After battling lung cancer for almost 2 years, Gail Sacco, advocate for Las Vegas homeless rights, dies at age 63. Sacco served the homeless through her last days, her son, Joe Sacco Jr., commented:
“It gave my mom one more reason to live.”Sacco started gaining national recognition in 2006 when she and the American Civil Liberties Union Nevada filed a lawsuit to shut down an ordinance that made it illegal to provide food to the homeless in city parks.
The case became a reference in similar cases in other jurisdictions nationwide. Interestingly, Sacco became involved in the case after she faced up to a year and a half in jail and $3,000 in fines for feeding indigent people in a city park without obtaining a permit. Sacco commented on the incident back then by saying, “it doesn’t make a difference to me whether it’s legal or not, it’s the right thing to do.”
Sacco defending the rights of homeless people
Sacco and her husband bought a second home in 2009 near Charleston Boulevard and Maryland Parkway which they rented out to five homeless people, not for profit. According to a statement by one of the residents of the house “She never asked for anyone to meet a certain mark. Simply being a human being was enough.” Her support and genuine belief in helping less privileged or fortunate people earned her the respect of everyone.
“She was a fierce warrior with a deeply good heart,” said Gary Peck, director of the American Civil Liberties Union Nevada at the time “
She fearlessly fought for the disenfranchised to ensure they would be treated with dignity and that they weren’t routinely beaten down by the communities they were trying to survive in.” Sacco’s relentless activism pushed many to confront the problem and question their decisions regarding the matter
Sacco and inspiration to all
Sacco often started her days at dawn, cooking food that she distributed weekly to the homeless at downtown Huntridge Circle Park. An inspiration to many, Becky Isais took after Sacco in providing food and affordable housing to the homeless. According to Isais “Vegas is really lucky to have had her worry about the homeless who knew her. They’re going to be heartbroken and feel defenceless because she stuck up for them like nobody would.”
She was also a major inspiration for her children. Her son Joe remember before moving to LAs Vegas in 1988 how his mother defended him from bullies at his school in the Boston area. “She’s never backed down from a fight to represent the underdog,” he said. “She was never afraid to face off corrupt politicians and wealthy businessmen and those that would like to oppress our homeless. She didn’t just talk. She walked.”