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

 

You say you feel my pain
But
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.

Gone but not forgotten, Street Poet died, apparently in his sleep, at the Oklahoma City occupation (photo courtesy Occupy OKC)Gone but not forgotten, Street Poet died, apparently in his sleep, at the Oklahoma City occupation (photos courtesy Occupy OKC official Facebook page)

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.

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UPDATE:
Street Poet's family has been identified and located, so we can finally release his name: Louis Cameron Rodriguez, age 18.

His mother and sister live in Clarksville, TN and want to fly to OKC to claim his body. Occupy OKC is trying to raise donations for Louis' family, who cannot afford airfare. Please spread the word.

Anyone out there who wants to donate either frequent flier miles or cash can contact Occupy OKC. Beth Isbell is coordinating this effort. Her email is roxybeast@hotmail.com. Local readers can just drop by the camp in Kerr Park to donate in person.
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“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.”

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