So, word on the streets of Kauai is that if you were among those arrested for blocking the Superferry from entering Nawiliwili Harbor August 26 and 27th… the cops might be looking for you! Originally, arrested protesters were released due to a mix of reasons including the fact that, for many, officers filed the charges too late, and for others that there was, as reported in the StarBulletin, “insufficient evidence to bring charges because the police were distracted, focusing on the public’s safety.” There were also claims that there were too many discrepancies between the Police Officers and Coast Guard for charges to stick. Many on land were arrested if they were wet, not because they were specifically seen protesting in the water – while protesters on land tried to assist by giving them dry clothing before being spotted by the cops. Others, like surf artist extraordinaire Steve Valiere (dad of surf pros Evan and Shane [who was also arrested]), who was actually knocked of his board by Coast Guard boats and his board confiscated (and still not returned) is being cautious. As reported in the The Garden Island (kauaiworld.com) article “Protestor Charges Not Filed in Time”:
However, the lack of closure is being cited as unsettling by some defendants, as the possibility remains that they could be re-arrested and brought back to court. …Seven defendants made District Court Judge Trudy Senda’s call list, a list initially created to help expedite cases that might otherwise fall through the system’s cracks. The system was designed roughly two years ago so that those who had been arrested and assigned court dates but whose charges hadn’t been filed would be taken off the court docket. However, those who make the call list don’t necessarily have their cases dismissed, as prosecutors have the option to re-prioritize them.
Thoughts are that Lingle and company have every intention to let that baby cruise -despite the touring Legislative meetings in which a majority of the Hawai’i public made pleas for an EIS before allowing the Superferry to sail. And “re-prioritizing” these arrests will make those charged more fearful of getting involved; because instead of a misdemeanor they will be facing a more severe felony charge if are arrested again.
As Kauai activist Hope Kallai aptly put it, they’re skimming our front lines [of active protesters]. So far as I know, only Dayne Gonsalves and Rob Pa (leaders of the Kingdom of Atooi, who recently brought the Superferry issue, and sovereignty, all the way to Washington and therefore on the list of activists to watch) have been re-arrested and out on bail, though others have been unofficially warned. There’s no word if Police are threatening to go after the four children who were also arrested during the protest – though no one would put it past the powers that be to use them to dissuade the parents, as Lingle made it clear parents would be charged with child endangerment if their kids were found protesting again.
Hopefully a lawyer who’s not too busy doing pro-bono on the Pflueger case on Kauai or otherwise busy with Superferry actions will step in to help those in Kauai fighting these charges.
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Postscript: I emailed Kauai Senator Gary Hooser concerning this subject and asked if he had any further information or personal opinion regarding the matter. As one of the few true representatives of his constituents concerning the Superferry, Senator Hooser is being flooded with emails, and warns, though all will be reviewed, due to volume responses may be delayed. Despite that, in less than 15 minutes he wrote back:
Thank you for the email on this matter. Yes, I read in the paper of the arrests but have no additional information at this time. I was surprised also and thought all of these cases had been settled or thrown out. The Kauai Police Department is part of the County and I have no control over County issues however I will try to find out more about this. gh
Senator Gary L. Hooser; Senate Majority Leader; Hawai’i State Senate; Seventh Senatorial District – Islands of Kaua’i & Ni’ihau; Office: (808) 586-6030 Toll Free: 274-3141, ext. 66030; Fax: (808) 586-6031 Email: firstname.lastname@example.org
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(art by -arrested Kauai protester- Steven Valiere)