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Demonstrators Or Public Nuisance?

Farrington High digital media students (front, from left) Michael Tran, Randolph Balanay, Jessica Nicolas, Ran Terrado, Keesha Fortune, (middle) Christine Ho (teacher), Justine Diza, Timothy Han, Christine Garingo, Amber Savea, Tava Laulu, (back) Mark Caraang, TJ Pesmina, the author (in lei), Kevin Dajay, (back) Jaynel Tauzon, Christian Bacani and Jonas Balisacan | Photo by Leonore Higa

Demonstrations – at government offices or on sidewalks, parks and beaches – are a distinctly Western “right,” either embedded in a constitution, in a statute or just customarily tolerated.

Many gatherings require permits because they will disrupt the use of public property by the rest of us. The permits usually carry a condition, such as a time limit. A demonstration or picket line on a sidewalk requires police to assure the passage of pedestrians and vehicles.

So the people protesting that 801 South Street condo project are legitimate demonstrators.

The deOccupy Honolulu tenters along Ward Avenue and South King Street are public nuisances.

We recognize legitimate demonstrators.

We clear away public nuisances.

It’s disingenuous for Cathy Russell and others of the deOccupy group to claim some civic right to indefinite sidewalk occupation. It’s odd that they found an attorney willing to make such a specious argument to a court.

A side issue is that some of the deOccupy-clinging people claim to be harmed homeless. They raise the issue of an injustice because the city raids sidewalk and park campsites and confiscates encroaching tents, tarps, cooking gear, bikes, TV sets and generators.

You can get it all back within 30 days if you pay a $200 fee. Those folks say they can’t pay.

I think most of us have sympathy for a temporarily homeless person caught up in a park raid if he’s only been there a few days, unobtrusively, bothering no one, and loses his tent and sleeping bag.

I think the majority has little sympathy for the deOccupy folks who have tents, lounge chairs, drink stands, gas generators and TV sets on highly used sidewalks. The latest Star-Advertiser poll seems to bear me out.

I’d be shocked if any judge says deOccupy or the homeless have a right to occupy a sidewalk indefinitely with no permit.

In fact, I wonder why the city attorneys haven’t gone for a cease-and-desist order against deOccupy.

A little legal medicine to fight off a persistent civil disease.

One of my fun doings last week was talking to 100 Farrington High students about the journalistic life. Everyone paid attention. No fidgeting, chat, iPhones. Good, solid questions. It’s the Farrington 2013 Model.

Something good’s going on there. A $2.3 million wing with the DOE’s first college-style academies. They call them Small Learning Communities. Students get personalized lessons plus college and career counseling. In my Brookside High School (Ohio) time, no such stuff. It was “shut up and learn and do your homework, or else Mr. Barr (principal) paddles your butt!” He did mine periodically.

New for this Farrington school year are Law and Justice Academy, Sports Industry Academy and Business Academy. The school already has academies of Health, Teacher Cadet, Engineering, Creative Arts and Technology, and Culinary Arts.

Farrington sits in a very ethnically diverse community of mostly lower socioeconomic families; not so much middle or upper class. It’s working on giving students new tools for a moving-on-up life.