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Showing posts from 2013

Wrap up: Bill 59 criminalizing homelessness, down for the count or just back to corners?

Bill 59 deferred:

Bill 59 would have made it illegal to lie down on the sidewalk. Introducer Councilmember Stanley Chang insisted it did not target the homeless. Councilmember Breene Harimoto asked who else lies down on the sidewalk?

After I made repeated loud and smug predictions that in spite of all morality and good sense the Honolulu City Council would pass Bill 59, the Council deferred the measure. It might come back, but probably not soon.

A lot of people of all stripes came out to oppose the measure. Here's a 5 minute wrap up of the testimony including an edit of Councilmember Breene Harimoto's very much appreciated statement about the bill. It's the very first time I've heard a councilmember oppose a bill on the grounds of morality.

Did the public outcry and testimony do the trick? Is this people power? Three committee councilmembers couldn't support the bill, but only one, Breene Harimoto, was actually opposed to the measure. Kymberly Pine's objection w…

New draft of Bill 59 criminalizing homeless worse than before, sure to pass on 11/19/13

Stanley Chang's wildly unconstitutional and ill-advised Bill 59 (making it illegal to lie down on a sidewalk) was redrafted and heard on October 29, 2013, before Honolulu City Council's Committee on Public Safety and Economic Development (PSED). Actually there was another draft with the same number by Councilmember Carol Fukunaga.

Testimony was heard (including my own) but the bill was deferred for a "harmonized" redraft incorporating the "best" of both current drafts. I've already stated my vehement opposition to this bill which directly challenges King Kamehameha's Law of the Splintered Paddle. That law is incorporated into the Hawaii State Constitution as "a unique and living symbol of the State's concern for public safety."

I had some hopes when it was deferred that the Council would save itself from embarrassment and litigation costs for the city by just forgetting about it and letting it die. That's what deferral often means…

Please sign a petition to get the City of Honolulu to stop midnight raids on the houseless and deOccupy Honolulu rights defenders

[I'm circulating a petition to get the City & County of Honolulu to stop its midnight raids on deOccupy Honolulu and the homeless. I'm posting the letter here (with links to some info and background) to make it easier to circulate. I'm hoping those so moved can forward to friends for signature. One of my friends admonished me that the petition "is about 120 years late" referring to the armed overthrow of the Hawaiian Nation on January 17, 1893. Point well taken. But maybe better late than never..? Mahalo, Doug.]

Information update: 10/23/2013

Aloha supporters,

And mahalo for your support in demanding the City of Honolulu to stop the midnight raids on the houseless and deOccupy Honolulu. Here are some links with background information and a link to the petition you can forward.

I just want to send some links with information and some background, as well as ask you to send the petition out to any friends or organization who might understand what it's like t…

NO on City Council Bill 59 criminalizing homelessness

On Wednesday, 9/11, the Honolulu City Council will hear the first reading of councilmember Stanley Chang's Bill 59, another in a series of bills promulgated by the Council against the humblest in our community.

My testimony follows. The illustration is from the referenced educational pamphlet published by the HSBA Auxiliary. Links to the pamphlet, as well as to Bill 59 and the agenda are at the end of this post.

10 September 2013 "Even in a democracy like Hawaiʻi has today, citizens must always be alert to the abuses of power. Voting does not guarantee good leaders."                                     -- The Law of the Splintered Paddle, an educational pamphlet                                                 published by the HSBA Auxiliary (attached)

Re: Testimony opposing Bill 59 Relating to Public Sidewalks
Aloha Chair Martin, Councilmember Stanley P. Chang, and the Council,
Although bills introduced in the past couple of years have outdone each other in criminalizing …

The City Missing In Action at 9/3/13 Homeless Working Group mtg

Livestream video is a great stick to poke at politicians – I mean – livestream video is great at providing public oversight of government operations. And I have to admit Iʻve caught many politicians in embarassing moments. [Hereʻs a classic video of Rep Tokioka blocking a GMO labeling vote]

So it was somewhat understandable when Senator Suzanne Chun Oakland expressed some reservations about my livestreaming Tuesday nightʻs Homeless Working Group meeting. But a big mahalo to her for allowing me to continue. I sat down and was as unobtrusive as possible. 
My 22 minute "filet" of the 1 hour meeting:

I was impressed with the community involvement and creativity. I was also shocked that the count of homeless does not take into account 100,000 "hidden" homeless who find ad hoc accommodation with friends or family but have no home or real place to stay. I also found that Hawaii is officially 50,000 housing units short at moment.

