Rep. Johnson: Protect homeless under hate crimes law

Should crimes against homeless people be considered "hate crimes?"

Rep. Eddie Bernice Johnson (D-Tex.) think so. The Congresswoman introduced legislation yesterday to make homelessness an official hate crimes category, joining a list that includes race, color, religion, national origin, ethnicity, gender, disability and sexual orientation.

"In the past 10 years, there have been 880 reported cases of violence against people who are homeless, including 244 that have resulted in death," said Johnson.

"It is clear that homeless people are targeted simply because they are homeless, and it is time for the federal government to start tracking the number of violent attacks more closely," she added.

Johnson's legislation--the "Hate Crimes Against the Homeless Statistics Act"--would require the FBI to collect data on crimes against the homeless.

The House voted earlier this year to add sexual orientation, gender identity and mental or physical disability to the list of hate crime categories.

Johnson's legislation has 13 co-sponsors, including one Republican: Rep. Ileana Ros-Lehtinin (R-Fla.)