Protesters demand transparency from HPD following 2 deadly Oahu shootings

Updated: Apr. 21, 2021 at 2:23 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Outside HPD’s headquarters Tuesday, about two dozen protesters held signs calling for more transparency and accountability from the agency.

Demonstrators said they’re angry about the deaths of 16-year-old Iremamber Sykap and 29-year-old Lindani Myeni, who were fatally shot by police in the last two weeks despite being unarmed.

Some at the rally believe race was a factor, though HPD has denied that.

They’ve said deadly force was justified in both cases.

“Being Black is not a legitimate reason to use force,” said community organizer Leslie Harvey, during the rally. “Implicit bias against people of color is not a legitimate reason to use force.”

The rally organized by Refuse Fascism Honolulu was not planned around the conviction of Derek Chauvin, the former Minneapolis officer who was found guilty of murdering George Floyd on Tuesday.

But the coincidence was not lost on the protesters.

“I was thrilled that Chauvin was definitely held and handcuffed, and we’ll get some sentence,” said protester Eileen Sammon of Waikiki.

Harvey and Sammon said Tuesday’s verdict is a relief, but there is more work to be done.

“Hawaii is not different,” said attorney Eric Seitz. “Hawaii, in fact, is out in the front when it comes to the use and abuse of police misconduct.”

“We need much better things happening,” added Sammon. “They need to be trained and trained properly, so that this violence will stop.”

Two weeks after Floyd’s death, HPD did change its policy banning a certain neck restraint. That order went into effect earlier this month.

“Changing the use of force policy is something but it’s not going to stop police killing so we need to end qualified immunity,” said deputy public defender Jacquie Esser. “We need to work on sending on armed first responders to people experiencing behavioral health crisis.”

Esser said there was a bill in legislation that pushed for mental health experts to arrive on scene to help de-escalate a situation.

She said that bill was shut down but hopes state leaders will reconsider looking at it again.

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