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Saturday, October 24, 2009
Union Member Assaults Maui Tea Party Organizer at School Furlough Protest
By Malia Zimmerman @ 11:57 AM :: 17610 Views :: Kauai County, DHHL, Energy, Environment

by Malia Zimmerman, www.HawaiiReporter.com

Marc Hodges, head of the pro-taxpayer, anti-government-waste group, www.HawaiiTEAParty.org - helped public school parents organize a rally this morning in Maui against the state Department of Education’s decision to close all public schools for 17 “Furlough Fridays” because of budget shortfalls.

Accompanied by his 6-year-old daughter, a Hawaii public school student who was out of school that day because of the furloughs, Hodges headed out to the rally at the state building in Wailuku. He brought along signs that read “Cut Waste, Not Classes” and “Taxed Enough Already!”

As volunteer sign wavers arrived, they noticed an angry man shouting at them about “F***ing Republicans!” The man picked up the TEA Party signs that were set up near the sidewalk and started to walk away with them. Hodges, called after the man, repeatedly asking him, “Friend, please bring back those signs – they are private property,” but the man continued storming off. Finally, Hodges called out that he would summon police if the man did not return the signs. The man then turned around, marched up to Hodges still carrying the signs and yelled "I'm gonna kick your a**!!".

Hodges, a former Maui police officer, notified the man that pursuant to Hawaii law, Hodges was placing the man under citizen's arrest for the theft of the signs and the physical threat. The man grew angrier and threw the signs, which are made of heavy wood, at Hodges's feet, cutting Hodges’ right leg through his jeans. Hodges stood by with the man until police arrived, accepted Hodges' citizen's arrest, and took the man to the police station for processing. Police reports were generated against the man for theft in the fourth degree and assault in the third degree.

Hodges and others who participated in the event later found out that the man was a union member upset with the governor over budget cuts.

Hodges, a known Hawaii Democrat, said today: "All across the country, Democrat Party leaders and certain union bosses are trying to claim that TEA Party organizers are part of angry mobs getting violent at townhalls. Nothing could be further from the truth. In fact it's been certain union members that have been violent against us." "Today, we had another example when an angry union member blatantly stole our signs, verbally attacked us, and then physically assaulted me during a peaceful rally. And he did this in front of the children who were present, including my daughter. His statements make it clear that his crimes were politically motivated. He used theft, threat of violence, and actual violence in his attempt to crush our First Amendment Rights and prevent the public from seeing our message. He violated my civil rights and the civil rights of the others present and passersby."

Hodges continued, "After 8 years in the Hawaii government employees' union and the police union myself, I am very sympathetic to the needs and fears of union rank and file. It's sad that a few union bosses have chosen to pit us union members against each other and against the parents and the public in order to further the government employee union's control of Hawaii's Legislature." Hodges concluded "We need solutions, not street fights. That's why Hawaii TEA Party is working with PTA's to keep our classrooms open on the furlough days using community volunteers. The long-term solution is to get our economy going again. And that requires tax cuts and removing useless government red tape."

The man later apologized personally to Hodges.

READ MORE AT LINK: to original article



More on story from Maui News:  Parents, students rally on 1st Furlough Friday

Marc Hodges, the former officer and president of the Hawaii TEA (Tax Enough Already) Party, made a citizen's arrest against a man who Hodges says stole his two rally signs that said: "Tax Enough Already" and "Cut Waste, Not Classes." Hodges said the man assaulted him in a confrontation over the signs.

According to police, Ben Wilson, 31, of Haiku, was arrested and charged with fourth-degree theft and third-degree assault, which are both misdemeanors. Police escorted Wilson away from the rally in handcuffs. He was later released on $300 bail.

Wilson could not be reached for comment.

Hodges said he was surprised at Wilson's actions. He said he told his 6-year-old daughter to stay with the rally organizers while he placed Wilson under citizen's arrest. Police accepted Hodges' citizen's arrest after questioning both men.

Hodges said Wilson returned to the rally after being processed at the Wailuku Police Station and the two "parted on good terms."

"The upshot is people feel strongly about this, and we need to come together to find solutions. We agree there's a problem, now it's time to talk about solutions," Hodges said.

The Hawaii TEA Party suggests ordering the state Department of Education to eliminate waste to save money and stop furloughing teachers. He said the state auditor has reported finding administrative and bureaucratic waste within the public school system.

"We believe that the teacher furloughs were the least useful solution," Hodges said.


LINK: Maui News article


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