Report on Hilo Stryker EIS Hearing

Aloha Kakou,
     It's after ten PM on Tuesday, Sept. 25th and I'm just back from the Hilo Stryker hearing on the draft Environmental Impact Statement (EIS).  There were about 100 Big Island residents in attendance.  When our Malu Aina peace group arrived at 5PM at Aunty Sally's Luau Hale, the doors were locked with about 2 dozen military people inside.  We decided to set up our literature table and protest signs on the lanai outside the main entrance and greated people as they came.  We also played the DVD "Poison Dust" about the hazards of depleted uranioum (DU).  By 5:30 when the doors opened there were about 30-40 people milling about outside.
     Inside, there were sign up sheets to terstify on each of five chapters of the EIS and then a last sign up sheet marked "general comments."  The format was first to have informal viewing and Q&A at military displays, then to take testimony by those who signed up on the various chapters and finally, --  time permitting, to take general comments.
At 6:30 following a pule The military gave a brief overview of Chapter one and then speakers who signed up were called forward with a 4 minute time limit.
Moderator Annell Ameral asked each speakers if they were going to speak about Chapter one only.  She then stood guard right next to the podium were the speaker stood.  It was offensive and insulting.  People told her so. I believe I was the third speaker and I carried my "Shut down PTA" sign and placed it in front of the podium.  I noted that at the last Stryker forum held earlier this year, police attempted to prevent residents from opening the event with a pule and that we had to bring our own sound system to have a hearing and that no chairs were even provided for kupuna or anyone to sit.  So tonight's forum with pule, sound system and chairs showed progress.  I emphasized however that we reject ther entire premise of increased mlitarization in Hawaii, that we view and reject Strykers as modern chariots of empire used to fight an illegal and immoral war in Iraq and continue the illegal occcupation of Hawaii. Four years ago at the initial Stryker scoping meeting citizens testified for more than 6 hours in Hilo and made perfectly clear there was no aloha for a Stryker Brigade in Hawaii.  People wanted military clean up not build up.  We are saying the same thing today, but are you listening?  It's time for the military to pack it's bags and clean up it's mess.
After a few more speakers, all opposing Stryker, it became clear to Amarall and the military that people were no going to allow themselves to be treated as children.  A 10 minute recess was called and when the meeting resumed, the format of chapter testimony was abandoned and comments of any nature were accepted.  Dozens of people testifield and only one person supported the stationing of a Stryker Brigade in Hawaii.  Testimony in opposition was eloquent and was lead by Kanaka Maoli including several students at UH Hilo.  Several veterans spoke powerfully against Stryker.  People of all ages and backgrounds spoke against Stryker with great passion.  DU and other military toxins were emphasized though the testimony covered a wide range of military impacts since the military taking of Pearl Harbor in 1887 and the illegal overthrow of Hawaii in 1893.  Police were present but there were no problems except the heavy handed controlling attempts by Anell Amarall which sparked numerous comments from the audience about the need for a less dictatorial and more open format.
The meeting ended with a pule and singing of Hawaii Ponoi about 9:30.
Jim Albertini
Malu `Aina Center For Non-violent Education & Action
P.O. Box AB
`Ola`a (Kurtistown), Hawaii 96760
Phone 808-966-7622
email ja@interpac.net
www.malu-aina.org

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