APEC protests begin at global warming meeting

Published: Oct. 17, 2011 at 9:32 PM HST|Updated: Oct. 18, 2011 at 12:26 AM HST
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Vanessa Chong
Vanessa Chong
Michael Tippett, PhD.
Michael Tippett, PhD.

By Tim Sakahara - bio | email

HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Protestors gave a preview of what the Asia-Pacific Economic Cooperation meetings may look like.  Leaders from 21 economies from various countries will be in Hawaii in November and groups plan to use the opportunity to attract attention to their cause.  The first started today at the East West Center.

"People's need not corporate greed," chanted protestors.

About 30 people from various groups marched and chanted outside an APEC meeting at Jefferson Hall at the East West Center.  Then they went around back to the windows where they couldn't be missed by the participants inside eating lunch.

"APEC, Wall Street, same same," went another chant.

Groups are calling APEC the perfect storm when you mix world leaders with the Occupy Wall Street movement, APEC protests and possible union strikes.  However the storm may fizzle if protestors don't show up considering you can't just take a road trip to the islands and airfare is expensive.

"I don't have a plan yet. I'm not one of the organizers I've just been participating when I have the time," said Nick Chagnon, UH Manoa graduate student, who held a sign saying "Capitalism Sucks We Need a Revolution."

Still protestors need to know their rights.  The Honolulu Police Department says they'll be able to go anywhere the public can go although more details will be released soon, including protest zones designated by the Secret Service and State Department.

The ACLU of Hawaii is working on an APEC first amendment tool kit to help prevent arrests.

"Sometimes it may not always be clear when you may be crossing the line and your right to protest may become an illegal act," said Vanessa Chong, ACLU of Hawaii Executive Director. "The ACLU does not condone civil disobedience that is breaking the law even if it is to make a political statement."

"It's not merely a protest, but people have a right to express themselves.  I can anticipate, especially when the feds come into Hawaii that they will have very strict limitations on the right to protest. If we don't exercise that right we lose that right," said Poka Laenui, Hawaiian Independence Action Alliance, which helped organize the protest. "The statement needs to be made. People's voices need to be heard."

"If police felt they had to arrest me then so be it," said Alexis Ibarra, who held a sign saying 'Capitalism is the Crisis.'  "I think you have to do what you have to do and if I were to be arrested I would stand in solidarity with those arrested with me. I'm not too worried about it no."

Protestors may want to work on their plans.  This meeting was funded by APEC but was made up of scientists from around the world working on stopping global warming which is the same side as some of the protestors.

"One of the protestors had a sign about stop global warming and we are very concerned about global warming and climate change and we would like to see it stopped so certainly we don't feel like we're on the opposite side," said Michael Tippett, PhD., International Research Institute for Climate and Society at Columbia University.

Dr. Tippett is a participant of the meeting and found it ironic it was being targeted for the protest.

"It seems to be a failure to communicate and to know who the right target of their message is," said Dr. Tippett.

To read the ACLU's APEC first amendment toolkit click here.

Copyright 2011 Hawaii News Now. All rights reserved.