Recently the LA County Board of Supervisors made the decision to start tracking and reporting attacks against homeless people as hate crimes. Bias-related violent crime against homeless people for no other reason than their vulnerable status is rampant -- during the past year in LA, homeless people have been reported beaten, stabbed, set on fire and shot. But will adding homeless people to hate crimes enforcement do anything to prevent this problem? Let's think about it for a moment...
Who commits most of the violent crime against homeless people? When you see a homeless person kicked in the face while sleeping, beaten with batons, hogtied on the ground, or dragged off into a van, who instigates this crime? Oh, I know -- our lovely law enforcement officers!
In LA over the last several years, there has been a dramatic escalation of the war on homeless people, as part of the city's quest to gentrify the downtown area, as thousands of homeless people have systematically been harassed, arrested, brutalized, and displaced to make way for property development and real estate speculation. Adding homeless people to the hate crimes roster will only put more resources into the hands of the people committing these violent acts. And, while it's difficult to figure out solutions for many hate crimes, with crimes against the homeless it's quite simple. Let's brainstorm -- what would prevent these hideous incidents from occurring? Oh -- I know -- housing for everyone who needs it!
That's right -- I guarantee you that the vast majority of homeless people would love nothing more than a place of their own -- and, guess what? If they weren't forced to sleep on the street, then they also wouldn't be subjected to routine and systematic abuse by cops and other hooligans. LA, like every major city in the US, has more than enough empty buildings and vacant lots to support housing for every person who needs it. Instead of arguing for homeless status to be incorporated under hate crimes enforcement, we should be fighting for a redirection of resources to actually provide for the people most vulnerable.
Mattilda also blogs at nobodypasses.blogspot.com.