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Lowenthal’s ‘homeless hate crime bill’ sent to governor

August 27th, 2010 · No Comments · News, Politics

A divided Assembly on Tuesday sent the governor a bill by Assemblymember Bonnie Lowenthal that would let homeless crime victims use hate-crime statutes to seek justice from their attackers in civil court.
The so-called “homeless hate crime bill” was approved on a 50-26 vote, along party lines, with Democrats in favor and Republicans opposed.
The bill deals with crimes in which homeless people are brutalized for no reason other than that they live on the street. In such cases, Assembly Bill 2706 would allow the victim to sue their attacker for enhanced penalties. State law already grants that right to people who are victimized because of their gender, race, marital status and a number of other reasons.
“The stories of these attacks can break your heart,” said Lowenthal, D-Long Beach. “There was a man in a wheelchair who was set on fire in Los Angeles. And there are stories of people beaten with baseball bats. The only common threads are merciless cruelty on the part of the attackers, and homelessness on the part of the victims.”
California is home to the largest homeless population in the nation, and the second-highest rate of violence against the homeless. Nearly one in three homeless people have served in the military. Many have physical or mental disabilities.
The bill was supported by: the County of Los Angeles; the California Teachers Association; US Vets; the cities of Long Beach, Berkeley and Palm Springs; as well as the Los Angeles Homeless Services Authority, the ACLU and other advocacy groups.

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