ADB protesters get OK to march
|||Special report: ADB in Hawai'i|
By Scott Ishikawa and Johnny Brannon
Advertiser Staff Writers
The city and American Civil Liberties Union reached a settlement yesterday paving the way for a protest march next Wednesday from Magic Island to Kapi'olani Park during the Asian Development Bank conference at the Hawai'i Convention Center.
The city had wanted to impose restrictions during the conference that would keep protesters at least 100 feet away from the convention center and ban demonstrators from the Ala Wai Promenade next to the center, bank opponents said.
Under the settlement, protest groups will be granted a city permit for a parade that will include an hour-long demonstration in front of the center.
Portions of the route along Atkinson Drive, Kapi'olani Boulevard and Kalakaua Avenue will be closed during the march from noon to 2:15 p.m.
Protest organizers estimate the march will draw 2,000 to 5,000 people, the largest scheduled event by anti-ADB groups for the conference, which begins Monday and ends May 11.
The conference is expected to draw about 3,000 delegates and observers from 60 countries. President Bush will not attend, White House sources suggested yesterday.
The conference has triggered the state's largest single-event police operation.
Law enforcement officials maintain, however, they expect protests surrounding the Asian Development Bank meeting to be peaceful.
"Our philosophy is to be cooperative and to protect everyone's rights," Honolulu Police Chief Lee Donohue said yesterday.
Donohue said police would be highly visible during the meeting, and that top police commanders would directly oversee officers in the field.
The ACLU, representing ADBwatch, an umbrella organization for groups that oppose the bank's policies, had filed a federal lawsuit against the city complaining that the rights of protesters would be violated under city restrictions. A hearing had been scheduled for tomorrow on the ACLU's request for a court order to force the city to lift restrictions.
Yesterday's agreement permits peaceful demonstrations on the Ala Wai promenade next to the center, from Kalakaua Avenue to the makai end of the center.
"That was a huge sticking point because it allows people to demonstrate at the rear of the center, where they can be seen and heard," ACLU legal director Brent White said.
The settlement also allows as many as 10 demonstrators under police watch to be about 10 feet from where bank delegates and meeting attendees will enter and exit the convention center.
City Corporation Counsel David Arakawa called the settlement reasonable.
"The agreement benefits all parties involved as it strikes a balance between the city's interest in maintaining public safety and the protesters' interest in having their message heard," Arakawa said.
Assistant Police Chief Boisse Correa said yesterday the sidewalk and at least one traffic lane outside the convention center's main entrance will be blocked to the general public for the week.
City officials said additional road closures and bus service rerouting would be announced at the end of the week.
City spokeswoman Carol Costa recommended that commuters and delivery drivers seek alternate routes into the Waikiki area and avoid Kapi'olani Boulevard intersections with Kalakaua Avenue and Atkinson Drive.
Correa said the 'ewa end of Ala Moana Beach Park would be closed for police operations that he declined to specify, but that the beach, restrooms and other park facilities would not be affected. Police may close part of Ala Wai Park as well, including the clubhouse and baseball field.