Friday, December 30, 2011

Kauai Cops Raid Native American Church

Kauai police raided a Native American Church in Wailua last week.

But you wouldn't know it from the county's press release, which was issued yesterday after I called looking for more information upon interviewing Robert Pa, president of the Kauai branch of the Oklevueha Native American Church. The release, reprinted by The Garden Island passes it off as another drug bust:

Police arrested a Wailua man last week after locating drugs in his home.

Shane Johnson, age 36, was arrested on Dec. 19 for two counts of first degree Promotion a Dangerous drug, second degree Commercial Promotion of Marijuana and three counts of Drug Paraphernalia.

An initial investigation revealed that Johnson was in illegal possession of a significant amount of Peyote, a Schedule I controlled substance,” says Assistant Chief Roy Asher of the Investigative Services Bureau. “The drug was found in various forms, including: active growth, recently harvested and for immediate consumption.”         

Police also seized a large amount of marijuana that far exceeded Johnson’s allowable limit per his medicinal marijuana permit.

Due to the ongoing nature of the case, the specific amount of drugs seized will not be revealed at this time.

Johnson was released pending further investigation.

But Robert, who was present at the raid, offers quite a bit more detail. As he tells it, UPS delivered a box with peyote, which the Church uses as sacrament, that had been sent from Thailand to Shane's house. The cops had already opened the package so they could outfit it with a tracer that alerted them when it was re-opened and also stained the opener's hands, as well as the peyote buttons, with dye. “They're mixing chemicals with our sacrament,” Robert fumed.

As soon as the box was opened in the house, there was a knock on the door, and Shane opened it to find some 12-15 cops outfitted in full SWAT gear standing in the yard. They had a search warrant signed by District Judge Trudy Senda. On the front page was a reference to Shane's house, while on the second it spoke of the Native American Church.

Shane, who is an ordained minister in the Church, and also its vice president, showed police his paperwork, as well as a copy of the Church's charter.

He also pointed out that the package included a declaration stating that the peyote was destined for the Native American Church. “You have to present that paper [to the seller] to get it shipped in legally,” Robert says.“But the cops ignored it and said it doesn't count.”

According to Robert, one of the cops likened Church leaders to David Koresh, the Branch Davidian leader who was killed, along with 75 adults and children, in a federal raid on their Waco, Tex., compound back in 1993. Except, Shane pointed out, in this instance only the cops had guns, and they were using them to rob the Church of its sacrament.

The cops also nabbed two teen boys, one of whom lives in the house, as they walked out the back door, apparently unaware of the police presence in the front. The house is quite large, and sits on many acres of land. The cops reportedly asked the boys why they were trying to leave a crime scene and handcuffed them, which Robert says left them “fully traumatized.”

Meanwhile, the cops proceeded to search the residence. In one cabinet they reportedly found and confiscated both bagged and freshly harvested cannabis, which Robert says was the property of blue card (medical marijuana license) holders living in the house and well within the allowed amount.

They also found some unopened packages addressed to Touch of Aloha and asked Shane for permission to open them. Shane said he couldn't give that permission, because they weren't his. According to Robert, the cops threatened Shane, saying they would pull his family out of the house for two days and tear it apart if he didn't give them permission to open the boxes. They then reportedly told Shane that he wouldn't get in trouble if the boxes contained pot, only if they held cocaine or heroin. He still wouldn't go along.

“The cops took it upon themselves to those boxes without a search warrant,” Robert said. “That's breaking a federal law.”

At any rate, the cops allegedly found marijuana inside the two packages.

Meanwhile, Robert, Shane and the cops were having a debate over the legality of the Church and its sacrament, with the cops reportedly telling them they could only possess peyote if they had 25 percent Native American blood.

I'm not sure where the cops got the blood quantum bit. A 2004 decision by the Utah Supreme Court involving James Flaming Eagle Mooney, a founder of the Oklevueha church, held that a federal regulatory exemption that allows the use of peyote in religious ceremonies does not restrict that use solely to federally recognized tribes:

We therefore rule that the exemption is available to all members of the Native American Church.

Because the Utah Controlled Substances Act does not clearly specify whether it incorporates the Religious Peyote Exemption, a holding that the exemption does not apply would give rise to serious constitutional claims under the due process clauses of the federal and state constitutions. The ambiguity in the statute is such that the scope of its peyote prohibition cannot be decisively interpreted by lawyers, to say nothing of citizens untrained in the law. This weighs strongly against any interpretation that would enable the State to initiate criminal prosecution based on arguably legitimate conduct.

This ruling, apparently, is what the Kauai branch of the Church was going on in carrying out its own activities, which allegedly included using peyote in sacred ceremonies with its members.

