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LA City Council voted to support expanding hate crime protection to the homeless




A homeless man sleeps beside his makeshift temporary shelter on a street in downtown Los Angeles, California on June 25, 2018, as a United Nations report on poverty and inequality says 185 million Americans are living in extreme poverty.
A homeless man sleeps beside his makeshift temporary shelter on a street in downtown Los Angeles, California on June 25, 2018, as a United Nations report on poverty and inequality says 185 million Americans are living in extreme poverty.
FREDERIC J. BROWN/AFP/Getty Images

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The Los Angeles City Council approved a resolution Tuesday supporting any legislation that would protect the homeless population under the state's hate-crime laws.

The California Penal Code defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed because of the perceived characteristics of the victim. LA City Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, who represents District 7 that covers much of the northeastern San Fernando Valley, introduced the resolution hoping to keep the homeless population safer. “The current definition of hate crime does not include housing status, even though such attacks are a persistent problem,” the resolution states.

The move was promoted by recent attacks including one in Santa Monica that left four homeless people dead and others seriously injured. In another separate incident last month, a homeless man and woman were attacked with battery acid in a Mission Hills park while they slept. 

Guests:

Monica Rodriguez, Los Angeles city councilmember for the Seventh Council District, which includes the neighborhoods of Pacoima, Mission Hills, Sunland-Tujunga and Sylmar; she introduced the motion to expand the definition of hate crimes to include attacks on the homeless

David Lehrer, president of Community Advocates, Inc., a nonprofit in Los Angeles; former Los Angeles regional director of the Anti-Defamation League (ADL) for 27 years; he tweets @dlehrer

Brian Levin, professor of criminal justice and director of the Center for the Study of Hate and Extremism at California State University, San Bernardino; board member of The National Coalition for the Homeless