Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Continue to Rise Year by Year

Written by Scott Keyes

John Berry, 64, a Vietnam veteran who lived without a home in Anaheim. Stabbed to death. Billy Rajah Jr., 47, a Salinas man living on the streets. Ran over by a man who decided that once wasn’t enough, so he ran over Rajah again, killing him. Pedro Ramos, 32, homeless in Houston. A group of teenagers shot him and took his wallet. He had $1.

The victims’ crimes: being poor.

Over the past 14 years, there have been at least 1,328 violent hate crimes perpetrated against homeless individuals, according to a new report. Of those, 357 people were killed. These attacks are “believed to be motivated by the perpetrators’ bias against homeless individuals or their ability to target homeless people with relative ease,” according to the National Coalition for the Homeless’ new report, Senseless Violence: A Survey of Hate Crimes/Violence against the Homeless in 2012. It’s important to note that these statistics likely undercount reality, since many acts of violence against homeless people go unreported.

In 2012, there were 88 homeless people who were victims of hate crimes, 18 of whom lost their lives. While most victims are middle-aged men, the typical attacker is a male less than 20 years old.

The FBI does not currently consider homelessness as a protected status in its tracking of hate crimes. If it did, though, it would have found nearly three hate crime homicides against homeless individuals for every hate crime homicide against individuals because of their race, ethnicity, religion, or orientation. As a result, the National Coalition for the Homeless isurging lawmakers to classify homeless status as a protected class in order to more effectively combat the spread of violent attacks against individuals without a home.

On Saturday, December 21, they and other groups will honor Homeless Persons’ Memorial Day, a day where people across the country will gather to remember all homeless people who died this past year. In Washington, D.C., for instance, advocates will hold an all-night vigil in Freedom Plaza beginning the night of December 20, followed by a memorial service at 9:30 am the following morning. Click here for more information.

This post was originally published in ThinkProgress

Photo credit: Thinkstock

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Kathy Johnson
Kathy Johnson1 years ago

I just don't understand :/

Donna Ferguson
Donna F.1 years ago

homelessness in the U.S. is bizarre; violence against the homeless people is lower than low!

Grace Adams
Grace Adams1 years ago

The far right is certainly setting a strong example of intolerance for everyone who is not a millionaire. As for the teenagers--monkey see--monkey do--teenagers see that only the super rich get any respect, so they attack the poorest of the poor. I guess they would be kicking dogs if they did not have homeless strangers around to kick instead.

Timothy Spurlin
Timothy Spurlin1 years ago

@ B. JC, I wonder how many of these piles of walking human sh*t would claim their Christian if ask? The FBI should treat all these crimes as hate crimes against Americans! The status as homeless shouldn't matter, a hate crime is just that! Sadly most Americans don't care about the homeless at all. I was homeless for about 9 months due to mental disabilities that finally overwhelm me. But, I got help and ended my situation. This also makes me think of the scumbag business owners that complain about homeless being feed near their business'.

Alex H.
Alex H.1 years ago

It is a truly rotten society that turns on its most disadvantaged people,the homeless! People find themselves in this situation for a host of reasons,many not their fault but the fault of ruthless,uncaring employers who don't want to pay a decent wage,or through divorce,or illness and disability,and in a country with no universal healthcare,this would be a huge problem! If maggots are going around killing these unfortunate victims of society,then the USA is no better than the situation in the slums of Sao Paolo!!!!The USA needs urgent social justice reforms and more government-funded agencies to help these people!

Beth Wilkerson
Beth Wilkerson1 years ago

Too much hate in the world.

Winn Adams
Winn Adams1 years ago

Very sad

vicky T.
vicky T.1 years ago

This is heartbreaking. Who would want to hurt a harmless person who has absolutely nothing in this world?

Hazel G.
Hazel G.1 years ago

So sad. I can't believe it would enter someone's mind to abuse anyone, let alone someone who has nothing they could possibly give. For some people it's just sport. Sick.

Kay M.
Kay M.1 years ago