Sunday, May 4, 2008

Musings: Feeling Threatened

The sky was oozing gold around its northeastern edges, but mostly it was grey, so I wasn’t expecting anything showy when Koko and I went walking this quiet Sunday morning.

But looks can be deceiving, as I discovered when the sun rose in earnest, infusing color into the world, and I watched a rain shower, tinted pink, drift the entire length of the Sleeping Giant’s body and a thick, vibrant rainbow form when the rain reached the cinder cone, and soon it was joined by another, only this one was slightly fainter, and then they both touched down in a roadside pasture. I don’t think there was a pot of gold at the end, unless you count the value of the cow that ambled through and the inherent splendor of a scene that filled my eyes with beauty and so my heart with joy.

And suddenly the rain was upon me, soft and warm, and still the light did not fade, nor the rainbows, which followed me home and as I turned into my driveway, Koko and I were standing at the apex of the most brilliant arch and we remained there, paying homage, until the rain stopped and the colors disappeared.

It seems, from recent actions, that the Kauai Police Department would like the Kingdom of Atooi to disappear, so in following the usual strategy taken when the established power structure feels threatened, they’re going after its leaders, Dayne Aipoalani and Robert Pa, in a heavy-handed way.

As you may recall, Dayne and Robert were arrested last October at a planning commission meeting — you know, the place where hardened criminals and radical revolutionaries usually hang out — on charges of obstructing government operations, disorderly conduct and simple trespassing, stemming from the late August Superferry protests at Nawiliwili.

 Both men were also charged with impersonating a police officer because they were carrying badges — not fake or real cop badges, but badges issued by the Kingdom.

Since then, even though the county prosecutor has failed to successfully prosecute others arrested at the Superferry protests due to the usual police bungling (go bunglers!), the case against Rob and Dayne has dragged on.

In between court appearances, the cops have subjected both men to harassment that would be considered petty, except their liberty — and since cops carry guns, and soon tasers, perhaps even their lives — is at stake.

The most recent event occurred on Wednesday night, following the anti-GMO meeting in Hanapepe, which Dayne had attended. While driving home with his wife and daughter, he was stopped by a large number of cops, some of them reportedly dressed in riot gear, then shackled and hauled off to jail on a contempt warrant for missing a court appearance.

Never mind that Dayne had a doctor’s excuse for missing his court date, and that the excuse was indeed in the records. But instead of letting him go immediately, with an apology, they reportedly questioned him about the ongoing occupation at Iolani Palace. What, just because he’s a kanaka, he’s supposed to have da scoop on what every other independence group is up to?

This kind of amped-up take-down shake-down is totally uncalled for. Dayne has never advocated any sort of violent overthrow or been known to carry weapons; indeed, the group advocates such radicalism as cleaning up ice, more citizen participation in decision-making and sensible land use planning.

I realize this is all very threatening to the status quo, but certainly Dayne and Rob have as much right to push their agenda as, say, Grove Farm, which has already so thoroughly infiltrated the county’s political system that it has no need to advocate for change from a position outside of it.

Meanwhile, when I interviewed Rob Pa about his hand-carved Polynesian canoe, he told of how he was trying to transport it to Kekaha for a town celebration when cops stopped him in Anahola because he reportedly didn’t have a permit to move it on the road, even though it was on a trailer.

The cops demanded Rob’s driver’s license, which was in the glove box, but instead of letting him go get it, they arrested him and hauled him off to jail for driving without a license. His wahine, also in the car with their two young kids and baby, had to follow him down to Babylon central to produce the license. The charges were dropped, but needless to say, it kind of ruined their day.

Instead of trying to destroy the Kingdom and incarcerate two men who are trying hard to do something positive for the community, why can’t the cops work with them, like they’ve embraced the Westside Guardian Angels and neighborhood watch groups?

I liked and respected KPD Chief Darryl Perry when I met him, and I know his sister, Mahealani Perez-Wendt, is a strong advocate of Hawaiian independence. I’m not sure where he stands on the issue, but regardless, I hope he can come to understand that the Kingdom guys are not our enemies, and shouldn’t be treated like thugs and terrorists. The cops on the beat need to be reined in here.

As Rob told me: “I like they leave us alone and recognize us. I’m doing what I should be doing, but the state, DLNR, the cops, all try to stop us. Who is them to be telling us you cannot do this, you cannot do that?”

Indeed.

9 comments:

MauiBrad said...

Unacceptable.

I have linked to this.

Aloha, Brad

Anonymous said...

Why do i feel like there's a part of the story I'm not getting here?

Koohan Paik said...

I know it's hard to believe that this is the whole story, but it is. I have talked to people close to the police department, as well as to Dayne Aipoalani himself.

The part of the story that is left out is the sheer lack of oversight on police conduct on Kauai. I predict this case will become a watershed incident in exposing the corruption that has successfully stayed in the closet, in spite of the Chief Lum controversies from a few years ago.

The credibility of this story seems to shift according to demographic of the reader. The "haves" find it difficult to swallow, while for the "have-nots" (who, in the case of our island paradise colony, happen to often be the native folk), it is "business as usual."

Aloha, Koohan

Joan said...

There's a lot of stuff that goes on with the cops that may be hard for people to believe unless they experience it first hand.

Anonymous said...

I'm concerned that this level of police reaction is being focussed on people who are engaging in organizing around significant social justice issues.

We're not talking about crack dealers and child molesters - and I'm not arguing that our "justice" system handles those problems appropriately - but people attempting to make real change in our world. Well, my opinion is that it is this very thing that police are supposed to prevent, so why should it surprise us when they crack down?

-Katy

Andy Parx said...

I've asked the County PIO for explaination or comment.

Anonymous said...

Ms. Paik is right. The real story is the total lack of oversight at KPD. No internal affairs. No record keeping of citizen complaints. 4 chiefs in 3 years. KPD paid $980,000 to former officer of the year, Darla Abbatiello last year for retaliation she suffered when she tried to "whistleblow" about potential officer corruption. Ask her about it. The County fought her for four years. Her story includes death threats and a stolen gun. They even went after her lawyer's license with a fabricated ethics complaint. Its a good time to carry a video cam.

Pa and Apiolani have constitutional rights to work on forming a sovereign hawaiian government. The island of Kahoolawe has already been set aside for that government. Ceded lands await it. Do the police even know this? It sure seems like a civil rights violation when 20 cops go to arrest someone on a minor bench warrant. But, ask the one's who have actually taken on "corruption" at KPD. There is a high price.

Anonymous said...

Every police force has its own group of rogue officers. I have seem some of them in action in our County. As far as this incident though, it sure looks like harassment to me. Josephine

Anonymous said...

Ya, it IS reduculous! But the rest of the story not mentioned here is that Pa mouthed off to the cops, pissed them off, and because he was such an ass they hauled him in for something that they would otherwise have overlooked. Moral of the story is, if you're going to disrespect someone, you better have all your ducks in a row.