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Thursday, December 24, 2020
Blue Christmas: 112 Homeless dead because we Couldn't FORCE them to accept Shelter
By News Release @ 3:44 AM :: 2338 Views :: Honolulu County, Hawaii Statistics, Homelessness

Honolulu Hale to be lit in blue for “Blue Christmas”

News Release from City and County of Honolulu, Dec 23, 2020

HONOLULU – Mayor Kirk Caldwell has requested that Honolulu Hale be illuminated blue beginning tonight in recognition of "Blue Christmas."

"Blue Christmas" is a service which commemorates the individuals who died while struggling with the burden of Homelessness. The service was cancelled this year due to COVID-19. It is estimated that 13,000 people in America pass away each year without housing. People experiencing homelessness have a life expectancy around 50 years of age, almost 20 years lower than housed populations.

This year, 112 people died while homeless in Honolulu. Alcohol/substance misuse was the largest contributing factor.

In addition to Honolulu Hale, Governor David Ige has requested Aloha Tower be illuminated in blue in recognition of “Blue Christmas.”

—PAU—

(LESSON: Soft on Homelessness is inhumane.  The humane approach is to force them off the streets into shelter.  Who is stopping us from forcing the homeless into shelter?  Scroll to the list below….)

BROAD COALITION OF OVER 100 ORGANIZATIONS, OFFICIALS, AND INDIVIDUALS CALL ON CITY TO END CONTINUED MIDDLE OF THE NIGHT HOLIDAY “SWEEPS” OF HOUSELESS FAMILIES - LOOK FORWARD TO A NEW APPROACH BY A NEW ADMINISTRATION

News Release from ACLU, DECEMBER 22, 2020

Honolulu, Hawai‘i – For the third year in a row, an ever-growing list of officials, groups and individuals—including civil rights organizations, elected officials, service providers, faith leaders, activists, academics, medical experts, community members and more—released a statement expressing disappointment in the continued and cruel “sweeps” of houseless people and their families by the City and County of Honolulu during the holidays. They call on the community to reach out to Mayor Caldwell, and look forward to a new approach under Mayor-Elect Blangiardi.

The statement is as follows:

“For three years running now we have asked the City and County of Honolulu not to sweep unsheltered people during the holidays. It’s cruel, it’s unconstitutional, it’s discriminatory, it squanders limited public resources, and–during the COVID-19 pandemic–it’s deadly.

Don’t take our word for it. The Centers for Disease Control has said that ‘if individual housing options are not available, allow people who are living unsheltered or in encampments to remain where they are’ because ‘clearing encampments can cause people to disperse throughout the community and break connections with service providers. This increases the potential for infectious disease spread.’

Nevertheless–ignoring this public health advice at a time when COVID-19 is reaching new heights–and with little to no available shelter, the Caldwell administration is once again plowing forward with holiday sweeps.

This approach is as mystifying as it is cruel, because the City has nothing to show for it. According to the 2020 point in time count, there were 1,465 people unsheltered in Honolulu in 2013 when Mayor Caldwell came into office and there are 2,346 people unsheltered in Honolulu in 2020. That’s right, the number of people who are unsheltered has increased by 77 percent while the City wasted millions of dollars sweeping human beings like trash.

Sweeps. Don’t. Work.

As we have said repeatedly, we never agree with these sweeps. But they are especially cruel during the holidays—particularly when we consider how many of the people affected are children. And what’s worse is that during the pandemic, the Caldwell administration and the Honolulu Police Department have not just been sweeping our houseless community members, but also disproportionately targeting them for emergency order enforcement. A person experiencing houselessness in Honolulu has been 55 times more likely to be arrested under COVID emergency orders than a housed person. This isn’t protection. This is persecution.

We call on community members during this holiday season to phone the Office of the Mayor at (808) 768-4141 and ask Mayor Caldwell to end this practice, at least over the holidays. Let him know that people who are unsheltered on our streets deserve better than to be awoken by a police flashlight at 3:00 am demanding they move or face arrest. Let him know he should listen to the advice of public health officials and not sweep people during a pandemic.

We hope that in its waning days, this administration listens. But if it does not, we look forward to reaching out to the Blangiardi administration and discussing options with them for treating unsheltered people humanely and getting people into permanent housing. Options that honor our laws, that honor advice of public health experts, and that honor the basic human dignity of people who are struggling to make ends meet in one of the most expensive places to live in the world in the midst of a pandemic that has caused record unemployment. We’re optimistic. Mayor-Elect Blangiardi has said he will permanently end the use of sweeps against houseless individuals and encampments, and reinvest the savings in community services such as mental health outreach and housing. We support him in that commitment, and we look forward to working constructively with the new administration to make this fresh approach a reality.”

