Thursday, October 23, 2014

What happened on O22 - the National Day of Protest Against Police Brutality?

Actions against police brutality were scheduled in at least 68 cities in the U.S. and around the world and news of what happened is just beginning to come in.  Highways were closed in Atlanta; downtown LA traffic was stopped for hours.  Students walked out of high schools.  College student groups marched.  There were die-ins, speeches, performances, poetry and more.  For the latest stay in touch with:

Stop Mass Incarceration Network:
Revolution Newspaper:

There's also a lot of mainstream coverage of events.  Just google "Stop Police Brutality protests" and variations of that. 

Here's a photo report of what happened in Honolulu.

At UH-Manoa:  Two banners created by a young artist and friends were hanging from the 2nd floor of the Art Department building facing McCarthy Mall, where 1000's of students pass by.
Displays of photos of victims of police brutality were put up on the mall.  This one was at Hamilton Library.  As soon as the displays were up Campus Security showed up saying there was a complaint from the library.  It turned out to be bogus, and the real complaint was from a bureaucrat from Buildings/Facilities.  We stood our ground but had to take this one down, and one had to be moved.  The others stayed because faculty and students jumped into the argument and spoke up for "free speech."  Security even tried to say we couldn't pass out leaflets calling on students to join the march in Waikiki that night, but when we referred to the recent 9th Circuit Court Decision and picked up the phone to call a lawyer they backed down and we continued to leaflet.

This is one of the photo displays on McCarthy Mall.  Lots of students and faculty stopped to talk about police brutality - many relating their own stories.

 A Black student:  “I’m from South Carolina and I get stopped all the time for ‘driving while Black’.   Yeah, it happened in South Carolina too, but way more over here.”

 A white student:  “I was sitting in front of a church at 6:30am waiting for a bus when this cop says I can’t be there.  I talked back cuz a church is a sanctuary and there wasn’t a sign saying you couldn’t be there.  The cop knocked me down and kicked me.   I had a couple of broken ribs.    One guy saw it so I thought I could charge the cop with police brutality.  When I went to court the judge said he had to take the word of the cop.   I lost a year of my life because of what that cop did.”

A Hawaiian man working on campus:  “I see they’re hassling you cuz they’re pissed [referring to UH security] – but when cops are pissed off with us in Waianae we get it way worse.”

Photo display on a construction wall on King Street.  

As the march began in the front of the Honolulu Zoo a crowd from Hula's Bar began clapping and cheering.  A driver passing by pulled out a conch and began to blow, and the homeless in front of Starbucks stood up and raised their fists.  One said “I was at McDonalds when they shot Kollin Elderts.  Cops can do anything they want in this town and they can get away with it.  Us – we can’t do nothing - hardly breathe -  and we get brutaled.”

About 35 people marched through Waikiki, chanting loudly.  "No Justice, No Peace!"  "Stop Police Brutality has Got to Go!"  "Hey HPD what do you say, how many women did you beat today?!"....

When the march approached the front of the Waikiki Police Substation a new chant went up:  "Hands up!  Don't Shoot!"  and an agitator read the Pledge from the Mass Incarceration Network on her bullhorn.

While relatively small, the march was greatly strengthened by a contingent of "law warriors" from the Richardson School of Law who not only joined up, but were energetic and loud and came carrying their own creative signs  (photo of their contingent to the right),  We were also joined from a man who flew over from Maui to join us because there wasn't an event there.
All along the route tourists and shop-owners alike raised their cell phones to take pictures.  One guy with a go-pro joined for a few blocks, and several for the whole route.  There were lots of cheers, and few jeers.   Some joined the chants; some clapped.  This is remarkably different than in the past, when many people looked puzzled, there were more jeers, some asked "what happened?" and others were bummed out because we were interrupting their get-away vacation in paradise with a reminder of the horrors of police brutality and mass incarceration...  This time they all seemed to know what the march was about, and the majority were happy to see us there.

What's changed?   That people rose up to protest the murders of Trayvon Martin, Eric Garner, and most of all Michael Brown.  That people in Honolulu have consistently demanded justice for Kollin Elderts. That people are daring to raise their cellphones and record police crimes and are demanding justice!

A checker player along the route said:  “Yeah, it happens every day, but people only hear about it when someone raises hell.”  His friend continued: “That’s what’s happening in Ferguson – revolution.  Just like the shirt says – revolution!   That’s what we need!” 

So what does this beginning spirit of resistance mean?   It means that we have to be ready to speak out and act on every incident of police brutality and repression.  It means that people have to be ready to act when the grand jury delivers indictments in the cases of Eric Garner and Michael Brown.  It means continuing to demand justice for Kollin Elderts and all victims of police brutality in order to make it impossible for the police to continue to act with impunity.

As Carl Dix, the co-founder of the Stop Mass Incarceration Network said in his speech at the NYC march at Times Square: " means continuing to build resistance to the horrors of the criminal “injustice” system until mass incarceration and police terror are really no more."

Sunday, October 12, 2014

Forum on Mass Incarceration & Police Terror

On Friday evening, October 10th, a diverse group of people showed up for a powerful and moving forum on Mass Incarceration & Police Terror at the halau at the Center for Hawaiian Studies   Eight people spoke and each, in their own way, spoke with passion and substance to the epidemic of mass incarceration, police brutality, and the (in)justice system.  Statistics were made human and a spirit of both compassion and resistance came alive.  

