The problem of attacks on the homeless was illustrated by the brutal beating of August Felix. He was badly bludgeoned by a gang of teenagers who wanted nothing more than to 'beat someone up'. August eventually died of his injuries and his assailants were charged with second-degree homicide.
A 2006 report by the National Coalition for the Homeless found 142 attacks last year against homeless people, 20 of which resulted in death — a 65 percent increase from 2005, when 86 were violently assaulted, including 13 homicides.
By comparison, 60 such attacks were reported in 1999, the year the coalition — the only entity to gather such data — began to study the problem.
A more recent survey, "Hate, Violence, and Death on Main Street USA", also found that most attackers - 88% - are under 25. Sean Cononie, who operates a homeless shelter in Fort Lauderdale said that, "kids hunt down and kill homeless people as though it were a sport." He also said they are videotaping the attacks.
Pressure is now mounting on lawmakers to crack down on these assaults and they for them to be classified along with other hate crimes. Brian Levin, a criminologist and hate crimes expert at Cal State San Bernardino, says attacks on homeless people "fit the category like a glove," and should be punished as severely.