National News: Homeless Still Endangered Across America

Group skirts homeless feeding ban

ORLANDO, FL. - A charity skirted Orlando's new ordinance against feeding homeless people in downtown public parks by serving food out of a van on a nearby street, according to an article in the Associated Press.

   Joined by a local American Civil Liberties Union representative, Food Not Bombs distributed vegetarian meals to the homeless just as it has for more than a year.  But this time, with police officers there to monitor, volunteers scooped the items from containers in a parked van nearby. That could be a loophole in an ordinance passed recently that prevents serving large groups in parks and other public property within 2 miles of City Hall. Such feedings would be legal only with a one-time use permit.

   The ACLU, said in the article that  it intended to sue the city, and is also exploring other options.  Police were there with a one-time permit already made out for the group, which would have made the feeding, but not future ones, legal.

   Orlando, FL, and Las Vegas, NV have both recently passed bans on feeding homeless people, and both have been challenged by homeless advocates.

Homeless man found shot under bridge

NEW ORLEANS, LA- The body of a 53 year old transient was found beside the Crescent City  Connection.  The man was shot once in the head and left by a support column at the uptown end of the bridge.

Teens sought in stabbing of homeless man

FT. LAUDERDALE, FL- Detectives in Ft. Lauderdale are searching for four teen boys between the ages of 12 and 15 in connection with an attack on William Peters, 44.  Peters, a homeless man, was sitting on a bench when the boys approached him, and attacked.  He was admitted to Broward County Medical Center, and is listed in fair condition.  This is another in a rash of attacks on holes people in the Ft. Lauderdale area.

Homeless man killed in altercation with police

SAN MATEO, CA - 49 year old Stanley Wong was shot and killed by a police officer responding to an emergency call regarding a man picking fights with customers a local market.  Police say the Wong had a knife and continued to menace the officer after being stunned with a TASER. The officer is on administrative leave pending investigation by San Mateo County District Attorney’s Office.

Neighbors protest homeless housing program

CAMBRIDGE, MA - Angry East Cambridge residents confronted the Cambridge Housing Authority and Shelter Inc. at a neighborhood meeting, airing concerns about future homeless housing planned for Lopez Avenue.     Shelter Inc., a Cambridge nonprofit that works to end homelessness, is slated to run the program for the CHA at 22 Lopez Ave.    

    Hurley Street resident Nicole Burton and other residents raised the possibility that homeless tenants at the Lopez Avenue building could increase crime and drug use in the area.

     Tom Lorello, executive director of Shelter Inc., said in the article in The Cambridge Chronicle that the program is restricted to people who have clean criminal records in Massachusetts and have demonstrated a clean and sober lifestyle for at least one year.     The CHA paid $250,500 per unit at the eight-unit home, a figure that angered residents who said the property was headed for foreclosure anyway.  Currently, there is not a sale closing date for 22 Lopez Ave., according to the article.

Olympia considering panhandling restrictions.

OLYMPIA, WA- Responding to public complaints about aggressive and intimidating panhandlers, Olympia city council is considering legislative measures including no-begging zones, and anti car-camping laws.  The city is debating banning panhandling near automated teller machines, and in areas that block pedestrian traffic.  These measures would also facilitate the removal of unregistered vehicles and cars with multiple parking tickets.

 Jury Deliberates in Death of Homeless Woman

OAKLAND, CA- Jurors began deliberating yesterday on the case of two men accused of killing a Berkeley homeless woman last year.

   Berkeley resident Derrell Morgan, 19, and San Leandro resident Jarell Johnson, 19, are charged with homicide in connection with the beating death of 45-year-old Maria King in February 2005.

   King was found by police with severe head trauma and died 12 days later in Highland General Hospital in Oakland.

   Morgan’s defense attorney Walter Pyle made his closing arguments yesterday morning, arguing that the evidence against Morgan was spotty and inconclusive.

   Pyle added in the article that the Berkeley Police Department failed to take thorough notes throughout interviews with informants and did not pursue the case in a timely and aggressive fashion.

   According to a report by the Bay City News, Johnson’s attorney, Alameda County Deputy Public Defender Ray Plumhoff, admitted in his closing arguments Monday that Johnson had participated in King’s death.

   He asked the jury to convict Johnson of involuntary manslaughter rather than murder because he was intoxicated. Alameda County Deputy District Attorney Ben Beltramo said in closing arguments yesterday that the nature of the beatings showed clear malice and intent to kill.

   There was no evidence of either man being intoxicated when found by police, ruling out involuntary manslaughter as a possible sentence for either defendant, he said.

   It is unknown when the jury will finish deliberation.

3 teens held in beating of Astoria homeless man

ASTORIA, OR- Three teens were arrested in connection with the robbery and beating of a homeless man in Astoria as he slept, according to an article in The Associated Press.

   The teens, Robert Ellis, 19, David Diaz, 17, and Christopher Williams, 18, are accused of attacking the man while he slept in front of an apartment in Astoria at about 5:30 a.m.. The three teens allegedly broke a metal cane over the victim, threw paint, metal chairs, bottles and a metal cart at the victim, then took his money and attempted to run from the scene, the Astoria DA’s office said in the article. The victim suffered lacerations to face, nose, lip and body and pain to his back. The alleged attackers were arraigned on charges of first and second degree robbery and criminal possession of a weapon, and face up to 25 years in prison if convicted.

Copyright Homeless Grapevine, Cleveland Ohio Issue 78 October 2006