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Part |||; Have a Book and a Beatdown…

September 2, 2009 by  
Filed under News, Weekly Columns

( In Part II of the series we looked at corporate exploitation of the homeless. In Part III, we continue.

You haven’t seen anything until you have seen The Bum Hunter. The Bum Hunter is a sick parody of Steve Irwin’s Crocodile Hunter, only the Bum Hunter hunts bums.

He sneaks up on them while they are asleep, referring to them as “creatures” and “fine specimens”, then falls upon them and restrains them by duct taping (yes!) their feet, hands and mouths. Sometimes he rolls them over and makes remarks about their skin, hair, nails and once he opened a homeless man’s mouth (yes, he did!) to inspect his teeth on camera.
He then ransacks their buggies, carts and bags, holding them up and describing their contents to the camera.

What did the producer of “Bum Fights” have to say for his sorry, perverted self? And I quote:
“We’re merely exposing something that people didn’t know exists. I think it’s interesting. I can’t imagine what would make somebody do the things that Rufus [a homeless man paid by the producer in alcohol and a ten-spot to humiliate himself on-camera] has done to himself……..”

Not only could he not see why Rufus would do these things, he couldn’t see the connection between his videos and the upswing in violence against the homeless by teenagers, even though his videos were cited as inspiration by millions of teens who engage in bum hunting.
In 2004, nine national retailers, including Target, Borders, Blockbuster, Barnes and Noble, Tower Records, Best Buy and Amazon saw nothing wrong with selling these “Bum Hunter” videos in their stores or on their websites. After the NCH called these national retailers out for their exploitation of the lost and unsheltered in a Cleveland press conference, they immediately stopped selling them.

These videos have found a second life on YouTube, but then you knew they would, didn’t you? Check it out and be sickened.


Should assaulting a homeless person be considered a hate crime? The Southern Poverty Law Center, which monitors hate groups and their activities in the United States, certainly thinks so. According to The Intelligence Report, formerly known as Klanwatch, crimes against the homeless resemble hate crimes.

Brian Levin, a criminologist and hate-crimes expert at Cal State San Bernardino, says attacks on homeless people “fit the category like a glove” and should be punished as severely. He explains that hate crimes and attacks on the homeless bear an uncanny resemblance to one another: stereotyped victims, offenders who act on latent prejudices, offenders who seek thrills or feel superior to their victims (like, say, a uniformed security guard in a public library), and a mob mentality.

“And on all these points the attacks against the homeless are really indistinguishable from other hate crimes except for one difference — there are a heck of a lot more of them”, Levin says.
According to the FBI, which has been collecting hate crimes data since 1990, between 1999 and 2005, 82 people were killed in the United States of America because of their race, ethnicity, or religious or sexual orientation.

There were 169 homeless people murdered-more than twice as many people-during that same period, the National Coalition for the Homeless says. In the next 2 years 56 more homeless people would be murdered on the basis of their lack of housing.

By 2007, 26 members of Congress had asked the GAO to determine whether attacks on the homeless can be classified as federal hate crimes, and six states, Maryland, California, Massachusetts, Nevada, Texas and Florida, put homeless hate crimes bills into their legislatures.


I don’t look at the incident of March 7, 2009 as a tragedy, because it’s not. I see it as an opportunity to inform the public about the seriousness of this problem that few people even think about. A society is judged on how it treats its lessers; its poor, its uneducated, its children, its elderly. Detroiters should know that their fellow citizens are being abused and mistreated.

The fact that the abuser, in this situation, is a municipal employee or perhaps a contractor, just makes it all that more difficult to understand.

Strangely enough, this is not the first time I’ve witnessed the callousness of a City of Detroit employee toward a homeless person.


A little over a year ago, I was riding the Fort Street bus when a homeless man tripped off the curb into its path. He hit his head on the pavement and was knocked unconscious.
As a tiny but slow river of blood flowed from and puddled under his head, the bus driver remained behind the wheel of the bus while staunchly refusing to see about the man. “I don’t want to get sued”, she said. Instead of calling EMS, she called her dispatcher and told him she couldn’t move her bus because a man was laying in front of it.

She didn’t want to get in trouble for being late on her bus route, so she cleared herself with a DOT supervisor first. Myself and another passenger called EMS for him. She radioed for an ambulance, but only after we had already used our cell phones to call.

So when I saw the DPL guard kick the sleeping man, I knew I had a job to do.

End of Part III. In Part IV, we get down to what the real deal is regarding our attitudes about the homeless.

Patricia Calloway writes Citizen Pat’s Blog at She lives in Detroit, Michigan.

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