Getting back to the virtues of livestreamin…

City tears down protest signs, gets sued

Back in June I wrote about Honolulu City crews tearing down two large protest signs from private property in Hauula. Hereʻs the follow up: Owner of the signs and property, Choon James, just filed suit against the City of Honolulu in Federal court charging violation of the Constitutional rights guaranteeing free speech and freedom from unreasonable search and seizure. Among other things.

The ordinance the City used was the notorious Bill 54, or as it is now known, ordinance 11-029. Many saw the bill, introduced by Tulsi Gabbard in 2011 while she was still on the City Council, as a way of pre-empting the Occupy Wall Street type protests that were sweeping the world at the time. Indeed, the ordinance has been used against the local deOccupy Honolulu group in Thomas Square in more than 70 raids in unsuccessful attempts to dislodge the protesters from their encampment which began 648 days ago on Guy Fawkes Day (November 5,) 2011.

The ordinance has also been routinely used against the homel…

Justice for Kollin Elderts! Demonstration at First Circuit Court

Livestreamed and took some photos at the Justice for Kollin Elderts demonstration in front of the First Circuit Court in Honolulu. Elderts was shot and killed by Federal Special Agent Christopher Deedy whose trial has been ongoing for the past couple of weeks and is expected to continue for a couple more.

The demonstration was called by the Honolulu chapter of World Canʻt Wait and Ohana Koa to demand justice and to remind the Elderts ohana that people will remember and continue to demand justice.

Link to the Flickr set:

My livestream video is being processed and Iʻll mount it here as soon as possible.

H. Doug Matsuoka
30 July 2013

Day 628 brings raid #74, the first Bill 7 raid on deOccupy Honolulu

Newly passed Bill 7 allows the police to take tents, clothes, food, and anything at all from anyone on the sidewalk. It has been used to raid other homeless encampments, but not deOccupy Honolulu. Until tonight.

Complete flickr set here:

Jun Yang, the Executive Director of the Mayorʻs Office of Housing was at the raid. I got a chance to try to school him but wasnʻt very successful at it:

What does this mean? Is this the end of deOccupy? Who will speak for the homeless?

Stay tuned...

H. Doug Matsuoka
26 July 2013
Makiki, Honolulu

City won't return homeless Joe's property

The City of Honolulu won't return homeless Joe's property even though it was seized illegally in the first place. This is a follow up to yesterday's unedited video by AlohaRevolution which described how the City illegally seized his and Makalani's property.

"Joe and Makalani's property was illegally confiscated this week during a City raid. According to the City's rules and PR campaign, it should be easy to get them back. It's not."

The City of Honolulu and deOccupy Honolulu are bound by a Stipulated Order approved in Federal District Court that among other things prohibits tents to be entered without a warrant, and that "A person claiming ownership of a tent that has been tagged for impoundment will be provided an opportunity, before the tent is impounded, to remove all untagged contents of the tent."

Also, at paragraph 1(h) "At the time a person produces an impoundment notification with the specified bin number and attests to owne…

What's it like being homeless?

With Honolulu's Bill 7 (now Ordinance 13-08) allowing immediate seizure and destruction of homeless people's personal property, life on the street is even tougher. The City hopes for an out of sight, out of mind effect on the community. It's worked before. Will it work this time? Hope not.

This interview with a homeless (or "displaced" as some say) couple by Youtuber AlohaRevolution is worth a watch.

