ALOHA MEANS RESPECT
Bul-ly: (Verb) To seek to harm or intimidate. (Noun) One who habitually seeks to harm or intimidate.
In “Ige shares details of death threats, warns both sides of TMT conflict to cool it” (September 14, 2019), a protester is quoted saying, without details or examples, “Every single time that we come to these rallies, pro-TMT people come to our side of the street to instigate and be antagonistic.” I have been at every recent pro-TMT rally on Oahu so far because they are organized by my group, Imua TMT. The only person I have ever seen cross Beretania from the pro-TMT “side” to the protester “side” has been me. This protester (who I am quite sure I met at the last rally) must be referring to me.
There is a lot to unpack in that quote.
Imua TMT has never insisted that the protesters should attend our rallies. We welcome them with aloha and facts, of course, if they follow the law. But it has been 100% the protesters’ choice to attend our rallies every time.
At the first 3 of our 4 rallies the protesters tried to be physically disruptive. Imua TMT obtains permits from the State Capitol for our rallies covering the entire area fronting the Capitol along Beretania. Despite that, the protesters tried 3 times (as far as I know) to assemble on the Capitol-side of Beretania only to be asked to leave by either Capitol security and/or HPD. The protesters even tried to get fancy and argue that our permit did not apply to the (City) sidewalk adjacent to the (State) capitol (never mind the irony that the protesters supporting an illegal blockade of Mauna Kea Access Road are super-duper legal sticklers when it benefits them). At most of the rallies, protestors have crossed to our side to film (without permission) people on cell phone and/or video camera equipment. At our first rally one man drinking clear liquid from a glass bottle stood right behind one of our speakers while he was thanking our group and complained loudly about our rally. Another man in a malo walked by screaming profanities clearly meant for us. None of this is surprising, of course, considering the bullying and intimidation we have seen from the protesters online and in the community. These things are the foreseeable consequences of playing the race and religion cards coupled with a highly-visible social media campaign. But it is shockingly hypocritical to see a quote from a protester claiming that I was the one being antagonistic.
Here is what I have done. I crossed Beretania at our last 3 rallies. For the second and third, I did so to pass out water because my neighbors on the other side of the street were out in the sun for hours standing up for their beliefs. I disagree with them wholeheartedly, but I wholeheartedly agree with their right to speak their mind and peaceably assemble. I also wanted to emphasize – to everyone – that we can disagree without dehumanizing each other. One tutu wanted an Imua TMT shirt, so I gave her the one off my back. Another guy took a selfie with me. No one seemed intimidated or scared of me, although I will grant you some people seemed surprised!
The reason why I did all of this is, quite frankly, because I was inspired by Max Holloway. When the TMT protests started and celebrities started jumping on the protester bandwagon, the only one who had the courage to admit that there was more to learn about the issue was Max. He emphasized that, no matter what the issue was, we shouldn’t fight. He pointed out that the world is watching now, but when global attention moves on, we will all still be neighbors.
At our last rally, I did not have any water. All I could do was cross the street and say aloha to my neighbors, which is exactly what I did. I am sad that this individual interpreted my actions as investigatory and antagonistic. I saw other people I knew among the protesters, or knew my family, and had pleasant conversations with them, and I hope to have future pleasant conversations with them. This individual’s decision to interpret my actions in the most negative light possible, and then provide a one-sided quote to a reporter, will not stop me from continuing to positively engage with my neighbors.
The future of Mauna Kea is an emotionally-charged issue with strong feelings and passionate people spearheading protests, rallies, and battle cries on both sides of the mountain issue. Everyone has a right to their opinion and should feel the FREEDOM to express those opinions.
Unfortunately, the melting pot of Hawaii has boiled over and many Native Hawaiians and locals feel their voices stifled deep beneath the pressures of physical threats. This issue is NOT EXCLUSIVE to TMT.
Most of us share in the historic frustrations, sadness, and anger over the issues of sovereignty and statehood. TMT has polarized this discussion between the Native Hawaiians and locals who embrace the innovative history of the Hawaiian People and those seeking cultural and political independence.
IMUA TMT does not condone bullying. In fact, we condemn anyone (supporter or protester) who uses derogatory comments, racism, or bad behavior, to stifle the conversation.
ALOHA MEANS RESPECT.
Respect the Land.
Respect the Mauna.
Respect the People.
Respecting the people also means respecting your adversary.
There is enough space on the mountain for all of us, but there is no room for those who do not treat others with respect.
The Imua TMT Safehouse is a resource for anyone who wants to join the conversation but feels intimidated to speak or has been bullied regarding the TMT conversation.
Saf Haus: (Noun) A place of refuge, a safe harbor, a place to relax and get reoriented
Use the Safehouse to:
- Join the conversation in a safe way
- Ask questions to get a better understanding of all issues regarding TMT
- Report bullying, threats, and bad behavior
Imua TMT stands united in our mission to move the dialogue forward without violence or bullying. We expect anyone supporting Imua TMT to do the same.