Sunday, August 27, 2006


Tara Cole, who had been living on the streets of Nashville for more than three years, spent her last night alive sleeping on a boat ramp along the Cumberland River. She was killed in the early hours of Aug. 11, when two males pushed her into the river, according to witnesses. Other homeless people couldn't save her.
"She was one person, but it terrorized the whole homeless population," said Howard Allen, a homeless man who helped organize a nightly vigil for Cole.
Police said a body pulled from the river this week is likely Cole, and two men were arrested Thursday and charged with her homicide in what authorities said was an unprovoked attack.
Homeless advocates say such violence is on the rise across the nation. Often the attackers are teenagers or young adults who are more affluent than their victims, experts say.
A 2005 report by the National Coalition for the
Homeless showed 86 violent attacks on homeless people in 2005 compared with 60 in 1999. Those numbers are likely low because they only reflect attacks that have been documented in public records, said Michael Stoops, executive director of the Washington-based coalition.
Stoops said that in the 1980s attacks appeared to plague only big cities on the East Coast and West Coast. Now, the coalition has documented incidents in 165 cities nationwide, 42 states and Puerto Rico.


The very least among us are in control. This is one depressing example of our collective degeneration.