Ft. Lauderdale, Fl., police are looking for young men armed with baseball bats and sticks who committed three vicious beatings of homeless men yesterday, reports the Miami Herald. One man and two were hospitalized, all within a couple hours of each other before dawn. The brazenness of the attacks rattled the city’s homeless community; advocates were encouraging them to go into shelters. “My moral spirit tells me that no one could be that mean to any one class of people, but that’s just not reality,” said Sean Cononie of South Florida Coalition for the Homeless.
”This is so disturbing,” said Marti Forman, CEO of Cooperative Feeding Program, which provides meals to dozens of homeless. “Troll-busting. That’s what it’s called and it happens all the time.” The number of homeless people attacked each year is hard to pinpoint largely because most beatings go unreported. Sometimes the attacks are committed by kids being initiated into a gang, or people simply drunk. A vagrant on the street, advocates say, becomes a victim of their hateful ignorance. Targeting this vulnerable population is not considered a hate crime in any state except Maine, says the National Coalition for the Homeless, although there is growing support in Congress to change that. The coalition has been tracking crimes against the homeless since 1999. It documented 105 attacks in 2004.