The moon snuggled up to Jupiter, directly overhead, and then the rain came, softly at first, then steadily, and it stayed long enough to give all the plants a good drink. Afterward, the dogs and I went down to watch a blood red disk rise from a wind-dappled sea. It hovered for a short time on the edge of the sky before it disappeared into pearly, flat-bottomed clouds, sending silver-gold shafts up into the heavens and down into the water, illuminating boobies fishing on the horizon.
Henry Noa, Prime Minister of the Reinstated Hawaiian Government, tried to illuminate the Kauai Police Commission yesterday about some of the new laws affecting indigenous peoples, as well as concerns that the cops are acting improperly when they do stuff like confiscate ID cards issued by the RHG. Or to use Noa’s own words:
After all, your nation holds itself out as a nation based on the rule of law.
And that law now specifically directs all State and County departments, including the police department, to assist us in making Native Hawaiian sovereignty a reality. When rank and file police officers take actions that have the opposite effect, they violate the law. When the law directs you to assist us in achieving self-determination, but the police confiscate our government property and accuse our citizens of committing crimes, whenever we even attempt to exercise self determination, there can be but one conclusion. ……….. that…
Certain police are violating the very laws that they are sworn to uphold.
But commissioners, looking blank, didn’t want to hear it. In fact, as Noa was reading his well-crafted, and not especially lengthy, statement to the panel, Chairman Charles Iona interrupted and told Noa to cut it short, summarize. Cause ya know, they’ve all got more important things to do.
Noa did manage to share a few things, like how politically aware Hawaiians feel about the Apology Bill, signed 12 years ago by President Clinton:
Of all people, you as police commissioners can understand our frustration at being denied any sort of restitution even after the thief had admitted and apologized for stealing everything we had, even our nation. We find ourselves in the strange position of being perhaps the only victim of a crime in the United States, who has been told that the transgressor has pled guilty and admitted to theft, but that it gets to keep the spoils.
He also got into the United Nations Declaration on the Rights of Indigenous Peoples, which Obama signed last December, and how it guarantees certain rights that KPD is supposed to be protecting.
One especially interesting point, included in the written statement I received, dealt with Senate Bill 1520, which the guv signed into law just two weeks ago. Now, the bill was clearly intended to implement a sham “nation-building” process led by a state agency, Office of Hawaiian Affairs, but the RHG offered an intriguing interpretation of its own (emphasis in original):
That law recognizes the Native Hawaiian people as the aboriginal and indigenous people of these islands. In other words, we are the same people that the UN Declaration protects. It again, promises us sovereignty – but it goes further. It promises that our government is to have equality with your government. Indeed, Senator Solomon has stated that “This new law recognizes Hawaiians as equal partners”.
So all of these laws recognize our indigenous institutions to be equals with your institutions.
These are the laws. But what is happening on the ground, when we try to avail ourselves of these promises of self-determination tells a very different story.
When we attempt to have fundraisers for our nation building, we are met with aggressive officers and issued tickets for minor permitting violations.
When our citizens present their identification cards to the police, the cards are often confiscated.
When our government attempts to register its citizen’s motor vehicles, the registration papers are confiscated, the license plates are confiscated and our people are charged with crimes.
We cannot implement our nation building, and exercise the rights to self-determination that have been promised to us, if we are met with police resistance at every turn.
We are supposed to be treated as partners and not as a subjugated people. We are here to respectfully ask that your police department be instructed to consider whether they themselves might be violating the law when they confiscate our government property and arrest our citizens for asserting self-determination – when they are supposed to be acting as our partner in returning what was stolen.
Only Commissioner Thomas Ianucchi, who was pitching God on the radio the other day, had any questions. Actually, it was more like an explanation for why the RHG shouldn’t expect much from the Commission or KPD. And that’s because they all take their marching orders from the county attorneys and prosecutors, and so far, they haven’t said nuttin’ about any indigenous rights. As Ianucchi continued:
By all means, we can ask the chief to be more sensitive, we can ask him to educate the guys in how their dealings and what not like that, [sic] but by our charter we’re not allowed to…tell them what to do.
As far as complaints…I’ve seen only one come through. If you feel your property’s been stolen, we can review that, take a look, ask the chief to look into it. That’s the authority we have.
Actually, asking the chief to be more sensitive and educate the guys is part of what Noa wanted. As he noted:
It’s frustrating, because you’re trying to conduct yourself in an honorable manner and you’re not respected for it. I’m here today trying to see how the relationship can be improved.
But the Commission, well, it didn’t want to go there, which is why they hurried the RHG guys along.
Before they were shown the door, however, Kane Pa, speaker of our house of nobles for RHG, made an astute comment:
Everything we’re doing is based on law. Whether they want to respect that law is where there’s conflict.