By Wendy Osher
A group of about 25 to 30 signwavers lined Ka’ahumanu Avenue in front of the Old Kahului Shopping Center on Sunday in support of the Occupy Wall Street movement against what demonstrators called corporate greed and government cutbacks.
“Our primary focus today is jobs, not cuts,” said Maui resident Karen Chun. “We’ve got a good jobs bill and it’s being held up because corporations are controlling our government,” she claimed.
Chun, who wore an “Occupy Maui 99%” t-shirt explained the wordage saying, “we want the corporations and corporate money out of our politics, so that we, regular people, who need jobs right now, have a responsive government, instead of a government that appears to be completely controlled by the corporations.”
She said she was pleased with the turnout saying, “Maui is not known for its high rate of political activism, so I’m just very very happy that we have a wide variety of people all coming together on the same issue of concern–that our government is not serving our interests anymore.”
The varying views presented included concerns over money infused into war and bank bail-outs. One sign read, “Clean Up Corporate Corruption in Washington,” while another read, “War is Costly, Peace is Priceless.”
One Kihei resident held a sign that said “Stop Political Bullies,” expressing aggravation with both Republican and Tea Party ideologies.
“I think that everyone is really disgusted with nothing happening in Washington,” they said.
The threat of a government shutdown earlier this year also touched a nerve with others who said, if ideologies are not satisfied, ”they try to shut the government down. They act like school children. We outlaw bullying in schools and won’t tolerate it, among kids,” yet, he said, we tolerate it in Washington. “It’s inexcusable.”
The Occupy Maui 99% Facebook page outlined the group’s mission stating, “Hawai’i has had a long tradition of malama ‘aina and the idea that we are all caretakers of the common land, air, wai and moana.”
The group criticizes corporations for exploitation in the islands saying, ”Maui is groaning from her wounds and her people are displaced. Thanks to the corporations’ greed, we’ve gone from ‘aina momona to ill health and poverty. Now we are fighting back,” the webpage states.
The Kahului rally comes on the same day as a separate protest at Monsanto in South Maui. The Kihei demonstration at the intersection of Kanani Road and the Piilani Highway, was organized in an effort to rally support for a GMO labeling law on Maui.
“I think there’s an overlap of concern about corporations doing things that affect our health and our well-being because of money; however, I think that the focus of this (demonstration) is jobs not cuts,” said Chun of the Central Maui sign-waving event.