Thursday, August 7, 2008

Stand-Off Ends in Stand Down at Naue

I spent several hours today at the Naue burial grounds, where about 30 protestors succeeded in halting construction on Joe Brescia’s house. But quite remarkably, the Kauai police declined to make any arrests.

And seven guys — all but one kanaka maoli — wanted to be arrested. They’d come together from throughout the islands specifically to make a public statement against the “continuing desecration” of the burials there, and they’d linked themselves together with elbows of PVC pipe, a set up that would require cops to cut them apart.

You can see pictures and video at Ehu Cardwell’s Free Hawaii site.

Some veterans in the Hawaiian rights movement, including Palikapu Dedman, Skippy Ioane and Hanalei “Hank” Fergerstrom, also came to Kauai to provide support.

“We came to the conclusion we have to take matters to a higher level to force the so-called authorities to deal with this,” said Andre Perez of Pohaku O Kane, a Koloa boy now living on Oahu who was one of those willing to be arrested.

From the get-go, though, the cops took a conciliatory, hands-off approach, and the protestors were mellow, too. The first two cops arrived, sirens wailing, at 9:22 a.m., and after checking out the scene, called for back-up. Another two showed up, then another, and they conferred with contractor Ted Burkhardt.

The cops told the protestors that construction had stopped at the site in anticipation of next Thursday’s hearing for a permanent injunction, and the crew wasn’t planning to do any digging work today. If the protesters would just let them do a bit of string work for a site inspection survey, they’d be out of there in half an hour.

The guys said no. The cops said they had to warn them that if they didn’t leave, they’d be arrested for trespassing. The guys said good. The cops backed off, then returned and said Police Chief Darryl Perry wanted one of the protestors to call him.

Apparently they’d had a 1 p.m. appointment with the chief, and he wasn’t pleased that they’d gone to Naue instead of his office. The minutes ticked on.

It rained, and Palikapu invited the cops to come under the tarp that protected a picnic table from the elements. “Come inside, we’re not enemies,” Palikapu said. “No, none of us are enemies,” a cop replied, smiling, and he joined the protestors under the tarp.

(As an aside, the graffiti on the table included a drawing of a man with a big gun, standing in front of a big building, and the words: “Protest this.” Andre, pointing the graffiti out to the cops, complained: “This is the kind of cultural insensitivity we have to deal with every day.”)

Les Milnes from the county showed up to do the site inspection, and at Palikapu’s request, he agreed to return another day. Then the construction crew quickly gathered up its gear and took off.

The cops came back and told the protestors they could all leave now, but the protestors said no. “We’re giving you the opportunity to leave without getting arrested,” one of the cops said incredulously.

“We came here with a purpose and we’re sticking with the plan,” Andre said.

Added Hanaloa Helela, of Oahu: “There’s always the option for you guys to stand down.”

And that’s precisely what happened in the end. After about eight hours, the cops and the protesters all split, with the understanding that construction would cease until the hearing.

I must say, I’d never seen anything like it in all the demonstrations I’ve covered. For starters, there was the PVC pipe thing, a set-up known as a “black bear” that Andre had read about in accounts of logging protests in the Pacific Northwest.

Then there was the congenial vibe between the cops and the protestors. But it was the ending that totally blew my mind, serving as yet another example of how Chief Perry has figured out some innovative ways to diffuse protest situations.

As you may recall, he previously stymied a show-down at Naue when he determined that allowing construction to proceed would constitute a violation of state laws prohibiting burial desecrations.

Unfortunately, his opinion was overruled by the state Attorney General and county attorney and construction commenced. Circuit Judge Kathleen Watanabe later denied a request for a restraining order to halt construction until the Aug. 14 injunction hearing, and so work has begun at the site.

I was pretty shocked by how much the site — now totally enclosed in a high black plastic dust fence with 24/7 security — had changed in just a few weeks. Previously, the entire site was covered with markers that denoted where 48 burial areas (some 30 of them intact skeletons) had been found.

Today, just 16 markers remained on the edges of the site. The rest were gone, and in their place were 26 large concrete pilings that had been poured to support footings for the house, which must be elevated.

As I looked at the scene, I got a wave of chicken skin that left me with a very bad feeling. Clearly, building luxury vacation homes atop Hawaiian burials is not a good thing.

As Andre had noted the night before: “Who else in Hawaii has to crawl under someone’s house to visit their kupuna?” The answer, of course, is nobody.

