In response to a violent incident and as a show of support for OHA, several Native Hawaiian leaders held a press conference Jan. 24, just outside OHA’s Honolulu office.
On Jan. 17, thirteen individuals from a group calling themselves the Kingdom of Atooi used force to gain control of the lobby of OHA’s Honolulu office, according to an OHA statement. Further, they forcibly removed OHA staff from the lobby, occupied the lobby and refused to let OHA staff enter, disrupting OHA business. They assaulted two OHA staff and harassed others. As a result, the Honolulu Police Department was called.
At the press conference, a statement was read from a “collective” of 48 individuals and groups, including Kamehameha Schools, the Hawaiian Caucus of the Democratic Party, Walter Ritte and several other cultural, educational and community groups. “We stand in solidarity today as one ‘ohana to condemn those actions, condemn the use of violence, and to call upon our lahui to re-commit to building a safe and just Hawai‘i,” the statement read.
It also noted the parallels-Jan. 17 was the 126th anniversary of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom government, which was taken by force when 13 men stormed ‘Iolani Palace. The incident also stood “in stark contrast to the expressions by hundreds of our people that gathered that very same day and time last week in peaceful demonstration from Mauna ‘Ala to ‘Iolani Palace, to remember the events of January 17, 1893,” it stated. “We are certain that our Queen, who herself invoked a decree of peace in the face of violence, would not condone these violent acts.”
Prof. Jonathan Osorio, Dean of the Hawai‘inuiākea School of Hawaiian Knowledge, was one of those present, and spoke about the work of other sovereignty groups. “We have numerous sovereignty initiatives in Hawai‘i, many kingdoms, many people who have come forward, to these offices in fact, sometimes to support, sometimes to scold and we talk and we interact and we show up at events and we say our peace. We don’t presume to take over the country for ourselves,” he said.
“The Hawaiian movement has always been nonviolent. It has always been about conversation and confrontation, yes and conflict, but it has never done what they did. And so we disavow that as a tactic,” Osorio added.
OHA administration did not call the press conference, but the trustees and CEO Kamana’opono Crabbe were on hand “to thank them and our greater lāhui throughout Hawai‘i for standing with us,” he said. In addition, he also expressed his gratitude to “Honolulu Police Department for their support and assistance over the last week.”