ACLU ASKS COURT TO STOP ENFORCEMENT OF THE "SQUATTERS LAW"
September 27, 2004
HONOLULU - The American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii today filed a motion in the U.S. District Court to stop enforcement of a recently enacted trespass statute because it gives public officials overly broad powers to ban individuals from using public spaces such as beaches, streets or sidewalks, and it has already been misused. Judge Helen Gillmor is scheduled to hear argument on the Motion on October 25, 2004 at 9:45 a.m.
"Law enforcement officers continue to enforce and threaten the use of Act 50 against our residents which infringes on their civil rights and liberties. The Act is chilling constitutionally protected speech and activities and must be stopped," said Lois Perrin, legal director of the ACLU.
A security guard at the State Public Library has already used the Act to ban individuals from the Library for accessing resource websites for the gay community. In addition, the ACLUıs legal brief argues that "[s]ince the statute became law, police officers and other authorized persons have used the statute as a threat ĉ warning members of the homeless population that if they do not immediately vacate the public property then the officer or agent will issue a written warning banning them from the public property for a one-year period."
Act 50 was signed into law in May to allow any police officer or other authorized individual to ban someone from public property for up to one-year merely by issuing a "warning statement advising the person that the personıs presence is no longer desired on the premises." The Act fails to define what conduct would justify a year-long ban.
Perrin added, "the statute is impermissibly vague because it fails to define what kind of conduct may justify a ban from public property. Hawaiiıs statute threatens our civil rights and liberty interests because it is not limited to criminal misconduct but rather applies to anyone on public property at any time, regardless of his or her reason for being there."
Act 50 would allow public officials to ban the following, for example:
The ACLU filed a federal civil rights lawsuit challenging Act 50, also known as the "squatters law," on behalf of The Center, a Honolulu-based group that provides services and programs to the local lesbian, gay, bisexual, transsexual, intersex and questioning communities and on behalf of Carlos Hernandez, a Honolulu resident and taxpayer. The lawsuit names Governor Linda Lingle and Attorney General Mark Bennett as defendants.
ACLU Sues State Charging "Squatters Law" Curtails Right Of Access To Public Spaces
Pdf Copy of the brief