Iolani palace reopened

CRAIG T. KOJIMA / CKOJIMA@STARBULLETIN.COM
Officers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources helped boost security at Iolani Palace yesterday in response to a takeover attempt Friday. A tour group was outside the palace.
Protecting the palace
Reopened: Security boosted at Iolani Palace
By Gene Park
gpark@starbulletin.com

As promised, security at Iolani Palace was ramped up yesterday as the state monument opened to tours for the first time since Friday’s break-in.

Fewer than a dozen conservation and resources enforcement officers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources guarded the mauka and makai entrances to the palace.

The Friends of Iolani Palace’s own security force also will add personnel to its force of up to nine guards, said Executive Director Kippen de Alba Chu.

“We’re in the process of upgrading and doing more for security,” he said, declining to disclose specific plans and how many personnel he plans to hire. “I can’t say, but definitely more.”

The increased patrol, which is expected to be a continuing presence on the grounds, is a result of a break-in Friday by a group called the Kingdom of Hawaii, Nation.

That evening, the group chained the gates to the state monument’s grounds and broke into the palace in an attempt to seat their purported king of Hawaii on the throne.

De Alba Chu said the group came prepared, creating a diversionary tactic by tripping motion-sensor alarms in the moat to lead employees away from the actual point of entry.

“According to our security records, our mauka-side alarms went off shortly before the makai side went off,” he said.

De Alba Chu met earlier this week with his staff and volunteers, who expressed many safety concerns.

Chief among them is the possibility of escalation. The first palace takeover, in April, by a group called the Hawaiian Kingdom Government, involved chaining the gates and refusing public access to the grounds.

Friday’s takeover triggered charges of criminal trespass, burglary and assault, allegedly to a female employee of the palace.

“Are they going to bring weapons next time?” de Alba Chu said. “That’s always a big concern … but the staff feels reassured about the increased state presence here.”

De Alba Chu said staff members were also concerned about how they would be able to recognize threats if they were disguised as interested tourists.

“Our security watches their behavior because we have security cameras throughout,” de Alba Chu said. “So we do follow them from the time they’re on the lanai as they’re going through. If they stray from the group, we’ll see them.”

De Alba Chu said he hopes proposals being put forth by DLNR will be received warmly by the public in light of Friday’s incident.

Those proposed rules include prohibiting the locking of gates, which was never specified before, de Alba Chu said.

“There’s also the issues of no showering, no cooking, no camping,” de Alba Chu said.

Visitor Margaret Kramer of Charlottesville, Va., said she found the news surrounding the palace takeover “pretty odd.”

Still, she was looking forward to seeing the palace during her weeklong stay in Hawaii. She said the increased security presence at the palace did not ruin her experience.

“It doesn’t bother me,” she said. “I never really felt not safe. Otherwise, I wouldn’t have came.”

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