*UPDATE BELOW* Waianae squatter ‘sweep’ averted? Or just more fake news from Civil Beat?

Sweep called off
A photo that appears to show people relieved after being assured that there will be no “sweep” of their illegal encampment was actually taken a month earlier.  Civil Beat doesn’t specifically claim the photo was taken yesterday, but its use is more than a little misleading.  And was a “sweep” ever planned to begin with?

Did Governor Ige capitulate and call off a “sweep” of the Waianae Boat Harbor squatter encampment?

Or did he merely explain that no “sweep” had ever been planned, despite what Civil Beat has been shrieking?

It’s a little hard to tell, especially since the governor’s office is not commenting publicly.  But the latter interpretation sure seems more plausible.

State officials have said repeatedly that they had no plans to “sweep” the illegal encampment, and least not any time soon.

The latest public statement by the state’s homeless honcho was that “We are looking at a number of different options in order to try to find housing for the people there, including looking for available land.  Our goal is to try and transition individuals from that property by early June.”

That’s what he said, video from a public meeting clearly shows, and that’s even what Civil Beat later reported.

The problem is that Civil Beat also immediately declared that the stated goal of finding housing for people by June automatically equated to an impending “sweep” of the property.  Other stupid media people immediately adopted that narrative and repeated it without question.

That was very irresponsible, heightened tensions in the community, and probably made it a lot more difficult for the state to work out a reasonable transition.

Sweep called off 3
Was a “sweep” ever the plan?

Now, squatters who met personally with Ige said he “promised that his administration would work with them to find a path forward — without the threat of an impending eviction,” according to Civil Beat.

It’s not exactly clear what that means, or whether an “eviction” or “sweep” was “impending” in the way some have assumed.  Officials have consistently said their goal is to transition the squatters, so there’s really nothing new there.  So was a “sweep” impending, to be carried out before alternatives could be offered?

That was never explicitly stated, and it doesn’t seem very likely.

Ige’s meeting came just two days before a planned town hall-type meeting in Waianae tomorrow evening to address the issue.  It seems he’s trying to defuse an explosive situation before then.  That’s a smart move.

Maybe everything will be a little more clear after the big meeting.

It’s obvious that Civil Beat wants to appear to champion the squatters and perhaps be their “savior.”

Maybe they’re trying a little too hard.  It sure seems that they’ve crossed over from reasonable objectivity to advocacy that, at the very least, sometimes borders on fabrication.

I guess claiming victory is easier than saying you were wrong, so they’ve now doubled down on the “sweep” narrative.  Others have predictably followed along like lost puppies.

That’s too bad.  This is an important issue, and it’s something we should all care about.

The state has an obligation to assist residents in need, provide for the safety of children, especially those who are homeless, and to protect public lands and other resources.

It’s done a very, very shitty job on all of that so far.

I don’t believe for a second that plans for a marine education center are driving the timeline for relocating the Waianae squatters, as officials have insisted.  Ige’s stumbling reelection effort is clearly driving the issue.  That and the fact that the state has so badly managed the situation that it’s clearly out of control.

But the state does not have any obligation to relocate the squatters to other state property that the squatters find acceptable for the reestablishment of their camp.  It just doesn’t, and there are plenty of reasons why that could be a bad idea.  Nor does it have any obligation to allow the squatters to remain illegally on state land for the foreseeable future, whether or not alternatives are offered.

But maybe setting up another camp is the best option, at least for some.  Others may prefer transitional or permanent housing, assuming the state can provide it.  And that certainly could be in the best interest of many children who now live in the grubby-but-much-romanticized squatter camp.

Continuing to do nothing is no longer an option, whether or not a wobbly governor is facing a tough reelection battle.  If the state is going to allow the squatters to remain, it should provide them with suitable infrastructure.  Porta-potties, at the very least.  And it should conduct a full inventory of who is living there, and make certain that qualified social workers are ensuring the safety and well-being of the children.

Ige has probably realized that there was just no way the state could provide alternative living arrangements by June, and that this whole situation was about to blow up in his face.

There’s still a lot of pressure on the Ige administration to address this issue, and rightly so.  Civil Beat and others should keep the pressure on by watching closely and keeping the public accurately informed.

What they should not be doing is fanning flames by spreading false information and fear.

*UPDATE:  Governor Ige finally peeked out of his shell and issued a statement last night explaining that he had met with the squatters “to reassure them that there were no plans to take enforcement action on this site and to let them know I am committed to working with them on a transition plan to find suitable housing at other locations. We will also be working with them to protect the natural and cultural resources on this site.”

It’s still not exactly clear what the state would have done if officials had been unable to find alternative accommodations for the squatters by their previously announced June goal, what the state would have done if people had refused to leave, how soon alternative housing can be located, or how long the encampment will be allowed to remain.

It’s also unclear if Ige will remain governor much longer anyway, of course, and what any successor would do.  Some voters will applaud his actions to defuse this tense situation.  Others will throw up their hands and become more convinced than ever that he’s just not executive material.

But it’s clearly just not true that state officials “last week announced an imminent sweep” of the site, as Civil Beat claims in a headline today.  The story itself says that the state “appeared poised to sweep the camp,” which is not an entirely unreasonable interpretation.  The state did say it wanted to move people out by June, and there were indications that enforcement actions would follow at some point, as would be expected.

But appearances and interpretations are one thing.   It’s simply not true that state officials had “announced an imminent sweep.”

Civil Beat appears to be contradicting itself.

Imminent sweep
State officials DID NOT announce an imminent sweep last week.

Imminent sweep 2

 

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