Much like Batkid, Hawaii has found its own superhero. Except that instead of protecting the powerless from harm, he roams the streets with a sledgehammer and looks for homeless people in order to literally smash their possessions.
Remarkably, this vigilante isn’t just some random Hawaii resident, but five-term State Rep. Tom Brower (D).
Noting that he’s “disgusted” with homeless people, Brower told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser about his own personal brand of “justice”: “If I see shopping carts that I can’t identify, I will destroy them so they can’t be pushed on the streets.” Brower has waged this campaign for two weeks, estimating that he’s smashed about 30 shopping carts in the process.
“I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets,” he explained to Hawaii News Now as he showed off his property destruction skills while sporting an Armani Exchange hat:
Uncontent to just destroy homeless people’s items, Brower is also on a mission to wake those he finds sleeping and tell them to sleep somewhere else. “If someone is sleeping at night on the bus stop, I don’t do anything, but if they are sleeping during the day, I’ll walk up and say, ‘Get your ass moving,'” he said.
It’s no stretch to assume that if Brower were found roaming middle-class neighborhoods and smashing items in people’s homes, he would find himself both out of office and behind bars. But segments of society view homeless people as less important and undeserving of the dignity of having their possessions kept safe.
One homeless person in Honolulu, Edward Ferreira, witnessed Brower in action. “To see someone banging on stuff like that, it was very scary for me,” he told Hawaii News Now.
Without a home, homeless people often have nowhere to store their possessions. A shopping cart can be very useful in both its storage space and mobility. Some localities, including New York, San Francisco, Chicago, and others have tried to address this problem by offering free storage space to homeless people.
Hawaii, on the other hand, is garnering a reputation for a less-than-compassionate approach to its homeless population, and it’s not just because of Brower. It’s got the highest rate of homelessness in the country, but rather than build more shelters or offer more services for the poor, lawmakers approved $100,000 over the next two years to offer one-way flights off the islands to any of the state’s estimated 17,000 homeless persons.
After coverage of Brower’s actions went national, the Democrat agreed to stop destroying homeless people’s possessions. “I’m not trying to attack the homeless. I’m trying to attack the issue of cleanliness, but some people interpreted as an attack on the homeless,” Brower explained to the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Still, Brower remained defiantly unrepentant. “The point that I was trying to make has been made. Now that the issue of shopping carts is on our minds, the question is are we going to move forward and try to solve it or just let it become status quo.”