Monday, October 23, 2006

Vigil to Stop Violence Against Homeless People

Homeless Coalition Responds to "Hate Video"

When a select group of people is targeted with violence and brutality, it's usually considered a hate crime except if the victims are homeless.

Today in America homeless people are under attack. They are beaten with baseball bats, pummeled with bottles, shocked with stun guns (which happened in our city a few years ago) and getting videotaped drinking window cleaner and urine on a Hate Video/DVD called Bumfights. Just a few weeks ago in Painesville two teenagers were caught throwing sticks and rocks at homeless people living under a bridge. One of the victims suffered a broken nose.

Youth are preying on this vulnerable population living on the streets of America. These brutal attacks go underreported and few pay attention to this growing problem. This needs to change. A few weeks ago, 60 Minutes educated viewers on this new trend, and now it's time for Cleveland to do the same.

The AmeriCorps*VISTAs at the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless (NEOCH) are holding a vigil on Saturday, October 28 at 7 p.m. in front of the Old Stone Church on Public Square to take a stand against the assault of homeless individuals.

Over the last six years there have been over 500 murders of homeless people in the United States; targeted just for sleeping outside, says Brian Davis, executive director of NEOCH. This is a far larger number than any hate crimes directed against a minority group or individual affiliated with a religious organization.

The AmeriCorps*VISTA (Volunteers In Service To America) program places individuals with community-based organizations to help find long-term solutions to poverty and homelessness. The VISTAs at the Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless focus on homeless issues such as civil rights, housing, advocacy, and getting individuals linked with voicemail.

For more information please contact either Charlene Higginbotham, Josh Kanary, Sara Cantrick or Sarah Valek at (216) 432-0540.

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