Marsha Joyner

Tuesday evening November 25, 2014 we in Honolulu gathered to stand and walk  in solidarity with Mr. Brown’s family, the people of Ferguson and communities around the country who are committed to transforming this tragic miscarriage of justice into a powerful movement to replace racism, injustice, violence and the militarization of police with economic and social justice for all.

Due to the time difference in Hawaii and Ferguson while Mr. McCulloch, the county’s top prosecutor, delivered his 20-minute diatribe to the world, blaming the victim, made finishing my dinner impossible.  We knew this decision was coming. It’s painful, and it is not a surprise, this decision is always the same. For the past 200 years the decision has always been the same.  As Terrance Heath wrote, “The system worked quite well for those for whom it is designed to work”.

Last week I received an email stating that if/when the Grand Jury returned its verdict we would have a protest in Waikiki, the heart of tourist town.  So here we are again.  Rep. John Lewis (D, Georgia), a Civil Rights Movement Veteran, as well as a victim of racist police violence, compared the violence in Ferguson to the violence faced during the Civil Rights era.  Nothing has changed. We have seen this before and before and before. Ferguson is characteristic of much larger problem.

“The history of law enforcement in America, with regard to Black folks, has been one of unremitting oppression, Tim Wise wrote.  That is neither hyperbole nor opinion, but incontrovertible fact. From slave patrols to overseers to the Black Codes to lynching, it is a fact.  The law has been a weapon used against black bodies, not a shield intended to defend them, and for a very long time”.

“And the fact that white people don’t know this history, have never been required to learn it, and can be considered even remotely informed citizens without knowing it, explains a lot about what’s wrong with America. Tim Wise continued, “Black people have to learn everything about White people just to stay alive”.

Tim wise is correct.  We have to know everything about them and they know nothing about us. The only thing worse than the Grand Jury’s decision, is the right wing’s reaction to it. Watching Fox News is a front row seat to racism in America.

Tim Wise is among the nation’s most prominent anti-racist writers and educators, and the author of six books, including his latest: Dear White America: Letter to a New Minority (City Lights, 2012)

Tuesday November 25, 2014, in the early evening, as the ocean gobbles up the sun, a small group of the usual protesters began to arrive.  As we went from daylight to total darkness more than 100 people had assembled. Darkness comes early in Hawaii this time of year.  Due to our closeness to the equator we have no twilight.

Students, professors, mothers with children, handicapped people in motorized scooters, old people, and young people. White, Black, Japanese, Chinese, Marshallese, Hawaiian, Filipino and resident as well as immigrants of every ethnic group, gay, lesbians and straight people with drums and tambourines, bull horns and various noise makers joined in the protest walk through Waikiki.

The same fears, anxieties, and resentments that drove violence generations ago are still with us today. It was evident as we walked through the crowded streets of Waikiki with signs stating “Black Lives Matter”.

Tourists from all over the world had cameras, Go-Pros, and cellphones.  One young man even took a selfie with me and my sign. Some people looked startled at the sight of protesters invading their vacation. Others, who had been away from the news, had no idea what this was all about.  Several young people who were following the news joined us as we moved along. NRA supporters lined the street handing outleaflets. Not sure what they expected. Old White Tea Party men who want “their country back” were visibly upset. Black men with White companions tried to look the other way.

Unlike most cities in the United States, the Honolulu Police Department hired special duty police to escort us, stop traffic when we crossed the streets and generally show presence so the tourists would not freak-out. Across the country the Police are charged with enforcingthe peace and keeping order, but they’re also major players in this story.

Hawaii is not much different; there is an epidemic of mass incarceration, police brutality, and an injustice system. The majority of inmates, men and women, young and old are brown, Black and non-White. The racism of Hawai`i’s prisons, where of the 6,000 prisoners, 4,000 are Native Hawaiians (while Native Hawaiians make up only 24% of the population), this boarders on genocide.

Kat Brady, an activist with the Hawai`i Community Alliance on Prisons, has shown stats that exposed Hawai`i’s prison system as one of the most punitive in the U.S.  

“Uncle Joe” Tassill, repeatedly states “the problem is the prison industrial complex and the repressive nature of this whole system with racism atits core”.

When we returned to Kapiolani Park, the starting and ending point of the protest, everyone was elated. The feeling of belonging to something bigger, being in solidarity with thousands of people across America, being connected to the movement in spite of being  4,121 miles across the ocean from Ferguson, MO. No one wanted to leave the park.

Driving home alone with my thoughts, it became clear to me that Mr. McCulloch’s arranging the announcement of the Grand Jury decision for late in the evening, making sure of the presence of power of the police department and then giving a vague reference to the “old wounds” he hoped the grand jury’s investigation might heal, was a classic example of fraud. Dante wrote that fraud is worse than violence. What does that mean? You ask. “Why is fraud worse than violence?” Fraud always comes before violence. It is reserved only for humans. It is premeditated, calculated and planned. Other creatures can be violent, but only humans can wreak fraud.  And when the government is mixed up in it, the violence created by fraud is beyond human comprehension. Just look at the havoc that the wars have created. More than 200 million people were killed because of governments during the 20th century. Governments use fraud against its own people constantly. The totalities of Mr. McCulloch’s actions, in league with the State of Missouri, were guaranteed to cause violence. In Dante’s “Divine Comedy” the deepest part of hell is reserved for Fraud.

Aloha pumehana

Marsha Joyner

Sometime around midnight

November 25, 2014