"Two residents of Thomas Square tell the story of how they were abused by the City and HPD. Filmed on the eve of the expected Bill 7 raids on the houseless (which were deemed unconstitutional bu the US Supreme Court, but are scheduled anyway)."

Here's a primer on Swastika-ready Bill 7 by Ground Level Media.

More as the Bill 7 story unfolds...

H. Doug Matsuoka
2 July 2013
Makiki, Honolulu

Rich Rath Reports: Bill 7 and the Refugee Population of Hawai‘i

Special report to the DougNote by Rich Rath

City and County of Honolulu's latest attack on Hawaiʻi's houseless population went into effect today.  At about 9 AM this morning, (July 1) the city came and confiscated/stole the property of about 15 of our most vulnerable citizens, our refugee population from the violence of poverty afflicted on them through low wages, high housing costs, failure of mental health services, and more.   I interviewed two who were there and four more who had heard about it.  About five people remained in the park near the convention center, while others fled to another location.

They are continually harassed by police as well as by thieves and other abusive people.  One had his pockets cut out of his pants while he was wearing them, taking all his cash as he napped.  Many scrape by through recycling bottles and cans, which keeps the city neater and greener.

Under the new law, the city declares a site a public nuisance and clears it with no notice. S…

The Westlake Project

The more years pass the more of a wonder it is that some of your friends never grow old. Unfortunately, they're the ones that died young.

Wayne Kaumualii Westlake was 36 years old in 1984 when a drunk woman crossed the centerline and cranked into his car. That was the end of this crazy, funny, Taoist, blond haired angry Hawaiian poet…the end of parties featuring pyramids of sake bottles and new translations of ancient Chinese poets or poems from being a janitor or just down on the sidewalk in Waikiki. My dad called him a "wandering poet like Basho or Issa," and the Universe I live in accommodates that quite comfortably. Wayne himself insisted that Li Po was of Central Asian descent and had blond hair and blue eyes. What a coincidence! (Which is not to say Li Po was Hawaiian or that Westlake had blue eyes.)

Wayne's companion (and literary executor) Mei-Li M. Siy stashed all his poems and manuscripts and bits of paper he wrote on, but as kind as time is to memory it i…

City's Bill 54 raid illegally seizes signs on private property

This is really crazy. I've been writing about how the City has been using Bill 54 (ordinance 11-029) to seize hundreds of signs from deOccupy Honolulu and I know sometimes the reaction is "yeah sure sure whatever" because deOccupy Honolulu is often painted as a fringe group.

But this video made by Choon James shows how City crews swooped into Hauula and tore down protest signs James has had on her own private property. And they used Bill 54 to do it. Which is completely illegal because Bill 54 is about storing property on public property. Well, that doesn't seem to matter to the civil authorities at Thomas Square for deOccupy Honolulu, and it doesn't matter in Hauula either, I guess.

Does she actually own the property the signs were on?

deOccupy Honolulu as Salon des Refusés

I've written tons of stuff about deOccupy Honolulu in my last year and a half of documenting them and supporting their cause. In preparation for tonight's Open Community Forum on Thomas Square hosted by Mayor Caldwell and Academy of Arts director Stephan Jost, I thought that instead of repeating or summarizing myself, I'd use pix and vidz and take a new approach.

For the longest time (around 500 days) the encampment was directly across the Academy of Arts. Whenever the Academy would host an evening "Art After Dark," deOccupy Honolulu would host an "Off Art After Dark," with it's own art and entertainment. Much of the deOccupy Honolulu artwork found exhibition at "Off Art." Of course, Off Art wasn't as well funded as the Academy's event, but that was kinda the point. Bourgeois on one side of Beretania and Bohemian on the other. Honolulu's own Salon des Refusés.

Sometimes, I think the term "Free Speech" is something of …

Mayor Caldwell brings Maginot and Disney together at Thomas Square (and the Masked Limericist responds!)

OK, I get it, really. People would much rather see pink hibiscus bushes in planters than protesters in tents. And I would much rather live in a prosperous and happy community than a poor and contentious one.

