Thursday, June 07, 2012


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

By H. Doug Matsuoka

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

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

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