In February 2010, California Assemblywoman Bonnie Lowenthal introduced into the state legislature A.B. 2706. The bill sought to expand the an earlier civil rights act to grant the right of the homeless to be free from violence based on their inability to afford or maintain a home.
Lowenthal, commenting on the bill, wrote, "The perpetrators may perceive the homeless as easy defenseless targets. They may see the homeless as second-class citizens, unworthy of respect or mercy. These criminals may prey on the homeless because they know the likelihood of suffering legal consequences from their actions is not as high as it would be if they assaulted another member of the community." She cited studies of recent increases in violence against the homeless.
On September 8, 2010 at 2:30 in the afternoon it was passed on to the Governor's desk, where it sat for 21 days. Oblivious to the studies and motives cited by Lowenthal, Governor Schwazenager finally wrote, "it is unclear whether the homeless are targeted for violence because they are homeless ... Furthermore, poverty is not a suspect classification." Negating the view of the appropriations committee members who gave their approval, he wrote that the inclusion of the homeless in the legal protections of the freedom from targeted violence "could result in legal challenges and increased court costs."
On September 29, Governor Shwarzenegger vetoed A.B. 2706.
This petition is to make him reconsider, and to pass A.B. 2706, to protect homeless citizens from violence.
Photo credit: Myrrien