Violent street attacks on the homeless have multiplied across America in recent years, prompting lawmakers in six states, including California, to introduce legislation that would label such attacks hate crimes and punish people accordingly.
According to a 2006 report from the National Coalition for the Homeless, the number of rapes, beatings and murders has jumped to 142 attacks countrywide from 36 such assaults recorded in 2002.
The report points out that most homeless attacks are likely to go unreported.
As for the perpetrators, crime statistics point squarely to middle-class males of European descent, typically in their teens.
Those who oppose including protection for the homeless under hate crimes legislation say that unlike race or gender, being homeless is sometimes a choice.
“People aren’t born into homelessness,” comments one such opponent.
“Hating the homeless”
Southern Poverty Law Center/Intelligence Report (AL), Summer 2007