The following officials, groups, and individuals joined in this statement:

African American Lawyers Association of Hawai‘i
ʻĀina Aloha Economic Futures 
ALEA Bridge
American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i
Catholic Worker House of Honolulu
Church & Society of Harris United Methodist Church
Domestic Violence Action Center
Drug Policy Forum of Hawai‘i
Faith Action for Community Equity
Family Promise of Hawai‘i
Food Not Bombs
Gay Island Guide
Hawaiʻi Alliance for Community Based Economic Development
Hawai‘i Appleseed Center for Law and Economic Justice
Hawai‘i Children’s Action Network
Hawai‘i Community Bail Fund
Hawai‘i Friends of Civil Rights
Hawai‘i Health and Harm Reduction Center
Hawai‘i Innocence Project
Hawai‘i Public Health Institute
Hawai‘i Strategy Lab
Hep Free Hawai‘i
Honolulu Hawai‘i NAACP
Hub Coworking Hawai‘i
Japanese American Citizens League - Honolulu Chapter
The Legal Clinic
Mental Health America of Hawai‘i
Muslim Association of Hawai‘i 
Native Hawaiian Church
O‘ahu Intertribal Council
Office of the Public Defender, State of Hawai‘i
Our Revolution Hawai‘i
Pacific Justice and Reconciliation Center
Pacific Peace Center KPT
Planned Parenthood Votes Northwest and Hawai‘i
The Pōpolo Project
The Progressive Movement Hawai‘i
Project Vision Hawai‘i
Residential Youth Services & Empowerment (RYSE)
SILAH
Temple Emanu-El
UNITE HERE Local 5
Women's Fund of Hawai‘i 
Christopher Akana
Rev. Eric Anderson, Pastor, Church of the Holy Cross UCC, Hilo
Alani Apio, member, Hui Aloha
Daphne Barbee-Wooten
Rev. David Baumgart Turner, pastor - Church of the Crossroads
Mona R Bomgaars, M.D.
Catherine Chen, Immigration Attorney, Medical-Legal Partnership for Children in Hawai‘i
Rev Samuel L. Domingo, United Methodist Pastor, Retired
Rev. Brandon Duran, minister, Central Union Church
Walter Enriquez, Jr.
Jacquie Esser, Deputy Public Defender
Rev. T. J. FitzGerald, Minister, First Unitarian Church of Honolulu
Forest Frizzell
Victor Geminiani
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green, M.D.
Dr. Kahu Haaheo Guanson
Clare Hanusz
Rev. Mary Herbig, Minister, Central Union Church
Wally and Kay Inglis
Jenifer Jenkins
Kānāwai Māmalahoe
Rev. Jessica Kawamura, Pastor, Wahiawa United Methodist Church
Cathy Kawano-Ching, member, Hui Aloha
R. Ipo Keen
Justin F. Kollar, Prosecuting Attorney, County of Kaua‘i
James Koshiba, member, Hui Aloha
Nanci Kreidman, Executive Director – Domestic Violence Action Center
Linda Hamilton Krieger, Professor of Law
Professor Charles R. Lawrence III
Kenneth Lawson, Co-Director, Hawai‘i Innocence Project
Keoni Lee
Mark A. Levin, Professor of Law
Josh Levinson
Professor Justin Levinson
Gordon Lum 
Heather Lusk, Executive Director of Hawai‘i Health and Harm Reduction Center
Kylee Pōmaika’i Mar, member, Hui Aloha
Professor Mari Matsuda
H. Doug Matsuoka, activist and founding member of Hawai‘i Guerrilla Video Hui
Diane Matsuura
Patricia McManaman
Christy MacPherson
Bob Merce, attorney
Leʻa Minton, midwife, MI-Home program, University Health Partners of Hawaiʻi 
Daniel Mistak, Director of Health Care Initiatives for Justice-Involved Populations, Community Oriented Correctional Health Services
Camaron Miyamoto - Director, LGBTQ+ Center, UH Mānoa
Dave Mulinix
Dee Nakamura, ALEA Bridge Case manager Outreach Specialist
Dr. Kahu Kaleo Patterson
Angelica Penaran
Robert Perkinson, PhD. 
Kaimana Pinē, member, Hui Aloha
Sherry Pollack
Rose Prieto, MSW - Education Coordinator, O‘ahu Intertribal Council
Linda L. Rich, Chair - Justice and Witness Missional Team, Hawai‘i Conference, United Church of Christ
Nathalie Rita, PhD Candidate 
Darlene Rodrigues
Darcie Scharfenstein, member, Hui Aloha
David Shaku, Program Manager with Hawai‘i Health & Harm Reduction Center
Nandita Sharma, Professor, Sociology Department at UH Manoa
Dina Shek, Legal Director, Medical-Legal Partnership for Children
Carrie Ann Shirota, Attorney
Professor Avi Soifer
Chloe Stewart
Lorenn Walker, Director, Hawai‘i Friends of Restorative Justice
John F. Webster and Dawn Morais Webster
Tami Iida Whitney
Nicky Winter, Executive Director, ALEA Bridge
Summer Yadao
Minda Yamaga, attorney
Cheryl Yamamoto, Harris United Methodist Church
George Yarbrough
Eric Yamamoto, Fred T. Korematsu Professor of Law and Social Justice

---30---

KHON: ACLU calls homeless sweeps during the holidays ‘cruel’ and calls on city to stop

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