Where I disagree with Mayor Caldwell is that I think the way to build a prosperous and happy community is to help the community become prosperous and happy. I know, easy to say, hard to do. Mayor Caldwell and the Honolulu City Council take the easy (and I say low) road: make being poor a crime and just simulate the appearance of prosperity.

There's bound to be some glaring evidence of inauthenticity when you do things that way. When you go to Disneyland and see Mickey Mouse, you'll have to notice that his smile is permanently sculpted into his mug. He can't frown (and if he did he'd get fired).

The City used armed police to take the possessions of protesters and the homeless and kick them off the sidewalk. Then they put up 65 planters along the sidewalk. What you c…

Caught in the act, a "Guerrilla Video" roundup

Some of the most historically significant film/video footage has been caught by regular folk on humble equipment and then employed in the interest of social justice by holding people accountable. I call this Guerrilla Video.

I like this definition of "guerrilla" from "A member of an irregular, usually indigenous military or paramilitary unit operating in small bands in occupied territory to harass and undermine the enemy, as by surprise raids." The term has been used to describe the underfunded soldiers of the American revolution and the people's army of Vietnam alike.

Video can be used as weapon for social justice. It was someone testing out some new video equipment in 1991 when he inadvertently caught California police beating Rodney King. And more recently, who would have believed a BART police officer would brutally shoot Oscar Grant in the back without seeing the cell phone video?

Although fortunately not as fatal, a number of loc…

What to do when poverty becomes a crime

This past Wednesday (3/20/2013), the Honolulu City Council met to hear Bill 7 which would empower the police and City crews to declare any tent, bedding, clothing, or food on public property a "nuisance" subject to immediate seizure without notice. And realistically speaking, the property would not be subject to return to the owners. The bill passed the second hearing after much testimony against, but no discussion among councilmembers.

Bill 7 is actually milder than its companion Bill 6 which would seize any structure designed for shelter  as well as subject "illegal campers" to arrest and a year in jail. Both seemingly fly in the face of Constitutional protections and ancient Hawaiian Law. The Kanawai Mamalahoe of Kamehameha protects the humble from the powerful in part by protecting the safety of those lying by the roadside. The law is incorporated into the State Constitution.

What to do? I caught Kanaka Maoli activist Laulani Teale right after the hearing. Conv…

Rath: "I guess I only had a right to own things when I had a place to stay"

[Richard Rath is an Associate Professor of History and the University of Hawaii, Manoa.

Rath emailed this to Councilmember Chang regarding proposed ordinances in Bills 2, 6, 7, and 8, which target Oahu's homeless population. Bills 7 and 8 will be heard today, 3/20/13, on the 2pm agenda at Honolulu Hale.

Links to the text of the bills are at the bottom of this post. Doug]


Dear council member Chang,

“I guess I only had a right to own things when I had a place to stay.”

I am writing to ask you to refuse to support bills 2, 6, 7, and 8. Please vote against these bills for the following reasons:

While all these bills proclaim as a common interest the free flow of traffic, they are clearly directed in their consequences against the houseless, including those houseless who have used their right to speak up politically. These bills remove the property rights of anyone without a permanent address. The constitution, forced on the Islands with the illegal overthrow and annexation, has…

Filing a complaint on a berserk cop

I'm working on posting a researched and reasoned response to the bunch of bills criminalizing homelessness (specifically Bills 2, 6, 7, and 8) that the Honolulu City Council is proposing as expedients to clear parks of pesky... I was almost going to write "campers" but camping is a recreational activity and those in tents simply have no private residence. But that will take a day or two to draft.

Meanwhile I got hold of some video by the Thomas Square Park deOccupy Honolulu people, Nova Smith and Sugar Russell. After more than 60 raids on the tent community, most police squad visitations are rather routine. deOccupy Honolulu is a politically organized group focused on pointing out the social and financial inequities inherent in a system that allows corporations to dictate legislation. By now, everyone who has had to endure these raids has formed a meaningful empathy with the houseless community. I sure have.

