August 12th, 2009
08:18 PM ET

Beating the homeless is cruel, not cool

[cnn-photo-caption image="http://i2.cdn.turner.com/cnn/2009/CRIME/08/12/levin.homeless.hate/art.michael.stoops.courtesy.jpg" caption="Michael Stoops says a new report documents a disturbing trend of attacks on the homeless."]

Brian Levin and Michael Stoops
Special to CNN

Over the last two calendar years, more Americans in the United States were killed in a little-noticed spate of unprovoked attacks than were killed by terrorists, in large commercial jet crashes or in racial hate crimes.

Since 1999, more than 240 vulnerable homeless Americans have been stabbed, beaten, drowned, shot or burned to death in a revolting display of one of the last socially tolerated prejudices, this one based on class.

Despite being prime targets of prejudice and violence, particularly in today's youth subculture, the homeless are routinely excluded from lessons related to tolerance, as well as from official data collection and hate-crime penalty enhancement laws.

A newly released report from the National Coalition for the Homeless documented 27 unprovoked, apparently bias-related homicides by attackers in the United States last year, down one from the previous year and the second-highest number of killings since 2001.

Keep reading...

Filed under: Beyond 360 • Crime & Punishment
soundoff (9 Responses)
  1. Annette

    "the town hall, anti- healthcare nut-cases, and the people committing these kinds of crimes are unrelated, you’re being naive."

    Exactly. Because I disagree with the specifics of the proposed legislation, it follows that I hate homeless people and think they should be attacked. As soon as I finish my coffee, I am going to call my congressman and complain about how my privileges are being taken away, then I'm going to find a pipe iron and beat a homeless person to death. Then I'll watch something bitter on TV.

    August 13, 2009 at 10:12 am |
  2. Dean D. Ellis Lake Worth, Florida

    Victor from Florida is correct and what is more important is that the number of unreported cases is probably 20-30 times more. . The last thing that a homeless person wants to do is to tell the police anything or even see the police. Just recently a homeless vet friend of mine was found dead on the side of the road just after he had cashed his check.
    This is not a new trend. The destitute have always been blamed for crimes going back to what was called hobos during the Great Depression. Look what the United States Army and General McArthur did with the "Bonus Army".
    I was lucky enough to have a tent and lived in my car for a period of time because I did not want to burden my family. You had to rotate from park to park.
    A great amount of people are only one paycheck from homelessness. One flat tire and lateness to work can cause job loss/poverty. Afterward, you are a target. Will research show the types of cars that these roving gangs of youths drive? Well-to-do youths with too much time for crime on their hands? Parents, do you know what crime your children committed last night? I hope that it was not another homeless veteran.

    August 13, 2009 at 3:29 am |
  3. Steven Morello

    If you think that the town hall, anti- healthcare nut-cases, and the people committing these kinds of crimes are unrelated, you're being naive.

    There's a culture of hate and "superiority", that says not only are the poor not victims, they should be punished.

    Unfortunately, with all the progress we've made, there's still a lot of entitled, angry, bitter white people who refuse to progress along with the rest of the country.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:38 pm |
  4. Need to work harder!

    Who is parenting our kids these days? Not all of us do an exceptional job raising our kids to have high moral values. A little more community involvement and awareness would go along way. Fortunate or not, parents have social responsibilities to raise their children to contribute to better the community in which they live.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:34 pm |
  5. Isabel • Brazil

    This weekend, I read in the NY Times a impressive article of increase in the attack on the homeless of the USA (with an epidemic of mortgage crisis and the decision of banks to resume the property of those who are lagging behind or can not pay the provision). The article reported that states are beginning to include the attack on the homeless in the array of heinous crimes as a way to make people think twice before attacking someone who is on the street because it is where most live.

    Anyway, I was way depressed with this story, immersed in a naive that I thought that was the prosperity the remedy against violence. Apparently, not quite. Sad fact.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:29 pm |
  6. susan barbini

    It is such a sad reflection on our society. Every human being counts. The disregard for human life is very sad to me.

    August 12, 2009 at 9:19 pm |
  7. cheflaszlo


    August 12, 2009 at 8:53 pm |
  8. Victor Quinones

    in florida, regular attacks according to class is a regular and encouraged by older groups. 12 step fellowships, homeless shelters, and treatment center that gather large groups of indigent people are regular targets for this type of attacks.
    Many of the attackers are teenagers and adolescents encouraged by many mainstream groups to foster this environment.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:38 pm |
  9. Annie Kate

    Beating ANYONE is cruel and not cool. You don't need to be in a special group for a beating to be a hate crime – every beating is a hate crime I think.

    August 12, 2009 at 8:32 pm |