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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. Convinced that a government that treats people like this is not long for the world, Teale cites both the Kanawai Mamalahoe and the lesser known Niaupio Kolowalu of Kualiʻi (that humanely requires the feeding of the hungry and the housing of the houseless) and suggests:
"What we need to do is we need to start reforming what will be here instead. Follow the ancient laws. Feed people who are hungry, help people who need help, take care of one another, respect those people... People who must lie by the roadside [must be] protected. Stand up for those people. We need to stand up. We need to stand together.."

The proposed bills also conveniently take a pot shots at protest groups like deOccupy Honolulu and anyone else hoping for protection of 1st Amendment free speech provisions. The group encamped on the lawn of Honolulu Hale the night of the hearing and invited councilmembers to the sleep over. None accepted the invitation. Several deOccupiers gave testimony against Bill 7, but to no questions or discussion from Councilmembers. Iʻll have video of some testimony soon.

But for now, can I move you take a closer look at the bills and submit testimony opposing Bill 6, and 7?

Links:

Bill 6: http://www4.honolulu.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-134353/7lsk1-0h.pdf
Bill 7: http://www4.honolulu.gov/docushare/dsweb/Get/Document-134717/7mft2b_b.pdf

Submit testimony: http://www4.honolulu.gov/docushare/dsweb/View/Collection-1777

H. Doug Matsuoka
23 March 2013
Makiki, Honolulu

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