Off The Beat: When Does a Sweep Become a Raid?

Sanjeev Ranabhat, Special to Civil Beat

The city has a dictionary, but perhaps what it really needs is a thesaurus.

Earlier this year, Honolulu officials took exception to Civil Beat's use of the word "raid" in a blog post about their sweeps of the homeless population from downtown parks and sidewalks.

Mayor Kirk Caldwell's spokesman, Jesse Broder Van Dyke, helpfully sent us Merriam-Webster.com's definition of "raid":

a : a hostile or predatory incursion

b : a surprise attack by a small force

"A raid by definition is a surprise," Broder Van Dyke argued via email. "The illegal campers were given 24 hours notice by (the city) per city ordinance."

He also didn't like the implication that the non-raid was carried out by police, saying those officers were merely standing by.

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