My name is Ray Catania, I’m a Child Protective Services worker of nearly 12 years with the State of Hawaii Department of Human Services/Child Protection Services on the island of Kauai. In late August of 2007, over 1,500 people on the island concerned about a private fleet of ships called the “Superferry”… blockaded this 400 foot boat touted to transport Honolulu vacationers and their cars between islands. We didn’t want our island turning into the urban mess that is Honolulu and Oahu.
But the boat was also being fitted to transport Stryker Brigade tanks, the types that were used to bulldoze and roll over houses in Iraq and Afghanistan. Over 20% of the Archipelago’s land base is controlled by the U.S. Military. The Pentagon was planning to use these tanks on Kauai and the Big Island of Hawaii for their training purposes to be later used for whatever war the U.S. starts in the Pacific.
For two days we blockaded the pier and Nawiliwili harbor where the ship was to land. Surfers, swimmers, kayak and canoe paddlers jumped directly into the ship’s path with some of them getting arrested by the U.S. Coast Guard and the Kauai Police Department when they later reached shore. Native Hawaiian and environmental activists blocked vehicles transporting passengers onshore. Linda Lingle, Hawaii’s Republican Govenor at the time, put together a “Unified Command” comprised of the Honolulu and Kauai Police Departments, the Coast Guard, the Navy, Homeland Security Swat teams, the FBI, and supporters from Chamber of Commerce. A fortified perimeter backed up by guns, concrete barriers, chain link fences snipers and helicopters were to be set up if anymore ships intended to return to Kauai. The Coast Guard was to set up floating pontoons in Nawiliwili Harbour to keep any protestors out of the ship’s path. Protestors who crossed their barriers would be charged with acts of terrorism and possibly spend 10 years in jail.
Anyone who got arrested in later protest actions with children under 18 years old were to have their kids taken away and put into foster care. When some of the Kauai CPS workers found out about this plan they said that they would refuse to take part in this action, the State of Hawaii then said they would send Honolulu workers to process the children and families that the State attacks. In a meeting called by the Govenor’s Unified Command, over a thousand people showed up to voice their opinions and shout down the Govenor. I got up as a CPS worker and exposed their plan, saying that they were using a state organization that prevents child abuse to support the schemes of a corporation involved in developing military technology and the Pentagon. Social Workers should not be used to do the dirty work of private business and the military. If anything, if children are taken into custody the offices of the government officials and the agencies sanctioning this action should be picketed and occupied as well. The Superferry never returned to Kauai.