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Wednesday, November 5, 2003



THE STRYKER HEARINGS

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GEORGE F. LEE / GLEE@STARBULLETIN.COM
George Cox hoisted signs protesting a proposed Stryker brigade to be stationed in Schofield during public testimony last night at the Turtle Bay Hilton. He was among some 200 people who attended the meeting to oppose the plan.



Calm opposition
weighs against
mobile brigade

Only one person at a public
meeting voices support for
the Army's plans for Hawaii


About 200 people, dozens carrying protest signs, expressed their opposition last night to the Army's plans to bring a Stryker brigade to Hawaii.

The public hearing at the Turtle Bay Resort was the last of four Oahu meetings on private property to solicit public comment. At the first two meetings last week, seven people were arrested for trespassing for carrying protest signs, which the Army had banned. Army officials backtracked on the ban at the third meeting last week and at last night's meeting no tempers flared and the audience was respectful of the speakers.

Led by kupuna Cathleen and Creighton Mattoon, about 50 people chanted in a processional from the front of the Turtle Bay Resort to a meeting room inside, just before the Army began receiving testimony at 7 p.m.

A total of 155 people testified on the draft environmental impact statement at the four Oahu meetings, said Army spokesman Maj. John Williams.

After two hours of testimony last night involving about 60 people, only one person, Bud Ebel, spoke in favor of bringing the Stryker brigade here.

Two meetings will be held on the Big Island this week and public comments will be accepted by the Army through Jan. 3.

The Army wants to convert the 2nd Brigade of the 25th Infantry Division to one of its first fast-strike brigades, built around the 19-ton, Stryker transport vehicle. It proposes bringing 300 of the vehicles, plus support vehicles and expanding Schofield Barracks by 1,300 acres and Pohakuloa training area on the Big Island by 24,000 acres.

Kunani Nihipali of Pupukea testified that he watched TV news in amazement last week and saw people he knew being arrested at the first two Stryker hearings.

"Again the military enlisting the aid of the Honolulu Police Department and security guards to carry out their dirty work. Pitting friends against friends, Hawaiians against Hawaiians," Nihipali said.

Nihipali and several others testified that they didn't think the Army should have scheduled its public hearings on private property.

"How clever of you, to hold public meetings on private property, one cannot fully and properly exercise your right to be heard," Nihipali said. "Trespassing. Who's trespassing on whose aina?"

Marine veteran Ed Treschuk of Honolulu called the arrest of people protesting last week "a shameful display of anti-democracy.

"You have the guns and the tanks," Treschuk said. "Who's the real threat?"

Kyle Kajihiro, one of the seven people arrested for trespassing last week, asked that the Army, "just save yourself the trouble and cancel this thing."

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