State briefs for March 23

2 public health order arrests at Honolulu anti-mask protest

HONOLULU — Two people were arrested and two others were cited during a weekend anti-mask rally in Waikiki on allegations that they violated emergency public health orders related to the coronavirus pandemic.

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The rally at Kapiolani Park drew hundreds of people on Saturday who protested mask usage and other coronavirus-related health restrictions.

Honolulu police officers responded to the gathering organized by the Aloha Freedom Coalition and, at one point, there was a confrontation between protesters and officers that resulted in one woman being forced to the ground.

One member of the anti-mask group accused officers of reacting too aggresively.

“It’s just doesn’t make any sense,” said Gary Cordery of the Aloha Freedom Coalition. “And everybody’s going, ‘What are you guys arresting her for? What? What’s the crime here? What does she do?’”

Police officers had given verbal warnings to the crowd to disperse after they allegedly violated of public health orders.

State reduces welfare payments to about 6,700 residents

HONOLULU — The state Department of Human Services has cut welfare payments to thousands of the state’s most vulnerable residents this month as emergency reserve funds have diminished amid an increased demand for aid.

The state began in March to reduce so-called “general assistance” payments by one-third to adults with physical or mental disabilities that prevent them from working.

The cuts mean about 6,700 residents will have their monthly payments reduced from $388 a month to $260 per month.

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Social service agencies in the state have said that many of the program’s recipients are homeless or on the brink of homelessness and that the monthly payments help them with their basic needs, the newspaper reported.

Gov. David Ige’s administration and other state lawmakers have been working to reinstate the benefits, but that process could take months.

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