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Toronto activists for the homeless have called on the Attorney-General of Ontario to prosecute the beating death of Paul Croutch, a 59-year-old homeless man, as a hate crime.

Michael Shapcott, research co-ordinator for the Toronto Disaster Relief Committee, said on the weekend that the community believes that Mr. Croutch, who died in hospital Wednesday morning after being beaten, was targeted because he was homeless.

Three Canadian Armed Forces reservists have been charged in his death.

"We've seen in the United States, a clear increase in homeless bashing in recent years," Mr. Shapcott said.

"Indications are he was targeted because he was sleeping in a park."

Many people who frequent the Moss Park area, just east of downtown where Mr. Croutch was killed, are expressing a fear that similar trends may start to appear in Canada, Mr. Shapcott said.