About 250 people lined the sidewalks Saturday on Kamehameha Avenue to express dissent and opposition to vaccine and mask mandates set by the state and county government.
Groups from across the state put together a Freedom Rally that was run in conjunction with World Wide Demonstration Day, which involved 100 cities around the world.
Community members waved signs as cars passed by, speakers talked to the crowd about health freedoms, rights, food sovereignty, informed consent and other topics pertaining to the mask and vaccine mandates.
“This is not just about COVID, in fact its barely about COVID at all,” said Maureen Poirier. “This is a response to all that’s happened. We want to protect our health and protect people’s rights, because the government is outside of its authority.”
To battle vaccine and mask rules, Poirier has created a document to give to businesses that lays out all of the laws claimed to be violated by the mandates.
“Mandates are not above the law, because they aren’t lawful,” Poirier said. “My particular passion is helping small businesses know what their rights are. I’m handing them resources, so they can exercise their rights so their business doesn’t suffer from capacity changes or mask mandates.”
Sweets Gacayan was one of the first people to arrive to the demonstration, which has become personal for him.
Gacayan has worked at Nanea Golf Club for 18 years and faces being fired for not getting the vaccine.
“I work for a private company that wants us all to take the vaccine, and I can’t do that,” Gacayan said. “I don’t want to argue, because they can do this if they want, but it’s sad that I may be fired in the next 30 days just for not getting a vaccine.”
His wife, daughter-in-law and grandchild showed support and joined Gacayan to wave signs against vaccine mandates.
“I’m here for the health of my grandchildren, for all of us, because we are in the same boat,” Gacayan said. “We just have to keep fighting, stand our ground and then move forward.”
Millicent Cummings, president of the Emergency Child and Protective Coalition and director of Protectors United, led the demonstration and was first to speak to the crowd.
“If we enter into this rape culture where any state government or any man or person can dictate what we put in our bodies, we’re walking on a slippery slope or more likely falling,” Cummings said. “The government is impeding on all of our rights, freedom of religion, freedom of assembly, freedom of speech, our own bodily sovereignty, for a virus that has the same survivability rate as the flu. This is all based on a fear that is unsubstantiated.”
Along with breaking laws, Cummings says the mandates are causing physical, mental and spiritual health issues throughout the community.
“All of these policies are wreaking havoc, causing poverty, suicide, mental health issues and all manor of dysfunction,” Cummings said. “I see it in my conversations with the police officers about taking a tent down in one of the rainiest cities in the world. Now my sound equipment is in jeopardy because of an arbitrary mandate based on an illegal and fraudulent narrative.”
Before the event started, Hilo police officers arrived at Bayfront Park to tell the group to take down tents, which were in violation of the county rule that prohibits canopies and pop-up tents at county parks.
Activist Gene Tamashiro was given a citation for not complying and leaving a tent up at the park.
While law enforcement was present throughout the demonstration, Cummings expressed frustration with representatives in the Hawaii state government who continually pass mandates that their constituents are against.
“Until we have people who listen to the people they are representing, it is up to us to be involved in civil disobedience, litigation, or anything it takes to get the message across,” Cummings said. “This is the height of insanity and people are participating because of the fear mongering and propaganda.
“As long as we are a part of the United States under our Constitution, all of us have to bring this to an abrupt and immediate end,” Cummings said.
Email Kelsey Walling at email@example.com
Source: Hawaii Tribune Herald