Friday, April 27, 2001

Officials mum
on glass security
at center

Police worry the convention
center may be attacked by
protesters of the ADB

By Rod Antone
Star Bulletin

Hawaii state tourism officials would not say what kind of precautions they are taking to protect the 587 panels of tempered glass that make up the front entrance of the Hawaii Convention Center, despite concerns by the Honolulu Police Department.

Police are worried that the glass could be shattered by those protesting the Asian Development Bank conference that will be held May 7-11.

"It's pretty high-level engineering specifications," said Hawaii Tourism Authority head Bob Fishman. "Each pane weighs between 200 to 1,000 pounds and is designed to withstand 100 mph hurricane-force winds."

Honolulu police said earlier this year that they were very concerned about protesters breaking the half-inch-thick glass panes.

Police said based on what they have seen at other conventions -- namely the riots in Seattle and the Republican and Democratic national conventions in Philadelphia and Los Angeles -- protesters have been known to break large panes of glass using "wrist-rocket" slingshots.

Police said tests using the same slingshots to fire projectiles easily shattered similar pieces of glass, and recommendations to somehow shield the front entrance were made to the HTA. Police said the recommendation was rejected because such a shielding would be unsightly.

Fishman, however, said, "That conversation never took place."

Fishman did acknowledge that law enforcement officials mentioned the glass as one of many concerns they would have to deal with when ADB comes to town.

"We are aware that people have brought this up and that precautions are being taken," he said. "Our concern is that people don't get hurt. The police and the group that is planning for law enforcement have done a wonderful job."

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