New plants at Blaisdell force protestors to move

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - City crews started setting up concrete planters in front of the Neal Blaisdell Center Concert Hall on Tuesday. Up to 50 containers filled with palms and hibiscus plants may be brought in, according to city officials. Eight high school graduations will soon be held at the facility, with many well-wishers gathering out on the lawn.

"We're just putting these up to cover the areas where the tents are so that the people can enjoy their event here at Blaisdell," explained John Fuhrmann of the Department of Enterprise Services.

"I would like to know when all the homeless have to start riding in the back of the bus because to promote segregation from the Blaisdell Center of all people, it make no sense," said (de)Occupy Honolulu protestor Chris Smith.

Demonstrators have now moved their tents to Ward Avenue. Two weeks ago, they set up outside the Blaisdell after the city closed the sidewalk on the other side of King Street for maintenance. Crews will also install planter boxes there similar to the ones on the Beretania Street side of Thomas Square where the camp first started.

"They can keep pushing it around, but as they see, every time they push it around it becomes a worse situation for them, and they become more distraught about it and then we go to another location and another location," Smith said.

The city borrowed the planters at the Blaisdell, but the ones around Thomas Square will cost more than $33,500. Before these pots were installed across the street from the Honolulu Museum of Art, some visitors complained about the demonstrators. Director Stephan Jost and the mayor will host a public forum about the future of Thomas Square.

"The whole issue of sovereignty and what happened there 170 years ago, it should be one of the most important places historically on an island and it's not. It's neglected. There's been lots of underinvestment," said director Stephan Jost.

The sidewalk fronting the concert hall re-opens on May 20. The protestors plan to move back.

The community forum on Thomas Square begins at 5:30 p.m. on Monday at the Honolulu Museum of Art's Doris Duke Theatre.