[Hpn] Death of a homeless man

chance martin streetsheet@sf-homeless-coalition.org
Mon, 25 Jun 2001 12:52:58 -0700


The Bergen Record
Sunday, June 24, 2001

Death of a homeless man

BY ALL accounts, Hector Robles was a well-liked, gentle man. He began living
on the streets as a teenager many years ago, after his mother died. Last
week, he met a brutal end when a group of rampaging teenagers apparently
came upon him in Paterson and beat him to death in broad daylight.

So far, several teenagers have been arrested and charged with Mr. Robles'
death, but their motive remains unfathomable. Witnesses said up to 20 kids
were involved in the attack. Was it a random act of violence? Or was he an
easy target because he was so defenseless?

Sad to say, Mr. Robles' case is not that unusual. The day after he died, the
National Coalition for the Homeless released its annual report on hate
crimes and violence against homeless people in this country. The report
found that last year, 43 homeless people were killed by violence.

Some of the cases involved homeless men who were beaten and set on fire. In
an incident in 1999, three teens stabbed a homeless man to death in Seattle,
then threw his body on a garbage heap. His family remembered him as a
gentle, loving man who chose to live on the street.

Mr. Robles also chose to be homeless. Even though his family tried to
persuade him to leave the street, he decided to stay in makeshift quarters,
a garage and a school stadium. Neighbors befriended him, giving him food and
shelter. He was homeless, but he was loved.

Now, his family will bury him. A funeral for Mr. Robles, who was believed to
be 43, is scheduled for Tuesday in Paterson.

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