Five More Homeless Murdered in California Sunday - Several Mental Patients
HOMELESS psychiatric patients are being murdered in California. Sunday, November 2, five homeless people were found shot to death in Long Beach, at least three of whom were mental patients. Last month an elderly Los Angeles homeless man, Robert McGraham, was burned to death by parties unknown who threw a canister with gasoline on him from a car, and followed it with a match.
Below is a report on this hate crime against the mentally ill and homeless by Treatment Advocacy Center (TAC) and information on Laura's Law Now, which TAC believes would help to reduce the violence.
Treatment Advocacy Center
HOMELESS TRAGEDIES POINT TO CHANGE
Five people were found shot to death early Sunday, Nov. 2, 2008, in a makeshift homeless encampment covered by thick brush near the 405 Freeway in Long Beach, Calif., police said. Unconfirmed reports indicate that several of the victims suffered from severe mental illness.
The crime upset neighbors and puzzled police, who had no suspects and struggled to comb the rugged terrain surrounding the crime scene near the freeway's intersection with the 710 Freeway.
The incident follows the October death of another California homeless man, John Robert McGraham. McGraham was living on the street for six years, despite attempts by family members to get him treatment for his mental illness. McGraham was doused with gasoline and sent to a fiery death by a still unknown attacker. The incidents are focusing attention of the problems of both homelessness and mental illness in southern California.
The two attacks illustrate what statistics show, that people living with a mental illness are more likely than others to become victims. Victimization is a serious consequence of failing to treat mental illness.
The fact that people do not choose to be victims was pointed out by McGraham's sister after his death.
"I wish people better understood the mental turmoil a human being can go through that puts and keeps them in such a place that they can't seem to get out," Susan McGraham-Paisley wrote. Our family has tried for many, many years to help him but it seemed beyond our reach." McGraham-Paisley and other family members no longer live in the Los Angeles area, but still would visit John Robert and kept trying to get him helped he was unaware he needed.
"I hope the horrific crime against our brother will make people realize that homeless people are human, they do have family, they are cared for. Several people, when they had learned my brother was homeless for more than two decades would say, 'He chooses to live this way," a statement she takes strong issue with.
"I find that comment so offensive and so lacking compassion. Some might say we all choose to be where we are, but we don't all start on an even playing field, and we aren't all dealt the same cards. My brother didn't consciously choose to live out on the streets, he just didn't seem to know what to do with himself," she said. "Families of homeless are often helpless to make diagnoses, correct problems without intervention. Both my sister and my ex-husband contacted various agencies, but never with any success."
Putting in place assisted outpatient treatment may have helped the McGraham family save their brother. California has the ability to implement Laura's Law Now in each county.Increased Awareness Needed
These two horrific tragedies did raise awareness about the problem. More needs to be done. You can help raise awareness too. Email ten friends and families members and let them know your concern.
Treatment Advocacy Center
200 N. Glebe Road, Suite 730, Arlington, VA 22203
703 294 6001/6002 (phone) | 703 294 6010 (fax) |
See an article about Mr. Graham's murder and his community's response to his death here:
MORE HATE CRIMES - CRUELTY TO MENTALLY DISABLED PERSONS
GOV. SCHWARZENEGGER'S MENTAL HEALTH CRISIS
Find more NowPublic.com articles regarding America's mentally ill citizens and other social issues at this link:
Author's Page http://www.care2.com/c2c/people/profile.html?pid=513396753
And the King shall answer and say unto them, Verily I say unto you, Inasmuch as ye have done it unto one of the least of these my brethren, ye have done it unto me. ~ Matthew 25:40