Protest comes to county seat

LIHU‘E — A few people, less than 10, showed up for the first “Occupy” public meeting, Friday evening at the park fronting the Historic County Building.

Amidst the squawking of green parrots returning to roost, Scott Franklin Manning, co-facilitator of the group organizing the meeting, said there is a need for a public meeting place near a government facility.

“Following the Wall Street demonstrations, Derrick Ledesma helped put on the last rally in Kapa‘a,” Manning said. “Stacey Joroff and Jeff Fishman started a Facebook page.”

Manning said during a planning meeting Thursday that about 30 to 40 people planned to participate in the “occupation” of  “Immigrant Park,” named for the many tributes in the park.

“We also passed out hundreds of fliers and were on the radio as well,” Manning said. “There are a lot of problems people are concerned about.”

Local issues include the Kaua‘i Island Utility Cooperative, which Manning said started out as a people’s utility but is now 70 percent owned by banks.

“Farmlands and the spraying of pesticides and the opposition to Smart Meters are just some of the issues locally,” Manning said. “Nationally, people want more transparency in the government in the areas of government spending and the military. All of the money the government spends on bank bailouts should be used to help feed the homeless.”

Jenny Moura, a resident of Kapa‘a, said she planned to stay overnight with the leaders, intent on finding out more about the homeless issue on Kaua‘i.

“They told me they were going to feed the homeless,” she said after excusing herself to use the bathrooms at a restaurant across the street because the nearby Historic County Building was already closed. “I’m an advocate for the homeless on Kaua‘i, so I want to know what they’re going to do.”

Ann Punahu, of Kalaheo, said she came out of curiosity.

“I’m not planning to spend the night here, but I thought I would stop by and spend some time here,” she said. “I have my own issues. I’m here on my own recognizance.”

There is no spokesperson for the group and no organization, an anonymous participant said, awed by the racket stirred up by the roosting parrots.

“This is just a natural response to the sickness in the world,” he said.

• Dennis Fujimoto, photographer and staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 253) or dfujimoto@ thegardenisland.com.

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