HONOLULU (AP) – A Hawaii state lawmaker who used a sledgehammer to smash shopping carts used by the homeless in 2013 is recovering from injuries after being assaulted at a homeless camp, an official said Tuesday.
The Democrat was taken to a hospital after the incident in Kakaako on Monday afternoon, according to Carolyn Tanaka, spokeswoman for the House majority. Rep. Tom Brower, who represents Waikiki and Ala Moana, was later released, according to Tanaka, who said she spoke with the lawmaker.
“He’s doing fine,” she said. She didn’t know the nature of Brower’s injuries or how they occurred.
Department of Public Safety spokeswoman Toni Schwartz on Tuesday declined to identify the victim, saying it was Hawaii law enforcement policy to withhold victims’ names.
She would only say that several people were involved in an altercation in Kakaako about 5 p.m. Monday and that one male was taken to a hospital. The case has been turned over to the attorney general’s office for investigation, she said.
Emergency Medical Services spokeswoman Shayne Enright also said she could not release identifying information about the victim, but said emergency medics responded about 4:35 p.m. Monday and took the victim to a trauma center in serious condition.
Schwartz said it’s unknown if the victim will seek to press charges. Tanaka said she didn’t know if Brower planned to press charges.
Rose Puu said her 14-year-old son was among the teens involved in the altercation. She said the youths didn’t know who he was and were upset that he was filming their tents. By the time Puu got there, she said, the man was standing there with his face bloodied. She said her son and the others feel exploited when they’re photographed or filmed.
“Sometimes the thing go straight to Facebook,” she said. “And they don’t like it.”
Puu said her son asked the man why he was shooting video, but he didn’t give a reason.
“They don’t trust. The kids over here, they don’t trust,” she said from inside a tidy makeshift tent, fashioned out of a blue tarp attached to a chain-link fence along a sidewalk. “One thing about over here, it’s like a family thing.”
Puu and her four sons have lived there for about four years, she said.
Brower, 50, has had encounters with homeless people before.
In 2013, he used a sledgehammer to smash about 30 shopping carts used by homeless people to carry belongings in Waikiki. Brower has said he returned carts marked with a store’s logo.
Brower later said he would no longer use a sledgehammer, but added his main purpose was to raise awareness of homeless issues. He said his actions were not an attack on the homeless.
“I’m trying to attack the issue of cleanliness, but some people interpreted it as an attack on the homeless,” he told the Honolulu Star-Advertiser at the time.
(Copyright 2015 The Associated Press. All rights reserved. This material may not be published, broadcast, rewritten or redistributed.)