State Rep. Tom Brower hammering away at Hawaii's homeless problem -- literally

"I find abandoned junk, specifically shopping carts, and I remove them," Brower says.
By Evan Bleier   |   Nov. 19, 2013 at 12:17 PM   |   Comments

Nov. 19 (UPI) -- Hawaii state Rep. Tom Brower is hammering away at the state’s homeless problem, one shopping cart at a time.

In his spare time, Brower searches the streets for stray shopping carts taken from local stores. When he finds one in good shape, he returns it. If he discovers one in disrepair, he destroys it with a sledgehammer.

"I got tired of telling people I'm trying to pass laws. I want to do something practical that will really clean up the streets," Brower said. "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.”

Homeless people often use shopping carts to store and move their belongings.

Mental Health America of Hawaii executive director Marya Grambs does not agree. "His message to the public is that it's okay to commit acts of violence against homeless people, against vulnerable people. It's okay for vigilante justice," Grambs said.

Others have also been critical of Brower's methods.

"There are some people who are not that stable and maybe drug-affected that could really react to him," said Connie Mitchell of the Institute for Human Services.

Brower hasn’t taken a cart away from a homeless person…yet.

"I don't want to be threatening to anybody," Brower said. "I think it's threatening to steal things and then walk around with them like it's their own."

But he will stop them from sleeping.

”If someone is sleeping at night on the bus stop, I don’t do anything,” Brower told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. “But if they are sleeping during the day, I’ll walk up and say, ‘Get your ass moving.’”

[Honolulu Star-Advertiser]

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