ACLU Calls for Homeless Sweeps to Stop while MPD Clears out Kahului Camp

While the American Civil Liberties Union calls for homeless sweeps to stop as Maui Police Department and Maui County Administration continue to make major sweeps to the houseless community, this time in Central Maui. ACLU states that these sweeps are cruel, and unconstitutional according to the 9th circuit court, not to mention the CDC has stated shelter in place is the safest policy for the community, and does not support moving encampments during the pandemic.

“Since this pandemic began, and over the course of the last several months, we’ve called for the halting of sweeps across the state,” says Kathleen Wong, of the American Civil Liberties Union. “We reached out to officials on O‘ahu, Maui and Hawai‘i Island demanding that they stop the sweeps and that they reopen, keep open, and maintain park bathrooms. We’ve worked closely with advocates in those respective counties as well.”

The recent press release calling for a halt in Honolulu is a direct response to their criminalization of houselessness on Oʻahu.

“The most recent attention given to O‘ahu is in specific response to Chief Ballard who recently threated to arrest houseless people in the City and County of Honolulu,” says Wong. “However, we will continue the effort to end sweeps statewide as long as they persist, and expect that our advocacy efforts–along with groups on the ground–will continue in every county as long as their actions criminalizing houselessness persist.”

Over 70 officials, organizations, and individuals — representing a broad range of interests and constituencies — released a statement calling for a halt to “sweeps” of the houseless community during this ongoing pandemic. Many members of this community are families, but the City and County of Honolulu and the Honolulu Police Department have promised to continue citations and arrests for anyone in parks and beaches, even if they have nowhere else to go.

“The most recent attention given to O‘ahu is in specific response to Chief Ballard who recently threated to arrest houseless people in the City and County of Honolulu,” says Wong. “However, we will continue the effort to end sweeps statewide as long as they persist, and expect that our advocacy efforts–along with groups on the ground–will continue in every county as long as their actions criminalizing houselessness persist.”

Over 70 officials, organizations, and individuals — representing a broad range of interests and constituencies — released a statement calling for a halt to “sweeps” of the houseless community during this ongoing pandemic. Many members of this community are families, but the City and County of Honolulu and the Honolulu Police Department have promised to continue citations and arrests for anyone in parks and beaches, even if they have nowhere else to go.

That is crystal clear. And yet — flying in the face of CDC guidance — last week HPD Chief Susan Ballard said people who are unsheltered will be cited and arrested if they are in the parks or on the beaches. Making this more confusing is the fact that since the pandemic began, more than 10,000 citations have been issued statewide — thousands to people who are unsheltered — and prosecutors on Oahu and Maui have begun dismissing those citations en masse because they never should have been issued in the first place. This is because people who are houseless are exempt under the emergency orders because they have no place else to go. Issuing new citations after dismissing old citations is nothing more than harassment.

We all want people who are unsheltered to get into housing, but our shelters now have less space than ever because of social distancing guidelines. Just this week there has been an outbreak of COVID-19 at the Iwilei homeless shelter. Forcing more people inside will make this worse. And if an unsheltered person is arrested for being in a park or on a beach on O‘ahu, they’ll be sent to the O‘ahu Community Correctional Center, which is now seeing its own growing outbreak of the virus. We never agree with these sweeps. They’re cruel, ineffective, and the 9th Circuit Court of appeals has said sweeps like these are unconstitutional, a decision the U.S. Supreme Court let stand. But aside from those legal, philosophical, and humanitarian differences with the City’s policy, continuing with sweeps now is endangering public safety, not protecting it. Please join us in a call to end this practice, at least until this pandemic is behind us.

Signatories

African-American Lawyers Association
ALEA Bridge
American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i
Church and Society, Harris United Methodist Church
Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i
Family Promise of Hawai‘i
Hawai‘i Alliance for Community-Based Economic Development
Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice
Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network
Hawai‘i Friends of Civil Rights
Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center
Hawai‘i Innocence Project
Hawai‘i J-20+
Hawai‘i Public Health Institute
Hawai‘i Strategy Lab
Hui Aloha
Japanese American Citizens League – Honolulu Chapter
Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i
Mental Health America of Hawai‘i
Muslim Association of Hawai‘i
Honolulu Hawai‘i NAACP
National Association of Social Workers-Hawai‘i
ʻŌiwi TV
Pacific Gateway Center
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai‘i
The Pōpolo Project
Project Hiehie
Project Vision Hawai‘i
Temple Emanu-El
UNITE HERE! Local 5
Dr. Amy Agbayani
Christopher Akana
Alani Apio, Hui Aloha volunteer
Shanty Sigrah Asher
Sonja Bigalke-Bannan, MSW, LSW
Twinkle Borge, Pu‘uhonua O Wai‘anae
Cathy Kawano-Ching, Hui Aloha volunteer
Samantha Church
Rev. Thomas J. FitzGerald, First Unitarian Church of Honolulu
Cecilia H. Fordham
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green
Clare Hanusz, Attorney-at-Law
Jen Jenkins, Community Co-Chair to the Department of Heath’s Sex and Gender Minority Work Group
Darrah Kauhane, Executive Director of Project Vision Hawai‘i and Project Hiehie
John Kawamoto
Rynette Keen
Justin F. Kollar, Prosecuting Attorney – County of Kaua‘i
James Koshiba, Hui Aloha
Professor Linda Hamilton Krieger, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law
Charles R. Lawrence III, Prof. Emeritus, University of Hawai‘i at Mānoa William S. Richardson School of Law
Professor Ken Lawson
Professor Mark A. Levin
Professor Justin Levinson
Professor Mari Matsuda
Diane Matsuura, Harris United Methodist Church
Patricia McManaman, Retired Attorney
Leʻa Minton, Certified Nurse-Midwife, MI-Home Program
Dee Nakamura
Deja Ostrowski, Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i
Professor Robert Perkinson
Kaimana Pine, Hui Aloha volunteer
Rosanna Prieto, MSW
Cheryl Prince, LCSW
Nathalie Rita, PhD Candidate
Dodie Rivera, MSN, RN
Darlene Rodrigues
Darcie Scharfenstein, Hui Aloha volunteer
Professor Nandita Sharma
Dina Shek, Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i
Professor Avi Soifer
Chloe Stewart
Nicky S. Winter, Executive Director of ALEA Bridge
Summer Lee Yadao
Professor Eric Yamamoto, Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice