BY LARRY FENTON – I went to the protest against the Hyatt in Waikiki Thursday afternoon being put on by Unite Here Local 5, the hotel workers union headed by Erik Gill.

They were protesting the Hyatt on July 22 because they have not yet signed a contract with them as other hotel chains have.  I was told that the Hyatt chain was sold by the Pritzer family and now is in Wall Street hands with Goldman Sachs as the major stock holder.  This protest was nationwide and many people in mainland cities were participating.  It was the largest protest I have ever seen in Hawaii with well over 1,000 in attendance.

I first joined the protesters and was given a sign and marched with them until we were directed to a staging area for the “grand finale.”

Eighty-three people wearing red protest shirts walked in pairs with arms locked onto Kalakaua Avenue in front of the Hyatt.  I decided to join them and went out into the street.

The police were there in force since they knew all about the protest. I was told to go to the back of the line where Eric Gill was.  I sat down in the street next to him and some of the other protesters.

Eric and I briefly argued as to my presence there and I was asked to leave their protest.  I informed him it was a public street and I had just as much right to protest as they did.

I held up a campaign sign for my candidacy to city council.

The police ordered us to disburse and if we did not we would be arrested.

A police officer told me I was under arrest and I was told to stand up.

Plastic hand cuffs were placed on me and I was asked for my ID.

Afterward we were all placed in a transport van and sent to the Beretania street jail for booking.

Local 5 posted $50 bail and I was released.

I spoke again with Eric afterwards and explained that I was not familiar with the concept of a protester protesting another protester.  At the time I thought his stance was as hilarious as it was nonsensical.

I have participated in many protests and no one before him had ever complained about my presence.  He explained that all the protesters had been screened and background checks made to accommodate the officials at Honolulu Hale.

My presence there may upset either the police or city officials who they need to coordinate with when protesting because they weren’t expecting me.

I am vice chair of the Democratic Party Labor Caucus and also running for City Council District 6.  I was at the protest to support workers and promote my campaign for public office.

I handed out flyers on my campaign and held their protest signs as well.

I think it is important for workers to stand up for each other and participate in protests whether or not their particular union or non-union event is involved.

Larry Fenton is a candidate for Honolulu City Council and vice chair of the Democratic Party Labor Caucus. Reach him at lfenton@hawaii.rr.com or log onto his web site http://www.votefenton.com/


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