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Protesters move to Honolulu Hale

By Paul Drewes
Published On: Mar 19 2013 09:35:00 PM HST

The same familiar Occupy signs and tents are now up in front of Honolulu Hale, but there is something new about this protest.

HONOLULU -

De-Occupy protesters camp out at Honolulu Hale. Honolulu's mayor couldn't be happier about the move, and in fact set up areas just for activists, but demonstrators said they won't be there long.

De-Occupy tents still line King Street, just like they have for the past year and a half.

Many of the activists have been moved around from place to place, including from the grass to the sidewalk, so you would think some would be glad the city is providing them a place to protest for as long as they want.

"I believe in the right of free speech, but they should protest in front of the State Capitol, Honolulu Hale or the federal building depending on what they are protesting," said Honolulu Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

Many of the protestors don't want their message roped into just one spot and plan on continuing their demonstrations at parks like Thomas Square.

"The first amendment says the whole area is a free speech zone," said Blade Walsh, a community activist.

Free speech is the reason the city set up the demonstration zones. They are part of a settlement from 2006, after activists at Honolulu Hale were arrested for protesting the treatment of Hawaii's homeless.

Hawaii's homeless were also the reason De-Occupy Honolulu members made the move to Honolulu Hale.

"This is really an unconstitutional crackdown on any kind of public activity," said Walsh.

The protesters are challenging a city council bill that will be heard on Wednesday. The measure would allow property on sidewalks to be immediately taken away. A bill some feel, could even turn campers into criminals.

"It can make people a nuisance in public places according to the city. Which then opens people up to fines of $1,000 or they could even be put into jail for a year," said Walsh.

Honolulu's mayor says its time to take the sidewalks back.

"These sidewalks weren't designed to camp on. They were designed for the public to use and walk back and forth on," said Caldwell.

Caldwell added the council bill he supports does target the homeless into getting help.

"If it's convenient for people to camp on our sidewalks, they will. If we make it less convenient, then more people will move into shelters. In shelters they can get the help they need to get back on their feet again," stated Caldwell.

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