2011 was one of the most dangerous years for homeless people in the United States according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. The National Homeless Hate Crimes report was issued this last week.
- 1,289 reported acts of bias motivated violence have been committed against homeless
individuals between 1999-2011.
- 339 homeless individuals lost their lives as a result of the attacks.
- Reported violence has occurred in 47 states, Puerto Rico, and Washington, DC
The violence continues, and with thirty-two known deaths, 2011 ranks in the top-five deadliest years for attacks on homeless people over the past thirteen years, and with one hundred and five attacks, ranks as the sixth most violent year since NCH began tracking the violence in 1999. NCH has found startling data in the number and severity of attacks. However, the reports also acknowledge that since the homeless community is treated so poorly in our society, many more attacks go unreported. Hate crimes against the homeless community is a growing wave in need of public attention.
Ohio was again identified as the third most violent state in the United States behind California and Washington state. One bright spot was that after many years of leading the national Florida has fallen out of the top five. There were 32 attacks that led to the death of a homeless person. Ohio was listed as the fourth most dangerous state over the last dozen years. Fortunately, none of the deaths in 2011 occurred in Ohio.
The non-lethal attacks in Ohio occured in Enid, Elyria, Columbus, Toledo and two incidents in Cleveland Ohio. One incident in January 2011 was a library guard attacking a homeless person, and then an incident in July was referenced in which two young people attacked a homeless guy with a shopping cart on Public Square. The complete report can be found here.
There is a renewed effort to get a bill passed in Congress to ask the Justice Department to begin to keep track of these hate crimes and report on those to Congress. Unfortunately, at this point law enforcement does not report these crimes as a hate crime to the FBI. Even though the number of hate crimes outpace every other population protected by federal hate crimes, it is not recognized by the US government. These are terrible crimes in which vulnerable innocent people are attacked just because they are outside and a symbol of our inability in the United States to provide an adequate safety net. It is a real sign of the violent times we currently live.
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