Hawaii may have the highest rate of homelessness in the nation, but State Representative Tom Brower is committed to tackling the problem… with a sledgehammer.
If Brower is using the progressive anthem “If I Had a Hammer“ as inspiration, he is completely missing the message of caring for and solidarity with his fellow man. Instead, the Democrat is taking it upon himself to smash shopping carts around the city so that homeless people can no longer use them to push around their belongings.
“I got tired of telling people I’m trying to pass laws,”¯ Representative Brower told HawaiiNewsNow. “I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets.”
Firstly, if he’s tired of trying to pass laws, maybe it is time to stop being a legislator. Secondly, leaving shattered, non-functioning shopping carts around his city seems at odds with his mission to clean up the streets.
In case anyone is tempted to start playing devil’s advocate for Brower’s behavior, it’s important to note that Brower says he is “disgusted”¯ by homeless people. He also boasts that when he encounters homeless people sleeping at a bus stop during the day that he approaches them and says, “Get your ass moving!” Whoa, slow down there with all that compassion, buddy.
Edward Ferreira, a homeless resident of Hawaii, watched as Brower banged up a cart and found the actions intimidating. “It was very scary for me,” said Ferreira. Marya Grambs, the director of Mental Health America of Hawaii, is similarly concerned with Brower’s actions. “His message to the public is that it’s okay to commit acts of violence against homeless people, against vulnerable people. It’s okay for vigilante justice,”¯ Grambs said to HawaiiNewNow.
Brower, however, insists that he is not trying to intimidate anyone. “I think it’s threatening to steal things and then walk around with them like it’s their own,”¯ he said, referring to the use of shopping carts. Thus far, Brower says he has not attempted to break shopping carts as homeless people are actively using them, but he hasn’t ruled out such confrontations in the future.
Still, it is interesting to see how Brower has adopted a vigilante route given his unique position that allows him to create meaningful reform through laws. Then again, if he thinks making the lives of homeless people a bit more difficult is the motivation they need to stop being homeless, he is misguided on many levels.
Unfortunately, Brower isn’t the only Hawaiian legislator that just wants to get rid of the homeless population rather than actually addressing the root causes. As ThinkProgress reports, Hawaiian lawmakers voted earlier this year to spend $100,000 on the state’s homeless crisis — not for shelter, job, or drug counseling programs, but one-way plane tickets to send them out of Hawaii. Rather than offering assistance to these people in need, their objective is to make the homeless population someone else’s problem.
Previously, Care2 has looked at cities that have essentially “criminalized”¯ homelessness so that they have the excuse to get homeless people off the streets… by putting them in jail. The fact that a Hawaii Representative is now intimidating homeless people with a sledgehammer and destroying what little possessions they have goes to show just how callous our government has become for our citizens that have the least.
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