Occupy protestors standing their ground

By Ramsay Wharton

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Occupy Honolulu protesters are holding their ground, despite another effort to push them from camping out on the public sidewalks at Thomas Square under the City's new stored property ordinance.

City crews are expected to return sometime late Wednesday afternoon to confiscate the latest round of items that were tagged with 24-hour removal notices on Tuesday, Valentine's Day.

A handful of notices were posted on protester belongings along Beretania Street and Ward Avenue as well as at several other non-Occupy sites along the Ala Wai promenade and areas around the Convention Center.

Based on when time those notices were issued to protesters, roughly around 1 p.m. Tuesday, crews with the Department of Facility Maintenance are expected to return sometime after that Wednesday to remove any "tagged" items that remain on the public grounds. Under the new stored property ordinance, property owners have 30 days to reclaim any confiscated property being held at the City's base yard in Halawa. As of two weeks ago, there was no fee to retrieve the goods, though that may change in the future.

For now, a battle of wills is unfolding between the city and protesters at the park. The demonstrators, who've been holding a protest vigil since November 2011, now put up their tents on the sidewalks at night when city crews are no longer issuing notices, then take them down in the morning to avoid being 'tagged' before crews start their day. Protesters also move any signs, tables and chairs which haven't been "tagged" back onto park grounds after it opens at 5 a.m., then they move them toward the sidewalk when the park closes at 10 p.m.

One resident, who didn't want to be identified, expressed her frustration over the city's inability to get the protesters to pack up and remove what she described as the protesters', "trashy mess." City officials say they are enforcing the new law based on complaints from the public.

Occupy protester, Lucas Miller, who was arrested and released two weeks ago for obstructing government operations during the sweep, said the group continues to stand their ground. However, Miller said he doesn't plan to being doing anything Wednesday that might end up with his arrest. Miller said he has a pending court appearance in March, for a prior arrest in November 2010 for allegedly being in the park after hours.

A city spokeswoman has said in the past that any items that have received notices can be confiscated at any time at a later date, should that "tagged" property show up anywhere else on public property in the vicinity of where it was originally "tagged," despite it being moved before crews return to confiscate it. The effort is designed to keep people from skirting the new law by moving their belongings around, but also raises eyebrows over the city's lawful ability to confiscate personal property any time it sees fit.

City workers at the Complaints Office referred callers to the Office of Housing if you have complaints regarding individuals keeping private property on public grounds. Office of Housing - 808-768-4687. For other information, contact the City's Complaints Office via e-mail at complaints@honolulu.gov or call 808-768-4381.

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