The March 2006 Edition of Street Spirit

A publication of the American Friends Service Committee


National AFSC AFSC Economic Justice BOSS Website



In this issue:

Epidemic of Hate Crimes in U.S.

Radical Dream of Economic Rights

Bush's Budget Harms the Poor

Coretta Scott King's Fight for Equality

Disabled Tenant Faces Eviction in Marin County

Bob Mills: An Activist for the Long Haul

"Song of the Magpie": A Review

How Journalists Sanitize Deaths and Executions

"Ten Minutes, Then Jail" in Santa Cruz

Artists Help Homeless Children

"Warmth in Giving": Art of Elizabeth King

A New Book of Street Spirit Poetry

Homeless Youth Learns Empathy on the Streets

U.S. Is Truly an Orwellian Society

Stories and Fables from the Streets

Homelessness and Survival

Poor Leonard's Almanack: On Art and Artists

March Poetry of the Streets


February 2006

January 2006

November 2005

October 2005

September 2005

August 2005

July 2005

June 2005

May 2005

April 2005

March 2005

February 2005




Street Spirit is published by American Friends Service Committee.

All works are copyrighted by the authors.

The views expressed in Street Spirit are those of the individual authors alone, and not necessarily that of the American Friends Service Committee.

Epidemic of Hate Crimes Against Homeless People

A Report by the National Coalition for the Homeless

"Church." Painting by Jonathan Burstein

Even a church can't always provide sanctuary from violence. A homeless man was beaten and left unconscious in a pool of blood at a church in Fairfield, California. The homeless father, who was living in his car at the Parkway Community Church, was left blind and neurologically damaged by the beating.

On February 8, 2005, Maria Catherine King, a homeless woman weighing less than 100 pounds, was brutally beaten and killed in Berkeley, California. The suspects were two 18-year-old males. The victim, 49-year-old King, a legal writer and advocate, was known for giving out cookies, free legal advice and a shoulder to cry on.

A witness testified that he saw two hooded figures kicking something "as if they were kicking a soccer ball as hard as they could." As the two attackers walked away, the witness testified, one turned back, got a running start and "jumped on the object with both feet." After the savage assault, King was taken to Highland Hospital in a coma. She never regained consciousness, and died 12 days later.

Killing for fun

On May 28, 2005, in Holly Hill, Florida, five teenagers charged with killing a 53-year-old homeless man said they did it "for fun" because they "needed something to do." The five teens left the scene and returned numerous times to kick Michael Roberts and beat him with their fists, tree branches, and a large log. The victim weighed a little more than 100 pounds. One of the attackers was described as several inches taller and weighing in at over 200 pounds.

The autopsy report indicates that Roberts died of blunt-force trauma to the head and body. His ribs were broken, his skull was fractured, and his legs were badly injured. The boys returned several times to make sure the job was done.

"It's not a surprise to hear of kids attacking a homeless man; it's happened before," said Del Hillman of the Homeless Assistance Center in Daytona Beach. "It's an easy target. There's rarely a day that I don't walk the line and see someone who has been beaten up, whether their mouth is busted open or they have stitches."

"The real thing here is as a community we've decided there's no legitimate place for the homeless," said Troy Ray, executive director of Halifax Urban Ministries. "Until there is, they will be subject to all kinds of violence."

Homeless father beaten in Fairfield, California

On August 18, a homeless man was beaten into unconsciousness and was found in a pool of blood in a church parking lot in Fairfield, California. Police discovered the victim lying unconscious with blood pooled around him. He was beaten, stomped on and appeared to have suffered severe head trauma. He was left blind and neurologically damaged by the beating.

The victim of this savage attack was a homeless father who was living out of his car at the Parkway Community Church. The victim, Joseph Pettaway, 47, remained in critical condition at Sutter Roseville Medical Center. The three suspects, Stephen Armstrong, 18, Tyler Giugni, 19, and Corey Reitmeier, 17, pleaded innocent to attempted murder, mayhem and assault charges. The three youth were ordered to remain in jail on $500,000 bail until their next court appearance.

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