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Bum fights caused 27 deaths last year

September 09 2009
Youths and 20-somethings encouraged rough sleepers to fight each other or put themselves in dangerous situations Youths and 20-somethings encouraging rough sleepers to fight each other or put themselves in dangerous situations caused the deaths of 27 people in America last year. As reported by The Pavement previously, so-called "bum fights" are videoed and posted on the website YouTube, where they are watched by thousands. The US-based National Coalition for the Homeless reported 106 incidents where rough sleepers had been coerced into fighting in front of the camera in 2008. Although this figure is less than the 160 reported a year previously, it is thought many more attacks go unrecorded. The humiliation is allegedly accepted because "they are alcoholic, they are mentally disabled, have no money," explained Michael Stoops, director of the NCH. "They are bribed: if you jump or let us push you in a shopping cart, we will give you five dollars or a pack of beer." In July alone, nearly 86,000 degrading videos of homeless people were posted on YouTube, 15,000 more than a year earlier, according to an NCH count. US lawmakers are now seeking harsher penalties for hate crimes against the poor. Mr Stoops added that in the 10 years his group has been tracking crimes against the homeless, 95 per cent of the perpetrators were found to be men, most under the age of 25. They came from all backgrounds, but the vast majority were white.