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Hateful craze

May 18 2009
Bumfights: inspiring violence Bumfights: inspiring violence
Casual violence against homeless people on the rise as ‘bum-rushing‘ takes hold A disturbing teen craze is spreading across America: rough sleepers are being beaten up and having their bloody ordeals recorded by gangs. Sixteen people were killed last year alone as the hate-fuelled fad known as 'bum-rushing' took hold. In Washington, a one-legged 50-year-old homeless man was set on fire in his wheelchair. He later died of his burns. Police charged a 22-year-old with first degree murder. In Nashville, Tennessee, two men pushed a homeless woman sleeping on a boat ramp into Cumberland River. Many of the youths are inspired to 'bum-rush' after seeing videos which are shared online. Website, which showcases and sells videos of homeless people being attacked, is blamed for the increased popularity of attacks. A teenage boy in Los Angeles claimed he was inspired to kill a homeless man with a baseball bat after watching a video on the site. Michael Stoops, of the National Coalition for the Homeless in Washington, said: "Homeless people are the newest minority group in America that is OK to hate and hurt. "They are viewed as less deserving, less human than the rest of us. The burden falls on our shoulders to end homelessness. "Homelessness is no longer simply an issue of the right to affordable housing but a matter of life and death. Until the day when all Americans are housed, the least we can do is ensure their safety. We need to enhance data collection and improve outreach to the homeless community. "But what is most disturbing is the nation's almost casual acceptance of this violence and the images that derive from it." Mr Stoops claimed the number of rough sleepers murdered by unknown attackers between 1999 and 2005 is 167. "This is double the number of all other hate-crime homicides combined," he said. The attacks are mainly carried out by young teenagers, with more than 60 per cent per cent of offenders aged between 14 and 19.