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O’ahu Organizers Are Defending the Earth Against US Militarism

We shut down this massive facility in four months, says activist Kawenaʻulaokalā Kapahua.

Oʻahu Water Protectors gather with signs protesting the U.S. Navy and the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility.

Part of the Series

“The Pentagon has a blanket exemption from all global climate agreements — in effect, a license to kill the natural world without consequence,” says Kelly Hayes. In this episode of “Movement Memos,” Kelly and Kawenaʻulaokalā Kapahua discuss the U.S. military’s role in environmental devastation and explore lessons from the campaign to shut down the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on the island of O’ahu — and what activists and organizers can learn from this struggle.

Music by Son Monarcas and Amaranth Cove


Note: This a rush transcript and has been lightly edited for clarity. Copy may not be in its final form.

Kelly Hayes: Welcome to “Movement Memos,” a Truthout podcast about things you should know if you want to change the world. I’m your host, writer and organizer Kelly Hayes. Today, we are going to talk about a struggle that you may or may not have heard about, because it has been woefully underreported. Organizers with the Shut Down Red Hill Coalition saw a huge victory on March 7, when the U.S. military announced it would drain and decommission the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility on the island of O’ahu in Hawaii. Reporters at the press conference where this historic concession was made seized the opportunity to ask military officials questions about Ukraine, but showed little interest in the announcement itself. Most media outlets have barely acknowledged this struggle, or the tremendous victory that organizers have won here. That’s a big problem. For one thing, this is a story about activists who were up against one of the most intractable opponents on Earth — the U.S. military — and they won. The fight is not over, as we are going to discuss; but for the U.S. military to agree to shutter a facility it previously claimed was essential to national security due to a grassroots pressure campaign — that is something we all have to learn from.

This is also a story that shows us the true character of the U.S. military. We need to grapple with the realities of U.S. militarism, right now, because people have a habit of thinking in binaries. The fact that we are watching another world power cause havoc and destruction with their military does not change the character of the U.S. military, or its destructive role in the world. There’s also a lot of deeply important history tied to this campaign that I think we should all know and consider as we weigh our own choices about the future. The struggle for sovereignty and self determination in Hawaii is inextricably bound to the struggle against militarism and the defense of water and wildlife. Those kinds of connections exist everywhere, but they too often go unseen and unacknowledged, and they rarely inform the strategy of movements. So I think it’s important to talk about work that’s being done by people who are making those connections and who are, in this case, also winning important victories.

To begin, I asked Kawenaʻulaokalā Kapahua, who is an organizer with the Oʻahu Water Protectors, to give us some background and an update on the Red Hill struggle.

Kawenaʻulaokalā Kapahua: So my name is Kawenaʻulaokalā Kapahua. I’m a Hawaiian independence activist here in Hawaii, and a water protector. Hawaii was an independent nation up until 1893, when it was illegally overthrown by U.S. Marines in a coup and it resulted in the creation of the state of Hawaii. Around World War II, the Red Hill Bulk Fuel Storage Facility was created. A brief history of this is just that this massive fuel storage facility was created around the time of the Pearl Harbor attack. It could hold up to 250 million gallons of fuel. The tanks are about 20 stories high and about 100 feet wide. So these are massive tanks that are pill shaped, they’re buried underground and the original idea was that would prevent them from being bombed because a lot of the U.S. fuel during Pearl Harbor was stored in open air facilities so they were worried about it getting destroyed.

And so they built it underground 100 feet above our primary source drinking aquifer. For those of you who don’t know what an aquifer is, basically, it’s this way the water system works. In Hawaii it rains and because we live on volcanic islands, the rock is porous lava rock and so basically rain falls onto the islands and filters through this very porous rock down through the ground, and takes about 20 years to do that and when it reaches a certain level, it’s basically pristine. It’s clean, the rock has filtered it naturally of any contaminants and it exists in this underground, kind of not quite cavern, this underground space underneath the islands that acts as an aquifer, which is basically a massive water tank that’s under our island, it’s just naturally created. And that is where we draw the most of our, if not all of our drinking water from.

So basically this 250 million gallons of jet fuel was stored just a hundred feet above that water. I’ve been in the facility. You can look down to the hole, you can look down into the water from, and there’s no physical barriers between the fuel, besides the tanks themselves, the fuel and the water. And basically in 2014, there was a massive leak that spilled out of the tanks. The military tried to cover it up. The word got out and there was major political pitfalls over that and blowback. We started mobilizing in order to remove the tanks and shut down the facility. Hawaiians have been pushing for the end of this facility for a long time. Not only because it threatens our water, but because it sits on stolen Hawaiian land that the U.S. military condemned and took from our people and all of these things.

