Homeless afraid in wake of murders, assaults in CA [USA] FWD

Tom Boland (wgcp@earthlink.net)
Sat, 14 Nov 1998 15:04:30 -0400


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3,000+ posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people
HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>
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http://www.mercurycenter.com/premium/front/docs/homeless14.htm
FWD  San Jose Mercury News - Saturday, November 14, 1998


HOMELESSNESS INCREASINGLY A LIFE OF FEAR

By Brandon Bailey
Mercury News Staff Writer


A man with a history of mental illness is accused of slashing the throats
of four homeless people in San Francisco. Two college football players are
charged with beating a homeless man to death in Chico.

The recent violence only underscores what's already clear to those who live
on the street:

``It's scary out there, believe me,'' said Tony Chavez, an unemployed
construction worker who lost his San Jose apartment last year.

For months, he and his wife, Gloria, slept in their truck and kept a
crowbar close at hand. Since their truck was stolen this month, they've
been lining up every day to qualify for beds at a local shelter.

``We saw a guy get stabbed in a camp by the creek,'' said Tony Chavez, 51.
Gloria Chavez nodded agreement as he added, ``Me and my wife, we have got
to get off the street.''

Though statistics are sketchy, homeless people and social workers say
violence is a constant threat to people who are living outside -- whether
huddled on sidewalks, hidden under bridges or camped along creekbeds in San
Jose, San Francisco and other major cities.

``Homeless people are out there in absolutely terrifying circumstances,''
said Terry Messman, an advocate for the American Friends Service Committee
in San Francisco, where health department figures for the last three years
indicate that roughly one in seven homicide victims was homeless.

``It's lonely and cold,'' Messman added. ``Women are subject to rape and
sexual assault. Men are routinely robbed, battered and harassed.''

Unreported crimes

Many assaults don't get reported to police. And much of the time, the
danger comes from other transients, especially those who are mentally ill
or addicted to drugs.

``I've been beaten . . . a man tried to rape me,'' said Heidi, a
51-year-old woman who said she's been homeless in downtown San Jose for
nearly two years.

Heidi said she feels safer since she met Norm and Tina Wilcox, a young
couple who have made a semi-permanent camp beneath an overpass near
Guadalupe River. Now she sleeps near them and their dog, Shadow.

``We're like an extended family,'' said Tina Wilcox, 37, describing a
network of people who often spend their days at St. James Park. ``We watch
out for each other.''

But while there's safety in numbers, not everyone has that protection.

Charged with murder

San Francisco authorities say 21-year-old Joshua Rudiger targeted homeless
people as they slept alone in alleys and doorways during the early hours of
morning. He's charged with murder in the Oct. 29 slashing death of a
48-year-old woman and attempted murder for attacks on three other people.

Rudiger, who reportedly has a history of mental illness, told police he
believed he was a ninja warrior and a 2,000-year-old vampire.

In another incident, two students at Butte College in Chico were charged
last week with stomping and beating 47-year-old Lloyd Brown after the
homeless man reportedly objected to one of the youths urinating in the
bushes where Brown had been sleeping. He died of injuries Nov. 5.

While San Jose police could recall no recent cases in which homeless people
were targeted for violence, there have been assaults over the years,
particularly in the downtown area.

``I won't stay downtown,'' said Stacy, a 37-year-old woman who was waiting
in line for a bed at the Emergency Housing Consortium's regional reception
center, in an industrial area southwest of central San Jose.

``If you're female,'' she explained, ``you're a target.''

Officials at several San Jose non-profit groups estimated that about 900
people are now staying in emergency housing on any given night, while
hundreds more are camping out. About 300 more beds will become available at
the end of this month, when the county's annual cold-weather shelter
program begins.

But with the rainy season already started, officials acknowledge they don't
have room for all the people now living on the street.

If she can't get a bed in a shelter, Stacy said, she tries to stay with
friends or sleep in a friend's car, parked at a construction site or at an
office parking lot where it's unlikely anyone will come along to bother her.

San Jose police say they generally won't arrest people camped in
out-of-the-way places unless they have been the subject of a complaint or
there's a public safety problem. They do enforce rules against sleeping in
public places such as St. James Park.

Even so, several homeless people and activists had praise for the San Jose
force, saying officers usually give plenty of warning and often bring in
social workers when they clear transients out of an area.

In San Francisco, however, homeless advocates and city officials have often
clashed over aggressive city policies that lead to frequent arrests and
sweeps of homeless encampments. Critics say that drives the homeless to
places where they're isolated and vulnerable.

But some social service workers say that San Francisco also has more
problems -- including violent crime -- simply because it has more
transients, who are drawn by the city's liberal reputation and a variety of
social programs available there. Officials say the city has 1,800 emergency
shelter beds -- and thousands more people sleeping outside.

A survey by the San Francisco Department of Public Health found that
homeless people in the city were victims of homicide in 34 cases reported
from 1995 to 1997.

Half those cases involved robberies, arguments, soured drug deals or other
circumstances in which the victims may have known their killers, according
to health department researcher Josh Brandon.

In the other 17 cases, which appear unrelated, there were no suspects or
obvious motives.

