Mark Powers has been homeless for 10 years.
“You have to survive the best you can, but it’s tough on the streets for a homeless person,” he said.
South Florida’s weather has always been a magnet for the homeless. They are easily spotted around Fort Lauderdale – and easy targets for thugs.
“If you looked at all the hate crimes that exist in America, you will see that the homeless hate crimes as a group outweighs all the other classifications,” Sean Cononie of The Homeless Voice said at a news conference Wednesday.
Until Saturday’s gruesome face-eating incident in Miami, the most infamous local crime against the homeless was three teenagers who were caught on video mercilessly attacking a street person in 2006. They also beat up another homeless man, and pummeled a third man, 45-year-old Norris Gaynor, to death on a park bench.
Cononie said he sees parallels between that case, which involved drugs and alcohol, and the apparently drug-fueled Miami attack.
Powers says every homeless person has a story about being attacked for sport by teenagers.
“They get insane on these drugs, and they just attack homeless people for no reason. They think it’s fun,” he said. “It’s happened to me. One kid tried to break my neck. I was sitting on a bus bench, he came around me, and tried to snap my neck for no reason. I didn’t say a word to the young kid.”
Cononie said such attacks happen because homeless people are dehumanized.
“‘Don’t feed the homeless, they’re like animals, if you feed them they’re going to come back.’ These are statements that our local politicians have said,” he said.