While today’s action ended without any arrests, it did serve to generate some local and national publicity and affirm the commitment of those opposed to the ongoing disruption of burials.

“If the governor does not intervene and construction is not stopped, we will continue to mobilize and occupy,” Andre vowed. “We will be back.”

And I have a feeling more guys will join them next time.


Anonymous said...

Whoopdedo, another empty point made, The meaningful point is who is in charge. The ones in charge are making decisions on what will happen...those trying to make things happen can't even get themselves arrested. That's funny!

Anonymous said...

Dumb anonymous

Anonymous said...
This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.
Joan Conrow said...

Anon. 8:15, those kinds of personal attacks on members of the public will not be tolerated on this blog, so your comment was deleted.

Andy Parx said...

Good for you Joan.

Removing threatening and obnoxious comments is not a matter of censorship or denying free speech. This adolescent behavior by a handful of obnoxious trolls drives away intelligent discussion of the topics raised.

I haven’t had to yet but I’ve decided I’m prepared to do the same thing. I’ve been just ignoring the jerks and trolls and perhaps because of that they have given up trolling my posts lately. But I won’t hesitate to delete remarks that make others shun discussion because they don’t want to expose themselves to a hostile environment.

Anonymous said...

I agree. Attack the issues if you want. Attack or belittle groups of people of like-minded bent, if you will.

Personal attacks on specific individuals going beyond their obvious shortcomings in supporting any particular side of any particular issue shouldn't be tolerated.

Although one may obliquely and passively challenge a person's parentage, saying anything about a persons momma is over the top.

Anonymous said...

how about their daddy, anon 8:08p?
just cuz he makes the decisions in hope of controlling the outcome, funny things can happen.
i believe the meaningful point is that these decisions are made with regard to money rather than cultural sensitivity. where are your ancestors?

Katy said...

"Can't even get themselves arrested"?

What does it say that the KPD, the county, and Brescia are so eager to avoid a confrontation? Clearly, they understand that it would make them, and not the site defenders, look bad in the public eye.

Anonymous said...

what it says is:

The fleas on the tail will not wag the dog.

Anonymous said...

Avoiding physical confrontation while still getting the job done is commendable.

KPD is pursuing trespass arrest warrants for as many protesters as they can identify, and they did take pics. So many will get arrested after the public circus.

Bresca is pursuing his lawsuit against "squatters", which he will certainly win or settle in his favor.

I don't know where anon 8:08's ancestors are but mine are rotting in the ground somewhere and I'd be the first to OK paving them over. I used to have an acrilic toilet seat with some ashes of a particularly "loved" relative imbedded in it.

Screw the dead...they're worm meat. Hold them dear in your minds and mementos and pictures if you will. Build for the living.

Anonymous said...

"Screw the dead"


Anonymous said...

commendable indeed, agreed!
but, anon 7:16a, are we just teeny, teddy beerfarts in the wind?
maybe so in your culture, but why do you have no respect for others cultures who believe differently? or is a culture that did not have money (until it was introduced by forigners) not worth your respect?
will the prodigal son carry out your wishes of asphalt or acrylic?

Anonymous said...

I always respect the dominant culture in foreign lands I visit, even if I don't agree with it.

The thing is, Hawaii isn't a foreign land and the Hawaiian culture is not (no longer) the dominant culture.

I go with the flow, and the flow is with predominant western culture.

Anonymous said...

I don't care what anyone does with my physical remains after I'm dead. Nor do any of my friends.

Dead is dead and "remains" are not to be venerated in our belief.

I'm going to be creamated when my time comes and thrown into the ocean. Depending on the voracity of some of my closest friends, some of my ashes will be secretly placed on certain people's salt shakers, etc.....just for laughs!!

Eat Me!!

Anonymous said...

"voracity" is a good combo of voracious (as in voracious appettite for money) and veracity.
i have never seen any western culture disrespect their own in ways similar to Naue.
seems Purdy in poipu had the correct attitude and took pains to follow protocols with dignified respect that was due. has time and money calloused your attitude?

Anonymous said...

My attitude is calloused toward any who break the law, regardless of what they personally think of the law.

Such lawbreakers should be prosecuted to the full extent, and harassed the whole time.

Anonymous said...

what about moral laws? do you consider yourself the Rosa Parks of human moral codes of respect for others' beliefs.

Anonymous said...

anon at 7:13 would have been ratting out the revolutionaries to the British.