Then, in 2021 in May, there was a major fuel leak that the Navy originally tried to cast as just being a little under 2000 gallons, which was completely false, incorrect — they were lying and they didn’t tell anybody. They knew the facility leaked in May, they didn’t tell anyone. They knew the water was contaminated by July. They continued to hide it, cover up and not tell anyone. And then, just after Thanksgiving in November 2021, people started smelling fuel coming out of their taps. People started ending up at the hospital. Over 5,000 people ended up in ER. Over 93,000 people couldn’t drink the water there, it was making them sick. Their homes were basically unlivable.

The Navy continued and the U.S. military at large continued to lie about it up until the last momen when they could no longer deny the fact that the Red Hill Field Storage Facility had failed catastrophically, leaked into the water and poisoned thousands of people. Since then, we’ve been fighting to ensure that this facility is shut down permanently. There is no way to fix this facility, it has catastrophically failed. It cannot be allowed to remain counter to what the U.S. military has said for years, decades even.

They regularly claimed it’s for national security that they need this. Defense Secretary Austin and Secretary of the Navy Del Toro came to visit Hawaii, and basically it was a PR catastrophe for them. Del Toro made an epic statement of saying that it wasn’t the fuel in the tanks that was making people sick, it was the fuel in the water, as if the two were different somehow. Talking about how he wouldn’t choose between jet fuel and water to live, despite the fact that you need one of them to sustain your regular body functions and we’ve existed without the other for thousands of years as a race, as a species.

That’s a brief history of the Red Hill Fuel Storage Facility. Just a couple weeks ago, the Pentagon finally announced, after sustained and massive community pressure and community organizing and political blowback, that they were going to permanently shut down this facility. This came amidst massive protests and massive outrage and continuous pressure from the community to stop this and to pay for remediation.

But that doesn’t mean an end to this crisis, primarily because basically that was 77 percent of our water that was just contaminated. Currently, three wells that service over 400,000 people on the island of O’ahu have been shut down. They may be shut down permanently. We may never be able to drink from this water source ever again, which means that the entire metropolitan area of Honolulu no longer has water wells within its vicinity. We’re pulling water from other areas on the island.

Which means that we’ve just lost 77 percent of our water. We’re obviously making up a tiny portion of that now. As we move into the summer months, that means we’re going to have water shortages and the way our water system works, it means that certain areas may turn on the tap this summer and nothing’s going to come out. That’s an unprecedented crisis here in Hawaii. It’s absolutely ridiculous that one of the most rain rich places on earth is going to be facing a water crisis because for 80 plus years, military officials decided they were willing to poison everybody on this island and make life very difficult on this island, simply so they could use this fuel to wage war.

KH: The United States military is the world’s largest single consumer of energy. Every year, the U.S. military consumes more than a hundred million barrels of oil. If the military were a country, its emissions would rank among the top 25 percent of nations. But as Indigo Oliver wrote in 2019, “The Pentagon’s environmental footprint cannot be measured in emissions alone. Razed cities, contaminated soil, death, disease and famine are far more perceptible and lethal than the carbon dioxide in our atmosphere to those who have experienced warfare.”

As Kawenaʻulaokalā mentioned, military rehearsals for warfare have also caused extensive damage. The Navy has admitted to leaving large amounts of depleted uranium in U.S. coastal waters. The Navy also plans to dump 20,000 tons of heavy metals, plastics and other toxic compounds over the next two decades in oceans where it conducts its war games. The Pentagon has a blanket exemption from all global climate agreements — in effect, a license to kill the natural world without consequence. However, when contemplating the climate crisis, most people don’t think about the impact of the military, and that’s a major problem.

KK: I think one may only need look at the water crisis we’re facing this summer, the fact that Hawaii is, like I said, one of the wettest place on earth, we see some of the highest levels of rainfall of anywhere on earth and this summer we’re going to turn on the tap and nothing’s going to come out. That’s a major crisis for an island of almost a million people, for us to be out of water is absolutely insane.

So basically I think that alone should prove the threat that the U.S. military provides to the world in terms of the climate crisis. They’re one of the largest polluters out there as is evident by the fact they polluted the water for 400,000 people and then made water scarce for over a million. And the fact that they basically got away with this for decades, politicians in Hawaii told us for years that we should just drop it, Red Hill was not a threat, that we were never going to get the military back down, that we were never going to get this facility shut down. We got it shut down in four months since the major leak that poisoned people came to light basically. But the U.S. military represents the greatest threat to life anywhere in the world but especially here in Hawaii.

