Target: Mayor of Honolulu, Kirk Caldwell
Goal: Revoke proposal that bans lying down or sitting on sidewalks and grants authorities permission to seize and destroy homeless people’s property
When people are absolutely destitute with no shelter or home to live in, they often survive by staying in parks and public areas. However, some cities across the country are taking measures that directly hurt and alienate homeless individuals. Hawaii is one such place with a growing homelessness problem. One initiative, introduced by Mayor Kirk Caldwell of Honolulu, bans lying down or sitting on public sidewalks. Police officers are also being brought in to seize homeless people’s property or arrest them for simply being in parks after hours.
Homeless people are not always in control of their situation. For many, homelessness is a temporary event—they simply have nowhere to go and no money to rent a private room. Criminalizing homelessness and denying homeless people the basic ability to sit or lie down on public land is not the way to curb destitution or help homeless people transition back into homes and into society.
Mayor Caldwell is engendering the idea that homeless people are somehow dangerous or less deserving of a space to sleep and own private property. Arresting innocent people for being in a public place is a direct assault on homeless people, not on homelessness. In addition, creating this “war on homelessness” to encourage tourism is the incorrect way to mold an atmosphere of paradise and kindness. Sign the petition letter below to demand that Mayor Caldwell revise the literature in his statement to take out measures that ban sitting and lying, and that allow police to arrest homeless people for being in parks after hours.
Dear Mayor Caldwell,
Your recent initiative to curb homelessness is bold, but poorly directed. Instead of directly attacking homeless people by allowing their property to be taken, I ask you to provide Housing First living spaces and places where homeless people may retain their property. Banning sitting or lying down on sidewalks is also ineffective. Not only do you prevent everyone from enjoying pleasant relaxation in the parks, but you also deny homeless people the basic right to sit down.
Homelessness is in decline across the country, but not in Honolulu. Protecting homeless people’s rights should also be a priority in addressing homeless people’s health and safety. The recent assaults and murders of several homeless people should demonstrate how important it is for the homeless to stop being stigmatized as violent or less than human.
I ask you to please remove the wording in your proposal that bans lying down or sitting on sidewalks. I also ask that you prevent police and authorities from damaging or seizing the property of homeless people in Honolulu.
[Your Name Here]
Photo credit: Tomas Castelazo via Wikimedia Commons