June 16, 2004
Help Fight Violence Against the Homeless
June 24, at 5:00 p.m.
June 2001 killing of Hector Robles in Patterson, NJ by a mob of high school
boys saturated the press with a story both horrible in its brutality and
inexplicability of motivation. Hidden
from most Americans, however, is the number of shocking crimes committed
nationwide against people experiencing homelessness each year.
the last five years, the National Coalition for the Homeless has tracked
a disturbing increase in crimes targeting homeless people. Since 1999,
more than 157 people have died in hate attacks, with hundreds more injured
in other violent assaults.
join me in requesting an investigation by the U.S. General Accounting
Office (GAO) into the nature and scope of violent acts and hate crimes
against people experiencing homelessness.
This investigation would assist Congress and the public in obtaining
much-needed information to help federal, state, and local officials identify
actions that could prevent and reduce such crimes.
men, women, and children around the nation are particularly vulnerable
to crimes against them because they represent an easy, visible target
and often lack a place to retreat for safety and protection. Across the nation, people experiencing homelessness, advocates,
and service providers report an alarming epidemic of hate crimes and violent
acts against people who lack permanent housing. These accounts include beatings, murders,
arson, harassment, and damage of personal property. Thrill seekers, primarily in their teens,
are the most common perpetrators of the violence. This trend has been exacerbated by the
proliferation of “Bum Videos,” in which homeless people are coerced to
perform degrading and dangerous stunts for money, alcohol, or food.
study by the GAO would aid in protecting one of the most vulnerable populations
in our society. This request
has been endorsed by nearly 500 local, national and foreign organizations,
including the Anti-Defamation League, Leadership Conference on Civil Rights,
National Coalition Against Domestic Violence, National Council of La Raza,
National Gay and Lesbian Task Force, National League of Cities, National
Organization of Women (NOW), and Volunteers of America.
contact Keenan Keller of my Judiciary Committee staff at 5-6906 to join
me in taking the first step to ending hate crimes against people experiencing