We live in a very ecologically fragile environment that has been devastated due to colonialism and capitalism. The longer the U.S. military persists in this world, but especially here in Hawaii, the longer our way of life for remains at threat. The U.S. military has bombed many islands here in Hawaii, particularly the island of Kahoʻolawe, which they bombed so hard they cracked the water table. And what I mean by that is they bombed so hard they cracked the island open and all of fresh water within it, spilled out into the ocean. So there’s no longer drinkable water on Kahoʻolawe because of what they did.

They have scattered toxic chemicals all over the Hawaiian Islands. Pearl Harbor, for example, one of their famous military bases used to be a major fishing ground for the Hawaiian people. You couldn’t pay me to eat a fish out of that water now, it’s so polluted. They’ve stored chemical weapons, such as mustard gas on our land, in our water. They’ve left unexploded ordnance all over the land. This kind of pollution and this kind of contributions to the climate crisis are astronomic. Hawaii is a small microcosm of what they’ve done globally. So if they’ve poisoned our water here, you can only imagine the impact their military campaigns have had in say, Iraq, Afghanistan. The military campaigns they’ve had in terms of the pollution that’s created by their ships, running all around the world, their fighters, and aircraft flying all over the place.

The U.S. military with one of the most obscene budgets in the planet says it’s too expensive to care about the climate crisis. Whereas, I don’t know about you, but I think it’s too expensive to have to worry about our water and the fact that we’re going to be making a long-term investment in military rather than in clean environment and clean water. That’s too high a price to pay for our future, not only our future, but our children and our grandchildren’s future.

KH: Many people think of Hawaii as a paradisiacal tourist destination, but in the words of journalist Millicent Cummings:

Most tourists would be hard-pressed to imagine 500 tons of TNT blasting into a pristine shoreline or toxic sewage flowing into the waters of Waikiki or whales beaching themselves to escape Navy sonar testing … Hawaii is, however, the “endangered species capital of the world.” It stands to reason that the United States military, being the greatest polluter and largest emitter of carbon dioxide on the planet, might have something to do with that unacceptable fact.

Cummings called Hawaii “the most militarized group of islands in the world.” That characterization does not jive well with popular depictions or perceptions of Hawaii, and that disconnect is largely the product of historical erasure.

KK: Hawaii was an independent country up until 1893, when U.S. Marines stormed Iolani Palace, over through the government and imprisoned our queen in one bedroom, one room solitary confinement to herself for months. And I think that was the start of this really large scale military history that Hawaii has endured. So over the course of 130 years of occupation, the U.S. military has seized massive portions of Hawaiian land. The U.S. military is one of the largest landholders in Hawaii. On the island of O’ahu alone, the military holds 26 percent of all land, so over a quarter. Which is an absolutely insane amount of land for them to hold, especially on an island, we don’t have that much land to go around already.

Almost all of the land they hold has been turned into Superfund sites. For those who don’t know, Superfund sites are sites that are so contaminated there may be no remediation for them. They’re contaminated to a massive extent by the military. This is through unexploded ordnance, this is through destroying of chemical weapons, the live fire operations, jet fuel contamination, like we’re seeing at Red Hill. So basically wherever the military has gone in Hawaii it has brought death, it has brought contamination and it has brought pollution and it’s brought evictions. So Red Hill is just one area that they condemned the land in that area, to claim it for themselves, they’ve also done it in other areas and seized other portions of land. Almost every U.S. military base in Hawaii, people lived there before the U.S. military came and kicked them out.

One other example is Makua Valley, which has been a fight for decades, almost 60 years to get this sacred valley back that the U.S. military — basically the community that lived there, a whole town, the U.S. military kicked them out one day, told them that they needed their homes for a military exercise and then bombed them with planes. They bombed the church, they bombed people’s homes. No one lives in that valley anymore. The people who lived there were made homeless and many of them have been scattered. We’re still fighting to get that valley back.

Other areas such as Kahoʻolawe, like I mentioned earlier, have been bombed so hard they broke water table, that island was forcibly taken from us. We forced the military to give it back in 1990s through massive protests and massive risks of life and two deaths to get that island back. The military said they would clean up. They didn’t. Other areas including Pearl Harbor, like I mentioned earlier, which is so contaminated that you couldn’t pay me to eat a fish out of there even though it was one of the major fishing grounds for our people. There are fishing shrines all over that area. The reason it’s called Pearl Harbor is because it used to be home to an abundance of pearl-producing oysters, which are now extinct due to the U.S. military.

