Students Urged to Help End Attacks Against the Homeless

Students Urged to Help End Attacks Against the Homeless

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Maha Neouchy
July 09, 2012

The Homelessness Civic Engagement Project welcomed the National Coalition for the Homeless (NCH) to TWC's Residential Academic Facility on July 9th. NCH discussed attacks on the homeless throughout the United States and encouraged students to support H.R. 3528, also known as the Hate Crimes Statistics Act, which would include attacks against the homeless as a hate crime.


Speakers spoke to students about their efforts to compile hate crime statistics on the homeless over the last 12 years, when "advocates and shelter workers around the country have received news reports of men, women, and even children being harassed, kicked, set on fire, beaten to death and decapitated." Between 1999 and 2010, there have been 1184 acts of violence in 47 states, Puerto Rico and Washington D.C.


Four NCH members came to speak to the Homelessness Civic Engagement Project about the epidemic of violence that the organization has documented since 1999. Presenters included Michael Stoops, NCH's Director of Community Organizing, and David Pirtle, a speaker for NCH and a formerly homeless man, who was a victim of hate crimes while living on the streets in Washington, D.C. and New York City. In addition to being beaten, he was urinated on and spray painted. Students were exposed to other details of David's personal experience. He suffers from schizoaffective disorder, a sub-category of schizophrenia. Unaware of his medical disorder, David was unable to maintain his job and home when he was living in Phoenix, Arizona. Only after being arrested for shoplifting in Washington, D.C. was he forced into treatment at a mental health facility and homeless shelter.


The presentation ended with a discussion on H.R. 3528, introduced in the House of Representatives in November 2011. NCH encouraged TWC students to join them in their efforts to document and help end hate crimes against the homeless by urging their elected representatives to co-sponsor this important piece of legislation.


[Hear David Pirtle's October 2009 interview with Dick Gordon of NPR]

[View photos of the event on our Flickr channel]

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