HONOLULU (KHON2) — The first of several protests scheduled this weekend supporting the Black Lives Matter movement took place Friday. The protests and movement were spurred by the death of George Floyd, 46, while under arrest in Minneapolis on May 25.
Floyd’s death ignited a call for equality and justice.
Unlike the violent riots happening around the nation, protesters in Hawaii were adamant about getting the message out peacefully.
Rumors and fears of violence were dispelled after those who came out in support of the Black Lives Matter movement did so with aloha in their hearts — setting the example of the change they want to see in the world.
More than a thousand people gathered Friday, to march side-by-side from Ala Moana Beach Park to Waikiki Beach.
As they marched, chants of: “Black Lives Matter!” and “No justice, no peace!” rang through the streets.
“We’re all here for the same cause,” protester Elijah McShane said. “To help to bring peace and justice and to our people and to our black brothers and sisters around the planet.”
Activist Ashley Lyons said she’s been involved with the protests since last week. As a mother she said she knew she couldn’t just sit idle.
“We want to make a stand and make changes for not only our children, but our grand children and their grand children,” Lyons explained.
Protester Shane Davis said he was taking part in the movement to help build the momentum in order to create real change in the nation.
As crowds made their way through Waikiki, some of the high end businesses along a stretch of Kalakaua Avenue were boarded up. A clear sign many feared the riots and looting seen at protests on the mainland would also happen here.
Lyons said she understands their concern given what’s been going on in the rest of the nation, but she believed things would be different here.
“There’s a lot of rumors about bad people coming here to mess stuff up, let’s show them that good people shall prevail.”
The good that Lyons hoped to see, did prevail.
Police were present along the route, doing their duty, as the protesters exercised their first amendment rights without incident.
Mayor Kirk Caldwell said police were there to ensure everyone was safe.
“They’ll be out there as guardians making sure that things are orderly, that everyone is protected, that no one gets hurt by stepping into traffic and those kinds of things,” Caldwell explained.
Protester Azia Bird brought her two children to the protest. She said she felt safe bringing them and wanted them to learn from the experience.
“I wanted to show them that we can have peaceful protests that won’t turn into a riot and that we can change peacefully,” Bird explained.
McShane said violence wound undermine their mission and goes against everything they represent.
“We all agreed to spread the message and not hurt anybody around us, to not hurt our aina, to not hurt our people. We’re here to stand for what is right. And in order for us to do that, we must do what is right,” McShane said.
The day culminated with the crowd kneeling for eight minutes and 46 seconds of silence in honor of George Floyd. The same length of time officer Derek Chauvin knelt on Floyd’s neck, killing him, after he was arrested for allegedly using a counterfeit $20 to buy a pack of cigarettes.
The entire ordeal was caught on video–creating a memory now etched in everyone’s minds. Something no one ever wants to see happen again.
“I think our police, local police departments, throughout the nation need to review and reform, and they need to be trained how to deescalate violence and conflict,” Davis said.
Another protest is scheduled to take place Saturday at noon. Anyone wanting to take part is asked to wear a protective face mask, to bring a sign and meet at Ala Moana Beach Park. From there, the group will walk to the State Capitol.