One of the other large areas near my hometown of Kailua is Marine Corps Base, which was called Mokapu, it’s a really important site for Hawaiians. A lot of sacred sites, a lot of ancient temples are there, a lot of sacred burial sites and the U.S. military has turned this into a Marine Corps base. The community that lived there was also evicted. And the burial sites there have been sites to use — they’ve been excavated, they’ve been destroyed, they’ve been used to practice invasions and run tanks over. It’s absolutely insane. And this is just a small trend.

Agent Orange was produced here in Hawaii for the U.S. military and then practiced or tested on our forests before taking it to Vietnam, to utilize on the people there. Every two years the U.S. military hosts the RIMPAC [Rim of the Pacific] military exercises here in Hawaii, which is some of the largest military exercises in the world. They invite over 26 countries to come and take part in the war games here. Most of them, countries and regimes with horrible human rights records, including the Israeli IDF, the Indonesian military, which is committing genocide and West Papua in the Philippines, the military of the Philippines, which is constantly killing journalists, teachers, activists. So if you want to look at the military history of Hawaii, it is extensive. Constantly our land is not only destroyed for our use, but it’s also utilized to train other oppressive regimes around the world to go and commit genocide and other hallmarks of the U.S. military on people across the planet.

KH: In late November, when military families were sickened by fuel ingestion, organizers moved quickly, mounting a massive campaign to decommission the facility. There had been litigation around the fuel tanks in recent years, but nothing like the massive people-powered mobilization that won this campaign. So I asked Kawenaʻulaokalā if he felt there were lessons that the rest of us should glean, as activists and organizers, from the work that happened here.

KK: Well, for one, don’t trust politicians, like I said. Which should be, I think that’s rule number one of political organizing a grassroots campaign, but just in case people didn’t get it. Hawaiian politicians have been basically lap dogs for the military since the state of Hawaii was set up. Daniel Inouye, hailed as a war hero, hailed as one of the greatest U.S. senators of all time, an absolute corrupt maniacal politician who sold out Hawaiian people and Hawaiian land, who empowered the military-industrial complex and made millions off of it. He’s one of the primary reasons Red Hill still exists. Mazie Hirono, Brian Schatz, Ed Case, current politicians for Hawaii all are also major reasons why Red Hill existed all the way up until today because they pushed back and fought really hard against the community to silence our voices and to ensure the military got as much funding as they wanted to ensure that they could continue carrying out their pollution campaign here in Hawaii.

So if you’re an organizer and you’re fighting for your land or you’re fighting the U.S. military, understand that the politicians are not going to be your friend. Only overwhelming political pressure is going to force them to do anything. Primarily just because the deep pockets the military has, the military-industrial complex has in terms of campaign donations to people. And in running this kind of campaign, it required mass mobilization. I mean it meant that the fact, one of the things the U.S. military has done here in Hawaii is trying to disconnect people from their understanding of our land and the way our land is an interconnected system. So a lot of people were, the military was just trying to say, “Oh, this isn’t a problem. This isn’t a problem.” Then when it finally was a problem, they were only saying it was a problem for their areas that they were under control of. Making sure to hide from people that this aquifer that they poisoned services 400,000 people, most of them civilians, not all of them military, most of them just families and working class people trying to get by.

So that was one of the really important impacts of this was to make sure that we focused very heavily upon this. And we’re still focusing very heavily upon this, that yes, the military families are the ones who’ve been poisoned, yes, they’ve seen severe harm. Some of them are going to have lifelong health effects because of this. The military needs to compensate them, it needs to care for them, it needs to make sure that these people are taken care of forever because it is ridiculous that they ever had to put up with this. The fact that the U.S. military claims it protects its own and then absolutely poisoned them. But also the working-class people of Hawaii are going to see the hardest impacts of this because it’s their water that’s going to be cut off first. It’s our water that is going to be contaminated long term, but it’s us who is going to have the lowest access to clean water when the taps stop running. And we have the least options when it comes to that.

