Wednesday, April 17, 2013


City Council vs. Federal Court—who will win?

by Larry Geller

The Honolulu City Council is poised to approve Bill 7 today, which, as I understand it, would permit them to confiscate and destroy private property found on city sidewalks.

One problem with this is that the City has agreed to a stipulated order in federal court as part of the on-going suit filed by (de)Occupy Honolulu. One part requires:

No untagged tent or dwelling will be entered without a warrant. Plaintiffs acknowledge that there is no allegation that Defendants have entered an untagged tent or dwelling without a warrant;

Update: The Star-Advertiser posted at 10:59 a.m. that Bill 7 has passed and that the mayor has said he will sign it. See: City Council OKs ban on 'sidewalk nuisances' (Star-Advertiser, 4/17/2013).

I’m not a lawyer, but I wonder if passing a new city ordinance can change a federal court order.

A video showing New York City police destroying property belonging to Occupy Wall Street resembles videos of similar destruction of (de)Occupy Honolulu and homeless encampments taken in Honolulu.

NYC just settled its case for $366,700 that New York taxpayers will have to fork over.

Meanwhile the case in federal court here, to be heard next month, could cost Honolulu taxpayers a bundle. The City Council seems poised to multiply any potential cost by passing its new ordinance permitting the city to emulate the NYPD—that is, to confiscate and destroy possessions from sidewalks without notice. Kind of a swoop and destroy operation, which conceivably could get the federal judge riled up.


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