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L.A. County to track violence against homeless people


During the last year, the homeless in Los Angeles County have been set on fire, stabbed, shot and beaten with baseball bats in attacks that advocates say have become more violent.

As the economy worsens and the number of homeless in the county increases -- rates are up nearly 400% at some shelters this winter -- this morning county supervisors unanimously recommended that sheriff’s deputies, prosecutors and the county Human Relations Commission track and report attacks on the homeless as hate crimes.

Supervisor Zev Yaroslavsky, who sponsored the proposal with Supervisor Don Knabe, said he was concerned about “an emerging pattern of homeless individuals being an easy target of violence in our community.”

Richard Pearson, 40, a homeless chef with 94 stitches in his jaw after he was attacked by an acquaintance with a straight razor near Skid Row on March 15, said he welcomed the measure.

Pearson said the man who attacked him had a grudge and was later arrested but that he and other homeless people remain targets, especially those he knows who are disabled or mentally ill. Last week, someone set off fireworks among those sleeping on Skid Row, and there have been incidents of smoke bombs and paint-ball and BB gun attacks in the area, police said.

“There’s a lot of people [who] have hate for the homeless, especially those who panhandle downtown,” Pearson said as he sat at the downtown Union Rescue Mission this morning.

Local and national homeless advocates support the proposal. Although Los Angeles Police say they have not seen more attackers targeting the homeless on Skid Row in recent months or years, advocates cite several brutal attacks countywide during the last year: the March 9 stabbing of a 66-year-old homeless man in Lincoln Heights, the Oct. 9 burning death of John Robert McGraham in Mid-Wilshire and the fatal Nov. 3 shooting of five homeless men and women in Long Beach.

"The intensity has gotten much worse," said Union Rescue Mission Chief Executive Officer Andy Bales, calling the hate crime proposal, "long overdue."

-- Molly Hennessy-Fiske

Photo: Richard Pearson was slashed with a razor outside the Union Rescue Mission earlier this month. Credit: Francine Orr / Los Angeles Times

Comments () | Archives (9)

About time.

Any such crime on a person is "hate" crime. It should not matter if they are homeless. It shouldn't make a difference what gender or race the victim is either. We shouldn't need this extra designation. Equal punishment under the law. If the law isn't acting as a deterrent, increase it in all cases, not just a select few.

The FIRST complaint can be against the LA Homeless System FOR KEEPING THE HOMELESS PEOPLE HOMELESS!

The homeless are breathing human beings and must be treated with profound respect at all times.

We should never ever show any kind of hatred or animosity towards them at all period.

We should treated all others as we would like to be treated ourselves.

And we shall not under any circumstances show any hatred or partiality towards a person regardless of their race,color,creed or disability.

We are all the same in Gods eyes.

God is not a respector of persons.

And neither should we for that matter.

As it states in The Book Of John:

Do not judge by apperences but judge rightly.

And Richard Pearson,got attatcked by a razor and required 94 stitches in his jaw.

And there have been fireworks set off fireworks among those sleeping in Skid Row.

And the homeless were also bombarded by BB gun as well as smoke bomb and paint ball attatcks.

And there was a stabbing of a 66 yr.old man in Lincoln Heights as well as the as well as the Oct.9th buring death of John McGraham,and the Nov.3rd shooting death of 5 homelessmen in Long Beach.

And the violence keeps on escalating to no abrupt end.

The police need to find these miscreants before more violences and more killings start to erupt.

And they need to be prosecuted in a manner most adherrent to their particular crime.

Unintentional killing is not morally imputable.

But one is not exonorated from grave offense if,without proportionate reasons,he has acted in a way that brings about someone's death,even without the intention to do so.

This senseless violence needs to be put to an abrupt stop effective immediately.

What compels a person to act so viciously toward the most vulnerable of our society? The state has failed these people, the majority of which are mentally ill. Somehow advocates find it less cruel to leave these people on the streets, where they have to beg in order to medicate and feed themselves (and medicate, I mean drugs and alcohol), than to put them in mental hospitals. These people need protection from the real nuts, those that get their jollies from participating in these unprovoked attacks. Sadly, the state and "advocates" have done the mentally ill the biggest disservice, which was to abandon California's mental health system...we can see the reprocussions of these decisions by reading these disgusting stories.

Reminds me of season 5 of The Wire


Do you know how hard it is to get someone hospitalized with mental illness? And btw, state hospitals were closed years ago, so the homeless spilled onto the streets (or dumped by hospitals). It's only going to get worse with programs that help with social services get cut, the wars in Iraq and Afghanistan bringing back soldiers who need help, and the economy tanking. Do you know how hard it is to find housing where you meet that criteria or that they even have an opening? Also, there is a percentage of people on the streets that want to stay there for a variety of reasons. But to say that advocates, which I consider myself since I am a social worker, would prefer them on the streets is rude and presumtuous. Come to my work and meet the hundreds of 18-28 year olds on the streets with schizophrenia or some other major illness. You will get a rude awakening.

Increase in the percentage of homelessness in big cities can result in an increase in crimes like that of LA. This article clearly states the problems homeless people are facing recently, and the crimes done to them. The harsh economy placed them in this society, leaving them vunerable to easy attacks from citizens. The government has shown little signs of concern for these people, and they have even said that they haven't seen an increase in these crimes. This shows that there is a weak link between the government and the people. Although the people are asking for help and protection, the government seems to be denying it. The linkage institution is quite low, because the link between the government and the people has weakened. But according to the article, there may have been a little attention on this problem, because the government seems to notice that the intensity has increase recently. The government seems to be not communicationg so well with the people, and that is another reason for the increase in problems. LA is a city with many crimes happening each day, but everyone deserves to be protected, because of the Fourteenth Amendment; equal protection of the laws. Please solve these problems as quickly as possible,and protect everyone, not just the one with money.

I am a documentary filmmaker that has followed the life of a homeless man for almost 5 years. I met him in Skid Row in 2004. He spent his days panhandling for money to buy a rock to get high and the process would repeat all day, week and year long.

To make a very compelling long story short, the acts of violence that have increased, or that the media is paying more attention to, is a very horrific and inhumane way to treat anyone, especially those least vulnerable.

In my documentary, being that it is an anomaly, my documentary participant was brutally attacked, robbed and left on the sidewalk with broken ribs and one side of his hip. He was found the next day and rushed to the hospital. He underwent surgery and instead of being dropped back on Skid Row, he was put into a nursing home to rehabilitate. There, he miraculously detoxed from the 7-year itch of cocaine addiction, filed for disability, began a relationship with a former homeless woman and has been off the streets for over 3 years.

I have not heard stories like this in the media, and I look forward to bringing this story of hope that the system, if able, could support the rehabilitation of our fellow human beings that are suffering and want to come home.

Thank you for reading.

Stephon Litwinczuk


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