Friday, October 24, 2003

Hundreds of citizens with various opinions of the Bush administration lined the entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village yesterday afternoon waiting for President Bush's motorcade.

bypasses protesters

Bush avoids the crowd at the
Hilton by using a side entrance

President of the United States
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Whether they wanted to cheer or jeer George W. Bush yesterday, hundreds of people never got a glimpse of the president on his way to a Republican fund-raiser dinner at the Hilton Hawaiian Village.

More than 500 demonstrators, many holding signs for various causes, gathered on either side of Kalia Road outside between 4:30 and 6:30 p.m.

Some were protesting the U.S. occupation of Iraq, others about environmental problems they believe Bush is causing, and some about his support for a so-called late-term abortion ban.

A large group of union members were there to protest privatizing of federal Department of Defense jobs in Hawaii.

Members of the State Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations were there in support of the Akaka Bill. Supporters of Democratic presidential candidates Howard Dean and Dennis Kucinich also demonstrated.

About 100 people stood with signs of support for Bush. These included students from St. Mark's Lutheran School in Kaneohe who chanted "Go, Bush!" and Mike and Dianne Reilly and their black-and-white spotted dogs with a sign that read, "We'd like to be Barney (Bush's dog) for a day."

Dozens of tourists staying at the Hilton or the nearby Hale Koa waited alongside protesters in hopes of seeing the president go by.

But while most people's attention was focused on the main entrance to the hotel complex, Bush apparently was whisked in quietly through a service entrance on Ala Moana.

Valet Levi Dela Cruz said police halted any movement in or out of the Kobe Steakhouse on Ala Moana and on the sidewalk outside the restaurant from about 6:20 to 6:35 p.m.

The steakhouse is next to a service entrance to the Hilton Hawaiian Village that was heavily guarded by Honolulu police in riot gear. Officers said they could not disclose whether that was the entrance used by the president.

When asked about demonstrators in Waikiki, Gov. Linda Lingle, who was traveling in Bush's limousine, said: "He didn't see the protesters. In fact ... there was just an outpouring of aloha on the entire route, from the hotel all the way to the site of the dinner tonight."

Meanwhile, the bulk of police directing demonstrators were in aloha shirts or regular uniforms. Police reported no arrests or clashes.

Kamaki Kanahele, president of the Nanakuli Homestead Association, noted that Hawaiian homesteaders stood quietly apart from the bulk of the chanting, drum-beating pro- testers.

"We can count our blessings that we are on the governor's agenda in speaking to the president," he said.

Betty Goodwin, of Moiliili, carried a sign that read, "Bush and Co. get your greedy hands off African endangered species," referring to the administration proposal to allow some trophy hunting of rare animals outside the United States.

"It's an opportunity to tell Bush what I think," said Cecile Smith. "He's terrible. He's ruining our country. ... He took us into Iraq under false pretenses, and we want to get out of there."

Ramsis Lutfy, an Egyptian who is now a U.S. citizen, said, "We are disgusted and livid about the way the U.S. is supporting Israel in killing Palestinians every day." By protesting, he said, "I am working for peace."

Heather Peet's message was written on her exposed eight-months-pregnant belly: "Pregnant by choice."

"I think the president should know I'm appalled at his utter disregard for the health and well-being of American women," which could be jeopardized by the late-term abortion ban, Peet said, holding the hand of her 22-month-old daughter.

Star-Bulletin reporter Rod Antone contributed to this report.


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