Florida leads nation in study of violence against homeless

Posted on December 18th, by Sean Cononie in Uncategorized. No Comments

Sun Sentinel

Florida leads nation in study of violence against homeless

By Wayne K. Roustan, Sun Sentinel

10:32 AM EST, December 18, 2013



Florida ranks first in the nation, again, as the most dangerous place for the homeless to live, according to the 2012 Homeless Hate Crimes report.

The National Coalition for the Homeless has tracked violence against homeless people across the country since 1999. Homeless-on-homeless attacks are not included in the findings.

Florida has led the nation all but once between 2005 and 2012, statistics show.

Florida had 15 reported attacks against the homeless last year, more than double the incidents in second-ranked California. Two of those 15 attacks were deadly; both were in South Florida.

On Dec. 1, 2012, Bradley Suessine, 42, was stabbed to death with a butcher knife behind a restaurant in Deerfield Beach. John Stabile, 23, confessed to killing the homeless man and awaits sentencing.

On Dec. 12, 2012, Gregory Hyppolite, 32, died after being beaten and repeatedly stabbed with a pen behind an auto parts store in Hallandale Beach. Cousins Jose Llano-Xolo, then 14, and Juan Xolo-Merlin, then 17, were charged in the homeless man’s death.

These cases fit a national profile. The study showed attackers are almost always men younger than 30, while the victims are mostly men 40 and older.

The study, released Tuesday, also lists 357 fatal attacks on the homeless nationally since 1999, compared with 132 deaths of people classified as protected under the hate crime laws of various states during the same time period, according to the FBI.

Sean Cononie, publisher of the Homeless Voice newspaper and director of the COSAC Foundation homeless shelter in Hollywood, said federal authorities should classify attacks against the homeless as hate crimes with stiff penalties.

“I think Congress should make [the homeless] a protected class as fast as possible and not wait 14 years,” he said. Florida amended its hate crime laws in 2010 to include homeless persons.

The study showed that overall, deadly attacks against the homeless were down from 32 to 18, or 10 percent nationwide, between 2011 and 2012.

“That could be based on some of the states’ hate crime laws and also the education [in schools] that’s being done throughout the country,” Cononie said. “But don’t forget there are still loads and loads [of attacks on the homeless] that aren’t reported out there.”

wkroustan@tribune.com or 954-356-4303


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