Protestors camp out at Honolulu Hale over sidewalk bills
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Members of (de)Occupy Honolulu are holding a 24-hour slumber party protest at City Hall. They've set up tents on the front lawn to protest new sidewalk bills they call unconstitutional.
"It's criminalizing being so poor you don't have a place to stay and that's completely wrong. It also violates 4th amendment rights to private property and 1st amendment rights to free speech," explained protestor H. Doug Matsuoka.
City workers initially put up yellow tape to mark the free speech zone where demonstrators would be allowed, but the tape was taken down after the group complained. One of the measures being criticized, Bill 7, allows the city to immediately seize tents and personal property on sidewalks. A $200 fee would be required to retrieve the items. Under the current law, crews must issue a written warning and give 24 hours notice.
"With the situation that we have now, all over Honolulu these situations are definitely creating a public health hazard," said Honolulu City Councilman Ikaika Anderson.
"We are completely in compliance with the Americans with Disabilities Act which states we need to maintain 36 inches of space, and the police have come down here themselves. They've measured it out," said protestor Blade Walsh.
The City Council will take testimony on Bill 7 on Wednesday when it is up for its second reading. The demonstrators want to make sure their voices are heard.
"In order to be able to get people not living on the streets, we need a proper infrastructure. We need permanent solutions. Housing first. We need an adequate shelter system," said protestor Sugar Russell.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell says he'll sign the measure into law if it's eventually passed.
"We have to approach the issue of homelessness with compassion, but the providers themselves have said they support Bill 7 because it makes it less convenient to camp on sidewalks and hopefully get more people into shelters," said Caldwell.
The protestors are also opposed to Bill 2 and Bill 6 which deal with sidewalks and tents, and Bill 8 which limits activities in public parks.
Copyright 2013 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.