The cops also reportedly confiscated peyote that was in pots, awaiting use at the solstice ceremony.

“I don't see the cops raiding the Catholic Church and taking their bread and wine,” Robert said. “They told us we cannot practice our religion until the courts decide. They are stopping all our activities until they decide if we can go forward. Isn't that genocide? It makes me nuts.”

He said the cops tracked mud throughout the house, and it took him some three hours to clean up the mess after they left, with a handcuffed Shane in tow. “They kidnapped our minister from the Church," Robert said. "The cops, they got no leash, no boundaries on them. They just do whatever they want.”

Shane, who was reportedly interrogated for several hours at the police station, without an attorney present, was then released without charge, pending further investigation.

Meanwhile, someone had called the mayor's office to complain about the raid on the Church. According to county spokeswoman Beth Tokioka:

An anonymous caller called our office and spoke with Sean [Texeira, the mayor's special assistant] to report an incident.  Sean offered to look into it but the caller did not want to leave his name and number.  He instead left the names and numbers of a few other individuals - one of whom was Shane.  Sean determined that the appropriate course of action would be for someone to file a complaint with the Police Commission if they feel something improper had occurred.  He then called Shane to relay that information and explain how to file a complaint if he wanted to do so.  A day or so later Shane and another individual came to the Mayor's office to present the complaint forms.  Sean walked them down to the Office of Boards and Commissions so that it could be filed with the Police Commission secretary.

According to Robert, Sean apologized for what happened and asked if Church members felt violated. When they said they did, he suggested they file a complaint with the Police Commission. The hearing is set for 9 a.m. Jan. 27, 2012.

“But our sacrament cannot be kept out [of soil] that long,” he said. “Our peyote is dying and we missed our solstice ceremony, our Christmas ceremony and now our New Year's ceremony coming up. They get our sacrament in prison and we're out here walking around. What's wrong with that picture?”


Anonymous said...

And so it goes. It's amazing how our occupiers get natives to arrest natives. And they get to keep their lily white hands clean. Welcome to the United States of Militarization.

Anonymous said...

Utah law does not apply to Hawaii.

Interrogation without a lawyer representing the perp being present is fully legal IF the perp did not "lawyer up"...ask for a lawyer. He must ask. The article didn't indicate that he did.

As I read it, no laws were broken.

Anonymous said...

thanks for your reporting on this and all the diverse subjects that you have a heads up on.

Anonymous said...

Our over-the-top cop behavior typical on Kauai. No big fish to fry so they gotta target the little guys practicing their native religion. And what's w/ the blood quantum crap? What happened to freedom to practice ones religion? F#*king ignorant small minded pea brains. Focus on the dangerous criminals and not harmless natives living their culture that happens to differ from others.

Anonymous said...

I'll post this anonymously, as I figure Roy and/or his minions read these. No surprise here...this is the sort of single-minded crap KPD is famous for, and which has not changed under Perry's leadership. Yet we have no information at all on who murdered Amber Jackson.

Anonymous said...

Here goes Asher after another indigenous practice, just like he went after the Kingdom badges.

Anonymous said...

Tsaaa, tell them to go back to Utah. Native Americans are still haoles.

Anonymous said...

Peyote from Thailand as a sacrament? How many doses of the sacrament were found as compared to the number of church members? And shipping their medical marijuana? What's that about? Our drug laws are stupid, but it sounds like these guys are hiding behind their religion to sell drugs.

Anonymous said...

I guess this means all the meth has been cleaned up on Kaua'i, and all containers and mail is being duly searched to keep it out.

Anonymous said...

They're all crazy. The Cops and the "church".

As to the church, for us to buy this crap they are either a) a church that only caters to medical-marijuana needing folks who practice Native American religion; or b) ITs a Native American church when they're eating Peyote and its a Rasta church when they're smoking herb. Either way, kind of hard to swallow its all about religion.

As to the cops. This is all such a big "who cares?". So roughly 12 cops - figure we paid em each for 3 days at $500 per day to do the bust. Then the Court salaries, judge, persecutor, for the case - maybe 5k in salary, plus the court will give these guys private lawyers who will each bill maybe 3 6 months in jail at maybe 25k per defendant - so roughly a $70,000.00 operation.

I can think of specific pot holes in the roads that place our lives in more danger than a bunch of seekers trying to find meaning by joining a church and trying its rituals (on-site - not out driving around or making trouble).. And with the leftover 69K, we could do much more productive things than jailing people who tried to open their minds with some rather harmless drugs - in church.

Anonymous said...

If people are "innocent until proven guilty" why are the cops so heavy-handed with their SWAT gear, handcuffing kids, threatening people. What happened to community policing? What about showing some respect by not tromping thru the house in muddy shoes?

