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Permit denied for assembly at palace

May 17, 2008
By

go to original story. The state yesterday denied a permit to a Hawaiian sovereignty group that wanted to continue to occupy part of the ‘Iolani Palace grounds, as it has been doing since April 30.

State Land Board Director Laura H. Thielen denied the group an assembly permit yesterday, saying it had broken the rules of previous permits issued to the group.

“Based on their behavior over the last week, we cannot rely on the assurances that they’ve provided us because they have violated the permit conditions after full explanation of what those conditions prohibit,” Thielen said.

The group violated permit conditions by collecting money and entering buildings that were off limits, Thielen said.

The Hawaiian Kingdom Government, one of several Hawaiian sovereignty organizations that claim to not recognize the authority of either the U.S. government or the state of Hawai’i, has been occupying the mauka lawn of the palace since April 30.

On that day, it locked the gates of the palace grounds for about eight hours and blocked entrance to all but Native Hawaiians and the media, effectively shutting down tours at ‘Iolani Palace as well as operations at the Hawai’i Archives Building that sits just behind the palace.

The Hawaiian Kingdom Government will still be allowed to go to the palace grounds, but they will not be allowed to assemble more than 24 people, put up tents or use a sound system as of Monday.

On Wednesday, Hawaiian Kingdom Government leader Mahealani Kahau and several other organization members entered the Kana’ina Building, the former archives building on the palace grounds that houses the Friends of ‘Iolani Palace, the nonprofit that operates the palace as a museum.

Kahau was escorted off the grounds later that day and told not to return for the rest of the week. The group was not allowed to enter the Kana’ina Building or the ‘Iolani Palace, according to Thielen.

“Over the past two weeks, Mahealani Kahau and members of the organization have demonstrated that they will not comply with permit conditions,” Thielen said. “Accordingly, we cannot process your application until we receive satisfactory assurances that all members of the organization will comply with permit conditions.”

Kahau, after being escorted off the grounds Wednesday, said she was trying to retrieve a letter to her that she believed had been delivered to the Kana’ina Building. She said she did not know she had violated the permit and called it “shameful for (DLNR) to make a small little thing so big.”

Thielen said she is open to issuing new permits if the group abides by the permit rules.

“Monday, they may come back and discuss with us what kind of assurances they want to provide, but, in the absence of any permit, they’re bound by the regular rules of the park as any citizen,” Thielen said.

violating permit rules

State rules governing parks and other public places prohibit groups of 25 or more from gathering and using sound systems and tents without a permit. The Hawaiian Kingdom Government assembled up to 75 supporters and used sound systems and tents during its 2 1/2-week presence on palace grounds.

Efforts to contact members of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government about the denial of their permit were unsuccessful.

From May 1 through yesterday, members of the group have spent each weekday on the back lawn “conducting business,” according to members of the organization. They obtained five-day permits on May 5 and 12 and were attempting to get one for the week of May 19.

Thielen, who heads the Department of Land and Natural Resources that oversees the palace grounds, said three infractions of the permit occurred the week of May 5, including the setting up of a tent outside the permitted area, money-collecting by the organization, and attempts by group members to enter the palace itself.

Group members have said they were given bags of quarters by supporters who passed by. The group parks its vehicles in metered stalls nearby, and the quarters were to feed the meter, the group said.

signatures needed

Asked what specific assurances she is seeking from the group, Thielen told The Advertiser that one thing would be the signatures of other members of the group beside Kahau, who has signed the applications identifying herself as “head of state” for the Hawaiian Kingdom Government.

“We’d want the leadership of the organization to sign on to the permit conditions and the understanding that if they violate them, we will not be issuing them further permits,” Thielen said.

Thielen said there may be other considerations.

Law enforcement officers from DLNR’s Conservation and Resources Enforcement Division, also known as DOCARE, have “had a presence” on the palace grounds since April 30, Thielen said, although she declined to give specific numbers.

Prior to April 30, the DLNR relied on Friends of ‘Iolani Palace, which has a lease to operate the palace as a museum, to patrol the grounds with some assistance from state sheriffs at the neighboring state Capitol, Thielen said.

DOCARE had been going to the palace “on an as-needed basis,” she said.

Asked if her agency intends to bulk up security staffing at the palace on Monday morning, Thielen said: “Anytime we have a period of uncertainty, we’re prepared.”

‘not doing any harm’

Longtime Hawaiian activist Kekuni Blaisdell, who identifies himself as a Hawaiian national, said he does not subscribe to the views of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government but nonetheless called it “outrageous” that DLNR would deny the group a permit.

“They’re not doing any harm to anyone at all,” Blaisdell said. “They’re peaceful and nonviolent.”

He added: “I believe that it is important for us kanaka maoli to continue to resist what is clearly to me the illegal occupation of our homeland by the United States and its subsidiaries such as the state of Hawai’i.”

Kahau and others in her group have stated repeatedly that they are not protesters, but are occupying the grounds of the palace as the rightful government of Hawai’i. Members of other Hawaiian activist groups have said they support the Hawaiian Kingdom’s right to occupy the palace grounds even if they do not support their views.

Reach Gordon Y.K. Pang at gpang@honoluluadvertiser.com.

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