Kuikalo - 10 (1)

Familiar messages, hopes at legislative opening day

“People Over Profits” message unites broad progressive coalition; hundreds converge on Hawai‘i’s Capitol

Photo: Kai Markell

Honolulu, HI (Wednesday January 20, 2016)—The People Over Profits Rally 2016 demonstrated the importance of valuing people and the planet over the interests of large corporations exploiting workers and the environment for private profit. It’s a familiar message.

Hundreds of people from all walks of life joined in a rally of more than 30 diverse organizations pushing for more progressive policies in Hawai‘i, including better protection of the environment, more limitations on the use of pesticides, housing for the homeless, a higher minimum wage, and respect for the rights of Native Hawaiians.

“The common theme from all the groups present at the Capitol today was: people first,” said Marti Townsend, Director for the Sierra Club of Hawai‘i.  “The people of Hawai‘i have a right to a clean environment, safe working conditions, and basic housing. Corporations do not have a right to profit at our expense.”

“The four international speakers for food justice highlighted for us just how connected we are across vast oceans,” said Gary Hooser, Executive Director for the Hawai‘i Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA). “We are all working towards the controls on industrial agriculture, the same protections for our air and water, the same bright future for our children.”

The event featured speakers from Mexico, Nigeria, Malaysia and Switzerland, performances by students from various charter schools, live music by Liko Martin and Laulani Teale, Jammerek, Hanohano Naehu and Paul Izak, as well as speakers from the roughly 30 different organizations concerned with the environment, Native Hawaiian rights, housing, prison reform, reproductive rights, workers’ rights, pesticide controls, wildlife protections and local control over electrical utilities.

The rally followed “Ku‘i at the Capitol,” a separate event hosted by Hui Aloha Aina Momona that supported more than 700 people in the unique experience of pounding taro into poi using a traditional pohaku (stone) and papaku‘i‘ai (poi board). Read about the importance of this event in Summit issue 1.1.