Tents expected outside City Hall Tuesday evening

Occupy Honolulu to protest bill that would remove tents, personal property without warning

Published  10:12 PM HST Mar 15, 2013
Occupy_SKing Street
HONOLULU -

The Occupy Honolulu movement has been on one side or the other of Thomas Square for nearly 500 days.

But next Tuesday evening, protestors plan to march their tents and other personal belongings about a half-mile down South King Street to Honolulu Hale.

Occupiers plan on making themselves visible before and after a hearing of the full City Council Wednesday morning. Council members are scheduled to hear public testimony on Bill 7, which would allow tents and other personal property to be removed from city sidewalks without warning.

"I think we need to come to them, because they're not seeming to come to us as a majority of the houseless population," said Sugar Russell, an Occupy Honolulu member who often speaks to the media.

Bill 7 was introduced by Council Chairman Ernie Martin and two colleagues, Ann Kobayashi and Ikaika Anderson.

Anderson said Occupy organizers have every right to protest at the Hale, but he drew a line on erecting tents and other items on city grounds.

"If we do start to see bedding and tents and other personal belongings strewn about the grounds of Honolulu Hale, I'm hopeful that the mayor will take swift action," Anderson told KITV4.

When asked about the planned protest Tuesday evening, Mayor Kirk Caldwell said he welcomes the expression of free speech, but stopped short of saying he would take any action against the Occupy Honolulu movement.

"We'll have to see how it goes," said Caldwell. "Obviously, I believe that our sidewalks throughout this entire island are open to everyone. We all own the sidewalks. No one, not you not me, has a right to take a part of a sidewalk and say, 'I'm camping here.'"   

Currently, the city can legally confiscate property found on sidewalks, but only after issuing a warning and allowing 24-hour notice.

Under Bill 7, the city would be allowed to confiscate tents and other personal property from a sidewalk immediately, but is required to leave written notification at the site of the seizure.  Property owners would have 30 days to retrieve their items, but it would come at a cost.

"It includes a $200 fee to retrieve a $30 tent," said Russell. "You may be stuck paying that if need things like car paperwork back, or your school books back, or your medication back."

After hearing testimony on Bill 7 Wednesday morning, Council members may approve the measure on second reading. It takes three readings for a bill to be forwarded to the mayor for possible veto or adoption.

Caldwell has not said whether he intends to sign Bill 7 into law if it pass the legislative process, but he is generally supportive of the council's efforts to clear sidewalks of personal belongings.

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