The newest Florida hate crime

You haven’t heard from us as frequently in the last couple weeks, as our resident blogger has moved on.  But we couldn’t let another day go by without commenting at greater length than our “tweet” and Facebook entry about something that happened without much fanfare last week.

With today’s Orlando Sentinel story as a backdrop, we wanted to say how happy we are that Florida Governor Charlie Crist signed a bill last week (HB 11) that adds attacks on the homeless to Florida’s hate crime laws. The measure takes effect on October 1st and puts Florida in the company of a small group nationally with similar hate crime bills.  The others are Maine, Maryland and Washington, D. C.

Many myths exist about the homeless population.  We find that the stereotypes revolve around dirty men who don’t want to work.  Sure, there are those that fit this description, but what we see more often the Coalition are men who are anxious to find employment and look for it every day.  We also see many women and about 80 homeless families with children each day who are trying hard to return to independence with our help.  In fact, families are the growing definition of homelessness throughout the country.

One can read about the specific attacks on the homeless in Florida and elsewhere, so we won’t detail them here.  What we will say is that making “bum bashing” into a sport as some of our younger citizens have done is appalling.  And that in Florida was rated by the National Coalition for the Homeless (not affiliated with us) as number one in the country in violence against the homeless for four straight years!  (See our past post about that study.)

We’re glad Florida has taken a stand and hope the other states considering such a measure follow suit.