UPDATE: 2:30 p.m.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell said today that he respects First Amendment rights after 28 demonstrators were arrested at Waimanalo Beach Park, but he accused the protestors of blocking other community members from accessing the park.
“We respect everyone’s right to express their First Amendment rights,” Caldwell said. “As mayor, we support that right.”
Caldwell applauded the conduct of the police as well as the protesters, but said protesters didn’t have the right “to disrupt the community’s daily flow.”
“For a while, the entrance to the beach park was blocked, and nobody could come in or out,” he said. “Those who wanted to enjoy the day at the beach couldn’t come in.”
He reiterated that construction would not disrupt any ancestral bones, and said that the decision to stop the renovation plan after the first phase of the city’s 2012 master plan was a “huge compromise.”
Caldwell wouldn’t comment on the large police force that appeared at the park’s entrance, which was at least 60-personnel strong. He said that many people want the project to be completed, although wouldn’t say if he thinks a majority of the community wants the project to be finished.
Regarding the park’s designation on the National Register of Historic Places, in a letter dated Sept. 25 that city officials said was addressed to stakeholders, the mayor’s office stated that it “doesn’t mean that no work can be done there. It means care needs to be taken with respect to the historic items.”
The letter admits the city was wrong in saying the park wasn’t on the national register.
“We wanted to research further and have since learned that the southern portion that most archaeologists thought was no longer in the National Register is still likely in the register,” the letter said.
Police arrested 28 protesters this morning at the entrance of Waimanalo Beach Park, according to an Honolulu Police Department spokeswoman.
“All were booked for obstructing a highway or public passage, and all were released after posting $100 each,” said Michelle Yu in an e-mailed statement.
No injuries were reported.
Police have reopened Kalanianaole Highway in both directions near Waimanalo Bay Beach Park.
After over an hour of peaceful protests, about 30 protesters who had been sitting in the road blocking construction vehicles and police from entering Waimanalo Bay Beach Park have been arrested.
The construction vehicle was escorted into the park immediately afterward.
The remaining protesters are singing and chanting while police officers continue to block the road using their bicycles.
Ten protesters have been arrested so far, almost all of whom have chosen to be carried by HPD officers and placed into transport vehicles.
“I think you should work for this one,” one of the protesters said apologetically before being lifted from the road.
Officers have been arresting sitting protesters individually over the last 20 minutes.
Police officers are blocking the road via bicycles, and arrested protesters and being carried onto vehicles on Kalanianaole Highway, which is being blocked in both directions.
The standoff and arrests have been peaceful.
Kalanianaole Highway has been closed in both directions near Sherwood Forrest at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park.
Motorists are advised to use Hihimanu Street as an alternate route.
The first protester was just arrested by HPD. He has been identified as Dale Evans, a Waimanalo resident. Others are being arrested.
At least 20 protesters are blocking a construction vehicle from entering Waimanalo Bay Beach Park. At around 8:30 a.m., about 40 HPD personnel arrived in vehicles and bicycles to escort a small excavation vehicle in the park.
Protesters rushed to the road to block them and are currently facing off with HPD. Five elders have decided to sit down in the middle of the road.
Protest leaders have asked those who are not prepared to get arrested to stay off the road.
Protesters have gathered at the entrance to Waimanalo Bay Beach Park’s Sherwood Forest at Kalanianaole Highway to prevent construction equipment from entering.
After hearing that heavy equipment and archaeologists are supposed to arrive this morning, opponents of the contentious renovation project to build a park in the forest have rallied to stop any vehicles coming in.
“The people of Waimanalo are prepared to protect the iwi kupuna (ancestral bones) at all costs,” said Kuike Kamakea-Ohelo, president of Save our Sherwoods, the group leading the effort to halt the project.
Like Monday’s rally, about 80 or so protesters are lined up along the highway at the park’s entrance. The difference is that today about half a dozen officers from the Honolulu Police Department are present just behind the entrance of the park.
“No parking” signs have been placed along either side of the park road.