WCW Home Take Action Videos & Reports of Demonstrations Report on 5/12/09 Hawaii Bybee Demo
Report on 5/12/09 Hawaii Bybee Demo PDF Print E-mail

May 12, 2009

This morning more than 50 people responded to a call made by World 
Can't Wait-Hawai`i to demand the prosecution of Jay Bybee, the 
signatory to the now-notorious 2002 torture memo authorizing 
waterboarding, walling, sleep deprivation and other horrific forms of 
torture.  The crowd was diverse.  Lawyers and long-time activists.   
Pacifists and revolutionaries.   Office workers and retirees.   Some 
stayed for the morning.  Some could only escape from their offices for 
an hour.

Signs reading "Torture is a War Crime!  Prosecute!," "Stop Torture," 
"Prosecute Bybee," "Bye-Bye Bybee," "Impeach the Torture Judge" lined 
Bishop Street in the heart of downtown Honolulu where Bybee was 
hearing Hawai`i cases being appealed to the U.S. Court of Appeals for 
the 9th Circuit.   Some banners and signs were brilliant orange; some 
had been hastily scrawled on banker's box covers or pieces of 
cardboard.  Pedestrians asked, "Who's Bybee?" and the conversations 

A homeless man muttered:  "The big guys always get away with it."  An 
office clerk who came down from offices above to check out the 
hullabaloo read the leaflet and commented: "In this building?  How 
can that be?   That's terrible!"   She carefully folded up the leaflet 
and said she'd post it on the office bulletin board.  A protester who 
entered a nearby business noticed the Bybee leaflet on the 
refrigerator.  A security guard argued that waterboarding wasn't 
torture and a mainstream journalist interviewing activists turned and 
asked him:  "You want me to waterboard YOU?"  Many simply thanked us,  
but not all.  A student from a downtown university specializing in 
military studies ran out a feeble argument claiming that memos weren't 
laws.  A military officer sneered "You people are insane.  You don't 
even know what torture is."

By 9:00 am protesters moved from the sidewalk to the front doors of the 
marble downtown office building where the hearing was being held to 
hold a press conference.  Claiming the building was private 
property, security called for back-up from the Honolulu Police 
Department.  A phalanx of police immediately appeared but quickly 
backed down when it was suggested that they speak with an ACLU 
attorney who was present.  An impromptu press conference was held.  
Some made a legal argument against torture; others spoke to the 
immorality of torture.  Statements were spontaneous and heartfelt.

Media representatives from TV stations, print media, and public radio 
interviewed passers-by and protesters throughout the morning.  At the 
end of an interview a journalist teared up,  put his mic away and 
said:  "Thanks for doing this.  You're doing it for all of us."   The 
interviewee responded, "But all of you have to join the movement to 
prosecute the torturers.  Your humanity demands it!"

At the end of the press conference a call went out to everyone to 
begin building for May 28th. It's too early to know how the protest 
was covered on the news, or how broadly word got out about the 
protest, but at the end of the morning it was clear that this is just 
the beginning, and that we're now a part of a national movement to 
hound and prosecute the war criminals.    We're depending on others 
living in cities where 9th Circuit cases are heard to continue to 
hound him wherever he goes.

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