People Over Profits Rally
Hawai’i State Capitol
By Khara Jabola Carolus
Imagine an American-controlled city on an island in the Pacific Ocean. Here the trees are black and the mountains are flat, barges of trash from Japan are dumped into the central bay, people have to rally for breathable air, and the capitol is so congested that drivers spend an average of 1,000 hours a year stuck in traffic. Here journalists are slaughtered for their words, entire villages are wiped out by hurricanes that exceed all weather scales, and the government is the country’s largest human trafficker. Here, if you’re like me, the daughter of a former American serviceman and a Filipino woman, your whiteness is your mother’s scarlet letter because people will always wonder if she’s your nanny, a mail-order-bride or what the American soldiers called a “LBFM PBR” --- that is, a Little Brown Fucking Machine Powered By Rice.
Thankfully, these islands are not Hawai’i. Unfortunately, they are real. They’re the Philippines today.
Hawai’i is connected to the Philippines by its history of conquest and because the militarization of our everyday lives is connected to the U.S. imperialist project abroad. I’m here to talk today about people to people solidarity and the next wave of militarization in Hawai’i.
The future of Hawai’i is above us. In fact, 2014 has been dubbed “the year of the drone” for Hawai’i. Drones can be used for a myriad of applications such as invasive species control, search and rescue, and even pizza delivery but we must fully examine the policies and stakeholders behind the push for domestic drone use. The benefit to society is undeniable but the threat is also enormous.
This past December, without the people’s input or consent, Hawai’i was approved as a drone testing site for the Federal Aviation Administration’s drone program, which will integrate drones into our airspace by 2015. The Electronic Frontier Foundation anticipates that 30,000 drones will be flying inside the U.S. by 2020 as a result of the opening of airspace through the FAA test program. On the mainland U.S., it is now common practice for federal agencies such as the Department of Homeland Security to loan Predator drones to state and local law enforcement for everyday crime prevention. In the past three years, it has loaned out Predator drones at least 700 times. One such loan was used for the first drone-assisted arrest in 2011. Note that this Predator-assisted arrest targeted the political activity of individuals perceived as threats to the status quo.
The Predator drone is the infamous hunter/killer model used to terrorize our brothers and sisters living through the horror of U.S.-led wars in the Philippines, Afghanistan, Pakistan and Yemen.
The U.S. Congress estimates that ten to thirty percent of drone casualties abroad are innocent civilians. One Pakistani child recently testified before U.S. Congress: “Now I prefer cloudy days because the drones don’t fly. When the sky brightens and becomes blue, the drones return and so does the fear."
The push for domestic drone use is being driven by a campaign to rid the U.S. of drugs and unauthorized economic refugees crossing the U.S.-Mexico border. This supposedly contributes to the security of our communities.
In Hawai’i we know all too well that expanded law enforcement means increased incarceration and increased insecurity for our communities. If Hawai’i was an independent country, it would be the 5th largest jailer in the world. Native Hawaiians and Filipinos account for over half of those imprisoned in Hawai’i, most for drug-related offenses. The number of incarcerated women in Hawai’i is double the national number and women are the fastest growing segment of prison populations in every state under U.S. control. One third of these women are incarcerated for drug offenses.
Militarized law enforcement is not a solution to substance abuse--- which is a public health problem, nor is it a solution to poverty, houselessness, lack of education, and other so-called aggravating factors for criminal activity. Militarization will never bring genuine security to Hawaii and drones are a wasteful giveaway of taxpayers dollars to defense contractors. To reject drone surveillance is to reject the fiction that the only way for our economy to thrive is by fomenting wars and developing war industries.
Currently, there are no laws protecting us from drone surveillance by law enforcement. This Legislative session there are a number of drone bills but HB 1775 is where the protection of Hawai’i’s high standard of privacy, the protection of economic refugees, and the fight for indigenous self-determination intersect.
• It restricts law enforcement use of drones to emergency and lifesaving situations
• It bans drone collected evidence from state courts to preempt backdoor collusion x fed’l
agencies and state law enforcement)
• It bans weaponization of drones
• And it sets up a robust reporting regime that keep legislators and the public engaged
Join me in saying no to economic dependence on unsustainable industries that profit from the stolen land and labor of other island people.
No militarized policing!
No mass surveillance!
No mass incarceration!
Support HB 1775, support real security for Hawai’i!