HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of homeless people rousted from an encampment in Kakaako this week returned to the area Saturday — for a clean-up.
And many said they didn’t think the crackdown on the illegal campers was productive.
“It’s not hard to work together and so I don’t understand why they came and swept us the way they did last time," said Lindsay Pacheco, who was displaced in the recent sweeps in which officers fanned out across the area.
"That was really harsh and if you ask me brutal and unnecessary, absolutely unnecessary because if you wanted us to move, just ask,”
Pacheco has lived just outside Kakaako Waterfront Park for almost six years, but it’s never been permanent.
"We've been asked several times to move from this area for special events that are going to happen here in the park humbly, peacefully," added Pacheco.
She says Thursday night's operation was different from any of the sweeps she has seen in the past.
"We never know when they are going to come back and we never know if they are going to do that again," she said.
Pacheco is part of a group called Hui Aloha, one of several organizations working to solve what feels like an unsolvable problem.
Aside from cleanups like the one that happened Saturday morning outside Kakaako Waterfront Park, part of Hui Aloha’s mission is to find a long-term plan for the house-less community in the city’s core.
“We are losing our aloha here in Hawaii for each other,” said Hui Aloha organizer Alani Apio, who shared their group’s vision with state Sen. Sharon Moriwaki.
Apio said the group wants to find a permanent place where homeless in the area can pitch a tent, and point to a successful homeless village in Waianae as a potential model.
“If you go out there and walk through their village, they love each other. They are not perfect. They are not perfect human beings but they manage even in that situation,” added Apio.
The group said it’s working with Lt. Gov. Josh Green to find a suitable spot somewhere near Kakaako. It’s far from official but the coalition is hopeful.
"At last count, 89 people from Kakaako have signed up and said yes, we will abide by the rules of the community and we are ready and willing to move there," said Alpio.
Moriwaki said she was encouraged to see Saturday’s effort and wants to create better communication between the homeless community, HPD, and state resources.
"There are problems, there are people committing crimes and how do you ferret that out from people who really do care and want to do something like this group who wants to clean up who wants to find housing," said Moriwaki.
During those recent police raids over the last few days 40 people were arrested with a total of 200 outstanding warrants. In the Kakaako area alone, 11 people were taken in with a total of 67 warrants.