Photo: Kai Markell
Honolulu, HI (Wednesday January 20, 2016)—The People Over Profits Rally 2016 demonstrated the importance of valuing people and the planet over the interests of large corporations exploiting workers and the environment for private profit. It’s a familiar message.
Hundreds of people from all walks of life joined in a rally of more than 30 diverse organizations pushing for more progressive policies in Hawai‘i, including better protection of the environment, more limitations on the use of pesticides, housing for the homeless, a higher minimum wage, and respect for the rights of Native Hawaiians.
“The common theme from all the groups present at the Capitol today was: people first,” said Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i. “The people of Hawai‘i have a right to a clean environment, safe working conditions, and basic housing. Corporations do not have a right to profit at our expense.”
“The four international speakers for food justice highlighted for us just how connected we are across vast oceans,” said Gary Hooser, Executive Director for the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA). “We are all working towards the controls on industrial agriculture, the same protections for our air and water, the same bright future for our children.”
The event featured speakers from Mexico, Nigeria, Malaysia and Switzerland, performances by students from various charter schools, live music by Liko Martin and Laulani Teale, Jammerek, Hanohano Naehu and Paul Izak, as well as speakers from the roughly 30 different organizations concerned with the environment, Native Hawaiian rights, housing, prison reform, reproductive rights, workers’ rights, pesticide controls, wildlife protections and local control over electrical utilities.
The rally followed “Ku‘i at the Capitol,” a separate event hosted by Hui Aloha Aina Momona that supported more than 700 people in the unique experience of pounding taro into poi using a traditional pohaku (stone) and papaku‘i‘ai (poi board). Read about the importance of this event in Summit issue 1.1.
The Hawaii Supreme Court voted unanimously, today, to vacate the permit allowing the Thirty-Meter Telescope (TMT) to be constructed on Mauna Kea. The court ruled that the state Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR) wrongfully approved a conservation use permit in 2011 prior to holding a contested case hearing. Project officials will have to return to the BLNR to get new approval for the project.
Here is a link to the concurring opinion by judges Pollack, Wilson and McKenna.
Citing new evidence that the City and County of Honolulu is using ‘sweeps’ of homeless individuals to continue bypassing Hawaii laws and violate the state Constitution, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawai‘i Foundation (ACLU) and the law firm of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing, filed a new request in federal court for a preliminary injunction.
The new documents show that city officials are continuing an illegal practice of immediately destroying property instead of—as required by the City’s own ordinances—first taking then storing items for recovery by the owner.
The added evidence includes sworn testimony by city officials contradicting earlier city assertions that the government is following the law in taking individuals’ possessions.
“The Constitution requires that, regardless of whether you are rich or poor, everyone is entitled to equal treatment under the law,” said Daniel M. Gluck, Legal Director for the ACLU of Hawaii. “The ACLU is committed to making sure the city follows its own laws and treats everyone fairly, and will continue to fight on behalf of Hawaii’s most vulnerable residents.”
Nick Kacprowski of Alston Hunt Floyd & Ing added, “We have supplied the court with a mountain of evidence—including City officials’ own sworn testimony and many videos and photographs of recent sweeps—proving that, contrary to the city’s earlier claims, and consistent with what we told the court at the earlier hearing, the city routinely and consistently destroys property belonging to homeless individuals, rather than storing that property as required by law. The city refuses to follow the law, [has] misrepresented its activities to avoid a temporary restraining order, and now we are renewing our clients’ request for an injunction to stop ongoing civil rights violations by the city.”