Hawaii often does not make it into national media stories. And so there is no dot on the map to indicate that in Hawaii, as in cities around “the nation” people are reacting with anger and disbelief to the Ferguson grand jury’s failure to indict Officer Darren Wilson for the killing of young, Black, unarmed, college-bound teenager, Michael Brown.

But dozens did turn out in Waikiki Tuesday night, giving tourists a sense not just of Hawaii’s solidarity with Ferguson but of trouble in paradise.

We have our own deeply disturbing record of police killings of unarmed civilians and the memory of FBI agent Christopher Deedy being acquitted of the fatal shooting of Kollin Elderts in a McDonald’s in Waikiki during the APEC meeting.

Honolulu Ferguson protest

Honolulu residents protest the grand jury’s decision not to indict a Ferguson, Missouri police officer for the shooting death of an unarmed teenager.

Carolyn Hadfield

One young Black man who participated in the protests said he has encountered the “n” word more often in Hawaii than anywhere else. Still, it made him feel good to see such a diverse group publicly show their solidarity with the people of Ferguson.

While the protestors encountered some puzzlement and some offensive pushback as they made their way through Waikiki, there was no mistaking the message that Hawaii was sending: that people of all ages and ethnicities in the islands are outraged over the systemic racism in Ferguson and the failure to indict Darren Wilson.

Honolulu Waikiki Ferguson protests police brutality

A message for local authorities during a solidarity protest in Waikiki Tuesday night.

Carolyn Hadfield

Understanding the Occupation: Palestine and Hawaii

It is against this national and local backdrop that Palestinian-American human rights lawyer and activist, Noura Erakat will arrive this Thanksgiving holiday in Honolulu for three talks:

• On Friday, Nov. 28, from 6 p.m. to 7:30 p.m. at Calvary by the Sea, following an introduction by Jon Osorio, Noura Erakat will deliver a talk entitled “Spotlight on Gaza: Contexts and Ethical Responses.”

• On Sunday Nov. 30, from 1 p.m. to 2:30 p.m. at St. Andrew’s Cathedral, she will give the same talk, “Spotlight on Gaza: Contexts and Ethical Responses.”

• On Monday Dec. 1, from 5 p.m. to 8 p.m., she headlines Panel, PuPu and Performances. She will speak on “The Legal Anatomy of Israeli Settler-Colonialism” at the University of Hawaii

All the events are free. At the Dec 1 event at UHM, the audience will also hear Andre Perez and ‘Ilima Long of Movement for Aloha No ka ʻAina (MANA) respond to Noura Erakat’s talk The speakers will take questions about connections and differences between settler colonialism and occupation in Palestine and Hawaii.

According to Noura Erakat’s Aug. 14 blog: “Some 16,800 homes have been partially or completely destroyed, nearly 450,000 Palestinians are displaced, 350,000 are being sheltered in UN facilities and of them 100,000 are completely homeless. This is only exacerbated by an intransigent siege that limits food goods, infrastructure, and trade. Additionally, a new and lethal threat has painfully surfaced: 1000s of explosive remnants of war – aka unexploded bombs.”

It is worth remembering that Israel is the largest recipient of aid from the U.S. We should ask where American tax dollars are going and what they are being used for. Scholars and observers like Noura Erakat provide first-hand reporting and context for what the public gets via truncated media stories about kidnappings and killings, about settlers and enforced landlessness, about aggression and response. The positions the U.S. government takes and the use of taxpayer dollars make us complicit in the occupation. Erakat will raise important questions about how we should respond to the ethical dilemmas this creates.

Noura Erakat earned her J.D. and undergraduate degrees from the University of California at Berkeley (Phi Beta Kappa) and a LLM in National Security from Georgetown University Law Center (Distinction & Dean’s List). She also completed the Abraham L. Freedman Teaching Fellowship at Temple University, Beasley School of Law and has taught international human rights law in the Middle East at Georgetown University since Spring 2009. Since Fall 2014, she has been an Assistant Professor at George Mason University.

She is a much sought-after speaker at conferences and has been a guest commentator on television, including shows on MSNBC, NPR, PBS, BBC, Al-Jazeera and Fox. Her work has been seen in the New York Times, the LA Review of Books, The Nation, The Hill, Huffington Post and other publications including Jadaliyya, which she co-edits.

Diverse Sponsors for Honolulu Talks

Noura Erakat’s visit to Honolulu is generously funded by Hawaii Friends of Sabeel and the Muslim Association of Hawaii. Co-sponsors include: Hawaii Coalition for Justice in Palestine, MANA; Jewish Voice for Peace-Hawaii; World Can’t Wait; Revolution Books; St. Clement’s Episcopal Church; Food (+); Hawaii Institute for Human Rights; Hawai’i Faculty for Justice in Palestine (H-FJP); the UHM School of Hawaiian Knowledge; the UHM Center for Biographical Research; the UHM Departments of American Studies, Anthropology, English, Ethnic Studies, Political Science, and Women’s Studies; and Chaminade University’s History Department.

Attendees at the talks will also be able to gather more information about the Middle East Children’s Alliance. This nonprofit is doing important work helping children and families in Palestine, Iraq and Lebanon recover from the ravages of war and occupation by providing safe spaces for recreation, educational opportunities, clean water and other forms of aid.

Parking for the Dec 1 talk at UHM: Attendees may park for $6 in the structure right next to the Center on 2645 Dole St. Spots in the Center’s parking lot require the $6 ticket too. Street parking is free, though not readily available.


Community Voices aims to encourage broad discussion on many topics of community interest. It’s kind of a cross between Letters to the Editor and op-eds. This is your space to talk about important issues or interesting people who are making a difference in our world. Column lengths should be no more than 800 words and we need a current photo of the author and a bio. We welcome video commentary and other multimedia formats. Send to news@civilbeat.org. The opinions and information expressed in Community Voices are solely those of the authors and not Civil Beat.

About the Author