Another Homeless Man Killed with the Cameras Rolling

Homeless Man killed

Trigger Warning: The following article contains graphic descriptions of violent acts committed against members of the unhoused community, including, but not limited to, assault, arson, rape, and murder. 

The recent ruthless murder of Antonio Garcia Avalos is yet another reminder that people have become so brazenly hateful toward members of the homeless community that they are willing to kill them in cold blood… and on camera! 

Hate crimes are nothing to scoff at. Violent outbursts driven solely by the disdain of a fellow human being are an all-time moral low. So then, why are they at an all-time high? Today, we dig deep into the brutal murder of a 40-year-old homeless man whose life was cut short on the streets of California. Tragically, his death underscores several disturbing trends, including:

  • The uptick in violence against homeless people
  • The increase in hate crimes in general
  • The rise of hate crimes being committed on camera before the eyes of the ever-watching digital world

Let us start with the first transgression.

Disgraceful: The Uptick of Violence Against Homeless People

It was late September in Garden Grove, California. A middle-aged man by the name of Antonio Garcia Avalos, who was identified as homeless, slept on the sidewalk. The pain and humiliation of being forced to sleep outside cannot be overstated, but what happened next, unfathomable as it may seem, was worse.

A 68-year-old jogger, Craig Sumner Elliott, arrived on Avalos’ path with two dogs, a pushcart, and a sense of blood-thirsty entitlement.

Elliot was so outraged at the fact that a sleeping homeless man was blocking his jogging trail that he violently shook Avalos to wake him up and then proceeded to throw a shoe at him.

It should be duly noted that, in this instance, the homeless man was not the aggressor or even a participant in what turned out to be a deadly exchange. His eyes were still filled with sleep when Elliot began to fire shots directly at him, shooting him dead in the streets before rolling cameras and eyewitnesses.

Those eyes will never see another day, but this death is symbolic of an unsettling trend.

Violence against homeless people continues to increase. The only thing that seems to change is how public and gruesome that violence has become.

Horrific: The Increase of Hate Crimes in General

As Homeless Person’s Memorial Day returns for another chilling year, housing and homeless advocates remember those whose lives were cut short by homelessness, and often violently so.

According to The National Coalition for the Homeless, bias-motivated violence is rampant against our unhoused neighbors, with mainstream media reporting harrowing tales of stabbings, rapes, arson, and even beheadings.

Perhaps worse, many of these events are happening on film while surveillance cameras are rolling and iPhones are streaming. It is almost as if the perpetrators are unafraid to get caught because they assume they will not be punished.

Emboldened: The Rise of Homeless Hate Crimes Being Committed On Camera Highlights Our General Attitude Towards the Unhoused Community

What could embolden a person to resort to such aggression as to take another life, all while the surveillance cameras are rolling, all while the social media platforms are streaming?

Sadly, the answer is that many things are happening in our world today. Among them include:

  • Negative stereotypes of homeless people perpetuated by mainstream media sources
  • Harmful rhetoric against our unhoused neighbors coming directly from behind the podium, out of the mouths of people in positions of power
  • Laws that criminalize homeless people
  • A legal system that is lenient on homeless hate crimes or, in many cases, doesn’t recognize them at all

In the beginning, we were desensitized to the horrors of homelessness, conditioned to view our neighbors without walls as being less human somehow, as being responsible for their tragic condition.

This was phase 1 of our government’s plan to direct the public’s attention away from the systemic failures that cause homelessness and in the direction of the very people the system failed in the first place. This tactic is known as “victim blaming,” and it opens the door for dehumanization.

Later, as public opinion shifted in favor of criminalization tactics over housing, violence against homeless people was ignored.

We have reached phase 3 of the cycle, a dystopian space that almost seems surreal. Today, we have been so desensitized to the human condition that we can watch our neighbors not just live but also die on the streets, killed at the hands of hateful monsters. We barely even flinch.

Talk to Your Legislators About Protecting Homeless People from Harm and Protecting All People from Homelessness

As homeless hate spans the globe, these violent deaths only continue to increase. Millions of people will be forced to endure homelessness again this year in America. Many of them will not survive it.

Please take a moment to discuss this with your local legislators and urge them to draft more laws that protect homeless people from violence and more legislation that focuses on the human right to housing. Every day that passes without laws like this in place costs 20 more innocent lives.

Cynthia Griffith

Cynthia Griffith


Cynthia Griffith is a freelance writer dedicated to social justice and environmental issues.

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