THE WAR AGAINST THE HOMELESS

UNIMAGINABLE CRUELTIES

"Get a job!"

That is the comment most often hurled at homeless individuals as they panhandle their way through the streets of our cities.  Thus far, I have picked up more than 50 men off the street to help with various odd jobs ranging from landscaping to hanging cabinets.  Some are addicts, some are mentally impaired, some are just temporarily down on their luck, some are veterans, and many are targeted.

Imagine you were blackballed so you could not find permanent employment, and every business you started failed due to loss of lease, frivolous law suit, unfair competition, or employee theft and sabotage.  This happens to businesses everyday, but it does not usually happen continually to the same person with every business startup.  As stated previously in this web site, legal actions to stop targeting have thus far not been successful.  Naturally, drugs begin to look like an attractive way to forget the hopelessness of continual targeting.  This is not to excuse drug addiction, however; there would be less homeless people if targeting were stopped.

By far the most painful to see are the veterans, some with missing limbs, many with Gulf War Illness, whom the Government denies help and even accuses of malingering.  What a shameful national disgrace that the ones who risk their lives for their country are abandoned in their time of greatest need!

So, the next time you see a homeless person and you start thinking "Get a job!",  just stop and count your blessings that you have a roof over your head because
"It is only by the grace of God that you are not homeless."

Below are some of the crimes committed daily against the homeless
by sick, disgusting, spiritual retards:

On a "mission to clean up the community," three National Guardsmen were arrested in Medford, Oregon for beating a homeless man with a wooden club. They called him a disgrace to his race while they claimed to have "white pride." This beating was one of the many angry and vicious attacks committed against people experiencing homelessness that occurred in 2003.

A sampling of the headlines in the case narrative section of this annual report says it all:

Three Men Set Homeless Man On Fire (Nashville, TN, Jan.)

Homeless Man Beaten and Robbed by Six Youths (Sarasota, FL, Jan.)

Homeless Man Attacked as He Slept (Los Angeles, CA, Feb.)

Three Men Attack Homeless Woman with Baseball Bats (Minneapolis, MN, May)

Homeless People Hit in Drive-By Shootings (Austin, TX, June)

Homeless People Used, Abused by Insurance Fraud Ringleaders (Chicago, IL, June)

Group of Teenage Males Shoot Homeless Man with Paintball Gun. He Loses Eye (Ewing, NJ, July)

Four Teenagers Beat and Stole from Four Homeless Men in Videotaped Attacks (Chicago, IL, Aug.)

Four Teenagers Reportedly Attack at Least Seven Homeless People with Stun Guns (Cleveland, OH, Aug.)

Homeless Man Beaten by Police Officers (Fort Lauderdale, FL, Aug.)

Violent Attack Spurs March (Portland, ME, December)

Homeless Man Was Shot Repeatedly with a Pellet Gun (San Francisco, CA, Dec.)
 

Discrimination against people experiencing homelessness has become accepted in todayís society.

Since 2001, there has been a proliferation of "Bum Videos," in which homeless people are coerced to perform degrading and dangerous stunts for money, alcohol or food. The video producers also use parodies of famous TV shows to mock and demoralize the lifestyles of homeless people. Recently, major corporate retailers including Tower Records, Amazon, Borders, Virgin Mega Stores, Target, Best Buy, Blockbuster, Barnes and Noble and Trans World Entertainment have found it acceptable to sell these videos and DVDs in their stores and on the internet. Fortunately, a few corporations (Amazon.com, Target, Virgin Mega stores, Blockbuster.com, and Barnes and Noble) have stopped selling the disturbing videos as per NCHís request.