Anonymous said...

yup, I would have...and made a deal for land and titles...then then scooted over to London.

Anonymous said...

Choose to disobey a law if it is an affront to your personal moral code, "go limp" so to speak, and accept the consequences. But DO NOT in any way attempt to actively or passively inhibit anyone else who chooses to follow that law.

That's what I believe in.

Anonymous said...

Rosa Parks sat in a front seat. She did not lay down in front of the bus, sabotage the bus or demand a front seat occupant to vacate for her.

That was OK in my opinion.

Anonymous said...

I respect other's beliefs and will honor them in situations where we are at odds as to what to do in a given situation and the law is on their side.

A person doing/not doing something contrary to his beliefs when the law is on his side is strictly up to that person. His decision should not be challenged once it's made. It's over.

I would expect them to do the same. Bresca has his belief and the law supports him, so back off.

Katy said...

That position has certain flaws.

For example, if the person technically within the law is harming others, people of conscience have a legitimate reason to stop the person from causing that harm.

That is what civil disobedience is all about.

As Andy aptly points out in his post the other day,"Sorry to inform you but justice doesn’t come from laws. Laws are supposed to come from the concepts of justice."

He also included the wonderful anecdote about Thoreau in his statement:
"If defenders of Naue are arrested next time, inappropriate questions like 'what are you doing in jail' will be answered with the Thoreau retort of 'what are you doing out there?'"

Thank you, Andy.

Anonymous said...

What if my neighbor decides to paint "The Big Kahuna's Playground" in huge letters on the side of his garage? Or "Haole Haven"? Or any other possibly offensive phrase you can think of that falls within his rights to paint.

Does it damage me personally? No since my name isn't defamed in any way. Do I strongly object and get physically ill every time I see it, something that cannot be avoided? Sure! It offends my culture and all I hold dear.

My recourse? Politely talk to my neighbor about it. If he chooses to ignore me then I've expended all I should do. No protests, no vigils, no signs, etc.
Maybe a call to the planning/zoning dept to see if I have any recourse there. If not, grow a hedge...put up a fence...move.

Game over.

Anonymous said...

I disagree, Katy. No one is harmed, beyond their "delicate sensibilities" which don't count.

"Harm" is a legal term and its definition is the only one I'd abide with.

Anonymous said...

"What am I doing out there?"

Because I'm not stupid enough to get arrested (with all the consequential damage that causes in one's life) for a bunch of ancient old bones not even in my family line!


I will not fight for an unproven idea of "justice" when such actions violate known clear laws.

Like Katy says, I gotta be me...and out of jail! And collecting $200.

Anonymous said...

I've read lots of Thoreau and never liked him anyway.

Katy said...

Well, the last four comments reveal the sensibilities of people who only think in totally individualistic terms. That doesn't interest me in any way so I guess I've said what I need to say about this for now.

Anonymous said... away when you can't win.

LAW - 1
"delicate sensibilities" - 0
"sensitivity" - 0

"ability to change the laws of the land to support your position" - 0

Happiness of those obaying the law - 1

Unhappiness of those too-sensitive people in this, the real world - 0

If you can't win your case in a court of law, it's not worth fighting.

Anonymous said...

So, Katy, what would you suggest the course of action should be if your neighbor has the 15 foot "Big Kanuna's Playhouse" on the side of his garage facing your picture window?

Anonymous said...

How about a case in Hawaiian Ocean View Estates (HOVE) on the BI.

A nice new home gets a new neighbor who "develope" his land with a $600 shack, 10 cars, 1 of which works, 8 barking dogs, 20 chickens and loud music 20 hrs/day?

Did this affect your property value? Is this "local" lifestyle an affront to your (or most people's) sensibilities?

Who's right and wrong here? What would you do if you had that nice house?

Anonymous said...

The law balances individual rights with community rights. It is not inherantly individualistic, but does protect individual rights when not in legal conflict with community rights.

All else is "delicate sensibilities" or "taste".

And as we all know, there's no accounting for taste.

Anonymous said...

"What are you doing out there?"

OK...Andy, Katy, et al: point us to where we can read about your arrest records for the civil disobedience you so strongly avow.

Or are you safely back, seeing it, writing about it, but not taking it on the chin for it.

Anonymous said...

It's not just a bunch of troublemakers who support Hawaiians and their burial grounds. Anyone who has respect for their culture, stands with them, or should.