END FORWARD
-
** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is
distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in
receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page
ARCHIVES  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN
TO JOIN  <http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <wgcp@earthlink.net>
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3,000+ posts by or via homeless & ex-homeless people

HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>

__________

http://www.mercurycenter.com/premium/front/docs/homeless14.htm

FWD  San Jose Mercury News - Saturday, November 14, 1998 



<paraindent><param>right,left</param>HOMELESSNESS INCREASINGLY A LIFE
OF FEAR


By Brandon Bailey

Mercury News Staff Writer 

</paraindent>


A man with a history of mental illness is accused of slashing the
throats of four homeless people in San Francisco. Two college football
players are charged with beating a homeless man to death in Chico.


The recent violence only underscores what's already clear to those who
live on the street:


``It's scary out there, believe me,'' said Tony Chavez, an unemployed
construction worker who lost his San Jose apartment last year.


For months, he and his wife, Gloria, slept in their truck and kept a
crowbar close at hand. Since their truck was stolen this month, they've
been lining up every day to qualify for beds at a local shelter.


``We saw a guy get stabbed in a camp by the creek,'' said Tony Chavez,
51. Gloria Chavez nodded agreement as he added, ``Me and my wife, we
have got to get off the street.''


Though statistics are sketchy, homeless people and social workers say
violence is a constant threat to people who are living outside --
whether huddled on sidewalks, hidden under bridges or camped along
creekbeds in San Jose, San Francisco and other major cities. 


``Homeless people are out there in absolutely terrifying
circumstances,'' said Terry Messman, an advocate for the American
Friends Service Committee in San Francisco, where health department
figures for the last three years indicate that roughly one in seven
homicide victims was homeless.


``It's lonely and cold,'' Messman added. ``Women are subject to rape
and sexual assault. Men are routinely robbed, battered and harassed.''



Unreported crimes 


Many assaults don't get reported to police. And much of the time, the
danger comes from other transients, especially those who are mentally
ill or addicted to drugs.


``I've been beaten . . . a man tried to rape me,'' said Heidi, a
51-year-old woman who said she's been homeless in downtown San Jose for
nearly two years.


Heidi said she feels safer since she met Norm and Tina Wilcox, a young
couple who have made a semi-permanent camp beneath an overpass near
Guadalupe River. Now she sleeps near them and their dog, Shadow.


``We're like an extended family,'' said Tina Wilcox, 37, describing a
network of people who often spend their days at St. James Park. ``We
watch out for each other.''


But while there's safety in numbers, not everyone has that protection.


Charged with murder 


San Francisco authorities say 21-year-old Joshua Rudiger targeted
homeless people as they slept alone in alleys and doorways during the
early hours of morning. He's charged with murder in the Oct. 29
slashing death of a 48-year-old woman and attempted murder for attacks
on three other people.


Rudiger, who reportedly has a history of mental illness, told police he
believed he was a ninja warrior and a 2,000-year-old vampire.


In another incident, two students at Butte College in Chico were
charged last week with stomping and beating 47-year-old Lloyd Brown
after the homeless man reportedly objected to one of the youths
urinating in the bushes where Brown had been sleeping. He died of
injuries Nov. 5.


While San Jose police could recall no recent cases in which homeless
people were targeted for violence, there have been assaults over the
years, particularly in the downtown area.


``I won't stay downtown,'' said Stacy, a 37-year-old woman who was
waiting in line for a bed at the Emergency Housing Consortium's
regional reception center, in an industrial area southwest of central
San Jose.


``If you're female,'' she explained, ``you're a target.''


Officials at several San Jose non-profit groups estimated that about
900 people are now staying in emergency housing on any given night,
while hundreds more are camping out. About 300 more beds will become
available at the end of this month, when the county's annual
cold-weather shelter program begins.


But with the rainy season already started, officials acknowledge they
don't have room for all the people now living on the street.


If she can't get a bed in a shelter, Stacy said, she tries to stay with
friends or sleep in a friend's car, parked at a construction site or at
an office parking lot where it's unlikely anyone will come along to
bother her.


San Jose police say they generally won't arrest people camped in
out-of-the-way places unless they have been the subject of a complaint
or there's a public safety problem. They do enforce rules against
sleeping in public places such as St. James Park.


Even so, several homeless people and activists had praise for the San
Jose force, saying officers usually give plenty of warning and often
bring in social workers when they clear transients out of an area.


In San Francisco, however, homeless advocates and city officials have
often clashed over aggressive city policies that lead to frequent
arrests and sweeps of homeless encampments. Critics say that drives the
homeless to places where they're isolated and vulnerable.


But some social service workers say that San Francisco also has more
problems -- including violent crime -- simply because it has more
transients, who are drawn by the city's liberal reputation and a
variety of social programs available there. Officials say the city has
1,800 emergency shelter beds -- and thousands more people sleeping
outside.


A survey by the San Francisco Department of Public Health found that
homeless people in the city were victims of homicide in 34 cases
reported from 1995 to 1997.


Half those cases involved robberies, arguments, soured drug deals or
other circumstances in which the victims may have known their killers,
according to health department researcher Josh Brandon.


In the other 17 cases, which appear unrelated, there were no suspects
or obvious motives.


END FORWARD

-

** NOTICE: In accordance with Title 17 U.S.C. Section 107, this material is distributed without profit to those who have expressed a prior interest in receiving the included information for research and educational purposes. **


HOMELESS PEOPLE'S NETWORK  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/>  Home Page

ARCHIVES  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/archives.html>  read posts to HPN

TO JOIN  <<http://aspin.asu.edu/hpn/join.html> or email Tom <<wgcp@earthlink.net>

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