Wednesday, April 30, 2008

Florida is No. 1 (again)
in violence against the homeless

Florida led the nation in the number of attacks on the homeless for the third year in a row, according to a report released Tuesday by the National Coalition for the Homeless.

With 31 attacks in 2007, Florida had more than any other state in the country. West Palm Beach had nine incidents, more than any other Florida city, and St. Petersburg had seven. Gibsonton and Ocala also had homeless people who died as the result of attacks; Dania Beach, Tampa, Bradenton, Deltona, Daytona Beach and Lakeland had non-lethal attacks.

Nationwide, 160 homeless people were attacked in 2007 and 28 of them were killed -- a 40% increase from 2006 when 20 people were killed.

The report, issued by the National Coalition for the Homeless and National Law Center on Homelessness and Poverty, takes issue with the type of restrictive measures which many cities have enacted.

"While some cities and states have taken positive steps to address hate crime and violence against homeless persons, many cities around the country continue to dehumanize homeless persons by enacting and enforcing laws that criminalize their homeless status," the report says.

St. Petersburg police spokesman Bill Proffitt took issue with the report because it doesn't use official crime data to draw its conclusions. Instead, it used press clippings and information from homeless advocates, he noted after reading the report. "The data they use is incomplete and unreliable and therefore their conclusions are flawed," Proffitt said.

Read the report, entitled "Hate, Violence, And Death on Main Street USA, 2007," here.


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