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Protestors decry HPD's return visit to Occupy Honolulu site

By Radley Kanda

LAST UPDATED: 3:30 p.m. HST, Feb 4, 2012

Police and city workers returned to the Occupy Honolulu camp at Thomas Square early this morning just two days after clearing personal belongings and arresting one protestor at the park.

The unannounced 2 a.m. visit was met by surprise and anger from the protestors, although no one was arrested or ticketed.

"It feels like we were robbed," said Matthew Guss, a University of Hawaii senior who joined the protest in November.

Despite repeated pleading from the protestors, Guss said city workers roughly shoved art installations into trash bins, damaging them in the process. "Now we have a whole bunch of broken art that we need to retrieve."

Personal items confiscated from city parks and sidewalks are taken to the Halawa baseyard where they are stored for 30 days. Unclaimed items are then either sold or destroyed.

Honolulu police Sgt. Lawrence Santos said the early morning cleaning was needed to ensure public safety and minimize the risk of slip-and-fall injuries at the park.

Items such as a sofa, table, signs and a bicycle were loaded onto two flatbed trucks while workers sprayed disinfectant then pressure-washed the sidewalk.

Cleaning efforts were not just aimed at the Occupy Honolulu encampment. Albert Tufono, deputy director of Parks and Recreation, said that the entire park was being inspected and cleaned.

A handful of tents remained set up on the sidewalk outside the park, though Tufono said the city could again tag protestors' personal items for removal come Monday.

"I'm not leaving," Guss said.

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