Friday, November 27, 2015         


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Protesters have their say with noisy, peaceful march

By Gordon Y.K. Pang


About 300 loud but peaceful protesters marched a mile from Moiliili to Waikiki Saturday afternoon in a rally against the globalization policies of Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation nations.

The intent was to get the attention of the 21 world leaders who were scheduled to gather at the Hale Koa Hotel for an APEC dinner hosted by President Barack Obama. But they made it only as far as Ala Moana Boulevard and Kalia Road, about a third of a mile from the hotel, before being stopped by a chain-link fence barrier and a long row of police officers from the bicycling detail.

It was the largest and most spirited protest of APEC week and had been planned for weeks by several organizations, including APEC Sucks! and World Can't Wait.

As some of them pounded drums, protesters chanted a number of slogans like "APEC sucks, labor and resources!" and "People's needs, not corporate greed!"

Longtime activist Jim Albertini traveled from Hawaii island to take part in the protest.

"APEC represents the corporate interests, the 1 percent that exploit the labor and resources of the whole Asia-Pacific region," said Albertini, 64. "We need to move in a direction that benefits the 99 percent — small-scale cooperative types of things, sustainability, not big corporate domination. The people in power here are representing the corporate interests, not the common people."

Those comments were echoed by Waipahu resident Trish Tolentino, 34, an English instructor at Honolulu Community College.

Tolentino said APEC leaders do not have the best interests of a majority of their constituencies at heart. Both in Hawaii and abroad, she said, government officials "continue to exploit the people, the resources and the land," she said.

Angela Hughes traveled from Kilauea, Kauai, with her 7-year-old daughter, Daya, to take part in the protest as well as the anti-APEC Moana Nui conference organized by Hawaii and Pacific island scholars, activists and cultural practitioners.

"I want my daughter to know that sometimes it's necessary to take a stand and speak out for what we believe in," Hughes said.

Protesters distributed brochures taking issue with the proposed Trans-Pacific Partnership, which Obama is pushing.

At Old Stadium Park, formally known as the Honolulu Stadium Recreational Area, marchers were told to wear green armbands that included telephone numbers for APEC Sucks! and the American Civil Liberties Union. Liz Rees, an APEC Sucks! organizer, told those gathered to call one of the numbers immediately if they were arrested.

The most tense moments of the march occurred at Ala Moana Boulevard and Kalia Road, in front of the Wailana Coffee House, where protesters stopped on the sidewalk across from a line of HPD officers on bicycles. As several members of HPD's aloha-shirt-wearing Civil Affairs Unit warned protesters not to step off the sidewalk and onto Ala Moana, protest organizers chose to stay on the sidewalk for about a half-hour.

A group of about 50 Moana Nui attendees began to chant in Hawaiian.

For a time, about 75 people belonging to Vietnamese-American organizations from Hawaii and the U.S. mainland who oppose the current Communist government in Vietnam shouted pro-democracy slogans.

Afterward, the protesters marched to the triangle park at Kuhio and Kalakaua avenues, where the speeches and chants continued.

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