HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - A protest march that drew at least a thousand people or more turned Waikiki’s sidewalks into a river of red t-shirts and Hawaiian flags Sunday to rally against construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
“I found out through a network of native Hawaiian friends who texted and went on Facebook and let us know that it was happening,” said Piilani Crabbe-Jones.
She was among those who was asked to start gathering at 10 a.m. at the intersection of Kalakaua and Kuhio Avenues. By 11, there were enough people to block traffic on the busy thoroughfares through Oahu’s tourism center.
“Far too many times we’ve been deceived and hurt and we cannot be on the mauna, but we’re here in Waikiki,” said Matthew Park. “We’re just making our voices heard.”
Police and organizers were able to get demonstrators back on the sidewalk, where at one point they stretched all the way from Fort DeRussy to the Honolulu Zoo.
The demonstrators made sure they were heard, not only with their voices, but also with dozens of pickup truck and other vehicles, honking their horns and filled with people waving flags.
Protesters say it sends a message, “That we are unified for the purposes of saving our land and to take care of our lahui, our people," said Crabbe-Jones. “We are unified.”
“It means this right here,” said Park, pointing at his children who were marching with him. “Our future, our aina, kupuna. You know, our culture.”
After the march, hundreds remained at Kapiolani Park fronting the Honolulu Zoo, near a burial ground that holds the skeletal remains of hundreds of Hawaiian ancestors.
While the protest was loud, it was peaceful, with no immediate reports of arrests or disturbances.
“It just tells me how much -- how much aloha still exists, loud and clear,” said Leinaala Hatori, who was overcome with emotion.
“This is overwhelming."