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(de)Occupy Honolulu marks movement's birthday with protest

By Dan Nakaso

LAST UPDATED: 8:16 p.m. HST, Sep 17, 2012

The renamed "(de)Occupy Honolulu" celebrated the movement's one-year anniversary today with a rally at the state Capitol and "public forum" at both Thomas Square and outside the University of Hawaii to protest UH's work with genetically modified organisms.

Members of (de)Occupy Honolulu say their ongoing presence at Thomas Square since Nov. 5 represents the longest, sustained Occupy encampment in the world.

They marked the first anniversary Sunday by joining other Occupy supporters in a live-streaming countdown to midnight in time zones across the United States.

Blade Walsh, 23, sat at a table outside the University of Hawaii today trying to educate passersby about UH's work with genetically modified organisms, which was part of a day full of (de)Occupy Honolulu efforts.

The name change from the original "Occupy Honolulu" — following the first "Occupy Wall Street" movement — came about "to show respect and solidarity with the Hawaiian community, with other people here of occupied nations, such as Micronesians who have been displaced from where they once were," Walsh said. "The name 'de' in front of Occupy is our way of recognizing their struggle and being with them."

While city officials have passed legislation aimed at the "Occupy"/"(de) Occupy" movement and removed the belongings of the people who regularly camp out at Thomas Square, the members persist.

Despite occasional arrests and confiscations of personal possessions on government lands, Hawaii law enforcement and elected officials — in general — have a long history of tolerating public protests and sit-ins without using force to sweep out protestors.

"We don't have a line of police in riot guards beating our heads in," Walsh said. "Rather than trying to squash us and get us out ASAP, it's almost like seeing who can last longer."

Hawaii News Now - KGMB and KHNL

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