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Recent brutal attacks in Waikīkī prompt renewed discussions about what can be done

AP Photo/Eugene Tanner
FILE - Waikīkī

State Sen. Sharon Moriwaki says she hopes Honolulu Prosecuting Attorney Steve Alm brings the "Weed and Seed" program to Waikīkī following a rise in violent crime in the tourist district.

The program has seen some success in neighborhoods such as Oʻahu’s Chinatown. Chronic drug users and other criminals have been arrested and removed, while social programs have been implemented to help with community building.

Moriwaki told HPR that she and state Rep. Adrian Tam have discussed the issue with Alm.

"We definitely support that, in fact, both Rep. Tam and I reached out to Prosecutor Alm to see whether he could speed up that process of coming to Waikīkī and we would put every assistance that we can from the state side. And I'm sure that Council Chair (Tommy) Waters would do the same thing on the county side to make that happen sooner rather than later," the senator said.

Tourists have been flocking back to Waikīkī following the lifting of COVID restrictions, and violent crime has risen in the district.

A brutal assault on a military veteran and his girlfriend is the latest high-profile crime in the tourist district.

A little over a week before veteran Joe Herter and Amanda Canada were attacked in March, 20-year-old Marqus McNeil was shot and killed in the same area.

"I think in the past there was a prohibition, I guess, for the military to come into Waikīkī because there were concerns that they were attacking the military, for example. And it had a racial undertone to it. And of course, any kind of violent attack on anybody is problematic. Really, there's no place for that in Hawaiʻi," Moriwaki said.

Moriwaki represents Waikīkī, Ala Moana, Kaka‘ako, McCully, Mō‘ili‘ili, and part of Maikiki.

"All of us have to be vigilant until we are able to stem out the crime that's happening, and having the message sent to the criminals that they can't do this anymore without really having severe consequences," Moriwaki told HPR.

This interview aired on The Conversation on April 13, 2022. The Conversation airs weekdays at 11 a.m. on HPR-1.

Scott Kim is a news editor at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Contact him at skim@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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