Sunday, April 22, 2001

Quebec gives
lessons in how not
to handle expected
ADB protests

The issue: Demonstrations erupted in
violence at the Summit of the Americas
in Quebec as Honolulu prepares for a
similar international conference in May.

LOCAL AUTHORITIES preparing for the Asian Development Bank conference here May 7-11 can learn from the experiences at the World Trade Organization conference in Seattle two years ago and this weekend's Summit of the Americas in Quebec City. The lesson is less that they prepare for battle than that they find ways to accommodate protests while protecting the rights of delegates peaceably to assemble.

At both Seattle and Quebec, authorities created lines of confrontation rather than corridors of security. Dialogue with protest organizers in facilitating demonstrations while devising systems of identifying and separating violent protesters for arrest were lacking.

Canadian authorities deployed about 6,700 police and1,200 military troops to erect and defend a 10-foot-high chain-link fence some four miles long to protect parts of Quebec City from protesters. As night fell on Friday, militant groups demonstrated at what they called the "wall of shame," ripping out a section of the fence. Police launched tear gas, and protesters responded with eggs, then rocks and paving stones. At one spot, the fence came crashing down, and some protesters used a metal gate as a battering ram to storm a row of officers. Although most of the demonstrators were peaceful, violence was expected to continue outside the conference through this weekend.

"We have to protect the security of the leaders and the delegations," said Canadian Prime Minister Jean Chretien. "I would have preferred not to have it this way, but we have no choice." At that point, there was virtually no way to allow peaceful protest and security for the leaders of 34 countries, including President Bush, attending the conference.

At Seattle, law enforcement agencies found themselves undermanned in trying to deal with thousands of protesters at the WTO conference, resorting to tear gas, pepper spray and rubber bullets in trying t clear the streets. Instead of cordoning off travel routes for delegates, police created a 25-block "no-protest zone" that effectively became a war zone.

In preparing for the Asian Development Bank conference, Honolulu police consulted Seattle police, who are not about to admit to any faulty judgment, especially when they have been named as defendants in class-action lawsuits by people they arrested in the "no-protest zone."

Organizers of the demonstrations planned against the ADB conference have sought dialogue with Honolulu police to gain agreement on where they may demonstrate and camp out at night but, according to American Civil Liberties Union attorneys, have been turned away.

ACLU staff attorney Brent White pointed out in a column in this newspaper last month that the Hawaii Tourism Authority had indicated its intention to help the city prevent "illegal mass demonstrations or protests on public sidewalks, streets or other public areas." White pointed out that demonstrations are legal. Any state laws that say they are illegal -- and ACLU attorneys say there are such laws -- are insupportable.

It should be clear to the Honolulu police that the best way to avoid the anarchy that beset Seattle and Quebec is to establish dialogue with organizers of the planned protest. No one should expect the demonstrations to be neat and orderly, but there are ways to prevent them from becoming violent.

No last chapter written
yet on the survival of
independent bookstores

The issue: The trade organization for
independent bookstores has agreed to
a settlement with major chains
that falls short of its goals.

INDEPENDENT BOOKSTORES are struggling to avoid having to write their own epilogues. A legal challenge brought by their trade group against the Borders and Barnes & Noble chains has resulted in defeat. Thus, the chance of small general bookstores maintaining a significant presence in America's marketplace appears to be in jeopardy.

The independent bookstores' share of the market has dwindled for 30 years during the growth of shopping mall chains, superstores, discount warehouses and, most recently, online stores. In the past decade, the little guy's share of book sales fell from 33 percent to 15 percent.

When Borders and Barnes & Noble arrived in Honolulu several years ago, the result was swift. Honolulu Book Shops, which had been in operation for more than a half century, closed its doors in August 1998 and filed for bankruptcy. Its flagship store at Ala Moana Center is now among more than a dozen stores in Hawaii run by Waldenbooks, part of the Borders Group.

The American Booksellers Association, which represents 3,000 independent stores, filed lawsuits against publishers in the 1980s, accusing them of favoring the chains in offering discounts. After those suits were settled out of court, the association took on the chains themselves, contending that they use their size to extract unfair deals from publishers and book distributors.

Last month, U.S. District Judge William H. Orrick of California dismissed the association's claim for past damages. Facing a lengthy and expensive trial, the association agreed on a settlement under which Borders and Barnes & Noble each will pay the association $2.35 million, which won't even cover the association's legal costs.

Alvin Domnitz, chief executive of the booksellers association, acknowledged that his organization had not achieved its stated goals. He maintained, however, that the suit had "brought to light" chain-store practices that put independents at a disadvantage, and that "many, if not all, of those practices had already stopped." Under terms of the settlement, he said he could not specify what had changed.

This is not the end for independent bookstores. Two of the former Honolulu Book Shops outlets are operated today by independents -- BookEnds in Kailua and Bestsellers downtown -- taking advantages of sites that are more convenient than those of the big chains. That may allow independent bookstores to remain a part of America.

Published by Oahu Publications Inc., a subsidiary of Black Press.

Don Kendall, President

John Flanagan, publisher and editor in chief 529-4748;
Frank Bridgewater, managing editor 529-4791;
Michael Rovner,
assistant managing editor 529-4768;
Lucy Young-Oda, assistant managing editor 529-4762;

The Honolulu Star-Bulletin (USPS 249460) is published daily by
Oahu Publications at 500 Ala Moana Blvd., Suite 7-500, Honolulu, Hawaii 96813.
Periodicals postage paid at Honolulu, Hawaii. Postmaster: Send address changes to
Star-Bulletin, P.O. Box 3080, Honolulu, Hawaii 96802.

E-mail to Editorial Editor

Text Site Directory:
[News] [Business] [Features] [Sports] [Editorial] [Do It Electric!]
[Classified Ads] [Search] [Subscribe] [Info] [Letter to Editor]

© 2001 Honolulu Star-Bulletin