Politics: Stopping Hate Against the Homeless

Recently in New Mexico, two homeless men were violently killed. This has prompted a discussion regarding homeless people becoming a protected class under the state’s new hate crime laws. Last year, a bill to expand laws against hate crimes on homeless people failed, after it was proposed by Senator Bill O’Neill (D). But, O’Neill says he plans to try again, especially after these recent murders. Three teens were charged with the slayings of the men, and one of the accused teens confessed to being connected with the beatings of over 50 other homeless people. In the United States, 109 acts of violence were reported against homeless people each year. Seven states currently have laws that involve protecting homeless people against hate crimes. Those states are Alaska, Maine, Florida, California, Washington, Maryland, and Rhode Island, and in addition, Puerto Rico, the District of Columbia, Seattle, Los Angeles and Cleveland all have laws to protect homeless people from hate crimes as well. New Mexico’s hate crimes currently protect against religion, gender, race, disability, and a few other factors. People who are charged with hate crimes can face up to two additional years of sentencing in state facilities.


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