The City is currently under a Federal 9th Circuit Court agreeme…

deOccupy Honolulu: Resolution to End Encampment

[deOccupy Honolulu has been continuously encamped at historic Thomas Square Park since November 5, 2013. They recently moved from the Beretania Street side of the park to the King Street side. What will it take to get them to leave the park? They answer in this press release. Doug]

deOccupy Honolulu Submit Resolution to End Encampment
(de)Occupy Honolulu //
Twitter: @OccupyHonolulu  Hashtag: #OHNL


In response to Bills 2, 6, & 7 (de)Occupy Honolulu submits resolution to end encampment

Honolulu 3/6 – As (de)Occupy Honolulu sues the City & County of Honolulu in federal court over deprivation of civil rights during raids; the city fights back by criminalizing the houseless population in an attempt to remove the protesters. The City Council has submitted Bills 2, 6, & 7, targeting the houseless. Bill 2 is much like the current Bill 54, however makes sidewalks no longer public prop…

Raid brings firsts: Advertising on crime tape, and discussion with the City

There were some facts disappeared from yesterday's Star Advertiser story on the City's raid on deOccupy Honolulu — the 57th by my list but I may be missing some — but you really can't blame them. Star Advertiser photographer Dennis Oda showed up for part of the raid, and the bylined "Star Advertiser Staff" is a euphemism for cut and paste from the City's press release.

I was there for the entire raid and live streamed video and photographed the whole thing. There were a couple of authentic firsts at what would otherwise have been a routine raid. I don't know if this is part of the new Caldwell administration policy or what, but the "crime tape" that cordons off the exclusion zone required by the Federal court agreement now carries advertising.

While corporate sponsorship of raids on the homeless is certainly consistent with the Occupy Movement's world view, I can't see why anyone would want to be associated with these actions or may imag…

The banner story: The Raul Gonzalez Kanawai Mamalahoe

From its creation at the deOccupy Honolulu encampment to its illegal seizure the next day by police in a raid to its position in front of the official color guard of the Martin Luther King Day march through Waikiki, the true story of the Kanawai Mamalahoe banner by artist Raul Gonzalez.

Last year, when a couple of friends and I started Hawaiʻi Guerrilla Video, it was to continue doing what we were already doing: photograph, video, and livestream front-line social justice action in Hawaiʻi. People have to see whatʻs going on in their own community to be able to do the right thing, but the commercial media doesn't do an adequate job. People in many communities rely on independent media to get them the info they need. And not only did we want to provide coverage, but make the path from the street to the community broader and smoother for other videographers, journalists, and self-documentors.

I tell people that the First Amendment is the new Second Amendment, that to defend our free…

ʻAʻole GMO! No GMO! march to the Hawaii State Capitol 1/16/2013

While legislators were participating in opening ceremonies in the air conditioned comfort of chambers, others were in the hot sun marching toward them in record numbers.

It was an epic and historic gathering of like minded people from a broad demographic. My cellcam guerrilla video canʻt come close to capturing the grandeur of being with all these amazing people. Will the legislators hear us this time? What else do we have to do to get their attention?

There was a stage, microphones, and a PA system once we got to the Capitol. Speakers included Indiaʻs foremost anti-GMO activist, Dr. Vandana Shiva.

Homelessness dilema: No one home at the House

This story is too precious not to share: Thinking I might be interested, activist James W. Macey sends me an email with notices of two informational briefings at the State Legislature about homelessness. Oh yes I am interested! There are two scheduled one after the other on Tuesday, 1/8/13, and the second one at 10am specifically addresses "designating safe facilities located at camping areas." That's something someone documenting the deOccupy Honolulu encampment this past more than one year might find fascinating.

The hearing notice also expresses wanting to hear from a long list of relevant State of Hawaii department directors, and the mayors of all four counties. I gotta go to this thing and get the info. Are our public officials planning an escalation of the criminalization of the homeless? Are they going to continue to deprive the poor of the protection of law and the constitution (both State and Fed versions)?

So I get there a little early. This is going to be good…