Hawaii state Rep. Tom Brower is under fire for using a sledgehammer to smash shopping carts used by homeless people and forcing them to move on if he finds them on the streets of his Honolulu districts of Waikiki and Ala Moana.
According to Fox News, the five-term Democrat searches out shopping carts left abandoned by the homeless and smashes them to the point that they can't be used again. He does it, he says, because he's "disgusted" with the estimated 17,000 people living on the street in Hawaii's cities and towns.
"I think it's threatening to steal things and then walk around with them like it's their own," Brower told UPI.
"I got tired of telling people I'm trying to pass laws," he explained. "I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets. I find abandoned junk, specifically shopping carts, and I remove them. I also create a situation where those carts can't be pushed around the city. I think it's a good thing."
He told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser that if he finds homeless people sleeping on the street during the day, "I'll walk up and say, 'Get your a-- moving.'"
Advocates for the homeless are aghast at Brower's hammer-wielding, one-man protest, saying hating the homeless doesn't solve the problem. They say it also encourages people to commit acts of violence against the homeless. The complaints have stopped Brower in his tracks for the moment.
He's agreed to put away his sledgehammer for now.
"I guess I shouldn't use the sledgehammer because it's a really loaded image," he acknowledged.
Jerry Jones, executive director of the National Coalition for the Homeless, told Fox News that Brower's attitude stems from "a sense of discomfort and fear of are we, ourselves, at risk of falling into destitution.
"Poverty and destitution make average people like you and me uncomfortable."
The number of people living on the streets in Hawaii is growing, so much so that the state Department of Human Services tried to transfer the problem to the U.S. mainland by offering homeless people one-way tickets. It apparently was a popular program because it got too expensive and was canceled, according to Fox News.
Hawaii has the nation's second-highest homeless rate — 45.4 people per 10,000 population — behind Washington, D.C.
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