Remember when you were a child and really immature and during Halloween you would light a bag of dog poop on fire, leave it on the porch and ring the doorbell then run? Well, the son of one of the stars of “The Real Housewives of Miami,” Peter Rosello acted like a little kid by doing the same sort of cowardly immaturity but to a much larger scale. For whatever reason he thought it would be funny to punch a totally unaware homeless man in his genitals. If he wanted to embarrass the poor man why didn’t he just toilet paper him like a tree? Why did his act have to be of a violent nature?
The simple truth is the homeless have become punching bags and the brunt of many physical attacks for young people who have nothing better to do than perform these acts. These are the reasons why advocates such as Sean Cononie of the Homeless Voice have been trying to stop them through education and to work on hate crimes laws. Maybe we need more drive-in theatres or skating rinks to occupy the time of these wanna be hoodlums. In all fairness though to Peter he has stated he feels love for the homeless and usually gives them five bucks and some weed. Gee. Thanks sport. Five bucks and a doobie. That’s certainly feeling love for your fellow man.
I was homeless in the past, and I have written two books. Since I am a writer and was homeless and I have seen firsthand all the people at the shelter I stayed at come in with their broken ribs and black eyes and even one with a dented head from an axe, I decided to write this story. I’m not writing this to advocate for what happened. The bottom line is on my worst day I wouldn’t punch anyone in the genitals for any reason. It’s just a sign of stupidity, immaturity and disrespect for your fellow man considering you have no idea why this man was homeless to begin with. It did not matter why the person became homeless; the fact is this man was down and out so why make it worse? Did he get laid off like the other millions of Americans in the last few years? Did he serve in war time or maybe he just had issues. None of this mattered, because he was a man in need. Should we go around punching all those people? Is Peter just a spoiled brat who thinks money and fame makes him special and everyone else exists for his amusement?
Regardless of the reason for this act the truth remains this violence against the homeless continues to take place everywhere and at any time. I guess we should be thankful that the extent of Peters act was merely a joke and not intended to kill someone like so many teens do using baseball bats and pipes. When I was a kid a baseball bat was used to play baseball, thus the term “baseball bat.” Maybe we can blame the educational system for not teaching these kids vocabulary. I could care less what the excuse is for this happening because it’s totally inexcusable. If this is how these kids entertain themselves then let them be entertained in jail by taking a pick axe to a pile of rocks. Now that’s fun. I would like to know in which dictionary or thesaurus the word “homeless” is synonymous with terms like bum, loser or crack head. As far as I know there are a whole lot of people who smoke crack who aren’t homeless including many well paid, famous athletes and celebrities. I haven’t heard of any teens beating up any 280 lb. linebacker, so maybe these beatings really are just the sign of cowardness. How much courage does it take to bash in the head of some guy who is laying on the ground in an alley sleeping?
No matter what you think about this incident or this kid who did this act of violence bottom line is, he committed a crime. Will he be prosecuted or will he say it was a prank and the homeless guy knew it and maybe it really was. Perhaps maybe it is a simple battery and he should get arrested and released and face normal charges, for this is not like the most famous case where three Fort Lauderdale teens hunted for a sport and attacked three homeless men with baseball bats captured on security video camera leaving one of the homeless men dead.
That night Mr. Norris Gaynor was beaten to death- his loving family said he was not homeless; he had a house but chose to wander and sleep in the streets. In the beginning of this story I said I use to be homeless. This could have been me. If it is not the attacks on the homeless that kills us it is the attacks from politicians who want to take our food and safe places to sleep away that sometimes makes us sleep in unsafe places.
There is a lot of talk about whether this young person will be arrested under the new Florida hate Crimes laws. I went to one of the country’s leading experts on violence towards the homeless who also gave moral support to the Gaynor family when Norris was killed by those murdering teens. Sean Cononie, Founder of the Homeless Voice said this, “Was this an attack on the homeless? The answer is yes.”
When I asked Cononie if he thinks this celebrity will be charged with a hate crime he said in a nut shell that the fact that he is on TV should not make a difference but he did offer caution to the extent of the charges. He also said more evidence needs to be shown as to if this was a prank because there was a lot of chatter on the motive of the crime and if it was prearranged or not.
In a written statement Cononie offered these words to members of the press.
The hate crime law is intended to PR if you will… “Mess with a homeless person just because they are homeless and you will go to prison and face a longer stay.” I also think that the mindset has to be there for a person to be charged with this crime. Peter Rosello might have used the word “hobo” but did he do it simply because the gentleman was homeless? Would he have done this to someone else who was sleeping- perhaps a person known to him or even a stranger? If we want the Hate Crimes laws to be effective we need to charge them accordingly because you don’t want to have something overturned later on in a higher court or changed for good. Because if removed from the books it could potentially increase attacks in the future. Only serious crimes should fit the criteria to be prosecuted under the hate crime theme. I am not making an excuse for the young man who did this, we just need to use the new law only on cases that deem it necessary and as a Homeless advocate who has worked on getting the law passed and who has testified in our state system, I must be fair to all parties not just the people we service.
Cononie ended by saying, “If it was not a prearranged prank and if it did not fit the criteria for a hate crime, the young man needs to be dealt with in the criminal justice system. If he claims it was just a silly prank and not prearranged and he had no intention to hurt the homeless person we still need to understand that even pranks can start off funny but can end up deadly.” Cononie said parents need to pay attention on so called pranks and make sure their children know that even when they think it is fun and games people die by mistake and that there are many people in prison from making a mistake. We do not need to go around and hit a person who is sleeping. Perhaps this TV star needs to spend his time living at a shelter instead of a jail as his consequence so he can become an advocate and to spread the word that no longer will society sit back and let kids use the homeless as punching bags. Mr. or Mrs. Justice, our doors are open for this young man to come and serve the people he hurt. This will be far better than any jail sentence and will go a long way instead of giving him a year or two in the slammer.