Peaceful protestersHundreds of protesters peacefully marched and rallied in front of the Hawai'i Convention Center as the Asian Development Bank opened its annual meeting.
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Honolulu police estimate there were more than 600 protesters when the rally peaked, nearly 10 times fewer than protest organizers had predicted several weeks ago. Protest organizers, however, estimated yesterday's crowd at about 2,000.
Honolulu police credit the demonstrators for what all parties are calling a peaceful protest. The protesters also give themselves the credit.
"I think great credit should go to the protesters, the protest leaders themselves," said Assistant Police Chief Stephen Watarai. "They had their right to freedom of speech, they had their right of peaceful protesting; that was accomplished today."
The highlight of the demonstration happened when ADB President Tadao Chino walked out into the street to meet with protesters from Cambodia, Laos and Thailand. Chino smiled and nodded as University of the Philippines professor Walden Bello read from a petition. Chino said the bank would consider the comments before he returned to a luncheon, ignoring pleas from the protesters that they were more important than lunch.
Bello shouted to Chino: "We demand that you listen to us. You must agree to shut down destructive ADB projects."
Although ostensibly a protest of what ADB opponents call human rights violations in developing Asian countries, demonstrators used the opportunity to bring attention to numerous other causes.
Mixed with signs declaring "Shut Down the ADB" were those advocating for Hawaiian rights, asking to free Mumia Abu-Jamal and Tibet and to bring an end to police brutality, corporate media and authority in general.
Unions came out protesting the ADB's actions in other countries, which Erik Haunold of ILWU Local 42 said fit in with the union's motto, "An injury to one is an injury to all." An institution such as the ADB "disempowers people and forces down labor standards throughout the world," he said. "It creates a race to the bottom."
A few union protesters wore shirts protesting Wal-Mart, and one sign even said "Save Rock-Za," the popular strip club across the street from the convention center.
"I think things went extraordinarily well, and I think we owe a debt of gratitude, especially to HPD, but also the city's crews for being so well organized," Honolulu Mayor Jeremy Harris said. "Within five minutes of the protesters leaving Ala Moana Park, the parks crew was there cleaning up and had it cleaned up immediately."
The months of training and other preparation paid off, the mayor said. "I don't think we would have had these small numbers of demonstrators and had it so peaceful if we hadn't been so prepared."
"I think that the smoothness and the peacefulness of this march happened in spite of what the police had done, not because of it," said Matt MacKenzie, march organizer. "Everything went wonderfully. We were making our voices heard. It was very cultural."
Honolulu police, who early in the morning outnumbered the protesters, were present in uniform, on bicycles, in aloha shirts and even in a helicopter that hovered overhead. There were officers at the front of the march, at the back and on both sides.
Police Chief Lee Donohue said there were between 100 and 200 officers present throughout the march. Last week, Assistant Police Chief Boisse Correa estimated HPD's ADB-related costs at between $4 million and $7 million that had not been budgeted. Harris said, "I don't think it will be more than ($4 million), and it looks like that will probably be reimbursed."
Although there were no problems, Donohue said the money was well spent. "We have a whole generation of police officers who are trained (for a riot situation in the future)."
The march started at the corner of Ala Moana Boulevard and Atkinson Drive at 12:06 p.m., six minutes behind schedule. Police closed Ala Moana Boulevard for the time it took protesters, their two rented trolleys, police and emergency medical vehicles at the end of the march to cross.
City officials put up detours around the areas affected by the march and rally. There were no reports of traffic tie-ups at any of the detours.
The protesters arrived in front of the convention center for a rally at 12:35 p.m., 20 minutes behind schedule. But they continued their march on schedule, at 1:15 p.m.
The march moved down Kalakaua Avenue with high-ranking police officers in front, bicycle patrol officers on both sides and more officers at the rear. Protesters felt that prevented spectators from joining the march.
"It went good. It was peaceful. It's a good thing. Any time you can protest and if it's positive, you don't have violence, cops interfering, and your voice gets heard," said Mike Warren who is visiting from New York. Warren watched the rally from the sidewalk on Kalakaua Avenue.
"Nothing happened, so that's what counts," said Rick Miller, manager of Dunkin' Donuts and Catch of the Day Sushi on Kapiolani Boulevard across from the convention center.
"I think that, bottom line, thank God we live Hawaii," said Akiona.
"Peace is truly a primal part of my soul," says Joshua Cooper, a key player in most of Hawaii's nonviolent human-rights demonstrations for more than a decade.
Peaceful protestBy Treena Shapiro
plants the seeds,
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On a U-Haul flatbed trailer leading the procession of Asian Development Bank protesters up Atkinson Drive yesterday, Cooper danced and played the maracas.
An activist since his high school days in Germany, the 31-year-old Nanakuli native has made a presence for himself locally, getting involved in protests since his undergraduate days at the University of Hawaii, where he is now working on his Ph.D. and teaching political science at Maui Community College and the UH Center on Maui.
Cooper is making an international name for himself as well, spending his summers lecturing at the International Training Center for Teaching Peace and Human Rights in Geneva
He is also doing advocacy work at the United Nations and performing volunteer work during extensive travels that have led him to South America, South Africa, Antarctica and Japan.
Before yesterday's march Cooper acknowledged that his activism extends to a multitude of causes.
"Everybody always said in the beginning, 'Ooh, you do so many things,' but it's all under the rubric or the model of human rights.
"It's all interconnected," whether it be sovereignty in Hawaii, independence in Tibet, the struggle in East Timor or the plight of the Ainu in Japan, he said.
Cooper acknowledges that several of his demonstrations have had a low turnout, but he is "planting seeds for a great nonviolent revolution."
Although yesterday's march was smaller than the thousands originally predicted, Cooper -- who estimated the peak at 2,000, much higher than the police estimate of 600 -- said the protesters accomplished their goal by bringing attention to the ADB's human rights violations and addressing bank President Tadao Chino.
The point of Cooper's activism is that "everyone has to be informed, and we have a responsibility to make our community, as well as the global civil society, better." Everyone, he said, should be able to live life to its fullest.
Whether his love for public service will lead him into politics, Cooper said, "The only way I'd ever run for office is if I could get 76 of my closest friends to run, too.
"One person can make a difference, but a movement can move mountains."
Asian Development Bank