Most people have heard of the DVDs and YouTube videos promoting “Bum Fights” – pay two homeless people a certain amount to fight each other. Sometimes handcuffing them together or tying their legs together would be in the mix to add a new twist to the deal.
Violence against people who are homeless happens far too often. Whether it be a planned “bum fight” or an act of aggression by someone who is not thinking clearly, this violence should be labeled as a hate crime.
According to the National Coaltion for the Homeless, “From 1999 through 2009, in forty-seven states, Puerto Rico and Washington, DC, there have been one thousand seventy-four acts of violence committed by housed individuals, resulting in two hundred ninety-one deaths of homeless people and seven hundred eighty-three victims of non-lethal violence.”
The definition of a hate crime is such “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.” Currently, people who are homeless are not included in the hate crime list, but clearly these PEOPLE are being “intentionally selected” because they are homeless. To people who plan these “bum fights,” people who are homeless are an easy target because they will do anything for money. To those who are acting irresponsibly and deciding to attack a homeless person, they are an easy target because they are just THERE.
You can help stop this in many ways – 1) Simply spreading awareness about the facts of homelessness; 2) Donating to HealthNet’s Homeless Initiative Program that works to assist people in getting off of the street and into housing; or 3) contacting your local Congressman or woman to get homeless people added to the hate crime list.
Sources: Stone Soup Station, Hate Crimes and Violence against People experiencing Homelessness.