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The Honolulu Advertiser
Posted on: Monday, November 17, 2003

Protesters demand justice for Hawaiians

 •  Kamehameha standards debated
 •  Monarch's birthday celebrated

By Karen Blakeman
Advertiser Staff Writer

More than 500 people, most dressed in red T-shirts demanding justice for Hawaiian people, marched about three miles through the rain yesterday to protest court cases that challenge Native Hawaiian entitlements, including admission policies at Kamehameha Schools.

Hundreds marched yesterday from the Royal Mausoleum to 'Iolani Palace to protest court cases that challenge Native Hawaiian entitlements. "These are ordinary people like myself who are saying, 'Enough is enough,' " said one marcher.

Gregory Yamamoto • The Honolulu Advertiser

The event began at 3 p.m. with chants and offerings of maile and ti leaves to the ali'i buried at the Royal Mausoleum on Nu'uanu Avenue. Shortly after 5 p.m., the protesters marched to 'Iolani Palace, carrying Hawaiian flags, some of them upside down in the sign of distress, and signs calling for justice.

"America destroyed our queen, our princess, our nation, our people and our destiny," read a sign carried by George Kahumoku Kalua Flores.

"Stop stealing Hawaiian lands," was the message printed on the back of Lopaka Asam's T-shirt.

At the palace, many of the protesters planned to stay for an overnight vigil punctuated with prayer sessions and ending with a 5 a.m. candlelight march to the U.S. District Courthouse. Arguments will be heard in court this week in a case challenging the constitutionality of using state and federal tax dollars to pay for Hawaiian-only programs including the Department of Hawaiian Homelands and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, and challenges to the Kamehameha Schools admission policy of giving preference to Hawaiian children.

"These aren't just the radicals," Kaleo-o-kalani Paik, a financial administrator for a construction company, said of her fellow marchers. "These are ordinary people like myself who are saying, 'Enough is enough.' We are being denied our rights by courts that aren't even our own and they are taking everything, bit by bit."

This morning, U.S. District Judge Susan Oki Mollway will hear arguments concerning the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the Department of Hawaiian Home Lands. That case could jeopardize the use of hundreds of thousands of acres of land leases and millions of dollars in loans to Native Hawaiians.

Kaleo Trinidad, right, chants as other Kamehameha students rehearse a routine. Court cases today and tomorrow will challenge admission policies at the school, which was established 116 years ago.

Bruce Asato • The Honolulu Advertiser

U.S. District Judge Alan Kay will hear a case today and Judge David Ezra will hear another tomorrow that challenge admission policies by Kamehameha Schools, an academic institution established 116 years ago through the estate of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who directed it be used to educate Hawaiian children.

"Those court cases are unconscionable. ... I'm tired of seeing my people go to prison," said Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa, director of the Center for Hawaiian Studies at the University of Hawai'i-Manoa. "I want the forces of evil — those people who would steal our lands, our language and our culture — to know that Hawaiians are here to stand up for justice. We're not going to go away, and we're not going to stand quietly in the corner."

Jeanette Salvador Blake, 76, and her husband, William Blake, were among the many older people who participated in the march — most of whom refused rides in the two trolleys that followed after the marchers and instead insisted on protesting afoot.

"We've both been activists since the '40s," Blake said. "And you know, I'm putting all my faith in this generation."

She looked back toward the bandstand, where some of the younger marchers were dancing and waiving their arms to the music of "Sudden Rush."

"They really know how to come through," she said. "They're smart ... and they know exactly what they want. They study the issues, they work together, and they are fighting for justice."

Reach Karen Blakeman at 535-2430 or kblakeman@honoluluadvertiser.com.