Would you have allowed this homeless man to bleed to death? Look at what the BBC posted about what happened in New York City to Mr. Tale-Yax, a homeless man, 31 years old, from Guatemala. He was stabbed after coming to a woman’s aid. Then, this homeless man was left to die while passers-by ignored him, as CCTV footage showed.
This is the story: on the security camera video, a woman is seen. She is being followed by a man who then appears to attack her. Mr. Tale-Yax walks towards them to help the woman. Off-camera, he is stabbed several times while trying to help. The camera captures the apparent attacker running away. Mr. Tale-Yax was stabbed repeatedly and collapsed. Many people walked by as he lay bleeding to death on the pavement. Where was the woman who seemed to need help? Why did she not help this man? More than an hour and a half went by before someone packed up the courage to see whether this man needed help.
Now change this story: instead of Mr. Tale-Yax trying to help this woman, a young man comes to the rescue. He is clean shaven, his hair washed, and his suit is neatly pressed. His is holding a to-go coffee cup, a folded paper under one arm, and a briefcase in his free hand. He runs to the woman to help, chases the attacker, and fights him. This young man gets stabbed and the attacker runs off.
The difference here is that as soon as this young man started running to help the woman, he would have attracted the attention of others who would have joined in. He set the right example! Others would have responded with frantic 911 calls from cells phones the second they realized what was going on. And when this young man collapses on the pavement, they would have offered jackets to use as a pillow under his head, they would have tried to stop the bleeding, not even being worried about getting dirty in the process because they would have been determined to save this young man’s life! He is their hero! And they would be angry if the ambulance arrived within 2 minutes instead of one because after all, there was a life at stake here!
Switch back to reality.
The true hero, who came to a woman’s rescue, is not someone who leaves us with great first impressions in contrast to my fictional young man. No suitcase, no smell of shampoo, and no appearance that would make us smile and greet him on the streets. No, this is just another homeless person, just another nuisance, and why the heck did he need to lay here on the pavement! I bet many of the people who just walked past did not even notice that this man was fatally wounded!
Do we treat homeless people differently? YES!
Until we can find it in our heart and conscience to treat all people equally, the authorities need to set an example. Florida did just that by amending their Hate Crime Laws.
This example shows that they are serious about striving for equality for all and if you do not wish to listen, they will spell it out for you during your sentencing hearing. And until we all listen, we will probably need these laws. They may not be prefect but they just might be the best we have.
As usual, I welcome your comments. My deepest sympathy to the family of Mr. Tale-Yax. May he rest in peace. The BBC article is here.