Had an interesting chat last week with County of Maui Communications Director Rod Antone. We talked about a number of things going on with Maui and the current mayoral administration, but soon our talk got around to a recent write-up in this space on the Occupy Monsanto protests in Kihei that took place the last week in January.
“Do you really think the county cares about the protests?” Antone asked me.
According to Antone, Maui police officers were not “harassing” the protesters, who were standing on Pi’ilani Highway in front of Monsanto’s Kihei headquarters, wearing masks and waving signs opposing the company’s extensive genetically modified organism (GMO) research and development.
“All the officers said was not to stand too close to the highway and not to camp there,” Antone said. “Otherwise, they can stand in the hot Kihei sun all they want.”
As far as the video footage shot by the protesters showing a Maui police officer telling them they needed a permit, Antone said that was for a porta-potty. “But they can’t camp there, so they couldn’t get a permit for one,” he said.
Given that we’re entering a political season, in which candidates and their supporters often stand on roadsides, mere inches away from speeding cars while waving signs at passing motorists, it’ll be interesting to see if Maui PD takes their safety into the same consideration as the Monsanto protests.
But Antone also added that some of the protesters visited one of Mayor Alan Arakawa’s County on Your Corner meetings, which was held on Jan. 28 at the Queen Ka’ahumanu Center. Antone said they met with mayor and Public Works Director David Goode, among others. Antone also said that a few of the protesters also visited Arakawa’s office (see photo), though he said that he didn’t know what to make of the gentleman on the right (who’s also holding a copy of MauiTime).
“See that plastic thing?” Antone asked. “What is that?”
Well, I’d say it’s pretty obvious what it is: it’s an octopus made of trash bags. And if you can think of a better way to gain publicity for your cause than by draping an octopus made of trash bags around your head and shoulders, I’d like to hear it.
Photo: Rod Antone