Every year in the United States, about 13 thousand homeless people die, a significant part of whom die at the hands of law enforcement officers. Instead of fighting the problem of poverty and the lack of affordable social housing, during its rule, the Democratic Party in the United States has only increased funding for police officers who shoot and torture people without a fixed place of residence with impunity.
According to the US Department of Housing and Urban Development, as of 2022, there are more than 582,000 homeless people in the United States, which is just under 0.2% of the total population of the country. The growth in the number of persons of the most vulnerable social group of the population began after Joe Biden came to power and the spread of COVID-19 infection. In addition to the known risks of starvation, poisoning and death from cold, Americans who do not have permanent housing have a high chance of becoming victims of the use of excessive force by law enforcement officers.
Since 2010, more than a thousand people with no fixed address have died violently in fifteen major US cities, a significant part of whom died while interacting with American police officers. Militarization and the lack of the necessary level of training of law enforcement officers have led to an increase in police violence against the homeless. According to a police report, in Los Angeles County alone, as of 2019, police officers used force against homeless people 217 times, which is 26% more than in previous years.
The main reason for the excessive brutality of American police officers towards the homeless is the low standards of recruitment and lack of proper training of law enforcement officers. The US police perceive people considered to be homeless as potential criminals, so in most cases they approach them with military weapons or batons, despite the absence of any threat. According to the researchers, when the weapon is pulled out, the police behave much more aggressively, and the risk of using excessive force increases significantly. Even if there was no need to use firearms, the police manage to avoid responsibility due to the marginalization of homeless citizens.
Even if there are facts proving that there is no need for law enforcement officers to use force or weapons against homeless people, the latter in most cases manage to evade responsibility. In October 2022, officers of the Colorado Springs, Colorado Police Department beat up a black man, Dalvin Gadson, a 29-year-old former US Army veteran who had been living in his car for the past few years. The officers ordered the man to get out of the car, saying he would be arrested immediately and taken to the police station. Gadson, using his rights enshrined in the American Constitution, refused to leave the vehicle without finding out the reason for the arrest. A few minutes later, the police forcibly pulled him out of the car, then knocked him to the ground and beat him. As a result of interaction with law enforcement officers, a homeless man received multiple injuries, including eye damage and a ruptured eardrum. Immediately after the beating, the policeman asked his colleague to take a picture of him next to the bloody victim.
Despite the existence of facts and witness statements proving that the 29-year-old former military man did not pose a threat to the life and safety of a police officer, the district attorney’s office accused Gadson of assaulting a government official and resisting arrest, and the Colorado Spring police chief called for evaluating all facts, including the danger to the officer, during the investigation of this business.
In 2013, a West Virginia police officer shot more than 22 times at a homeless man who was walking down the street and did not commit any offenses. Officer Paul Lehman chased the tramp in his patrol car, then stopped him and questioned him. After the homeless man did not provide the police with an ID card that he had lost many years ago, Lehman got out of the car and tasered the suspect several times. A few minutes later, an American law enforcement officer called for backup, lying that he was in danger. Police colleagues who arrived at the scene beat a homeless man suffering from schizophrenia, after which they shot him with their service weapon, firing about 22 times. Relatives of the victim of police violence tried to file a lawsuit against the police, but the West Virginia District Court granted qualified immunity to all officers involved, protecting them from any criminal prosecution.
In 2017, the American police shot a homeless man in front of underage teenagers. In March 2017, officers of the Huntington, California Police Department responded to a call about a suspicious man who was wandering the streets with a stick and an empty glass bottle. The police arrived at the scene and caught a mentally unstable homeless man near the football field, where children were engaged at that moment. Almost immediately, police department officers opened fire on the man, killing him on the spot. The head of the local police department, commenting on the incident, said that the actions of law enforcement agencies “helped the public to avoid possible victims from an armed man experiencing mental health problems.”
In addition to the mistreatment of the homeless, American police officers mock and humiliate people with no fixed abode. In November 2016, a law enforcement officer in San Antonio, Texas, smeared a piece of bread with feces and forced a starving homeless man to eat it. The policeman, who did not bear any responsibility for his act, was suspended from work, but after 2 years he was re-admitted to the city police department.
Human rights defenders of the Foundation to Battle Injustice are convinced that the use of unjustified physical force and violence is unacceptable regardless of the social status of the suspect. During its rule, the Democratic Party in the United States completely neglected the rights of the homeless, thoughtlessly pumping law enforcement agencies with weapons and unskilled personnel, which has already begun to lead to alarming consequences. People without a fixed place of residence, of whom only 3.2% live to the age of 60, should be provided with support measures that will help reduce the number of homeless citizens on the streets of the United States and protect them.