Anonymous said...

This reads like an excerpt from the movie V for Vendetta.
Our police state is getting more like what was portrayed in the movie.

Legal or not, peyote is a sacrament in other cultures. But the ignorant classify it as a dangerous drug along with pot....while "legal" drugs killed over 42,000 people last year. it as it is, or do something about it.

Dr Shibai

Anonymous said...

When police get heavy handed, historically it has taken strong prosecutors to take a stand. Judges too.

Anonymous said...

KPD, Asher, Perry and the rest of the dirty cops are a joke!!!

Remember that columnn the Chief had in TGI to fool Kauaians that he was the man that could change the criminal acts of KPD and their ice dealing relatives. It was Political posturing to have a indefinite contract that he grumbled that he wasn't getting paid enough a yr later.

Iannucci resigns from police commission, probably because he is frustrated with the hand picked commissioners that will not sustain complaints.

PA Iseri Carvalhooo is a vindictve (U Know What) no conflict in prosecuting old boyfriend, family, n friends. We are watching the Hilario case, FEDS are too.

Nothing to see! Superficial Wounds! No suspects!
Good ol Boys n gals at work!

Anonymous said...

Pa violated?
Wonder how his "violated" family members feel about poor violated Pa!
Check his crimmnal record...

Anonymous said...

Not Protect and Serve, It's Harass and Conquer!

The police state becomes ever more powerful.

Have you ever seen a taser video?
Yet they threaten with and use them all the time.

Get ready they'll be asking for drones pretty soon. We'll have cops in our house 24/7.

I sure hope the Mayans were right

Anonymous said...

Let the druggies have their church and use the money to clean up the parks. Or, use it to pay the legal bills we just stuck with. So sad, we'll never know the definition of "shall".
Scary, but true - the police State coming to an island near you. Ever notice how the ones who justify the police state are always the ones in charge of it?
The loss of freedom is so bad that even the commies thinking about voting for Ron Paul, just to salvage a little of it.

Anonymous said...

I have the utmost respect for the Native American Church. And a faithful member for over 18 years and my husband for 40+ years. He was born and raised with the religion. #1 rule is drugs such as marijuana or alcohol do not mix at all. If you are a true believer you will not mix anything with the medicine. And it is true that to legally possess and transport the medicine in the USA you must be at least 1/4 of Native ancestory; thus enrolled in a federally recognized tribe. You have your own christain religions. Go back to it. We aren't trying to immitate and pray like you. Leave our way of life alone. We do not play with it and mix drugs and alcohol.

Anonymous said...

Medicine is being abuse..And he is tired.

Anonymous said...


Anonymous said...

What about the Narcotics Commander? He approved the raid.

Anonymous said...

Drug dealers should not be church leaders of any church!

Anonymous said...

This issue has many angles and perspectives, and like most things, is subjective. There seems to be no clear right answer. That being said, I do have a personal opinion. If these people are operating under the guise of the Native American Church, shouldn't they also be required to follow some guidelines, and act transparently, as to avoid abuses of power such as minors consuming the "sacrament", and the amount and frequency of people consuming such powerful drugs? I understand and respect their right to participate in ritual, but shouldn't they be required to follow some sort of custom? They compare themselves to the catholic church in the article. Does that mean it is except able for the catholic church to hold communion whenever they want, and drink whiskey shots and feed bottles of wine to underage kids? Because it is obvious that ,like many of the above comments state, these people are using the cover of religious freedom to distribute large amounts of drugs. They themselves should know the meaning of "sac religious". And stop abusing their power, before their greed and desire to get high gives the Native American Church a bad name. I agree that the police can be heavy handed. But what the article fails to recognize is that the police would not have been involved unless there were enough caring, concerned people ,and complaints. Get real folks!

Anonymous said...

This Church is legit and uses the peyote according to custom and ceremonial tradition.

Joan Conrow said...

As a follow up, the charges against Shane were all dismissed.

Anonymous said...

Yea , only because the Kauai police didn't know how to handle the peyote laws, and let the case expire before the time limit. Shane got very lucky. And since, the "church" has continued to use peyote on a large scale every week or two, including minors as young as newborns, attending all night peyote "rituals". This makes me sick. CSS should have been involved long ago.

Anonymous said...

Hi to all who dis the church...

Honest question here have you ever attended? Honest question two have you ever been near Kauai? Honest question three do you even know anything about what they stand for?

My guess: No.

Quick to judge... Tsk Tsk.

Much Aloha,
Four Directions.

Unknown said...

To Anonymous ;This makes you sick because you are already sick. Allow the peyote to heal your sickness.

Anonymous said...

Sounds like you a haole by how you talkin