Wednesday, May 23, 2007

Violence Against Homeless People

Are We Ready for a Dangerous Summer Part II?

We posted a concern on Saturday about the murder using a gun that happened on Friday night near the Bishop Cosgrove Center might be a hate crime. We were relieved to find out this was not a hate crime. Henry Casey was killed because of his association with the wrong people in the community. We actually had a lot of contact with Mr. Casey over the last three years. He was one of the individuals who filed a complaint against the state last year because he could not vote because he did not have identification. His girlfriend did a lot of work for us in 2004 signing homeless people up to vote in the Presidential election. Mr. Casey also was a valuable source for what is going on in the East 18th St. neighborhood with regard to homeless people and relations between police and those who choose not to use the shelters. His girlfriend and friends want a memorial session, which we will help to organize. His family is from Arkansas, and will be burying Mr. Casey in Little Rock, but his Cleveland friends want to say "goodbye".

As the Plain Dealer reported today, we have witnessed a string of attacks on people experiencing homelessness in Cleveland. NEOCH sounded the alarm on Monday after the third documented attack in less than a month with three people ending up in the hospital. Care Alliance had two other attacks that they were aware of in the same neighborhood from February and March 2007. This is a sharp increase since the last attack we documented in Cleveland was October and December 2005 and those both were on Public Square. We are worried that these might be connected or might be gang related since they are all in the same area and all involve young white kids. I hope that the attention given by WKSU, WKYC TV3 and WJW Fox8 along with the Plain Dealer will make people more aware of a problem and will keep homeless people safe. Also, we would love to see the dog, Train, returned to the couple who lost their encampment and their puppies after losing their housing last year.

For those who are wondering..."Why would anyone sleep outside, when we have so many shelters and services in the community?"...there are many reasons. There are those who do not like the rules or have an addiction that they cannot kick even for the night. There are those who do not want to accept charity from anyone. There are those who are married without children or just a couple and do not want to break up. Finally, there are those with animals that they cannot part with and so stay outside or abandoned buildings. NEOCH estimates that there are as many people sleeping outside or abandoned buildings as there are in the shelters every night.

Posts by Northeast Ohio Coalition for the Homeless staff and Board.

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