Wednesday, October 7, 2009
Violence Against the Homeless - Florida
Friday, August 21st, 2009 at 16:36 | Categories: Homelessness and Housing | Tags: Crimes against the homeless, Florida
Homeless: Orlando could be the most violent metro area in Florida, survey finds, By Willoughby Mariano, August 20, 2009, Orlando Sentinel: “The nation’s third “meanest” city for the homeless may also be the state’s most violent toward them, say survey results being released today. Forty-six percent of homeless people questioned in Orlando and Orange County in an ongoing local survey said they were physically attacked in the past four years by someone they thought was not homeless - well above Florida’s average of 27 percent, according to the National Coalition for the Homeless. The same organization last month ranked Orlando as the third “meanest” city in the country, behind Los Angeles and St. Petersburg. A coalition report released earlier this month said that in 2008, Florida led the nation in violence against the homeless for the fourth year in a row…”
Report: Attacks on the Homeless
Monday, August 10th, 2009 at 16:17 | Categories: Homelessness and Housing, Law and Corrections | Tags: Crimes against the homeless, Hate crime legislation, States
* Attacks on homeless bring push on hate crime laws, By Eric Lichtblau, August 7, 2009, New York Times: “With economic troubles pushing more people onto the streets in the last few years, law enforcement officials and researchers are seeing a surge in unprovoked attacks against the homeless, and a number of states are considering legislation to treat such assaults as hate crimes. This October, Maryland will become the first state to expand its hate-crime law to add stiffer penalties for attacks on the homeless. At least five other states are pondering similar steps, the District of Columbia approved such a measure this week, and a like bill was introduced last week in Congress…”
* Florida led the nation last year in violence against the homeless, By Scott Wyman, August 8, 2009, South Florida Sun Sentinel: “Last September, a homeless woman in Pompano Beach was raped and nearly strangled. Earlier in the year, two homeless men in West Palm Beach were shot and killed and a Fort Lauderdale man was accused of harassing the homeless with a chainsaw. Florida led the nation for the fourth consecutive year in violence against the homeless in a report released Saturday by the National Coalition for the Homeless. The group documented 30 attacks last year in 10 communities across the state, including three deaths…”
Hate Crime Legislation and the Homeless - Florida
Wednesday, July 8th, 2009 at 13:20 | Categories: Homelessness and Housing, Law and Corrections, Politics | Tags: Crime, Crimes against the homeless, Florida
Advocates push to add attacks on homeless to Florida hate crimes law, By Anthony Man, July 7, 2009, South Florida Sun-Sentinel: “Horrified by video of teens who went on a rampage beating homeless men in downtown Fort Lauderdale, a state legislator was propelled to push for including attacks on the homeless to the state’s hate crimes law. It is now state law — in Maryland — because state Sen. Alex Mooney, R-Md., saw what he termed “gruesome” video of the Fort Lauderdale incident. His state is the first to include homeless people as a protected group under its hate crimes statute…”
Where is this child's parents? Whats going on that would provoke this child to act in such a hateful manner we must ask ourselves why is these crimes continuing?
The Agape Community Center in Roseland has long been a sanctuary, a refuge for students who want to finish their homework, take Bible study courses or simply escape the chaotic streets in their Far South Side community.
But this place of refuge became the scene of a deadly melee Thursday when dozens of teenage boys converged in a vacant lot next to the community center, beating one another with fists, feet and 2-by-4s.
When it was all over, 16-year-old Derrion Albert lay on the gravel, his body dented and damaged from the pummeling. A youth worker at the center dragged Derrion's slight frame into the center, but it was too late. He died a short time later.
Witnesses and police said Friday that the Fenger High School junior was not a target but simply passed by the community center and was swept into the violent altercation. Walking from school, he fell victim to the violence plaguing some of Chicago's most dangerous neighborhoods.
The honor roll student known for his love of computers became the third Chicago teenager killed this month. At least seven more have been shot.
Police and witnesses say the melee was a culmination of a simmering rivalry between two groups of Fenger students, one that lived near the school and the other from the Altgeld Gardens housing development. Neighbors said the feud has been building since August, spilling across Roseland streets and, some say, into Fenger.
Shots were fired in front of Fenger earlier Thursday. No one was injured. Police said the two incidents don't appear to be related, but they were still looking for suspects in Derrion's slaying.
"This gang violence is escalating beyond control," said T'Awannda Piper, the youth worker who pulled Derrion into the building. "He was caught in it. The kids directly involved walked away healthy, and this kid didn't walk away at all."
The Fenger school principal declined to comment.
As friends propped teddy bears at the site of the beating -- creating the sort of street-side memorial that has become commonplace on the city's West and South Sides -- Derrion's family began planning a funeral for a young man who had dreams of going to college.
Derrion was small, only 5-foot-7. He was a "ladies' man" and a homebody, family members said.
Derrion's grandfather Joseph Walker sat in his living room, tearfully recounting his grandson's life. Displayed on the table in front of him was the honor roll report card and certificate for outstanding attendance.
"Derrion put his key in that door every day at 3:15," said Walker, who was taking care of the teenager. "He would get something to eat and get on the computer, where he would stay most of the night."
Walker said his grandson asked if he could hang out with some friends Thursday after school. Walker said OK, but insisted Derrion be back by 7 p.m.
He never made it. Witnesses said Derrion was near the community center, 342 W. 111th St., when a group of teenagers walking east met up with a group coming from the west. The fight began, they said, with about 10 teenagers. By the time it was finished, witnesses and police said, more than 50 youths were involved.
Milton Massie, executive director of Agape, said video from a surveillance camera atop the community center shows Derrion being struck in the back of the head and moving away from the crowd.
He fell to the gravel, next door to Agape, a Greek word for love.
Derrion's community of Roseland has been one of the city's most treacherous areas since the late 1980s, when the economic decline of the area led to urban decay and gang violence. In the mid-1990s, it gained notoriety as the stamping ground of Robert "Yummy" Sandifer, the 11-year old who was executed by fellow gang members.
These days, too many of the community's youngsters end up in the police blotter or obituaries.
Diane Latiker has become so incensed by the violence in her community, and what she views as the city's seeming "indifference" to it, that she turned her Roseland home into an after-school community center for teenagers.
On Friday afternoon, dozens of area teens gathered there to cry about the death of a schoolmate and voice concerns that they might be next.
But after an hour, they went about their business of planning a Thanksgiving dinner for hungry families in the Roseland area.
"First they cry," she said. "But then they shake their heads and continue with their day, because it's become so commonplace to them. It's like, 'Oh well, another bump on the road.' They go on because it's the only way they can deal with it."
Now, Latiker wonders how she can possibly make room for Derrion's headstone. Latiker created a memorial two years ago to honor the young people killed in Chicago. Each time a child is shot, stabbed or beaten to death, she adds a stone to the memorial wall.
"We have 163 stones right now, but we are 20, now 21, behind," she said. "I thought, well, I hoped, I dreamed that there'd be more space on the wall than kids being killed."
Tribune reporters Annie Sweeney, Carlos Sadovi, Liam Ford and William Lee contributed to this report. firstname.lastname@example.org
(Tribune photo by E. Jason Wambsgans / September 28, 2009)
Tamaray Shannon is the mother of Silvonius Shannon, one of three teenagers who have been charged with beating to death 16-year-old Derrion Albert, an "innocent bystander" who walked into the middle of a street fight between two groups of feuding teens last Thursday.