ACLU suesGroups planning to demonstrate at the May Asian Development Bank convention charge that state and city officials have conspired to deny their constitutional rights to expression and assembly by setting limits on access to public areas around the Hawaii Convention Center.
The lawsuit accuses stateFeds send more agents By Mary Adamski
and city officials of conspiring
to deny constitutional rights
A suit filed yesterday asks the U.S. District Court to restrain officials from enforcing security zones that, it says, would keep organizations from communicating with conferees. The plaintiffs asked that the court compel the city to issue a permit for a planned "March for Global Justice" past the Convention Center, and to allow public access to the Ala Wai Promenade, which authorities plan to close.
"By trying to shut down free expression, the state and city are increasing the possibility of confrontation rather than ensuring peaceful protest," said Brent White, legal director of the American Civil Liberties Union in Hawaii.
The ACLU and the law firm of Davis Levin Livingston Grande filed suit on behalf of ADBWatch, a local network of groups and people concerned with human rights and the environmental effects of industrialization in developing countries. The National Lawyers Guild, the Rev. Renate Rose and Matt MacKenzie are also plaintiffs in the suit.
About 3,000 people are expected to attend the convention of the Manila-based, 60-nation group that promotes investment in Third World countries.
The state and city hope to avoid kind of confrontations that marred last week's Quebec summit of 34 Western Hemisphere leaders, including President Bush. Hawaii is eager to make a good showing during the ADB meeting, Gov. Ben Cayetano said.
"The ADB is a very important event for us," he said. "It's a global or international event at the same level as the WTO, and, if we do a good job, I think you'll see Hawaii will become really a center for these kinds of meetings, whether they be political, economic or cultural."
The state and city are preparing for all contingencies, the governor said.
"But I'm really confident that the demonstrations that we will see here will be peaceful, civil, unlike the demonstrations that we've seen in Seattle or now in Quebec."
Cayetano said officials know there will be a radical element "whose sole purpose in life seems to be is go around and hold demonstrations."
"Well, we've prepared for them, and I'm just hopeful not too many of them will come for the ADB," Cayetano said.
It is important, however, not to stifle the legal demonstrations, he said.
"That's why we're working very hard to make sure, first of all, that the right of free speech is not impinged in any way. We want to make sure that people who want to express their concerns to the ADB have the opportunity to do so."
Steps are being taken to get people in the community with objections about the ADB in touch with ADB officials, "because the ADB itself wants to address issues which are of concern to these people," Cayetano said.
City Corporation Counsel David Arakawa said the city has "bent over backwards to accommodate (protesters') requests." In a written statement, he said the city has met with the ACLU and ADBWatch to prepare for peaceful protests, but, he said, the group has made numerous changes to its parade permit application and to date has not submitted a revised application.
ADBWatch applied for a rally and march for 5,000 to 7,000 protesters, but member groups have said they are not sure how many participants there will be.
The May 9 march is planned to proceed from Magic Island past the Convention Center, then down Kalakaua Avenue to a rally in Kapiolani Park.