A small group of what some bystanders described as “graying hippies” gathered outside the Merrill Lynch building in Hilo, Hawaii, on Monday afternoon to back the “Occupy Wall Street” movement that has been building and spreading to other cities since it started in New York City two weeks ago.
The benign radicals sat listlessly on stools and chairs holding signs reminiscent of Woodstock that read Stop the Wars and Make Love Not War. They even threw in a handful of signs protesting corporate greed and occasionally walked in the road to stop traffic.
Toward the end of the brief protest, a few younger protestors showed up. Around 75 came to the event that was promoted and organized in part by Jim Albertini, a former government protestor who runs a “peace” institute called the Center for Non-violent Education and Action – and a Malu ‘Aina (which means Land of Peace), which is a farm with organic produce.
Albertini has received $231, 788 in state tax dollars to expand his property Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-Violent Education and Action and the Hawaii Island Land Trust, located in the Puna district 10 miles south of Hilo.
The former Pennsylvanian was recognized last year with the 2010 Pax Christi USA Teacher of Peace Award. In its web profile of Albertini, the organization recognizing him notes: “He has been arrested dozens of times for non-violent resistance to war and injustice, including serving more than 20 months in prison for his civil disobedience actions. In 1972 he was arrested with author Jim Douglass for pouring blood on top secret electronic warfare files at the headquarters of the Pacific Air Force at Hickam Air Force Base. In 1984 he attempted to block a nuclear armed warship from entering Hilo Harbor in violation of Hawaii County’s historic nuclear-free zone law.”
While these Hilo protestors are many miles away from the thousands of people camping out in New York City, they have one thing in common – they are displeased with what is happening in the United States of America.
However, their message is mixed, decrying everything from so called corporate greed and social inequality to high unemployment and a weak economy. Some want to end “nukes” and war and others are targeting banks and the wealthy and wanting to end “corporate dominance.”
In Hilo’s protests, there were no arrests. Journalist Nancy Cook Lauer said police showed up and has a report on her news web site – All Hawaii News (http://www.allhawaiinews.com/2011/10/new-hawaii-program-aims-to-stem.html)
But the lack of arrests is in sharp contrast to 700 protestors were arrested in New York on Saturday for blocking for several hours traffic on the Brooklyn bridge. Those arrests seemed to wake a movement in other cities including Boston, Chicago, Los Angeles and across the Midwest. The normally sleepy town of Hilo was not spared.
The Hilo group chose the Merrill Lynch building because they said it was “bought by Bank of America in 2009 and deeply involved in the financial crisis, bank bail outs, and bonuses.”
They claim to represent the “99% percent in our local community who support for the Occupy Wall Street movement against Corporate greed and influence.”