Government Leaders Meet with Concerned Citizens on Maui Over Public Health Requirements
Lieutenant Governor Josh Green joined other state officials and members of Maui Mayor Michael Victorino’s staff to meet with a group of concerned citizens on Maui on Thursday, Aug. 26.
“Participants shared their thoughts and opinions about some of the public health requirements for Department of Education students and State and County employees,” said Mayor Victorino, who described the private meeting as respectful and productive.
“We found common ground in our desire to protect the health and wellbeing of the entire Maui County community. It was very gracious of Lt. Gov. Green to take the time to travel to Maui for this important meeting and we thank him for that,” said Mayor Victorino.
Lt. Gov. Green made mention of the meeting during a morning Instagram post saying:
“I saw a lot of concerned Mama Bears and Papa Bears out there who are worried about their kids. This was a conversation between people who have different ideologies. As people know, I strongly support vaccination. But I heard from them that they’re worried. They have different beliefs, and some people don’t want to get vaccinated. They’re concerned about putting certain things into their bodies–that’s why they’re protesting. That’s why they may feel differently than I do about mask wearing,” said. Lt. Gov. Green.
Those who helped to set up the meeting say there were two parents in the meeting, and the rest were firefighters, police, paramedics, nurses, Hawaiʻi prison administrators, cardiologist, and a resources officer. “It wasn’t just concerned ‘mama and papa bears,'” sources tell Maui Now. The meeting reportedly included 11 representatives from different community leaders who came together.
“What I felt from that conversation is that there is some common ground out there, and we’ll have to find it. Because at the end of the day, we’re going to still live here in Hawaiʻi together…. You’ve all watched the protests that have gone on, and sometimes it’s been a little hot. And you know how I feel about that. Protesting at my home affects my neighbors or my family. But I also heard in people’s voices, their concern about things that I have said. When I’ve used words like ‘the pandemic of the unvaccinated,’ people in that group last night said that they felt hurt by that because they felt that they were alienated from other people that they love in their community, and I’m sorry for that,” said Lt. Gov. Green.
“I do think that that’s where the spread has occurred, and I worry about people. That’s why I say such things, because I want to see the spread come down and I don’t want to see our hospitals fill up,” said Lt. Gov. Green.
A small video clip of the meeting was posted on the Aloha Freedom Coalition Instagram account contained a brief comment from an audience member saying, “Sir, we are not threatening you. We are not threatening any of your neighbors. We are not threatening anyone on the streets.”
The participant continued saying: “That’s a loving group of people out there, concerned for their children, concerned for their family and their livelihood that you are taking away. All of these policies that are being put in place right now–your opinion, your opinion, their opinion–we’re living it. We are living testaments. We are living witnesses to everything. And we’ve been outside on the streets asking for a town hall with you for 18-19 months. I believed the fear in the beginning. I was sanitizing everything in my home, because I live in a multi-generational home. We are the statistics. We are the control group. Now you have to listen to that side. You must listen. Let’s meet. Let’s have follow up meetings. Come talk to your control group that refuses to take this shot, because we’re proof.”
On Aug. 9, demonstrators on Maui made a public call to Mayor Victorino asking him to host a town hall style meeting in which questions could be posed and answers given. It was unclear who specifically was invited to the meeting, but from the video clip, it appeared to be held in the Mayor’s lounge on the ninth floor of the Kalana O Maui Building in Wailuku.
A series of rallies have been held in Wailuku since the Department of Education announced that vaccines would be required for participation in school-sanctioned athletic activities this school year. It then drew more participants when mandates were issued calling for state and county workers to provide proof of their vaccination status or be subject to regular COVID-19 testing. Separate demonstrations were also held on other islands.
Lt. Gov. Green continued saying: “We have 425 people in the hospital, which actually is good news–it’s two people less than yesterday, but I say these things out of concern for one another. So people should still continue to express themselves. I believe in freedom of speech. I believe in peaceful protest. But I also believe that there has to be some open dialogue–that’s why I was grateful for yesterday.”
“Interestingly, those in the audience didn’t realize that when mandates are discussed, I’ve always felt that people should have the option for tests. It’s about bringing us together in some kind of common ground. Now I know there are a lot of upset feelings out there. There’s a lot of fear–fear in my home,” said Lt. Gov. Green, noting his own son is in quarantine right now because one of his classmates got sick with COVID. “I just care that they’re all well. I care that you’re all well. I care again that those Mama Bear and Papa Bear parents feel that they are a part of society,” said Lt. Gov.
At the end of the day, he said, “We are all one ʻohana. We have to love each other. We have to have the sprit of aloha, because that’s what sets us apart from most of the rest of the world,” said Lt. Gov. Green. He concluded saying, “Please do what you feel is best to not spread COVID. Whether that’s being careful with social isolation, whether you believe in masks–I do–so wear them please, especially when indoors, and get vaccinated if you believe you can do it. It’s very important in my opinion, but I do recognize every different belief,” he said.
*This story was updated to better reflect the make up of those in attendance at the private meeting. A previous version of this story identified attendees as concerned parents.