Thursday, August 13, 2020


Mayor Kirk Caldwell’s cruel sweeps of homeless tents need to stop–now, a call from advocates and organizations in Hawaii

Mayor Kirk Caldwell is term-limited. Since he has persisted in his cruel, middle-of-the-night sweeps of the houseless community, I for one will be glad to see him go. But these sweeps need to stop. right. now.

The ACLU of Hawaii released the following statement today.


Honolulu, Hawaii: Over 70 officials, organizations, and individuals — representing a broad range of interests and constituencies — released a statement today calling for a halt to “sweeps” of the houseless community during this ongoing pandemic. Many members of this community are families, but the City and County of Honolulu and the Honolulu Police Department have promised to continue citations and arrests for anyone in parks and beaches, even if they have nowhere else to go.

The statement and list of signatories is as follows:

We call on the leadership of the City and County of Honolulu — and the Honolulu Police Department (HPD) in particular — to stop sweeping our houseless neighbors in the middle of this unprecedented global pandemic. It is cruel, legally questionable (at best), and a threat to public health and safety. Public health experts locally and nationally say this is bad health policy, and the Centers for Disease Control (CDC) itself has weighed in with the following guidance: “Considerations for encampments — If individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are. Clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.”

That is crystal clear. And yet — flying in the face of CDC guidance — last week HPD Chief Susan Ballard said people who are unsheltered will be cited and arrested if they are in the parks or on the beaches. Making this more confusing is the fact that since the pandemic began, more than 10,000 citations have been issued statewide — thousands to people who are unsheltered — and prosecutors on Oahu and Maui have begun dismissing those citations en masse because they never should have been issued in the first place. This is because people who are houseless are exempt under the emergency orders because they have no place else to go. Issuing new citations after dismissing old citations is nothing more than harassment.

We all want people who are unsheltered to get into housing, but our shelters now have less space than ever because of social distancing guidelines. Just this week there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Iwilei homeless shelter. Forcing more people inside will make this worse. And if an unsheltered person is arrested for being in a park or on a beach on O‘ahu, they’ll be sent to the O‘ahu Community Correctional Center, which is now seeing its own growing outbreak of the virus. We never agree with these sweeps. They’re cruel, ineffective, and the 9th Circuit Court of appeals has said sweeps like these are unconstitutional, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court let stand. But aside from those legal, philosophical, and humanitarian differences with the City’s policy, continuing with sweeps now is endangering public safety, not protecting it. Please join us in a call to end this practice, at least until this pandemic is behind us.


African-American Lawyers Association
ALEA Bridge
American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i
Church and Society, Harris United Methodist Church
Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i
Family Promise of Hawai‘i
Hawai‘i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development
Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice
Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network
Hawai‘i Friends of Civil Rights
Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center
Hawai‘i Innocence Project
Hawai‘i J-20+
Hawai‘i Public Health Institute
Hawai‘i Strategy Lab
Hui Aloha
Japanese American Citizens League - Honolulu Chapter
Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i
Mental Health America of Hawai‘i
Muslim Association of Hawai‘i
Honolulu Hawai‘i NAACP
National Association of Social Workers-Hawai‘i
ʻŌiwi TV
Pacific Gateway Center
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai‘i
The Pōpolo Project
Project Hiehie
Project Vision Hawai‘i
Temple Emanu-El
Dr. Amy Agbayani
Christopher Akana
Alani Apio, Hui Aloha volunteer
Shanty Sigrah Asher
Sonja Bigalke-Bannan, MSW, LSW
Twinkle Borge, Pu‘uhonua O Wai‘anae
Cathy Kawano-Ching, Hui Aloha volunteer
Samantha Church
Rev. Thomas J. FitzGerald, First Unitarian Church of Honolulu
Cecilia H. Fordham
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green
Clare Hanusz, Attorney-at-Law
Jen Jenkins, Community Co-Chair to the Department of Heath's Sex and Gender Minority Work Group
Darrah Kauhane, Executive Director of Project Vision Hawai‘i and Project Hiehie
John Kawamoto
Rynette Keen
Justin F. Kollar, Prosecuting Attorney - County of Kaua‘i
James Koshiba, Hui Aloha
Professor Linda Hamilton Krieger, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law
Charles R. Lawrence III, Prof. Emeritus, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law 
Professor Ken Lawson
Professor Mark A. Levin
Professor Justin Levinson
Professor Mari Matsuda
Diane Matsuura, Harris United Methodist Church
Patricia McManaman, Retired Attorney
Leʻa Minton, Certified Nurse-Midwife, MI-Home Program
Dee Nakamura
Deja Ostrowski, Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i 
Professor Robert Perkinson
Kaimana Pine, Hui Aloha volunteer
Rosanna Prieto, MSW
Cheryl Prince, LCSW
Nathalie Rita, PhD Candidate
Dodie Rivera, MSN, RN
Darlene Rodrigues
Darcie Scharfenstein, Hui Aloha volunteer
Professor Nandita Sharma
Dina Shek, Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i
Professor Avi Soifer
Chloe Stewart
Nicky S. Winter, Executive Director of ALEA Bridge
Summer Lee Yadao
Professor Eric Yamamoto, Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice


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