ALBUQUERQUE N.M. (Reuters) - Authorities in Albuquerque said on Friday that homeless American Indian people are more at risk than others from street violence in findings released after the beating deaths of two homeless men in an abandoned lot in New Mexico’s largest city.
Unveiling the preliminary findings of a study prompted by the July 18 murders, Albuquerque Mayor Richard Berry said chronically homeless American Indians in the city are more likely than others to be attacked, experience substance abuse, become hospitalized, and face longer periods being homeless.
“I’ve directed our City Human Rights Office, the Family and Community Services Department and our Police Department to work with their counterparts at the Navajo Nation as we continue this important investigation, research, and conversation,” the mayor said in a statement.
Citing research by the Albuquerque Healing Home, a non-profit group that works with the homeless, Berry said American Indians accounted for 11 percent of the medically vulnerable and chronically homeless people the group helped, while making up just 4.6 percent of the city’s population.
Healing Home estimates that as many as 13 percent of all Native Americans in Albuquerque are chronically homeless.
A study by the group found that 76 percent of homeless American Indians have been attacked on the street, compared to 61 percent of non-American Indians.
Their plight was brought into focus by last month’s brutal murders. Three teenagers were charged with killing the two homeless American Indian men with punches, kicks and cinder blocks. The suspects are being held on $5 million bond each.
Reporting by Joseph Kolb; Editing by Daniel Wallis and Will Dunham