In some of the more severe video scenes:

A homeless man drinks urine he perceives is a beer.
A homeless man runs headfirst into a stack of crates for a nickel.
A homeless man with drug addiction problems sets his hair on fire.
A homeless man rides in a shopping cart down a ramp and crashes into the wall.
A man, pretending to be Steve Irwin of "Crocodile Hunter" fame, calls himself the "Bum Hunter." He chases and tackles some homeless people, while sneaking up on others who are lying down. He sits on top of them, ties their hands and feet together with duct tape and makes remarks as if they were animals ("this one is a fine species," "a small guy like this is very susceptible to predators," "look he has got no teeth, smoking crack deteriorates your gums," and "I want to look in his cart to see what he has stolen"). He also makes degrading comments such as, "if I came in here with a brand new bandage (to fix a homeless manís arm), he would immediately try to rip it off because he doesnít know the smell, he thinks itís new, and we all know that bums donít wear new clothes, they only wear old clothes."
A homeless man is offered a quarter to drink Windex. He takes a gulp of the bottle for 1 dollar. He is shown vomiting shortly afterwards.
Two men claim to be the "Homeless Pound Transport." They use a rope, a crossbow, a snare, "homeless bait", a stun gun and a straight jacket to capture homeless people. Once they capture a homeless person, they put him or her in a locked cage on the back of a pickup truck. Then they drive their victim through the city to the "Homeless Pound" (public mockery).
A man shoots potatoes and apples at homeless people with a "Bum Gun." He knocks down a homeless man on crutches; he shoots one in the head; he shoots another in the back, etc.
Sinclair Community Collegeís (Dayton, Ohio) student newspaper, The Clarion, published an editorial that proposes running over homeless people with cars as a way to combat panhandling. "If one more homeless bum asks me for change in the Oregon District," wrote Jonathan Dillon, "I may have to start running them over when I see them on the street." He continued, "All Iím saying is that the next time you are driving and have the opportunity to run over some obnoxious bum whoís been begging your for money as long as you can remember, why not swerve? Fun, fun, fun."

Other notorious examples include: a conservative radio talk show in Cincinnati who sponsored a "Derelict Round-Up" in which a bus picked up homeless people in the Downtown area and dropped them off in the suburbs. The homeless persons were lured into the bus with promises of malt liquor and cheap wine.

Another radio station this time in Cleveland in which two DJs asked a homeless man for permission to shock him with a stun gun in exchange for a free pizza.

A Mayoral candidate in Kingston, NY claimed that the residents of a local shelter were "pedophiles, drunks, alcoholics and bums."

Or the most outrageous statement comes from the Hotel Council of San Francisco, who launched a billboard/poster campaign that discourages giving to panhandlers. One poster showed a picture of tourists and San Francisco residents saying, "Today we rode a cable car, visited Alcatraz, and supported a drug habit. Giving to panhandlers doesnít help, it hurts." In a more pointed poster, a hand holds a cup that reads "Desperate for Help," with "help" crossed out and replaced by "crack." Statements such as these reinforce negative and violent stereotypes against homeless individuals.

Over the past five years (1999-2003), advocates and homeless shelter workers from around the country have seen an alarming increase in reports of homeless men, women and even children being killed, beaten, and harassed. In 1999 NCH, a nationwide network of civil rights and homeless advocates, responded to this concern and produced the first compilation of its kind, No More Homeless Deaths! Hate Crimes: A Report Documenting Violence Against Men and Women Homeless in the U.S. The following year (2000), NCH published A Report of Hate Crimes and Violence Against People Who Are Homeless in the United States in 2000. In 2001, Hate. A Compilation of Violent Crimes Committed Against Homeless People in the U.S. in 2001 was completed. The fourth consecutive report, "Hate, Violence, an Death on Main Street USA: A Report on Hate Crimes and Violence Against People Experiencing Homelessness in 2002 " was also released. The continual size of news reports of hate crimes and violence against people experiencing homelessness also led the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) to publish a four year study examining hate crimes and violence committed against people experiencing homelessness from 1999-2002. These reports present the known incidences of hate crimes and violence against the homeless population. These annual reports aim:

To compile the incidences of hate crimes and violence that NCH has received and reviewed in order to document this alarming trend against people who are homeless.
To make lawmakers and the public aware of this serious issue.
To recommend proactive measures to be taken.
The term "hate crime" generally conjures up images of cross burnings and lynchings, swastikas on Jewish synagogues, and horrific murders of gays and lesbians. In 1968, the U.S. Congress defined a hate crime, under federal law, as a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of their race, color or national origin (Title 18 U.S.C Section 245). It mandated that the government must prove both that the crime occurred because of a victimís membership in a designated group and because the victim was engaged in certain specified federally-protected activities Ė such as serving on a jury, voting, or attending public school.

