HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Dozens of ’angry’ protestors rallied in Downtown Honolulu on Monday, demanding changes to Hawaii’s response to the coronavirus pandemic and voicing their displeasure with Oahu’s current stay-at-home order ― and the leaders who enacted it.
The demonstration, which doubled as a pro-Trump campaign rally, was filled with signs that included such messages as “Let Hawaii Work Again,” “Wake Up” and “Freedom Is Our God-Given Right.”
“We’re here to preserve our first amendment, our second amendment, and to end this treasonous lockdown,” said one protester, holding a megaphone in one hand and an American flag in the other.
Oahu has been under a stay-at-home shutdown since August 27, when an emergency order proposed by Mayor Kirk Caldwell and signed off on by Gov. David Ige went into effect overnight.
The order is similar to one that was in effect at the beginning of the pandemic here in Hawaii: Essential businesses are allowed to remain open, but non-essential businesses like retailers, salons and barber shops have been forced to shut their doors.
And that specific order went into effect three weeks after bars were shut down on Oahu, and more than two weeks after the state and city shut down all beaches and parks on Oahu.
The closures have clearly rankled many of those who participated in Monday’s rally, about half of whom were wearing masks or practicing social distancing.
“Following rules for six months that have no rhyme or reason makes a lot of small business operators and their business’ leaders angry,” said Ken Middleton, the owner and operator of Tradewind Charters. “I’m getting tired of borrowing from my retirement accounts, from my savings, to fuel a corporation.”
Middleton participated in the protest because he’s disappointed in the way the state is being led.
“As goes tourism, goes our economy and its gone down the tank and I pin a 100% of it on our governor and our mayors,” said Middleton.
Bowling Alleys like Pali Lanes were supposed to open over the weekend, but because of the second lockdown, President of Team Save Pali Lanes, Christian Arakawa said they said they’ll have to wait.
“So right now, it’s all around, everyone shut down. But for the first shut down when they targeted bowling alleys there was just no logic behind it,” said Arakawa. “It was like they were being biased because I see this constantly.”
Mayor Kirk Caldwell has said that this 2nd shutdown was necessary to control the spread of the virus.
“Hopefully, we’ll see the number decline to a level where we can manage our contact tracing and everything else that we need to do,” said Caldwell. “If it doesn’t work, we’d look to continue it, but we’re hopeful that it will work.”
Such demonstrations are becoming more frequent nationally; the New York Times reported earlier this year that influential conservative leaders across the country have been “working to nurture protests and apply political and legal pressure to overturn state and local orders intended to stop the spread of the coronavirus.”
A joint Hawaii News Now/Civil Beat poll released last month, before Mayor Caldwell’s latest stay-at-home order was announced, found that the overwhelming majority ― nearly 75% of registered voters polled ― said they continued to support local stay-at-home guidelines and quarantine orders.