Carolyn Hadfield, the manager of Revolution Books and moderator of the event,, framed the forum by calling for unity in building a powerful movement of the people against the epidemic of mass incarceration and police terror, while at the same time respecting each other’s differences and engaging in lively and principled debate over solutions.   This framework characterized the forum and the discussion.

Kat Brady, an activist with the Hawai`i Community Alliance on Prisons and a well-known advocate for prisoners, began with an impassioned call to treat prisoners as human beings and denounced the recent cancellation of family visits at Hawai`i’s prisons, the re-institution of prison-striped uniforms, and the denial of physical contact between prisoners and their families and friends.  A “numbers nerd,” she broke down stats that exposed Hawai`i’s prison system as one of the most punitive in the U.S.   Rafael Kennedy, the new Executive Director of The Drug Policy Forum, followed up with exposure on how the so-called “War on Drugs” is actually a war on the people. 

Palikapu Dedman, the Executive Director of Ho`opakele, powerfully exposed the racism of Hawai`i’s prisons, where of the 6,000 prisoners, 4,000 are Native Hawaiians (while Native Hawaiians make up only 24% of the population.  He denounced colonialism and characterized Hawai`i’s treatment of its indigenous people as “genocidal” and put forward a call for  programs that would heal both the victim and the victimizer based on ho`oponopono and decentralized Pu`uhonua.   Nonohe Botelho, a member of “Parents of Murdered Children,” then told of her experience at the hands of the (in)justice system, which denied her to even touch her murdered son because he was “evidence” in a homicide, and then offered no healing or choices in the “justice” process..  She denounced the violence being done by the Court to the Elderts family, who have been forced to re-live Kollin’s murder over and over again, even as the U.S. Agent who murdered him, is back on his job and joined Palikapu’s call for changes in the legal system, victim’s rights, and alternatives to prisons.

Nick Chagnon, one of the authors of a recent article on police brutality in Hawai`i (, reported that HPD shot and killed eleven people in a 50-month period, which is four times higher than the national average (even while, statistically, Honolulu has little violent crime).   He asked why, out of 148 complaints of police use of force, only six had been sustained – and none of the complaints of “unnecessary use of a firearm” was sustained. 

Doug Matsuoka, a member of the Guerrilla Video Hui spoke of his own experiences attempting to video police attacks on the homeless and activists, and how he had been transformed from someone who thought there were “two sides of the story” to someone who is outraged over the inhumanity of the courts and the law toward a homeless community.

Liz Rees, spokesperson for World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i, ended with a powerful call to resistance, tying the epidemic of mass incarceration and police brutality with the epidemic happening across the U.S.,   Upholding the way the people of Ferguson had stood up to demand justice for Michael Brown, she issued a call to stand with the defiant ones” and build a movement so powerful that it cannot be ignored.   She challenged people to be on the streets on October 22nd, and build a movement that could respond powerfully to every incident of police brutality.   “Imagine how different it would be if there was a huge movement demanding justice for Kollin Elderts at Agent Deedy’s third trial?   

Questions and comments following the forum were both probing and insightful.  An ex-prisoner who had served 26 years for stealing a car in his youth talked about his own years in prison, spoke out against racism and Hawai`i’s history of colonization, and underscored the demand for alternatives to prison that would provide support and healing.  “Uncle Joe” Tassill, a veteran advocate of alternatives to prison for youth, told of his own experiences in fighting alternatives to incarceration   There were different views on whether the problem was “the prison industrial complex” or the repressive nature of this whole system with racism at its core.   There was dialogue about the power of the CCA (Corrections Corporation of America) and its lobbyists.  At the core of the questions and comments was a real desire for a more humane system, where prisoners are treated as human beings, with compassion and with the capacity to heal and change.

About a month ago, a small group of supporters of World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i and Revolution Books met in the wake of the utterly outrageous acquittal of Agent Deedy for the murder of Kollin Elderts, and decided they had to join efforts to take up the Month of Resistance to Mass Incarceration, Repression and the Criminalization of a Generation in Hawai`i.   This forum, co-sponsored by The Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, `Opio Haku Mo`olelo, Ohana Ho`opakele, Community Alliance on prisons, Ohana Ho`opakele,  and Malu`Aina Center for NonViolence Education and Action in Hilo was a beginning. 

On October 22nd, the National Day of Police Brutality, the Ad Hoc group will coordinate banner drops, displays, and leafleting on the UH-Manoa campus.   That evening there will be a Protest March Against Police Brutality in Waikiki beginning at 6pm at the Honolulu Zoo.   To get involved in organizing either contact    For news about the National Month of Resistance:



Wednesday, October 8, 2014

Forum on

Mass Incarceration & Police Terror

Friday, Oct. 10, 5:30-8:30pm

Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies


5:30-6:30:   Light refreshments, information tables, social hour

6:30-8:30:   Forum with panelists

Nonohe Botelho, Parents of Murdered Children; Kat Brady, Community Alliance on Prisons;

Doug Matsuoka, Hawai`i Guerrilla Video Hui; Palikapu Dedman, Ohana Ho`opakele;

Liz Rees, World Can’t Wait-Hawai`I; Rafael Kennedy, Drug Policy Forum;

Nicholas Chagnon, UH-Manoa, Socialogy Dept.


Organized by World Can’t Wait-Hawai`i; co-sponsored by Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies, `Opio Haku Mo`olelo, Ohana Ho`opakele, Revolution Books, Community Alliance on Prisons, Malu `Aina Center for Non-Violence Education & Action