Christmas Eve homeless sweep upsets civil liberties groups
The city gears up for a Christmas Eve homeless sweep in Waikiki. Before dawn, crews will enforce the Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance and the Stored Property Ordinance, and civil liberties groups are upset at the timing. The Department of Facility Maintenance will be out in Waikiki from 3 to 5:30 a.m. on Monday, December 24. The Sandefur ohana spent part of their weekend spreading some Christmas joy to those in need and were shocked to hear about the city's plan. Maha...
HONOLULU - The city gears up for a Christmas Eve homeless sweep in Waikiki. Before dawn, crews will enforce the Sidewalk Nuisance Ordinance and the Stored Property Ordinance, and civil liberties groups are upset at the timing.
The Department of Facility Maintenance will be out in Waikiki from 3 to 5:30 a.m. on Monday, December 24. The Sandefur ohana spent part of their weekend spreading some Christmas joy to those in need and were shocked to hear about the city's plan. Mahana Sandefur says, "It's just unfortunate that these people are already displaced. I'm sure it is a struggle to just have to pick up everything that you have and move it somewhere else, especially on the holiday when most of us just want to be comfortable. Yes, it's sad."
The city calls this a "compassionate disruption." Acting Mayor Roy K Amemiya, Jr. says in a statement, “Outreach workers have been canvassing this area and working with these individuals to address their needs including making sure shelter space is available. We are committed to finding more housing solutions in the near and long term. We are also committed to working with our partners on these compassionate disruption efforts, and making sure these Individuals have access to any mental health or substance abuse treatment they might require. True compassion is working to get everyone off the street. This is not an overnight process, but rather than spending Christmas on the street, we hope these people will be able to spend it in a shelter, with access to the care and services that they need. As of Friday we identified at least 50 shelter spaces available to the entire population."
The ACLU of Hawai'i says it asked the city this weekend to cancel its sweep. Executive Director Joshua Wisch is disappointed it didn't, and told KITV4, "If the city is trying to be compassionate, why are they doing this at 3 a.m. on Christmas Eve? Why not at 9 a.m. with coffee and malassadas?"
Both the city and the ACLU say they'd like to find shelter or permanent housing for the homeless. They differ on how it's done.
Wisch says, "The ACLU would like to see these folks get into a shelter or permanent housing, and receive services. They are more likely to receive those offers of help if not accompanied by the threat of arrest."
Acting Mayor Amemiya, Jr. says "While we respect the work of the ACLU, we believe our actions are in the best interest of both the homeless individuals as well as the larger community."
The ACLU points out, "In addition to carrying out 'sweeps' the day before Thanksgiving this year, the City also announced (but did not carry out) sweeps during Hurricane Lane. It is not clear at this time if the City plans additional sweeps during the rest of the holiday season."
The sweeps are announced on the City’s website (www.tinyurl.com/sposno) at least one day in advance, as part of the 2015 Martin v. City and County of Honolulu settlement. They are also listed on the ACLU of Hawaii’s social media streams (#aclusweeptweet).
And another activist group is getting involved. Sunday night, Women's March Hawaii's Oahu chapter asked people on Facebook to call the Mayor and demand he cancel the sweeps.