PROFILE: The Woman Behind ‘A Day Without Hawaiians’
Lori Halemano was the first of three wahine (woman) to be arrested on Mauna Kea during the first Thirty Meter Telescope standoff on June 24, 2015.
Four years later, she is still supporting the protection of Mauna Kea with a call to action of a statewide hospitality industry boycott that took place this past Monday, July 22, 2019. (The vendors that participated in support of the protectors are listed below.)
Her call to action focused on businesses and employees—hula dancers, chefs and cooks, storytellers, bus drivers, hotel employees, lei greeters and musicians. (See her Call to Action below.)
Approximately 40 businesses across the state participated, including 13 on the Big Island, 26 on other Hawaiian Islands and even a Hawaiian plate lunch restaurant in Wichita, Kansas.
“I came up with the idea of the boycott while thinking about how I could contribute or help from 2000-plus miles away in California,” she said. “I thought, what better way to get the attention of the state and the governor than to have a day without Hawaiians—there would be no Hawai‘i without Hawaiians.
She is one of the administrators for the Facebook group 808 Viral, which currently has 182,000 followers.
“I used that platform to do a live video calling to action the boycott of the hospitality industry—and it went viral [see video below],” she said. “I received many phone calls and Facebook messages from different vendors, musicians and others within the industry who said that they were in full support of the call to action. I even received a message from a councilman on Hawai‘i Island who commended me for my efforts and stated that their ‘ohana restaurant would be closing down in support of the boycott.”
She added, “Other businesses used the hashtag #RespectMaunaKea that I had asked supporters to use. That is how I was able to find out what businesses were supporting the boycott.”
Recounting her 2015 arrest, Halemano said a Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources officer singled her out in a crowd of probably a hundred people.
“He passed them and came straight for me,” she said. “He dug his hand into my shoulder and yanked my arm with force. The rest of the DLNR officers and Hawai‘i County Police Department officers were kind and treated us with care. I’m sure that it’s just as hard for them to be doing their job.”
Halemano fought her case in court and the judge dismissed it.
She had applied for an expungement of that arrest record and just received the granted expungement from the Attorney General’s office yesterday, July 24, 2019—exactly four years to the day of her arrest.
“I was living on O‘ahu at the time and first learned of the fight to protect Mauna Kea through social media,” she said. “At that time, I created a Facebook group called ‘We Are Mauna Kea’ to help spread the message of the movement and to help educate people on the issue.”
We Are Mauna Kea currently has about 18,000 supporters in the group from all over the world.
“I felt a calling to go to Mauna Kea, although I had never been there in all of my years as being born and raised in Hawai‘i,” she said. “Without letting anyone know and having taken the day off, I booked a flight to the Big Island and went to the mauna.”
That is the day she was arrested.
“That day has forever changed my life,” Halemano said.
She is currently back in California, making her way back to Hawai‘i Island to stand at Mauna Kea where she plans to speak with other leaders and see how she can be of further help.
“It will help me to better strategize my next steps, in critically thinking ‘outside of the box,’” Halemano said.
When asked how she felt about Gov. David Ige designating Hawai‘i County Mayor Harry Kim as lead negotiator in the standoff with protesters over construction of the TMT, she said she was hopeful.
“I’m pleased that Gov, Ige has ‘passed the buck’ onto Mayor Harry Kim. I feel that Governor Ige lacks the leadership qualities that the people of Hawai’i need and I’m hopeful that Mayor Kim will make the right decision,” she said. “He has been to Mauna Kea to speak with the kia‘i and has shown more respect to the protectors and for our culture, than Gov. Ige ever has. I’m hopeful for a positive outcome.”
VIDEO: Lori Halemano organized a boycott of the hospitality industry July 22. VC: Lori Halemano
CALL TO ACTION FOR STATEWIDE PEACEFUL BOYCOTT
Myself, along with the support of HULI, KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance, Ka Lāhui Hawai’i Political Action Committee and the Protectors of Mauna Kea are organizing a statewide shut down of the Hospitality Industry to commence tomorrow July 22, 2019. We ask all within the Hospitality Industry who share our culture with tourists, to stand with us by halting all services for one day.
HULA DANCERS – cease all performances
CHEFS/COOKS – cease meal preparation for lū’au’s
STORYTELLERS – cease sharing cultural stories at hotels and other events. Instead, educate them about the significance of Mauna Kea
BUS DRIVERS/TOUR OPERATORS – cease shuttling Tourists to events and stop all tour operations
HOTEL EMPLOYEES – take a leave day or vacation
LEI GREETERS AT AIRPORT – cease giving lei. Rather, share with them of our plight to protect our sacred mountain
MUSICIANS – cease all performances for Tourists and use your voice to share our message via social media
We ask that you take the day off to come to Mauna Kea and stand with us. If you are not able to, you can contribute in other ways such as printing fliers and distributing throughout various Tourist destinations across the State. Business Owners, please post on your website or social media account, the reason that you are shutting down service for the day and help to educate them of our beautiful culture and why we are so passionate to protect our lands. Encourage Visitors to join us.
Please educate our Visitors with aloha and also ask that they support local Vendors that are supporting the Protectors of Mauna Kea. It’s time that Governor Ige and the State, listens to the people and respects the host culture. It’s time to stop the abuse of our Aloha. It’s time to huli and put the people before profit. The time is NOW to take a stance, in solidarity.
Hui Aloha ‘Āina.
Kia‘i o Mauna Kea
Facebook Group ‘We Are Mauna Kea’
Email: [email protected]
KAHEA: The Hawaiian-Environmental Alliance
HULI (Hawai’i Unity and Liberation Institute)
Ka Lāhui Hawai’i Political Action Committee (KPAC)
VENDORS WHO PARTICIPATED IN THE BOYCOTT
Old Lahaina Luau Maui
Skyline Eco-Adventures Maui
The Feast at Lele Maui
David Bailey & Love Sound Maui Musicians
Anela Whitt Vacation Rental Cleaner
Makana Cameron Musician
Edible Hawaiian Islands Wailuku, Maui
Island Breeze Productions Sheraton Keaau
Noble House Hawaiian Plate Lunch Wichita, Kansas
Auto Body Engineering Spec Kane’ohe, O’ahu
Liko Lehua at Pauahi Hawai’i Island
Shaka Detailing Maui
Sweet Pea Services Maui
Lanipo Farms Kaua’i
The Kauai Store Kaua’i
Maui Surf Lessons LLC Maui
Maui Stand Up Paddle Boarding Maui
Maui Kayak Adventures Maui
Cathy’s Angelite,Crystals, Miracles & Joy
Maui Mermaid Adventures
Stars and Roots
Kanaka Kava Kailua, Kona
Polynesian Adventure Tours Shut down services in Maui, O’ahu, Kaua’i & Hawai’i Island
Short N Sweet Bakery & Cafe Hilo
Maui Tour Maui
Valley Isle Excursions Maui
Island Bookmarks Hilo
The Jeff Gomes Gallery Hilo
So Juicy Hilo Hilo
Hawaiian Paddle Sports LLC Maui
Waialua Lunch Wagon O’ahu
Made on Maui Maui
Native Guide Hawai’I Hawai’i Island
Sheraton Kona – Haleo Luau Kona
Aloha Royale Hospitality Hilo
Aloha Style Weddings Makaha, O’ahu
Lahaina Custom Guitars Maui
Valley Isle Excursions Maui
All Kine Aloha Pahoa
Nicoco Hawaiian Gelato Pahoa