Several members of a Hawaii delegation that traveled to New York to protest the Republican National Convention were arrested today, according to the Hawaii chapter of the activist group Not In Our Name (NION). At least four have been identified: Eric Beyer, Summer Starr, Nick Yee and Annie Elfing. The group were among as many as 900 protesters taken into police custody in an unprecedented top-to-bottom sweep of Manhattan. “First reports indicate that they were sitting in a park observing events when the police blocked off the park and began arresting people en masse,” NION-Hawaii said in an e-mailed statement.
The local activists who were arrested came from a number of different groups. Beyer and Yee were representing Refuse & Resist-Hawaii, Starr was representing Pa`a Environmental Group (based at the University of Hawaii), and Elfing was there on behalf of the American Friends Service Committee-Hawaii.
Beyer is a UH art student, and was in Manhattan to organize an art show entitled “Fear Will Not Silence Us” that opened August 21.
NION-Hawaii sent four activists to New York earlier this month, and another nine arrived earlier this week.
The group included Travis Thompson, a member of The Hawaii Poetry Slam Team who collaborated with other poets to stage performances; UH graduate student Sebastian Blanco, who is working with the national NION media team; Kira Brown, who went to New York to build local resistance to the Republican National Convention; and preschool teacher and longtime peace activist Liz Rees.
Demonstrations against the convention have swelled as the event unfolded this week, one march estimated to have drawn half a million people. Despite the protests, the convention has continued as scheduled, leading up to President Bush’s formal acceptance of the nomination on Thursday.
Despite the unrest outside, conventioneers including Hawaii Gov. Linda Lingle and a number of other island leaders and politicians celebrated unimpeded inside Madison Square Garden.
Gov. Lingle has taken the podium as an interim convention chair, introducing speakers and banging the gavel to mark the proceedings. Members of the Hawaii delegation have decorated the convention floor with flower lei and passed out shirts supporting “Keoki W.” Keoki being the Hawaiian transliteration of George.
Things were similarly blithe back home. Attorney General Mark Bennett in his capacity of acting governor while Gov. Lingle and Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona are in New York declared tomorrow, Sept. 1, New York Yankees Day.
Bennett, a Brooklyn native who has lived in Hawaii for 25 years, is a fan of the team.