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Security Measures, Peaceful Protests Greet Yacht’s Return

Nearly 50 U.S. Coast Guard personnel, as well as dozens of county, state and federal law enforcement guarded a security zone around Kaunakakai Harbor for the return of American Safari Cruises’ yacht Safari Explorer last Saturday. Armed members of the San Francisco-based Maritime Safety and Security Team, specializing in anti-terrorism, manned Zodiacs, while officials also patrolled by jet-ski and on foot. In equivalent numbers, Molokai residents held signs protesting not only the yacht, but also the security measures – which many community members said made them feel like terrorists.

The temporary security zone was enforced one hour before and 10 minutes after the arrival and departure of the 36-passenger Safari Explorer, during which time no one was allowed to enter the perimeter. The zone encompasses an approximately 925,000 square yard area – or about the size of 50 football fields. According to the ruling, the security zone may go into effect any time between Jan. 20 and May 15, according to Coast Guard Captain Joanna Nunan. 

Because no arrests were made and protesters did not enter the water, Nunan said officials will reevaluate the need for the security measures this week. “It’s not our goal to be here every time [the yacht docks],” she said Saturday. “We’re hoping we won’t need to in the future.”

Gov. Neil Abercrombie called for the security zone after public safety concerns were raised when Molokai protesters took to the water in order to block the yacht on Nov. 26. Coast Guard and state representatives met on Molokai last Tuesday informing residents of the new security zone. Many residents were outraged, saying it would interrupt their lifestyles and water activities like paddling and fishing.

Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) Chair William Aila said the state would be liable if someone was injured during protests. However, activists said they had planned to honor an agreement not to protest after American Safari Cruises agreed to temporarily suspend its Molokai visits.  This was the company’s first port call since December. During that time, the community has held a series of meetings discussing tourism and growth on Molokai, organized by the Aha Kiole, a resource management group that has acted as a neutral advisory body.

“We protested so we could go through this process,” said Hanohano Naehu Tuesday. “Now as a protester who loves this `aina… you’re making me feel like a terrorist. We’re the guardians, we’re not the terrorists.”

Aila acknowledged the progress the Molokai community has made to reach an agreement.

“Challenges of meeting tourism growth is something that’s not just restricted to Molokai,” said Aila. “These challenges are happening around the state, but Molokai is at the forefront to getting close to community consensus on these issues. Other communities are only starting and looking to Molokai for some success…”

Yet he added that ensuring public safety is the state’s main goal, and concluded that Saturday’s security measures would move forward no matter what.

Some residents said they had not taken a stance for or against the yacht’s visit to Molokai, but were outraged by what they considered the use of excessive force in security measures.

“I wasn’t against the cruise ship but I’m against [officials] blocking this harbor,” said one resident at Tuesday’s meeting.

Coast Guard spokesperson Lt. Gene Maestas said the security zone was chosen over other options because it is “a legal mechanism that allows county, state and federal” enforcement to work together. He added that the Coast Guard’s expenses for the operation are part of their normal budget – they perform similar security details around the world. Aila said the state’s costs have not yet been calculated.

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11 Responses to “Security Measures, Peaceful Protests Greet Yacht’s Return”

  1. kalaniua ritte says:

    yeah, but what you do to proctect it so the ocean can sustaine us for generations to come…..or are you like most people and take,take take.mr.naehu is a gaurdian of this island,its his job and he does it for free!

  2. HaoaSchwenk says:

    Mr. Naehu, The guardian of what..the ocean,the harbor. Thats the job of the U.S. Coast Guard. Maybe, just maybe, you were acting in a terrorist manner. The ocean belongs to ALL of us. -H

  3. Ka Lani Ali'i says:

    Force wasn’t excessive it was deadly force plain and simple, where was the Coast Gaurds lesser means of force… Like a fire hose or riot equipped police officers seems like the govenors tactics was to scare the Molokai residents with a show of deadly force for a handfull of protesters…with that many officers out there they could have easily let fisherman out on the water, and canoe paddlers to practice there regular routine without the normal disrupttion to the cruise ship or the fisherman. The Coast Gaurd Commander knows it they just wanted to make a point. Ambercrombie just wanted to send a message that we will use deadly force if we have too… a scare tactic to calm the people. It did not have the desired effect instead it backfired and outraged the community of Molokai. Now they want to reduce it lol…ATM ATM

  4. kd808 says:

    this could have been avoided if the protesters didnt enter the ocean to stop ASC.so instead of just standing and yelling and screaming along the wharf why not go into the ocean to continue your protest? because you scared to get arrested then go jail or gotta scrap up money for your bail..so please stop your damn chaos.

  5. kalaniua ritte says:

    kd808 you so scared you cant even comment with your real name.

  6. Ka Lani Ali'i says:

    Yes it could have, had ASC come to the community to discuss it first before just showing up, you must be one of the people who got paid that’s why you so outraged about it… it’s not the protesters it’s the ship they should respect the community as a whole… Nobody was going to jail you think they bring that much force to put a handfull of protesters in jail??… they wanted to kill people that’s what deadly force is a terrorist act in itself to coercion people into doing what they say no different a tactic then what a terrorist would use. As far as I can see there was no lesser means of force implied or set for use at the protest… Nobody is scared just smarter then you… Today you should go jump off a cliff at Kalaupapa??? are you gonna do it just cause I dared you too??…lmao Its amazing they break all there laws to take over people and there lands and then they want these same people to obide by the very same laws they broke in the first place to get there land…

  7. kd808 says:

    kamalei kahalehoe from hana, maui

  8. kalaniua ritte says:

    kamalei take care your own backyard . the east side hui is my heroes.

  9. missin molokai says:

    Good advise.

  10. kd808 says:

    childish..sad for you!!!

  11. Ka Lani Ali'i says:

    No my personal experience tells me if there doing it right or not…I know what the process is I’ve been there done that, you probably have no clue of what I’m talking about anyway such as Deadly force, RAM’S, SOP’s, rules of engagement, oppertunity, capability, and ? you know or you don’t… What do you think they only train the coast gaurd for it lol…wonder who they learn all there procedures from lol?…I feel sad for you if you really don’t know… aloha

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