Koa Futures: HPJ Campaigns
Koa Futures is Hawaiiʻi Peace and Justiceʻs campaign and base building Initiative.
In our language, “koa” is not used to describe those who fight in battles because it means “warrior”; it is used to describe those who fight in battles because it means “brave.” It means “courageous.” It is connected to the mighty koa tree here, and has a history of other trees called toa throughout Polynesia. Koa seeds can remain viable in the soil for twenty-five years or more. For them to germinate, they often have to be scarred or cracked first, yet they grow to amazing heights.
– Kamaoli Kuwada
“We are Not Warriors, we are a Grove of Trees”
Like koa, the peace movement can feel scarred and cracked under the weight of rising neoliberal policies, but if organized we will grow to great heights. . Our Koa Futures Initiative, was born out of the historical Cancel RIMPAC coalition with the aim of developing a more expansive, stronger and dynamic grassroots based movement. HPJ campaigns seek to remove the destructive land use practices of the U.S. military, prioritize climate justice and to invest in aloha ʻāina futures in the midst of military occupation.
Our Koa Futures Initiative seeks to strengthen the demilitarization movement in Hawaiʻi by:
- Continuing to build our alliances with both local and international organizations committed to a demilitarized Pacific.
- Enhancing our political education program focused on impacted communities and their lands and waters, with particular attention to Kānaka ʻŌiwi in military impacted areas and working class/poor immigrant communities who are often displaced by U.S. imperial policies to Hawaiʻi
- Building a base of multi-generational organizers and activists who will continue to lay the foundation for genuine security opposed to the militarized prison industrial complex and committed to restoring ʻāina and wai for future generations.
- Normalizing the framework of demilitarization within other social movements and community organizing groups (e.g. Hawaiian sovereignty, youth organizing, labor, interfaith, environmentalist, racial justice, abolition, food sovereignty, Feminist).
Protect Kanaloa! Aʻole RIMPAC
The Rim of the Pacific Maritime Exercises are the largest maritime warfare exercises in the world. Since 1971, it has been held biannually and led by the Hawaiʻi Indo-Pacific Command at Puʻuloa (Pearl Harbor). The exercises invite militaries from member countries from around the world to converge on Hawaiʻi to conduct amphibious assaults, aerial bombings, ship sinking known as sinkex, live fire training on land and at sea. In 2022, over 25,000 personnel,38 warships, 4 submarines, 170 aircraft and ground troops from 26 different countries will be present in the islands. Whenever, the exercises occur, gendered violence, sexual assault and sex trafficking increases. Local beaches and turtle nesting grounds are devastated, bird conservation zones are inundated with live fire, the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea is aerial bombed, sonar from not one but multiple ships consistently cause whale beachings from the North Pacific to Australia.. As long as RIMPAC has existed there has been Pan-Pacific opposition to its presence.
In 2020, in the midst of the first year of the COVID 19 virus, HPJ members were vital in collecting over 12,000 signatures to pressure the State to not allow RIMPAC to threaten the lives of the people of Hawaiʻi for the sake of wargames. As a result, although the exercises werenʻt canceled, they were held at sea only. This mitigated harm on the land, but increased the impact on our moana nui. While HPJ has consistently participated in actions opposing RIMPAC, beginning in 2022, HPJ will be focusing on training a core group of young organizers to become critical leaders in the fight to demilitarize Hawaiʻi. Program goals will include popular education on the history of militarism in Hawaiʻi and the Pacific and a theory of change that promotes generative economies and climate justice, training on how to create non-violent direct actions guided by aloha ʻāina , and art activism as a tool for social justice.
OLA I KA WAI! Shut Down Red Hill Storage Facility
For nearly 80 years, the U.S. Navy has stored well over 100 million gallons of fuel in 20, 20-story massive underground storage tanks in Kapūkakī, also known as Red Hill, a ridge between Hālawa and Moanalua.
Located a mere 100 feet above Oʻahu’s primary drinking water source these deteriorating tanks have leaked more than 180,000 gallons of fuel over their lifetime. Their walls have corroded to less than the thickness of a dime and are under high pressure from the large volume of jet fuel. While the Board of Water Supply maintains that Oʻahu’s drinking water is currently safe to consume, the recent pattern of leaks suggests that the tanks and their connected distribution system are failing and have a high probability of catastrophic failure that would make our water supply undrinkable:
- In 2014, 27,000 gallons of jet fuel leaks from Tank 5.
- In March 2020, a pipeline connected to Red Hill leaked an unknown quantity of fuel into Pearl Harbor Hotel Pier. The leak, which had stopped, started again in June 2020. Approximately 7,100 gallons of fuel was collected from the surrounding environment.
- In January 2021, a pipeline that leads to the Hotel Pier area failed two leak detection tests. In February, a Navy contractor determined that there is an active leak at Hotel Pier. The Department of Health only found out in May.
- In May 2021, over 1,600 gallons of fuel leaked from the facility due to human error after a control room operator failed to follow correct procedures.
- In July 2021, 100 gallons of fuel was released into Pearl Harbor, possibly from a source connected to the Red Hill facility.
- In November 2021, residents from the neighborhoods of Foster Village and Aliamanu called 911 to report the smell of fuel, later found likely to have come from a leak from a fire suppression drain line connected to Red Hill. Approximately 93,000 persons were affected by the contaminated water. As of January 2022, thousands of military and civilian families are still unable to return to their homes, with civilian families receiving no support or reparations for loss and damage from the Navy at all.
- The Navy estimates that more than 19,000 gallons of a fuel may have leaked, much of it getting into the aquifer.
- The Navy’s own risk assessment reports that there is a 96% chance that up to 30,000 gallons of fuel will leak into the aquifer over the next 10 years.
The Red Hill fuel tanks are an environmental time bomb threatening the drinking water for 400,000 Oʻahu residents.
Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice joined with the Sierra Club of Hawaiʻi and other organizations and individuals to form the Oʻahu Water Protectors.
We affirm that water is life. Access to clean drinking water is a basic human right.
We see the Red Hill fuel tanks as an existential threat to Oʻahu’s drinking water. They must be safely defueled as soon as possible. And the entire facility must be decommissioned.
We demand that local, state, and federal officials take urgent action to shut down the Red Hill fuel tanks in order to protect drinking water on Oʻahu.
Join our efforts to protect Oʻahu’s drinking water by endorsing this coalition statement and helping with outreach, education, and action.
STOP THE ARMY LEASES!
HPJ will work with organizations such as Mālama Mākua to establish the campaign Kū Kiaʻi ʻĀina! Stop the Leases. After halting Army live fire training and gaining cultural access at Mākua, we have the opportunity to reclaim thousands of acres of land leased by the State of Hawai’i to the U.S. Army for $1 for 65 years. With the expiration of numerous military leases in 2029, this is an opportunity to prepare a multigenerational movement to develop new strategies to restore these lands to the people of Hawaiʻi.