Raymond May, a 65-year-old former crack addict, sits on a bench in Moss Park overwhelmed with grief. The bench has special meaning for him and he touches it absentmindedly as he speaks.

It was on this very same bench on the morning of Aug. 31, 2005, that his friend Paul Croutch was killed — beaten to death by three intoxicated soldiers from a nearby armoury.

May won’t hang out in the park at night anymore. It’s too dangerous. But on a hot summer afternoon he doesn’t mind walking over to the park to reminisce about his friend. As a soft breeze rustles through the leaves of a nearby tree, May’s voice quivers with emotion as he remembers his friend and his tragic death.

“I felt pretty upset when I found out,” said May. “It was the morning and I saw all the police cars over there. I didn’t think that it might have been Paul. When one of the persons in the building I lived in told me about it, I was really upset. I was so angry for what they did.

“It was this bench right here where he was sleeping,” he said for emphasis. “It’s a shame, you know. The guy was so quiet. He never harmed anybody. He always kept to himself.”

May will be front and centre tomorrow at an 11 a.m. memorial service — The Day of the Homeless — in honour of Croutch and the many other homeless who have lived and died on Toronto streets. The service will be held in front of the Good Neighbours’ Club, where a plaque in Croutch’s honour will be unveiled.

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