Waikiki street performers fear arrest
WAIKIKI (HawaiiNewsNow) - During any day or night along the busiest street in Waikiki, there are 40 to 50 people who perform on the sidewalk. James is one of them. He's part of an act called The Silver Men.
"I enjoy bringing smiles to people's faces," he said.
Six days a week, James paints his face and dresses in a silver suit. He sets up shop on a bustling street corner, poses for pictures and accepts donations.
"Now that we're on the corner, everyone stops at the stop light so we have a captive audience," he said.
James said word is spreading along Kalakaua avenue that Honolulu police will zero in on street performers and peddlers in the coming weeks before APEC with something called Operation Sidewalk Sweeper.
"We've done it before and we will do it after APEC, and it will continue after APEC," HPD Sgt. Dave Barnett said. "They create such a crowd that people are actually walking onto the street on Kalakaua Avenue, taking the chance of getting hit by cars passing by."
Barnett insists cops aren't stepping up enforcement. But they want street performers aware of obstruction of sidewalk laws and peddling prohibitions.
Rick Egged, president of the Waikiki Improvement Association, said he asked HPD for help.
"We have expressed our concern to HPD about the blocking of the sidewalks and sidewalk access, and asked them to help us to keep those sidewalks clear," he said.
Street performers fear citations and arrests are coming.
"We're smart people. We will obey the law. We don't want to violate anything," street performer Jerry Gibbs said.
Gibbs complains that street showmen are already boxed in by sidewalk construction on Kalakaua that limits where they sit or stand.
Although cops say they're not cracking down, James wonders if he'll get busted.
"I'm not looking forward to being arrested for the first time in my life because I'm practicing this form of art on the sidewalk," he said.
The Waikiki Neighborhood Board will discuss Operation Sidewalk Sweeper at its meeting Tuesday at 7 p.m. at the Waikiki Community Center.
Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved