Senseless Violence: A Survey of Hate Crimes and Violence against the Homeless in 2012 documents the known cases of violence against homeless individuals in 2012. The report includes descriptions of the cases as well as recommendations to help prevent violence against homeless individuals.
The National Coalition for the Homeless has been tracking hate crimes against homeless individuals since 1999. This year’s report only shows a slight improvement in the number of lethal attacks. In 2012 alone, of the 88 attacks, 18 resulted in deaths. A majority of the perpetrators this past year were young men under 30, and the victims were primarily males over the age of 40.
Some of the most horrific cases include a serial killer targeting the homeless population of southern California because he viewed it as a public service, teens killing a homeless man over one dollar, and a homeless woman set on fire who suffered second and third-degree burns over 20% of her body.
“This violence is prompted by a profound lack of empathy for fellow human beings, the same moral failure that allows our society to tolerate the larger tragedy of homelessness,” said Jerry Jones, Executive Director of the National Coalition for the Homeless. “Homeless people deserve our help and protection. These attacks are a shocking failure in our society’s obligations toward the most vulnerable among us.”
In many cases, homeless persons are targeted for these attacks simply because they are without housing. The National Coalition for the Homeless advocates for the inclusion of homelessness as a protected class in state and federal hate crimes legislation.