YOU CAN MARCH, BUT NOT CARRY SIGNS
Look carefully at the photo of Martin Luther King, Jr. Taken in 1963, it shows King’s march on Washington. He and his supporters were calling for an end to segregated schools, buses and hiring; an end to poll taxes and voting suppression. They wanted an end to all the civil rights abuses that, to some extent, still plague this country. Ironically, they were marching and carrying signs, which is illegal today in the County of Maui.
That’s right, kids: you can march through Wailuku Town on Monday, Jan. 21 as part of Martin Luther King, Jr. Day, but don’t bring a sign.
At first, I didn’t believe the Jan. 9 email from the African Americans on Maui Association:
“We need to alert all Parade Participants per the Maui Police Department: It is a County Ordinance that no one is allowed to carry signs, but may carry photos of Dr. King or banners of their organizations. Please be advised that the Maui Police Department will issue tickets should anyone carry signage.”
Seriously? Such a law–which all but spits on the 1st Amendment to the Constitution–actually appears in the County Code? Turns out it does.
“Maui County Code section 12.42 governs sign waving in the County of Maui,” said Maui Police Lt. Wayne Ibarra in a Jan. 14 email.
According to Ibarra, MCC section 12.42.030 states that “No person shall hold or display a sign within the right-of-way boundaries of any highway in any manner which draws, is intended to draw, or may draw the attention of occupants of motor vehicles using a highway.”
What’s more, the law quoted by Ibarra says the person and/or sign cannot be:
• Within 50 feet of any traffic control signal;
• Within 20 feet of a pedestrian crosswalk;
• Closer than six feet to the edge of the pavement or other surface of the highway.
If all of this sounds upside-down, backwards and dumb, then that just means you’re paying attention. (See Picks for more info on the march.)
COUNTY PAYS $40,000 TO SETTLE 2006 TASER CASE
Speaking of the Maui PD, it was almost refreshing this week to read that our fair county is leading the legal way in terms of what constitutes police excessive force where Tasers are concerned.
“Maui County has disclosed it paid $40,000 last year to settle a federal lawsuit by a Maui woman who was shot by a Taser gun by one of four police officers in 2006 at her Wailuku home,” the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported on Jan. 14.
According to previous media accounts, on Aug. 23, 2006 Maui Police Officer Ryan Aikala attempted to arrest Troy Mattos for an alleged domestic dispute. As Aikala did, Mattos’ wife Jayzel (who is 5’ 3” and weighs 120 pounds) attempted to intervene.
“As Jayzel Mattos put up her arm to keep Aikala from pressing against her chest, he said, ‘Are you touching an officer?’ and shot her with his Taser without warning,” the Star-Advertiser reported on May 29, 2012. According to an Oct. 18, 2011 Maui Now story, the other three officers were Darren Agarano, Halayudha MacKnight and Stuart Kunioka.
The officers then arrested Jayzel, charging her with harassment and obstructing a government operation. Later, they dropped the charges.
Mattos then sued in federal court and won. Even though Taser law was still new at that time, the court ruling that her constitutional rights had been violated (they also ruled the officers were immune from prosecution because of the lack of legal precedent). After the county failed to get the U.S. Supreme Court to review the ruling, they negotiated a confidential settlement with Mattos. When the Star-Advertiser filed a public records request for the settlement terms with the County of Maui, officials gave the paper a copy of the $40,000 check they wrote her.
That’s the nuts and bolts of the settlement, as unearthed by the Star-Advertiser. But the real shocking (sorry) part of the story came at the end with the revelation that the Mattos case is now case law across the nation:
“Law enforcement officers won’t be able to claim future immunity in the future because they now have a court decision that sets standards on the use of the Tasers, [Mattos’ attorney Eric] Seitz said,” reported the paper. “Those standards include considerations such as whether the person is resisting arrest, the seriousness of the offense and other levels of force that police might use to subdue the person.”
GOV. APPOINTS JUSTIN WOODSON 9TH DISTRICT STATE REP.
The day before the state Legislative term began, Governor Neil Abercrombie appointed Justin Woodson to take over the 9th District state representative seat covering Kahului.
“Justin’s experience as a small business owner and his familiarity with the state Legislature will ensure continued and strong representation for the residents of Maui,” Abercrombie said on Jan. 15.
According to a Jan. 15 Maui News story posted online, Woodson–who owns Woodson’s Eco Auto Wash in Kahului and was until a couple years ago a realtor on Oahu–was one of three finalists selected by a special Maui County Democratic Party committee. The other two finalists were Renee-May Kehau Filimoe‘atu, a Maui PD communications supervisor and Anthony Edington, a chef who’s worked at the Westin and Kapalua Bay Hotel.
The Maui News also indelicately pointed out that nominees like former County Councilmember Joseph Pontanilla and former Maui County Mayor James “Kimo” Apana were “noticeably absent” from the finalists list (the remaining two nominees were Kallie Keith-Agaran, a party activist and wife of state Senator Keith-Agaran, and former County Council candidate Alan Fukuyama).
For his part, Woodson has some political experience. The governor’s office press release stated that Woodson has done “analyst and clerk duties” for state Representatives Tom Brower and Mele Carroll and state Senator Carol Fukunaga. And he was a former president of the College Democrats of Hawaii. Woodson also appeared in a 2009 campaign video (it’s on YouTube) showing his support for Abercrombie’s 2010 run at the governor’s office.
“This man is very humble, you know,” Woodson says of Abercrombie in the video, which was shot just off a busy street. “He’s very thoughtful. He actually listens, which is an important quality. And he knows the issues and he seems genuinely concerned about what I am saying and [with] Hawaii as a whole… He has a very positive energy. You can tell he’s a hard worker.”