Meet William Hall, a.k.a Billy Reno, a disabled, homeless veteran of the US Army, and a reader of Cognitive Dissonance. He’s at Occupy Denver and was arrested this week. He was defending a tent he erected to keep warm - his only home.
This photo, from Westword in Denver, accompanies a wonderful profile of Reno. Here’s an excerpt:
For fourteen years, Reno’s identity was tied to his role in the 75th ranger regiment, 3rd battalion. However, the Special Forces vet is currently homeless. The 49-year-old lives on $175 a month and $200 in food stamps, and he is both the first person to offer candy to new friends and the first person to open his bag another time when they mention Reese’s Peanut Butter Cups is a favorite.
His time in the military ended suddenly and with disappointment for a man who planned to make at least a twenty-year career out of the experience. “When I joined the army, I thought it was the best thing for me,” Reno says. “I got used to the routine, to the organization, and it wasn’t a bad life. I thought I had seen the worst the world had to offer,” he pauses, “but then there was East Africa.” Later, he will pull a US Army hat out of the Carhartt tote he carries. “I see Occupy Denver as a chance to right all the wrongs I’ve done in my life.”
Here’s footage of Reno as he’s pulled from his tent by Denver police:
When this happened, it was roughly 15 degrees out and Denver was seeing the tail end of a snowstorm. That tent was Reno’s home. And they destroyed it. Reno is a veteran, one of nearly 40% veterans currently experiencing homelessness. According to several reports, Denver police dropped him on the way to the car and when he cried out, police pushed back the crowd who rushed to help. They claimed he was “faking” being in pain.
@DenverABC has raised money for bail for those arrested then and over the past two days. They need your support. If you are able to help, their PayPal is firstname.lastname@example.org - regardless, follow them on Twitter for excellent coverage of Occupy Denver. Follow Reno too - he’s got a great sense of humor and also provides marvelous updates.
Stay warm, my friend.