100 People Marched through Kailua-Kona in Solidarity of ‘Black Lives Matter’
At least 100 people peacefully marched through Kailua-Kona Sunday afternoon in support of the Black Lives Matter movement.
Since the death of George Floyd, a 46-year-old black man killed while in police custody in Minnesota on May 25, the unrest of racial injustices has rippled throughout the nation. As a result, people have taken to the streets in protest, including here in Hawai‘i.
“If you don’t stand for something, you’ll fall for anything,” said Dexter Edwards Sunday, as he stood with people of all backgrounds along Ka‘ahumanu Highway. “We need to stand and be counted.”
Edwards, 57, moved to the Big Island 12 years ago. Originally from the Caribbean, Edwards has lived in Minnesota and New York. In his lifetime, Edwards has felt the prejudice just because of the color of his skin.
He explained how he’s been stopped by law enforcement just for being black. He’s been locked up overnight just for talking back.
Like him, Edwards’ children have participated in demonstrations in Minnesota, New York and Hilo.
“If we don’t lead by example, who’s going to show the children?” he questioned.
Kinsah Entu, 33, was also at Sunday’s march. As the group walked down Queen K, turned west on Henry Street, then up Palani Road, Entu was at the front, leading the way while beating a Djembe drum.
Entu said a bunch of people came together to make Sunday’s event possible.
“I think this is a perfect chance to be in solidarity with the rest of the world,” Entu said.
Entu said he got involved with the march because he has family on the mainland.
“We’re blessed to be in Hawai‘i and it’s very peaceful here,” Entu said. “I just wanted to show solidarity to our family on the mainland.”
While this movement was spurred by the death of Floyd and other black Americans in recent months, Entu said these issues affect everyone.
“You have a human right to say what you believe,” Entu said. “You have all these people of different colors here and it’s beautiful.”
Many Hawaiians also came out to protest for Black Lives Matter. Jen Brown was one of them.
Born and raised on the Big Island, 32-year-old Brown marched in the group proudly holding her cardboard sign, “Hawaiians IV BLM,” with her three children in tow ages, 10, 9 and 5.
Coming out to the march, Brown said, is the best way to teach her children about these injustices.
“I think it’s important to help them understand what this is all about,” she said. “They need to know, they need to be part of it and we need to do better.”
Brown also participated in the protest against the Thirty-Meter-Telescope, which was set to be constructed on Maunakea last summer. The Access Road to the mountain was blocked for months by demonstrators, who called themselves kia‘i, or protectors.
“I can’t be at the Mauna protest and not at this one,” Brown said.
Brown added Hawaiians are lucky. While the monarchy was overthrown and the islands eventually annexed to the United States, the people are still rooted in their culture.
Many black Americans don’t have that, Brown explained, as they were taken from the homes years ago.
“I think if Hawaiians are upset about the oppression we’ve experienced, they should be upset about this as well,” she said.
This march was in clear violation of Gov. David Ige’s order, as currently only groups less than 10 are allowed to gather due to the COVID-19 pandemic.
Most of the protesters donned face masks as they chanted and cheered. Keisha Colon, 21, of Kona, said those who came out on Sunday acknowledged the risk they took in contracting this deadly virus.
“We acknowledge the risk every day when we go out to the grocery store or pick up food that’s been touched by another person,” Colon said.
The 21-year-old explained that she is considered vulnerable to COVID-19 as she has suffered respiratory illnesses in the past.
Despite that, “it’s worth the risk,” she said.
“It’s nice to see the smiles,” Colon said of motorists and pedestrians passing by. “Seeing them honking their horns enthusiastically you know you’re not alone.”