Sunday, December 14, 2014

Action to Stop Police Brutality at Ala Moana

On Saturday December 13th, about 30 people joined a protest against police brutality at Ala Moana Shopping Center.  The action was in solidarity with actions in more than 70 cities - including some numbering many thousands. 

As soon as the first to people held up signs at the entrance to Ala Moana Park passers-by began stopping to share their own stories.  A Puerto Rican man talked about moving from NYC to escape police brutality only to face it on the streets of Honolulu.   A Hawaiian woman told about her brother, who was "beaten up" by HPD. 
As more people arrived, drivers passing by began honking and giving the thumbs-up - showing how even a small number of people can make a big difference.

 At a short rally an attorney described the asphyxiation of  of Aaron Torres, a Nanakuli truck driver who called 911 for help because of a mental health problem.  When HPD arrived he was thrown to the ground by four cops who then sat on him, pressing his head down and asphyxiating him as he cried out:   "I can't breathe."   The coroner classified his death as a homicide, the city settled the case for 1.4 million, but the four officers who murdered him are still employed by HPD.   Others who came out related their own experiences with police brutality. 

After holding signs for about half an hour a group of protesters left for a march around Ala Moana Shopping Center, chanting loudly as people watched from double-decked tour buses, passing cars, and holiday shoppers.   As the protesters crossed Atkinson to the front of the Convention Center where people were registering for the Marathon a whistle blew and protesters fell into the intersection for a 4.5 minute die-in (to symbolize the 4-1/2 hrs Michael Brown was left lying in the streets after being murdered.   Marchers then proceeded to hold signs at the entrances to Ala Moana Shopping Center, and then finished with another 4.5 minute die-in on Ala Moana Blvd. as they headed back to those still holding signs on the corner,

Hawai`i represents!   Stop Police Brutality & Murder everywhere!    For coverage of December 13th elsewhere, including some great images, go to:


Thursday, December 11, 2014

Ferguson is Everywhere!!
Justice for Michael Brown and Eric Garner!!
Police Murder and Brutality Must Stop!!

Action Saturday, Dec 13th
@ Ala Moana Shopping Center
10am:  gather at the corner of Atkinson/Ala Moana
(at the entrance to Ala Moana Park)

Signholding - March - Die-in

On Saturday, December 13, thousands of people will come to march in Washington, DC against police violence, called by National Action Network. People will be coming from the entire eastern seaboard, from Florida to New England and as far away as Detroit. It has been announced that families of those lost to police murder will be there, including relatives of Eric Garner, Michael Brown and Trayvon Martin.

This is the first major national mobilization against police brutality since the non-indictments of the police killers of Michael Brown and Eric Garner. 

The Stop Mass Incarceration Network has called for a week of actions, beginning December 8.  Many have already been held. 

During the past few days, demonstrations against police brutality and murder have been spreading everywhere.  100 government staff persons walked out today and held a "Hands Up!  Don't Shoot" action on the front steps.  City Counsel members in NYC held a protest in front of City Hall and then walked out into the streets.  Students have walked out in high schools and colleges.  Die-ins have been held by medical students.  Clergymen have held marches in the streets, and will deliver sermons again police brutality this Sunday.   For some dramatic photos of pictures from across the U.S. and around the world go to:

On Saturday we will be part of this.   We'll begin by holding signs at the corner of Atkinson & Ala Moana Blvd. for a half hour.   After 10:30 we'll cross Ala Moana for a march around Ala Moana Shopping Center.  At a central area there will be a die-in.  Those who don't want to march or participate in the die-in can continue to hold signs at the corner of Atkinson/Ala Moana until the return of the demonstrators.  Thousands will see us on this busy shopping day - wherever we are!

Bring signs, water, and sunscreen.   Remember that there's very limited parking in Ala Moana Shopping Center, and you will probably want to try for parking within Ala Moana Park.

I Can't Breathe!
Black Lives Matter!

Sunday, December 7, 2014


When the call went out for a demonstration at Honolulu City Lights, organizers knew it was going to be controversial.  This is a family event that thousands of families attend - with rides and food and a festive atmosphere.   So why demonstrate here?   Because for thousands of victims of police brutality across the US and in Hawai`i, there will be no Christmas.   Because for tens of thousands more there will be little holiday joy in the absence of loved ones.  Because there's an epidemic of police murder and brutality - primarily against Black and Brown people!   And because we, and millions of people like us, are the only ones who can bring this epidemic to an end!

Soon after 5pm people began standing in front of the City Municipal with their signs as people streamed into the park.  Many stopped to thank the protesters. 

A cop from the "Civil Affairs Unit" approached the organizers with a map and proposed that they lead us to Punchbowl Street - along the back away, and away from the crowds!   Soon afterwards, as more people began showing up, one cop was heard saying to another:  "How many of these can we identify?"

By 5:30 the small group had swelled toalmost 100 people who began marching through the festivities, past the food booths and people waiting for the parade to pass by, and toward the giant Christmas tree and the mayor's stage. 

As the march wound through the crowd, some people clapped and some cheered.  Some joined the chants.  Some raised their hands in the air as we chanted "Hands Up!  Don't Shoot!"  Others appeared surprised, and a few said "You shouldn't be here."

As the demonstrators approached the tree the crowds got thicker but the group was able to find space close to the tree and the city officialdom onstage.   Demonstrators continued chanting:  "No Justice, No Peace!"  "We can't Breathe!"

