New Mural Commemorates Dock Workers Struggles in Hilo
The Hawai‘i Department of Transportation (HDOT) Harbors Division unveiled a mural on Wednesday, Aug. 1, 2018, in the Hilo Harbor cruise passenger terminal commemorating the 80th anniversary of the Hilo Massacre; one of Hawai‘i’s earliest labor disputes. The unveiling and public presentation was done in conjunction with the annual observance by the International Longshore and Warehouse Union (ILWU) and other unions at Hilo harbor on Aug. 1.
The mural is entitled “Legacy of Solidarity” and is the work of Solomon Enos and Kai Kaulukukui. The art recounts the events of Aug. 1,1938, and connects them to other historic occasions of community unity and cohesion significant to Hilo and Hawai‘i Island.
“This mural is dedicated to the working men and women of Hawaii who built the union movement. We honor their sacrifice and heroism,” proclaimed Gov. David Ige. “We have all benefited from the legacy of those who stood by the principle of labor solidarity, and we are grateful for the contributions they made in support of all workers in Hawai‘i.”
The events of the day 80-years ago began as a peaceful assembly sympathetic to Honolulu dockworkers who were on strike. It has been estimated that the 200 demonstrators, mostly young men and women from several different local unions, attempted to conduct a passive demonstration that began as a march to Hilo harbor to protest the arrival and unloading of a ship. The group was met by local law enforcement and the confrontation escalated to a situation in which demonstrators were gassed, hosed, bayonetted and shot. This event has come to be known as the “Hilo Massacre” or “Bloody Monday.”
“The rights and privileges we enjoy as workers today are a result of the commitment and determination of the brave men and women that came before,” stated Wesley Furtado, International Vice President-Hawai‘i, International Longshore and Warehouse Union. “This mural captures the essence of what our organization is about and will serve as a source of pride for generations to come.”