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LETTER: Airport Police Tried to Block Free Speech Protest

November 2, 2018, 12:30 AM HST (Updated November 2, 2018, 12:34 AM)
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Hilo Airport Police on Thursday, Nov. 1st tried to block free speech protest of Military F-22 Raptor public tours at Hilo airport. Each of the 4 F-22s on display cost $412 million and $68,000 per hour of flight time. The protesters were saying such money should be used to feed the hungry, house the homeless, and help provide health care instead of building what they labelled “False Gods of Metal,” said Jim Albertini of Malu ‘Aina.

Albertini said “the Airport police tried unsuccessfully to block five peaceful protesters from holding signs and offering informational leaflets to members of the public attending public tours of F-22 Raptors.”

Albertini said “Hilo Airport Police officers Courtney Bello and G. Roque showed no respect for citizens first amendment rights to free-speech at the Public tour event of the F-22 Raptors.” Albertini said “the officers physically tried to grab leaflets being offered to the public and told us to go out to Highway 11 to protest.” Albertini said he asserted his right to free speech because the public was invited to the tours of the F-22s at Hilo airport and the protesters were part of the public exercising their right to peacefully dissent by holding signs and offering informational flyers, the same thing the military was doing.”  Albertini said, “finally a supervisor, Grace Castillo, arrived on scene and after conversation by phone with her boss, the police backed off and stopped their interference in the first amendment rights of citizens.”

Albertini said, “the five peaceful protesters then were able to peacefully picket the military F-22 event and offer leaflets to the public without any further problems from the police.”

Besides Albertini, the others were Kahu Ron Fujiyoshi, Danny Li, Donna Grabow and Stephen Paulmier.

Albertini said  “An important question for the media to ask is: Why wasn’t Senator Kai Kahele, who was promoting the F-22 event, there to protect and stand up for citizens right to peacefully protest.  Shame on Sen. Kahele for making us fight for what are suppose to be respected citizen rights.”

Letters, commentaries and opinion pieces are not edited by Big Island Now. 

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