Monday, November 07, 2011


Uber Security, Civil Rights & APEC

By Henry Curtis

On the eve of APEC the newly hired Hawai`i Convention Center guards proved to be hyped up and ill trained to deal with protesters.

Late last night there was a confrontation between a single person using chalk to write a message on the sidewalk in front of the Hawai`i Convention Center. Four security guards came out of the Convention Center to confront the writer. The guards aggressively surrounded the writer and prevented him from walking away on the sidewalk. The writer could have stepped into the street, but there was a lot of traffic.

The guards argued that he was illegally writing graffiti. The police later told me “chalk is chalk” whereas graffiti means damaging property which requires money to fix.

The guards stated that the sidewalk where the chalk message was being written was the property of the Hawai`i Convention Center. Later the Hawai`i Convention Center personnel told the police they did not know where the dividing line was between the Convention sidewalk and the public sidewalk. One person suggested that the Hawai`i Convention Center draw the line in chalk.

The police stated that the guards could not detain an individual. The fact that the writer was detained on the edge of the curb means clearly he was being detained on the public part of the sidewalk by untrained guards.

After noticing that I was filming the incident, a supervisor came out of the Hawai`i Convention Center and sought to have the four guards give the writer breathing room. It took a while because two of the guards were swearing at the writer and did not want to back off. Eventually they did, and the writer was gone before the police arrived.

Later another group of chalk writers arrived. At that point the chalk writers, the police, the guards, and the media were present. No arrests were made.

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Why would security want to heighten tensions at the opening of APEC?

Aloha, Henry!

Got a link to your video? I think it is good to post such things online, as it increases the power of cameras (and camera-phones) to deter police (and security guard) misconduct.


Good for you and good for the chalk writers! Chalk writing is explicitly mentioned on the ACLU website as A-OK. I think better training should've been provided to security.

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