Advocate: Community must work to end violence against homeless

Created: 07/22/2014 11:37 AM
By: Web Staff

A homeless outreach advocate in Albuquerque says enough is enough after two homeless men were brutally beaten to death while they slept in a vacant lot on 60th Street at Central.

It's not the first time people have been targeted in the homeless community.

Father Rusty Smith, executive director of St. Martin's Hospitality Center, expressed his frustration and despair after meeting with Mayor Richard Berry and APD Chief Gorden Eden on Monday.

"Often our clients are afraid to call police because they're afraid they'll get in trouble and that's why so much of the crime that happens and the crime that just happened and really uninvestigated," Smith said.

Both Berry and Eden realize there is a fear among many homeless people regarding police, but Smith they're now taking different approaches starting to fix that relationship and help the homeless feel protected.   

For example, APD is sending plain-clothed officers to be in partnership the homeless community so they can listen, talk and try to investigate incidents.

But most of all, Rusty says the recent deaths expose how much work needs to be done between the homeless community and the rest of the Albuquerque community.

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