Passing this report by Jim Albertini along....
Report on Oct. l0, 2009 protest at Pohakuloa Training Area
At l0 AM, Saturday, Oct. l0th, prior to going to the main gate area of Pohakuloa Training Area (PTA) we gathered at Mauna Kea State park, l mile east of the main gate along a new section of Saddle Road. A person who arrived from the Kona side reported that at the PTA main gate, there were about l7 pro America empire, "Win the War" flag wavers. They had about 25 very large American flags lining both sides of the PTA main gate on the Mauna Loa side of the highway. One guy was even dressed as a George Washington minuteman.
Our peace group decided not to get in any shouting match or confrontation with the pro America empire group. We decided to set up on the opposite (Mauna Kea) side of the highway fronting the main gate. We were l4 in number. When we arrived at the main gate area, we first joined hands in a pule. Base commander Lt.Col. Warline Richardson came across to greet us and photograph us. We put up the Hawaiian flag, and peace symbol flags and set up our large plywood signs saying: Stop the war, End occupation, The Kingdom Lives, No Strykers, Radiation Cover-Up. Stop the Bombing. We had lots of smaller signs too about Depleted Uranium radiation hazards, the war, etc. Once set up we stayed about 45 minutes being taunted and insulted in the name of freedom by various people on a bullhorn across the street. Occasionally they sang the Star Spangled Banner and God Bless America. Though we had our own sound system in the truck, we decided against a verbal dual across the highway. Andrew Walden, former editor of the right-wing newspaper --The Hawaii Free Press, which has since folded, appeared to be the leader of the right wing pro America empire group.
Our peace group had decided ahead of time we would only stay 45 minutes at the main gate and then go closer to were troops were blasting away with big cannons (l55 howitzers) toward Mauna Loa, about 5 miles west of the main gate area. The pro America empire group stayed at the main gate. As we drove west from the main gate, we could see several groupings of what appeared to be 4or 5 howitzers each with tent coverings and 50-l00 troops in each group We stopped at about the 42 mile marker near one of the howitzer groups closest to the Saddle Road and set up our signs, flags, etc for another hour. We had 2 radiation monitors operating and we did get slightly elevated readings when military trucks or machine gunner humves drove by kicking up dust, but nothing close to the 4-5 times background readings of May 29, 2007 with dust devils come directly off the Davy rockett DU impact ranges toward us at Mauna Kea State Park where we were protesting that day.
Following the protest we had a picnic at Mauna Kea park, talked story, and headed home.
This was the second time our protest at PTA generated a pro America empire showing. About a year ago there was a similar showing at the old main gate area. PTA now has this big new highway and new main gate area. The road from Hilo to Kona has been pushed north hugging the slopes of Mauna Kea, which actually enlarges PTA's training area. It is still not clear where the route of the new Saddle Road will go from the 42 mile marker westward to the Mamalahoa Hwy. Will it follow the existing old Saddle Road or cut south through the the Army's newly acquired 24,000-acres for the Stryker maneuver area? I understand those plans are due to be announced shortly.
There will be a Peace organizing meeting on Monday, Oct. l2th from 7-9PM at the Keaau Community Center where we can discuss and evaluate the protest as well as plan for future activities. Please come and pass the word to others. We need to enlarge our ranks. Mahalo.
Malu ‘Aina Center for Non-violent Education & Action
Kurtistown, Hawai’i 96760
Visit us on the web at: www.malu-aina.org