Protesters say excess force used at congressional hearing
By Pacific Island Times News Staff
Security officers removed protesters from the hearing room at the Hilton Hotel and Resort and Spa after they barged in while the U.S. House Committee on Natural Resources was conducting a field hearing Thursday.
The hearing was briefly interrupted while people holding signs in front of committee members were led away.
Arkansas Republican Rep. Bruce Westerman, who chairs the committee, paused the hearing for a few seconds.
“I’ll remind the audience that this is an official hearing of the United States Congress,” he said. “We're following the rules of the House. We ask that you respect the proceedings of the committee hearing.”
“It’s an official hearing of the committee and we have rules,” Westerman said at a press conference after the hearing.
“I don’t want anybody to think that voices aren’t being heard, but there’s a format and rules that must be followed so we can carry out the hearing,” he said
He said members of Congress are familiar with protests.
“As you can imagine, none of us is immune to protests,” he said. “Even in D.C., these things happen but we have to keep the room in order while we’re having a hearing.”
Monaeka Flores, a member of Prutehi Litekyan: Save Ritidian, said representatives of that group and individual protesters were removed.
“Hands were put on protesters by security staff of the governor, even after the protesters asked that they not be touched and stated they were leaving,” Flores said in a statement. “One disabled veteran was pushed and stepped on as she asked security staff not to touch her and said she was leaving. First Amendment and civil rights were also violated. Folks attended the meeting to protest the lack of community involvement and the overt pro-buildup, pro-war narrative being pushed.”
No arrests were made.
The Guam Police Department issued a statement saying the officers were from the department, not the governor’s office.
“There were instances when protestors aggressively approached the stage area, prompting a cautious response from our officers,” the statement from police said. “Disruptive protestors were promptly removed from the premises but were not restricted from returning as long as they were no longer disruptive and complied with the rules. They were also directed to the designated protest site.”
Police said anyone who feels they were mishandled should file a complaint.
Flores said that prior to the meeting, calls were made to Del. James Moylan’s office, and callers were told that signage was allowed. Moylan organized the field hearing.