Hate crimes are commonly called bias-motivated crimes, referring to the prejudice or partiality of the perpetrator against the victimís real or perceived grouping or circumstance. Most hate crimes are committed not by organized hate groups, but by individual citizens who harbor a strong resentment against a certain group of people. Some are "mission offenders," who believe they are on a mission "to cleanse the world of a particular evil." Others are "scapegoat offenders," who project their resentment toward the growing economic power of a particular racial or ethnic group through violent actions. Still others are "thrill seekers" Ė those who take advantage of a vulnerable and disadvantaged group in order to satisfy their own pleasures. Thrill seekers, primarily in their teens, are the most common perpetrators of violence against the homeless population.

For documenting hate speech and hate crimes and violence, NCH relies on news reports and information relayed to us by homeless shelters around the country for the data and documentation that it includes in its reports. Although NCH acts as the nationwide repository of hate crimes/violence against homeless people, there is no systematic method of collecting and documenting such reports. Many of these violent acts go unpublicized and/or unreported, thereby making it difficult to assess the true situation. Often, homeless people do not report crimes committed against them because of mental health issues, substance abuse, fear of retaliation, past incidents, or frustration with police. Some cases this year were also omitted because the victims were found beaten to death, but no suspects could be identified. In addition, the report does not take into account the large number of sexual assaults, especially on homeless women.

Federal bias crime laws enacted subsequently have provided additional coverage. The Hate Crimes Statistics Act of 1990 (HCSA) mandates the Justice Department to collect data from law enforcement agencies about "crimes that manifest evidence of prejudice based upon race, religion, sexual orientation, or ethnicity." The Hate Crimes Sentencing Enhancement Act, enacted as a section of the Violent Crime Control and Law Enforcement Act of 1994, defines a hate crime as "a crime in which the defendant intentionally selects a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that is the object of the crime, because of the actual or perceived race, color, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability, or sexual orientation of any person." This measure only applies to, inter alia, attacks and vandalism that occur in national parks and on federal property.

The most recent piece of legislation, Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act of 2004 (H.R. 4204), introduced in the 1088h Congress "authorizes the Attorney General to provide technical, forensic, prosecutorial, or other assistance in the criminal investigation or prosecution of any crime that: (1) constitutes a crime of violence under Federal law or a felony under State or Indian tribal law; and (2) is motivated by prejudice based on the race, color, religion, national origin, gender, sexual orientation, or disability of the victim or is a violation of the hate crimes laws of the State or tribe." There is currently no federal criminal prohibition against violent crimes directed at individuals because of their housing status.

H.R. 4204 has broad bipartisan support, with 176 co-sponsors in the House. The National Coalition for the Homeless aims to include housing status in the Local Law Enforcement Hate Crimes Prevention Act and in future pieces of legislation. By including housing status, hate crimes and violent acts toward people experiencing homelessness will be more appropriately handled and prosecuted. Additionally, if victims know that a system is in place to prosecute such crimes, they are more likely to come forward to report these crimes. People who are forced to live and sleep on the streets for lack of an appropriate alternative are in an extremely vulnerable situation, and it is unacceptable that hate crime prevention laws do not protect them.

A main objective of this report is to educate lawmakers, advocates, and the general public about the problem of hate crimes and violence against people who are homeless in order to instigate change and ensure protection of civil rights for everyone, regardless of their economic circumstances or housing status. As part of its mission, the National Coalition for the Homeless is committed to creating the systemic and attitudinal changes necessary to end homelessness. A major component of these changes must include the societal guarantee of safety and protection and a commitment by lawmakers to combat violent acts and hate crimes against people who experience homelessness.
 http://www.nationalhomeless.org/hatecrimes/introduction.html
 


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