Officials are expecting an even larger crowd than Wednesday's to gather at the Capitol for a third reading and likely final House vote Friday morning on a controversial same sex marriage bill. After reaching out to both supporters and opponents, security officials say they have agreed to a new plan to keep things under control.
Officials will be splitting the Rotunda right down the middle with the makai side being designated for same-sex marriage opponents and the mauka side being assigned to same-sex marriage supporters. Security says it's the most fair way to keep the peace.
HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Barriers are now up outside the House Chambers after dozens of people pressed up against the windows chanting "Let the people decide!" so loudly Wednesday, it interfered with the proceedings inside.
"The guys were too close. They were banging the windows with flags, so we want to bring them more out and a little less disruption," explained Jesse Alvarado, who is a Sergeant at Arms Operations Specialist for the Hawaii House of Representatives.
Officials say they're trying to strike a balance between public safety and First Amendment rights to free speech.
"I think it's very important that all of the voices be heard, but the paramount concern has to be the safety of everyone to ensure that the protest is done in an orderly manner," said Lois Perrin, the Legal Director for the American Civil Liberties Union (ACLU).
"We want everybody to come out and participate. Be passionate, but yet be respectful and kind to one another," said Allen Cardines, a Pastor for Hope Chapel Nanakuli.
Sergeant at Arms confirm they will still be conducting bag searches and wanding people prior to entry, but there's a new plan for seating inside.
"We will split the seating in the gallery in half to be fair to everyone and have the advocates sit on one side and the opponents on the other side," explained Kevin Kuroda, a House Sergeant at Arms.
Public Safety officials say additional Deputies aren't staffed for tomorrow but have been working overlapping and extended watches. They say the Deputies have been and will continue to keep a close eye on the situation.
In a statement provided to Hawaii News Now, Deputy Director for Law Enforcement, Shawn Tsuha explained: "In regards to the impassioned rallys at the capitol, when a complaint is received by the Sheriff Division our personnel will act on that complaint. As of today, no complaint was received from government officials."
House Majority Leader Scott Saiki says the efforts planned for Friday are designed to ensure everyone's safety.
"Unfortunately, there were a couple of incidents that occurred while we were in floor session so legislators were not present to witness it but the Sheriffs have been asked to intervene if anything happens tomorrow," Representative Saiki said.
Officials say sign wavers will also have their own designated areas. Opponents will get both sides of Beretania Street from the Father Damien statue to Punchbowl, while supporters will get both sides of the street from the statue toward Chinatown.
Officials say they don't want to discourage anyone from gathering in the Rotunda Friday or participating in the process, but say they hope everyone who does treats one another with aloha.