The chants were so loud that the mayor was finally forced to acknowledge us by saying that we had a right to protest, but then went on to disavow the same problems in Hawai`i.  This in spite of the fact that the City has just had to pay 1.4 million dollars to a family for the death of Aaron Torres by a police chokehold and asphyxiation, and are still facing a lawsuit for the murder of Stephen Dinnan, who was also asphyxiated by the police.  Despite the fact that Hawai`i is one of the few states that has not made these chokeholds illegal!    In spite of the fact that the police murdered two  civilians, Richard Nelson and James Pickard, Jr. in August 2014. 

The disruption to the mayor's ceremony was also controversial among the crowd.  A few families joined us.  Some nodded knowingly.  Some voiced their disapproval or frowned.  A woman holding her child approached us saying that their family agreed with us, but that the demonstration was too loud.   When possible, protesters attempted to engage people around the necessity to act and passed them a short leaflet on why the protest was happening.

One particularly vocal woman approached a demonstrator with a water bottle and began pouring it over her head.   The protester initially continued as though nothing had happened, but when the attack continued she got into a heated conversation with her attacker as her friends stepped up to stand with her.  The woman left. 

It had been announced that the mayor would throw the switches to light the tree at 6:00 pm, but evidently the ceremony was on Hawai`i time.  The chanting went on.  Students showed up with more bullhorns and began leading chants - many of the made up at the moment; others that they had heard on social media reports on demonstrations in other cities. 

At the moment the Christmas tree lights finally went on, demonstrators dropped to the ground and staged a dramatic "die-in" to remember the victims of murders by the police.   In the three minutes of silence that followed, many in the crowd and members of the media snapped photos. 

Then, as the ceremony ended, the demonstrators made their way through a pressing crowd to return to the front of the Municipal Building, all the time shouting "Hands Up, Don't Shoot" while many who were watching raised their arms.

When they reached the large paved area near the building they stopped, formed a circle, and chalked the area with their messages.  Adrenaline was high and no one seemed to want the evening to end and continued chanting.   As some people left, others who saw the group picked up their signs and joined.  A small child began beating on a pan; an even smaller toddler danced to the chanting.   People stopped to snap pictures.  A group of teenagers from McKinley HS jumped in shouting "Hands Up, Don't Shoot." 

Nothing written in this can begin to capture the mixture of emotions at this demonstration.  The righteous anger, the courage, the defiance, the determination, as well as the hopefulness and the joy at being part of the approximately 150 people who participated.   Approximately 150 people - students, families, and older people of every race and ethnicity had come together to demand an end to police murder and brutality.  Tens of thousands of people had heard our voices and many were showing their solidarity.   Older women who had been part of the 60's talked about feeling an energy they hadn't felt for decades! 

As the demonstration ended with "Ain't No Power Like the Power of the People" people broke down into small groups and made connections.  E-mails were exchanged.  UH students exchanged e-mails with students from other departments and faculty members were heard exclaiming:  "Where did these students come from?"  Suggestions for the next demonstration were being shared.

While controversial, this action was one that must provoke continuing discussions among people as they talk about what they experienced, or what they see on TV and the social media.  What is it going to take to end police brutality?  What kinds of actions are necessary?   Are new laws, new commissions, and police re-training going to bring about the kind of change that's needed?  Is the system itself really racist?  Why is the slogan "Black People Matter" necessary? Is the whole system the problem - or is the hole system illegitimate?  What would change look like?  This is the kind of discussion that must go on - among friends and family, in  clubs, classrooms and churches.   But conversation alone isn't going to be enough!   The righteous struggle for justice needs to spread and intensify in many forms - and it can't stop until this horror is ended once and for all!

Following are a few more photos.


Friday, December 5, 2014

Justice for Eric Garner!


The decision of the grand jury in Staten Island not to indict any of the cops who murdered Eric Garner is INTOLERABLE. This grand jury has allowed another murdering cop to walk free! POLICE MURDER MUST END NOW!

We all saw the cops approach and harass Eric Garner because they claim he was selling loose cigarettes. We all saw them choking the life out of him as he struggled to get out the words, “I can’t breathe,” again and again. We saw them standing over his lifeless body for minutes, offering him no CPR or other emergency assistance. And we saw the cop who had administered the chokehold, a procedure banned by the NYPD, wave to the video camera as he left the scene.

THE TIME TO ACT IS NOW! If you're at work or at school, post a sign in your lunch room or office. Send out tweets and e-mails. On campus? In an office downtown? Even two people with a small sign can be effective! Get together a group of friends and stage a die-in on the spot. Read what's happening across the U.S. and spread it. Everyone needs to speak out! Read  and spread this breaking news. Be sure to read all of the tweets from prominent people on the sidebar!

THEN ON SATURDAY EVENING, JOIN A PROTEST AT HONOLULU CITY LIGHTS! This is the opening night, with tree lighting and a parade. The entire event will be televised. Thousands will see us at the event itself as we chant "We can't breathe!" and "Black Lives Matter."

MEET IN FRONT OF THE CITY MUNICIPAL BUILDING BEFORE 5:30pm. That's at the corner of King & Alapai. Just look for our signs on the corner. We'll be there by 5pm. Take the bus or allow plenty of time to find parking! We'll have some signs but bring your own signs and noisemakers if you can.  At 5:30pm we'll be walking together to the corner of Punchbowl & King (near the tree-lighting ceremony).  We'll see you there!