I think focusing on the impacts among the most vulnerable members of society is important because we have the most immediate need. And so I think that was one of the most important things here was making sure that the people who were going to be the most affected by this were in the know. So we ran extensive canvassing campaigns, we were going up and down through whole communities, passing out information, getting people in the know, like making sure people were up to date about what was going on. People who lived on the other side of the island from Pearl Harbor and Red Hill were not in the dark about the fact that this crisis absolutely affected them and would impact their water.

As far as lessons for other organizers, if you’re going to fight the military, you have to fight them hard. Understand that they have goals that are completely contradictory to life on earth, completely contradictory to the betterment of the working class, betterment of average people, the betterment of literally anybody but themselves and their very wealthy military-industrial complex corporations. So if you’re going to fight them, be ready for stiff resistance. And for the fact that the only thing that will overcome them is grassroots community organizing, massive unity and solidarity and aggressive escalation and taking the fight to them. I think one of the most important things that we did here in terms of forcing the military out, luckily, and also unfortunately, the Hawaiian movement has a lot of history in confronting the military. It took us years to get Kahoʻolawe back over 20 years to get back that entire island.

Luckily we were able to force Red Hill back into the hands of the people within four months, but it took massive risks, including protesting outside one of the largest U.S. military bases on the planet. And basically coming up to the gates and confronting guards and all this other stuff. And so I think in terms of lessons for everyone, if you’re going to fight the most powerful empire on the planet, you have to be willing to stand up to power and you have to be willing to organize across communities. You have to be willing to get your hands on the ground basically. And run an extensive ground game because the only thing that overcomes massive capital and massive military power is massive community solidarity.

KH: I think this campaign is a beautiful example of what’s possible when people are willing to leverage collective power for the sake of collective survival. It is not unusual for the military’s actions to simultaneously harm the communities it occupies, the natural world, and its own employees and their families. It is highly unusual for people to turn that interconnected suffering into collective action — but that doesn’t have to be remarkable. There are many points in our societies where, if we prioritized our collective opposition to what’s killing us, we could halt a lot of harm. And if we continued to build upon that power, and those priorities, we could rattle, upend and crack open the systems that oppress us.

One question that I like to ask activists and organizers is, “What gives you hope?” In this case, I was pretty sure I already knew the answer, but I still wanted to hear it.

KK: The fact that we shut down this massive, what the U.S. military called state-of-the-art facility in four months, gives me a lot of pride. Primarily it gives me a lot of hope because we’re at a time when the U.S. is absolutely committed to a new Cold War, it’s absolutely committed to massive further militarization. Biden just approved the largest military spending budget ever, I want to say, I believe so, just an obscene amount of money. The fact that they’re committing more and more money to this. I mean, Biden’s whole presidency has been ignoring what people are calling for and funding the violent, tyrannical and oppressive programs. The U.S. runs, funding them even more, whether it be police, which murdered people of color on a regular basis or funding the U.S. military, which commits genocide, where ever it goes, commits pollution and basically is sending our entire planet hurtling toward in uninhabitability.

And so what gives me hope in all of this is the fact that every day random people were willing to stand up and fight this, many of them military families. A lot of the people who were poisoned were children and as horrible as that is, it meant that mothers, military spouses who had children, were some of the fiercest fighters on this because the U.S. military, their employer, let me remind everyone that the U.S. military is their employer, poisoned it’s employees. And if they were any other workspace or workplace, that would be massively criticized for harming their employees. But some of these mothers were some of the most fiercest fighters for their children and to protect the water because their children were some of the first affected. But also the fact wherever Indigenous communities are, they fight back against militarism and capitalism.

And here we’re seeing another example of this. At a time when the U.S. is heightened in its violence and heightened in its aggression, that an Indigenous community like Hawaiian people was able to confront that and basically pushed the U.S. out of this facility it’s held for 80 years, in four months is a massive win. And it means that if we can basically take down a facility, if the U.S. said it was critical to its national defense or its strategy in Pacific to hold the Pacific hostage, it was critical to the U.S. military strategy to project force into Asia, to threaten other countries, and we were able to basically rip that facility from their hands and force them to shut it down. That’s huge.

If we can accomplish that, we can accomplish ending militarism and saving our planet because at the end of the day, all of us need water to drink. I don’t know of a single person on the planet would drink jet fuel. I don’t know of a single person on the planet who can breathe in toxic fumes and not see horrible health impacts. I think there’s a lot of power in the fact that everyday people, ordinary working class people are willing to stand up to these master powers that be and win regularly. Keeping that momentum up and using it to build new fights, I think has been giving me a lot of hope lately.

