LOS ANGELES (CBSLA) – The Los Angeles City Council Tuesday unanimously passed a resolution in support of legislation which would add homeless people to the list of those protected by California’s hate crime laws, this following a spree of brutal attacks earlier this year against transients in L.A.
Under the resolution, the council would support or sponsor legislation legislation which would allow for people “experiencing homelessness” to be added “to the list of those protected by the State’s hate crime law.”
The resolution, introduced by Councilwoman Monica Rodriguez, argues that an attack against a homeless person should be categorized as a hate crime because California’s laws “defines a hate crime as a criminal act committed, in whole or in part, because of the perceived characteristics of the victim.”
The resolution cites the arrest of 47-year-old Ramon Escobar, who is charged with murder and attempted murder in brutal attacks on at least eight mostly homeless people in downtown L.A. and Santa Monica throughout the month of September. Four of those victims died.
Escobar — an El Salvador native with a long criminal record who was deported six times between 1997 and 2011 — is also a person of interest in the disappearance of his aunt and uncle in Houston, siblings Roy and Dina Escobar.
The resolution also notes a homeless couple who were attacked with battery acid while they were sleeping in a Mission Hills park in the late night hours of Sept. 30. The couple said it was the third time in the past three weeks they’ve been attacked as they slept in the park. The suspect in that case remains at large.
The L.A. office of the Chief Legislative Analyst has recommended adopting the resolution. In a report earlier this month, the CLA noted a 2015 study from the National Coalition for the Homeless which found that California led the nation in attacks against the homeless.
In 2010, a California state bill which would have extended hate crime protections to the homeless was vetoed by then Gov. Arnold Schwarzenegger, the CLA report said.