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(De)Occupy Honolulu to City and State: Who do you call when the police are stealing your stuff?

[Cross posted from Disappeared News]

It's small compared to some of the historic encampments but at 215 days the handful of (De)Occupy Honolulu tents comprises the longest running Occupy encampment in the Occupy Movement worldwide. Some call it an eyesore, some say it's just plain dangerous to the occupants. Tents are perched precariously near traffic on the sidewalk. But there is a reason for positioning the tents in a line abutting the roadside: The Kanawai Mamalahoe, the Law of the Splintered Paddle. This, the first law declared by Hawaiʻi's first king (Kamehameha) and incorporated into Hawaiʻi's constitution decrees the protection and safety of all those who lie by the road.

During the 20 plus "Bill 54" raids by City crews with trucks, cranes, and other heavy equipment, armed Honolulu Police Department officers -- who have the Splintered Paddle emblem on their badges -- have done nothing to enforce this protective law. In fact, they have helped violate this law as well as the other troublesome Contitutional protections on free speech, peaceable assembly, and security against unreasonable search and seizure.

Unlike other encampments, (De)Occupy Honolulu isn't a homeless camp, and the occupiers have equiped themselves with cameras and live streaming video. This compilation of live stream video that catches the police and City personnel blatantly violating the law was hand delivered today on DVD to Honolulu City & County's Corporation Counsel, and the State of Hawaiʻi's Attorney General.

It might be helpful to know that Bill 54 (now ordinance 11-029) requires that offending items be tagged with a notice stating that the item is subject to being impounded by the City in 24 hours. The notices state that the property will be stored for 30 days allowing the property to be reclaimed.

The dual POV coverage of the 4/30/2012 raid is particularly interesting in that a newly erected tent containing newly created artwork was specifically targeted. The art was to be part of the group's permitted May Day celebration inside the park. The person directing the raid was Westley Chun, Director of the Department of Facilities Maintenance. During phone calls and emails demanding the return of the artwork, Chun claimed ignorance of the location of the works of art. Two were later reclaimed by activist Laulani Teale, but one large piece, artist Michael Daley's "Pacific Sustainability," remains missing. Art supplies were summarily trashed on site.

Bill 54 is particularly troublesome for Mayor Peter Carlisle who is charged with simulating the appearance of a peaceful and prosperous community amidst growing economic disparity between the rich and the poor. Like many municipalities across the country, Honolulu late last year passed an ordinance against storing personal possessions on public property. During public hearings on Bill 54 (now ordinance 11-029), City attorneys denied charges that the ordinance criminalized homelessness and was targeting the homeless and Occupy protest encampments. But since the ordinance went into effect on January 1, 2012, the homeless and (De)Occupy Honolulu have been almost the exclusive recipients of the ordinance's blunt force.

What will happen now? Will the City find itself at fault? I don't think so, but now you have the video, what's important is what you think, and what you want to happen. So, what do you think?

H. Doug Matsuoka
7 June 2012
Makiki, Honolulu

Compiled multiple POV video of 2/15/2012 seizure of personal possessions on private property
Some photos from the 5/31/2012 raid


  1. How do we know that some of these people aren't "Homeless"? Recently I've seen a full shopping cart and two people sleeping on the sidewalk w/o a tent. Honestly, seeing stuff like this, one would assume the "Homeless" and occupy people are the same.

    1. Some homeless take refuge with (De)Occupy since they will not be victimized or treated with disrespect. The distinction I am making is that the (De)Occupy encampment is politically motivated, and not primarily a place to live for those without private residences. Even if they were all homeless, why should they be subject to persecution? The law is for the protection of all people.

      Those without private residences live in public and have the same requirements for the possessions required for "acts of living" as those with private residences. Bill 54 very deliberately deprives the least fortunate from those possessions, and uses public funds to do so.

      On my refrigerator, I have a pamphlet given to me by Pastor Bob when I was camped out in Waikiki participating in an anti-APEC protest. It begins, "Homeless are not criminals, why oppress us? Why treat us worse than those who hurt other people?"

      I find these good questions without adequate response from the Mayor or Honolulu City Council.

    2. And I would further point out that if the police and City take your tent, you have no choice but to sleep without one. It is illegal to sleep in the park, or even in the grassy section by the sidewalk. The only place the homeless are supposed to be able to sleep, is on the sidewalk next to the road. But as the video shows, even this is subject to police harassment. The poor may not sleep?

  2. Doug,

    How long do you guys plan on being out there for? What have you guys accomplished so far? Just wondering.

    1. I've been a supporter of Occupy Wall Street and (De)Occupy Honolulu movements from their very beginnings but I can't answer for everyone in the movement. I give you my own personal answers here.

      Every political movement has two parts, (1) a definition of the problem and (2) the fix.

      To me, the Occupy Movement defines the problem as the influence of Big Money -- corporations and investment banks -- on our government. The national and local law making bodies too much resemble shopping malls for legislation and it's the ones with the biggest wads of cash that get what they pay for. That's why we have huge corporations like Monsanto polluting our food supply completely contrary to the will and well being of the people.

      The fix, rather than a particular political ideology, is a call to create a process where people can reclaim the proper right to their own governance, or as the declaration of Occupy Wall Street puts it, "to exercise the right to peaceably assemble, occupy public space, create a process to address the problems we face, and generate solutions accessible to everyone."

      The actual occupation of public space for a public forum is something necessary for every community. Yes, we can meet on the internet as we are doing now, but it is in face to face meetings that we can begin to solve the problems of our community away from the influence of corporations and their public servants.

      As far as what has been accomplished, I think (De)Occupy Honolulu has made strides in that direction. What some see as a stationary encampment I see as a movement down a path.



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