get to meet God or certainly Heaven, anyway ; it has to be that way, I say!  He'll be invited in and everyone will be dining at large tables, but he'll also be invited to be seated up front before God.  And they will chat.  "How are you doing Street Poet?", God might ask.  Street Poet might then reply, "Well, ya know, looking around here, it seems like I'm in a pretty good spot right now. Thank you".  Or maybe they'ld talk about when Street Poet went fishing, if he ever got that opportunity.  It'll be friendly, anyway.

But it's sad.  I don't understand an 18-year-old person who's apparently of relatively good health can just die without it being due to an accident, being murdered, overdosing on some powerful substances, poison food, et cetera.  I've never heard of anyone of young age dying for any other reason than one of these possibilities.  Some people state the expression, "Drop dead, budd", but it never is physically harmful.  What caused him to die?  Depression?  I don't think it could cause this result.

I salute Street Poet.


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