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The Honolulu Advertiser

Updated at 3:38 p.m., Friday, October 5, 2007

Protesters lose in halting Superferry security zone

Advertiser Staff

A federal judge today denied a request that would have blocked the U.S. Coast Guard from enforcing a security zone in Nawiliwili Harbor on Kaua'i that it created after protesters twice blocked the Hawaii Superferry from entering the harbor.

U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor denied the request for a temporary restraining order against the security zone saying, among other things, that it allows both Superferry protesters and supporters to exercise their First Amendment rights on land around the harbor.

Among his arguments, Big Island attorney Lanny Sinkin said the zone was invalid because it was designed to prevent terrorism and subversive acts but served to deny free speech by keeping protesters out of the water.

Government attorneys successfully countered that Coast Guard officials did not focus on terrorism or subversive acts in creating the zone.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Derrick Watson told Gillmor that protesters have vowed to use their bodies to again try to block the Superferry and that the Coast Guard followed guidelines that allow such security zones to prevent accidents.

Sinkin said after Gillmor's ruling that he would appeal to the Ninth Circuit Court of Appeals using his same arguments.