Tuesday, June 30, 2015
State Rep. Tom Brower reported injured while videoing homeless campers in Kakaako
by Larry Geller
Rep. Tom Brower was reported by the media, citing “sources,” to have been assaulted and badly injured at around 5 p.m yesterday as he shot video of a homeless encampment in Kakaako. According to the account, he was asked to stop. News reports described his injuries as serious, including a concussion and swollen eyes.
Additional information is likely to come out, perhaps including a description of events by Brower himself. Unless details reveal otherwise, this appears to be a clear case of assault and should be pursued by law enforcement. Hawaii News Now has already interviewed two men who appear to have been involved (see below). The next knock on their tent flaps will likely be the police, seeking an interview of their own.
Brower is best remembered as the sledge-hammer wielding vigilante who took it upon himself to seek out and destroy shopping carts used by the homeless in Waikiki in 2013. Pictures of him with his hammer made national and even international news. And so, since those photos are in news files, they appeared again with today’s story. Here is an example from this morning’s New York Daily News:
Headline: Hawaii politician gets beaten by homeless people years after destroying their belongings with sledgehammer.
Hawaii News Now posted an updated account this morning including an interview with two of the homeless people. Since the two are named, they are perhaps likely to be prosecuted if they participated in the assault.
Jonah Iose, 14, and Isaiah Totoa, 17, said they got mad when state Rep. Tom Brower, also known as the sledgehammer lawmaker, refused to put away his camera after they asked nicely.
"He was video recording me and walked up to him and asked him if he could please delete that picture and that video, and he was telling me no, you should back off,” Iose said.
Added Totoa, “He caught his whole face on camera. So we don't like that when people come and do that without permission. So we asked him nicely if he could put down his camera. He asked nicely to put down the camera. And the guy said no."
How would you feel if I walked in your house and just started recording you, right? We live here, this our house, respect it," Totoa said. "We don't choose to live like this. If I had a choice to go to a house right now and live in that house, and I can pay for it. Trust and believe, I would be in my house. I wouldn't be living underneath one tent."
[HawaiiNewsNow, State Rep. Tom Brower injured in altercation at Kakaako homeless camp, 6/30/2015]
The story is already spreading, and it doesn’t do Hawaii’s image any good. For example, this from the end of a CBS account based on the Hawaii News Now report:
Hawaii is the worst state among homelessness with a rate of 465 per 100,000 according to the U.S. Department of Housing and Urban Development. Washington, D.C., has the worst rate of homelessness at 1,133 per 100,000 people.
It appears unlikely that the alleged assault is “payback” for Brower’s actions in 2013. From the Hawaii News Now report, it appears to be a reaction to Brower’s activities last night.
Since two people have been specifically identified, there will be prosecutions of the assailants. While there is no comparison between this alleged assault and Brower’s own actions in 2013, it should be noted that Brower admitted to rousing homeless people found sleeping at bus stops, and if he had his sledgehammer in his possession at the time, that could be considered potentially as an assault. But police filed no charges against Brower related to his activities that were reported in the media.
Brower, according to the Star-Advertiser, is "disgusted" by the city's chronic homelessness problem and has decided to take a self-proclaimed "tough-guy" approach to solving it. In addition to his shopping cart rampage, he also rouses homeless people if he sees them sleeping at bus stops during the day.
[Huffington Post, Hawaii Rep. Tom Brower Takes A Sledgehammer (Literally) To Homelessness Problem, 11/18/2013]
Again, there is no excuse possible for whatever happened last night, but still, if there were any chance that Brower would take my suggestion, I’d advise him to work hard at getting the state to implement a proper Housing First program, and to otherwise think of how he could better interact with his constituents other than a “tough-guy” approach.
"Bower bludgeoned by own sledgehammer" would have been a much more sensational and dramatic headline if it had happened. probably would have made national news, again.