Hate crimes against homeless people is now a crime in Seattle, thanks to the excellent work of Seattle's Office for Civil Rights. I've always had mixed emotions regarding this particular tactic. Being homeless, unlike being gay, black, or a Muslim, is more of an economic status than an identity. But maybe I'm just wishing the world were other than it is.
Given, however, the Bumfights inspired mayhem that has become frighteningly commonplace, where, most typically, teen-aged boys go looking for easy targets to kill and torture, an additional penalty for that sort of violence doesn't seem like a bad thing. It is a stretch, however, to think that this legislation in and of itself will prevent a single act of harassment.
Crimes against homeless and other vulnerable people has more to do with an overall environment of dehumanization that lends itself to hate. Recent treatment of homeless campers in the local media is a case in point.
There was, however, an interesting wrinkle in the legislation that was unanimously adopted by city government this week. According to the brief article that ran in the PI, "The law also makes it illegal to damage the belongings of a homeless person."
This would include, I assume, throwing said belongings away, which has been the City's unrepentant practice during the recent wave of homeless encampment sweeps. Maybe, despite Human Services head Patricia McInturff's opinion that storage of belongings is "impossible," the City will have to find a way, or else.