Police presence prevents clash with protesters at Restoration Day ceremonies

By Catherine Cruz
Published On: Jul 31 2013 04:42:00 PM HST

Honolulu police stood by, just in case there was trouble from groups who have been at odds with the city.

HONOLULU -

Honolulu police stood by, just in case there was trouble from groups who have been at odds with the city.

Earlier in the morning, workers cleared tents and signs from an area previously taken over by the Occupy demonstrators who have argued for free speech rights.

But Wednesday, the city moved to take the park back.

"This is the people's park for everyone, not anyone to take over but it’s for everyone in this community," said Mayor Kirk Caldwell.

City officials planned an event to mark "Restoration Day," an event that used to be celebrated regularly.

It marks a bit of Hawaiian history lost to many who pass it by every day.

One hundred seventy years ago, a Union Jack flew over the area marking the end of a five-month seizure of the Hawaiian Kingdom by a British officer only to be restored -- thanks to Rear Admiral Richard Thomas.

"The privy council established the first park in the Hawaiian islands, a new concept and named it Thomas Square after Admiral Richard Thomas," said University of Hawaii professor Puakea Nogelmeier.

The ceremony went off uninterrupted and the Hawaiian Flag flew overhead.

Demonstrators were free to parade a sign around the park perimeter.

The city has spent money to improve the park and has begun to focus on its future.

One idea is to expand the park, which would mean extending the green space over what’s now the Blaisdell Concert Hall.

The plan is something the Hawaii Community Development Authority has pitched.

It’s suggested it as a way for the city to redevelopment aging Blaisdell complex. possibly partnering with the private sector to build a super-skycraper up 700 feet tall.

"At the end of the day we will reach out to the community and see what we can see to works and move the Blaisdell into the next 50 years and as part of that is how do we incorporate this park," said the mayor.

The expected growth of an extra 30,000 residents -- and rail will put pressure on green space and so the ideas about enhancing area parks are likely no coincidence.

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