Two men were charged yesterday with killing a homeless woman in Nashville this month by pushing her into a river, reports the Associated Press. Advocates for the homeless say such violence is on the rise across the nation. Often the attackers are teenagers or young adults who are more affluent than their victims. The National Coalition for the Homeless reports 86 violent attacks on homeless people in 2005 compared with 60 in 1999. Those numbers are likely low because they only reflect attacks that have been documented in public records, said coalition director Michael Stoops. “I think they do it for thrills. I think they think they can get away with it, that the homeless won’t fight back, that no one will care, that the police won’t pay any attention to them,” Stoops said.
The increase in violence may be linked to the increasing popularity of “Bumfights” videos and imitation videos which show homeless people fighting one another and performing dangerous stunts. A 20-year-old man in Los Angeles was convicted for beating two homeless men with a baseball bat in August 2005 after watching a “Bumfights” video. Internet site Bumfights.com, which sells the videos, says their purpose is to call attention to poverty and violence. “Please do not miss the point of these videos! Educate yourself. Help those who are less fortunate. Spread love not hate,” the site says. The site includes one viewer commenting, “Let the idiots kill each other for my amusement.”