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Activists from Maui and Oahu gathered at the Capitol on Tuesday morning to protest House Bill 2501, which has sparked controversy between Native Hawaiian farmers and big agriculture.
Before the Senate convened on a day of expected heavy voting, the group walked the Senate floor door-to-door in hopes of convince lawmakers vote against HB 2501, which would allow the diversion of streams to the benefit of Central Maui farmers and the detriment of taro farmers to the east.
“They’re gonna be uncomfortable,” said one organizer of the event, preparing the group to head upstairs. “And that’s kind of what we want.”
Protestors chanted, blew a conch and pounded makeshift drums to make their presence known to lawmakers who were preparing to vote in the Maui water bill on the Senate floor below.
Hauula resident Josh Noga uses a bullhorn to get the attention of senators regarding HB 2501, forcing lawmakers into majority caucus room because of the noise.
Cory Lum/Civil Beat
Albert Perez, executive director of Maui Tomorrow, was among those who flew in from Maui to encourage lawmakers to vote against the bill.
He came to share with lawmakers Maui Tomorrow’s report that offered ways to boost the island’s agricultural industry, increase jobs and eliminate more pesticides. Perez planned on sharing the report with lawmakers as he walked around Senate offices.
“I think there’s a misconception that the Hawaiians want all the water and A&B gets nothing,” said Perez, referring to Alexander & Baldwin, operator of the soon-to-close final sugar plantation on Maui. “That’s not true at all. All that the Hawaiians have been asking for all this time is to share. And there’s plenty to share.“
Watch for Civil Beat updates later today on the water bill and others in the Hawaii Legislature.
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