HONOLULU (KHON2) — In September 2021, Maui County officials conducted a search of Pu’uhonua o Kanahā, a homeless encampment near Kanahā Beach Park.
On Thursday, November 17, the Hawai’i Supreme Court agreed to hear arguments from a lawsuit challenging the legality of the MCO’s sweep.
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Lisa Darcy is at Share Your Mana and works with and advocates for the Kanahā community. She said: “The opportunity for the plaintiffs to be heard before the Supreme Court recognizes the seriousness of their situation. This space is an opportunity to create a safer and more equitable future for all people, regardless of housing status.”
The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii filed the lawsuit in October 2021 on behalf of some residents of Kanahā camp. The lawsuit challenges the due process of MCO’s election to conduct the sweep.
According to the filing, the ACLU alleges that Maui County officials did not notify residents of the upcoming cleanup and did not give them an opportunity to speak on their own behalf before their camp and belongings were confiscated and destroyed.
Although dozens of Kanahā camp residents asked MCO to desist from the purge, the ACLU claims their petitions were ignored.
While Maui County officials believe Kanahā camp residents have no right to be on public lands, fueling their cleanup, residents believe their constitutional right to due process has been forfeited.
“We hope the Hawaiian Supreme Court will reject Maui County’s perplexing argument that they are homeless
People lose their constitutional rights just because they live in public spaces. Constitutionally
Being housed in a building with four walls and a roof does not depend on due process.”
said Wookie Kim, legal director of the ACLU of Hawaii.
The Second Circuit Court of Appeals agreed with residents of Kanahā camp in March 2022, noting that “here, constitutional due process required a prior hearing of the impugned case [Maui County] performed the Kanahā sweep.”
This prompted MCO to appeal the decision.
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Sonia Davis, a Kanahā plaintiff, said: “I am grateful. It makes me feel like there really are people out there who care about what we’re going through living on the streets.