By Ian Scheuring
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Anticipating protests and other public gatherings during November's APEC conference, the American Civil Liberties Union of Hawaii released a "First Amendment Toolkit" on Monday designed to help educate the public on how to protest lawfully.
The toolkit includes information about many aspects of public protests, including rules and regulations on signs, handbills, amplified sound, overnight protests, "occupying" buildings and potential consequences for unlawful violations.
The toolkit also addresses the circumstances under which permits will be required, including information on locations and protest sizes. The ACLU says that while permits aren't usually necessary while marching, standing or holding signs on sidewalks, gatherings of more than 75 people in places like Honolulu City parks may be needed.
The ACLU also announced a special "Know Your Rights" telephone number, a confidential message line designed to answer questions about the toolkit, how to obtain permits for demonstrations, and what to expect from law enforcement personnel. ACLU officials will monitor the hotline several times a day during APEC.
Vanessa Chong, Executive Director of the ACLU of Hawaii, says that the group's purpose is to make sure the public is aware of their first amendment rights.
"The ACLU's focus is on ensuring the public's right to peaceful protest and assembly," Chong said. "The Toolkit answers a wide range of questions often asked about how to exercise one's right to free speech without breaking the law."
According to Chong, "The ACLU has every expectation that Hawaii can successfully spotlight both lawful protest and law enforcement readiness that complies with the Constitution. ACLU negotiations continue to go well with city attorneys so we are hopeful that our remaining concerns will be resolved before APEC."
The ACLU's "Know Your Rights" telephone number is (808) 522-5906, and the "First Amendment Toolkit" is available online at http://acluhi.org/know-your-rights/demonstrating-at-apec/.