On Wednesday, December 12th, members of (de)Occupy Honolulu filed a lawsuit against the City & County of Honolulu, Wesley Chun (Director & Chief Engineer of Department of Facilities Maintenance), Trish Morikawa (County Housing Coordinator), and Sergeant Larry Santos (Honolulu Police Department), over deprivation of civil rights during raids on the encampment, in the U.S. District Court for the District of Hawai`i. On Monday, December 17th, a Temporary Restraining Order has been issued, until the Preliminary Injunction hearing in a month, dealing with raids of Thomas Square. All defendants have either quit their jobs or retired since the last raid at Thomas Square, the day before Thanksgiving.
The lawsuit focus on the city & county’s abuse of Ordinance 10-29 (AKA Bill 39), which limits the use of sidewalks after pushing (de)Occupy to the sidewalk, and Ordinance 11-029 (AKA Bill 54), which allows the Department of Facility Maintenance, Housing, Parks, and HPD to traumatize, steal, and brutalize the vulnerable houseless population
Since the (de)Occupy camp was established on November 5, 2011, the movement has been fighting against Ordinance 11-029, which was used as a tool to repress freedom of speech within hours of being signed into law. City ordinances like Bill 39 and Bill 54 criminalize the houseless. The U.S. 9th Circuit Court of Appeals stated in Tony Lavan v. City of Los Angeles, “For many of us, the loss of our personal effects may pose a minor inconvenience. However, . . . the loss can be devastating for the homeless.”
“Houseless rights are human rights. We have been standing vigil 24/7 for over a year. During that time the city has repeatedly stolen and destroyed our collective and personal property, including car registrations, medications, and bedding of protesters and the houseless alike,” says Sugar Russell, plaintiff. “The city has humiliated people using intimidation and violence. This is what the government does to people who are willing and able to stand up and document abuse and inequality.”
“The fight is not over until the peoples’ voice means more than corporate money! (de)Occupy Honolulu is determined to shut down the unconstitutional ordinances of Bill 39 and Bill 54 throughout the County of Honolulu. Prioritizing programs like job placement, rehabilitation, and housing first will show a better return in value for both the community, and the thousands of houseless on the island,” says plaintiff Christopher Nova Smith. “Restructuring the assistance housing funds to mirror Hawaii County’s plan could offset the financial strain on the community. By investing in the value of people, the City and County of Honolulu can save taxpayers millions of dollars while promoting equal civil rights and community sustainability.”