KH: When I was a child, the U.S. declared its first war on Iraq, claiming that its neighbor Kuwait must be defended. The country was fixated, but the visuals were highly curated — a lesson learned from the Vietnam war. There would be no body counts, but we did get trading cards and video game-like imagery of missile launches. By the time the U.S. was waging war on Afghanistan, people here had learned to ignore war in the same way they ignore prisons. Now, a war is raging, the world is watching, and another country is the aggressor, so every impact is emphasized rather than concealed from camera view — and the victims are white. So, some people are reacting as though the horrors of war, including environmental impacts, have just been born. But it’s crucial that we remember that war is always the work of hell-making and the creation of deathscapes, and for the U.S. military, there is no peace time. Because people whose land is occupied, whose water is poisoned, who watch the world around them die, for the sake of military emissions, fuel storage, war games and more, are not experiencing peace. They are experiencing violence. If we want to fight for the future, we must recognize these systems for what they are. We also need to uplift stories that will help people understand the truth of these systems and how to fight back. That’s why Red Hill’s story is so important to tell amid media silence.

KK: Red Hill is not the only piece of Hawaiian land that has been illegally taken and occupied and used against the Hawaiian people by the U.S. military. It’s just one of them. And so as we go forward into the rest of this year, this story has been really underreported. Most major news sources have given it maybe one story. In the press conference when the press secretary for the Secretary of Defense, Austin, said this, there was all these major reporters in the room, not a single one asked any questions about this. They immediately started asking about Ukraine, which obviously is a very important ongoing crisis, but no one seemed to bother with this issue at all. So I think it’s important to keep eyes on issues that seem to be underreported or underrepresented like Red Hill, just because it placed a massive factor in the U.S.’s overall brand strategy here in the Pacific.

But also Red Hill’s not the only land that we need back. We need all of it back. All of the land back in Hawaii because the U.S. military is not a new steward of it. It has been nothing but detrimental to our people. And so the longer this goes on here in Hawaii, the more detrimental effects we’re going to see, not only here in Hawaii but across the world. And so if average Americans need to know anything about Hawaii, it’s that there is a need for massive solidarity on the U.S. continent to help demilitarize Hawaii and help de-occupy us and get our land back so that our people can live on their ancestral lands again, so that our ancestors no longer have their bones desecrated. So our water is still drinkable. So our non-human relatives and animals have a chance to live and thrive here and are not bombed out of existence by the U.S. military.

I think if there’s anything for people to keep their mind on it’s the fact that this summer, when everyone is thinking that COVID is over and that people are trying to go on vacation and all that stuff, especially people coming to Hawaii, that people are living here without water because of the fact the U.S. military decided they were willing to poison our water. The longer this goes on, the more of us are going to suffer and the more of us are going to go without water. And that if they can do this to us, they’ll do this to anyone. So to be prepared for that and to fight before it happens to you, kind of thing. The best time to get into the streets was yesterday and the second best time is today. And so get involved and start fighting for your community before this happens to it.

KH: This fight is not over, and it is, of course, only one chapter in a much larger struggle, but it is a victorious story, and we need those. Over 70 groups, and large numbers of everyday people, came together in Hawaii, and despite their many differences they waged a phenomenal pressure campaign and beat the god damn U.S. military. We lose a lot more than we win in this work, but every once in a while, people pull something off that makes me sit upright in my chair and think, “That’s right. That’s what people can do.” I am so grateful for those moments and for the people who create them, because we need to be reminded that human potential runs in more than one direction. We need to be reminded of our power, and to be challenged by the knowledge that it’s there, if we are willing to act collectively.

If you want to learn more about what’s happening with Red Hill and the military’s environmental violence in Hawaii, I recommend checking out local coverage. Honolulu Civil Beat has some great pieces on this issue, including Christina Jedra’s recent article, “How Hawaii Activists Helped Force The Military’s Hand On Red Hill.” For updates on what’s happening with the situation at Red Hill, you can also follow Oʻahu Water Protectors on Twitter at @oahuWP.

I do want to let our regular listeners know that “Movement Memos” will be on pause for a couple of weeks while I tend to some things that have come up in my life. As always, I appreciate your understanding and support as we all try to navigate these times.

I want to thank Kawenaʻulaokalā Kapahua for talking with me about the powerful work that’s happening in Hawaii. I’m sure I’m not the only one who learned a lot from our conversation. I also want to thank our listeners for joining us today, and remember, our best defense against cynicism is to do good, and to remember that the good we do matters. Until next time, I’ll see you in the streets.

Show Notes


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