A homeless man was found dead in Ridgewood on Nov. 16 after suffering through the frigid weather conditions and snowstorm that hit the night before.
Arkadiusz “Arek” Jasinski was found at the corner of Forest and Putnam avenues, where he frequently slept.
A vigil was held last Friday at the site. The Rev. Mike Lopez of All Saints Church said he wanted the ceremony to be outdoors, not inside the church. Video of it was posted to Vimeo.
“We thought it was important to be out here tonight so that we could also feel the conditions that not only Arek but the other homeless people in our community are feeling,” Lopez said.
He said though there is an understanding that Jasinski’s death was “part of his failure, it is more a part of our failure as a community. For everyone who walked by him on that morning that didn’t do anything for Arek, for our local politicians who are not doing enough to address the issue of homelessness in Ridgewood, for a community who fails to love and serve its people, a community that failed to take care of its poor people, we are all responsible.”
Lopez also took blame. “Even us as the church, we are also responsible for Arek dying out here in the street,” he said.
The pastor also mentioned that nobody called the police or the Fire Department until 8:30 in the morning.
“I firmly believe that if someone would’ve called earlier, we might’ve had an opportunity to get Arek to the hospital and have him alive,” he said.
The Hungry Monk Rescue Truck, a homeless outreach group based at the church, referred to Jasinski on Facebook as “one of our beloved street partners.”
One commenter posted, “I [would] see him almost everyday in front of the bank and would say hello to him and give him something this absolutely breaks my heart may you Rest In Peace.”
Lopez called on the community and politicians to be more active.
Councilman Bob Holden (D-Middle Village) said in a statement, “It’s very disheartening to hear that the homeless prefer to stay on the streets rather than go to shelters ... I was very sad to learn that Arek was found unconscious on Forest Avenue this morning. This is a tragic reminder that there are less fortunate who desperately need our help. R.I.P. Arek.”
The Medical Examiner’s Office still has to determine the exact cause of Jasinski’s death and the city is working with the Polish Consulate to return the body to his family.