By TOM CALLIS
Tribune-Herald staff writer
Sovereignty activists plan to return Saturday to the site of their “Kanaka Garden” in front of the King Kamehameha the Great statue in Hilo to continue their protest of the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom and what they view as an illegal occupation by the United States.
The protesters will gather at noon where they will host a potluck and begin replanting the unauthorized garden, uprooted by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources on April 5, at the Wailoa River State Recreation Area.
Gene Tamashiro, who helped start the garden of taro back in January as a way to bring attention to Hawaii’s political past, said he doesn’t know how many will show up but noted he has given notice to DLNR staff in Hilo.
Dean Takebayashi, DLNR district park superintendent, said he couldn’t comment on what the agency’s response might be.
“There are proper procedures that have to be followed,” he added, referring to use of public land.
Police and DLNR officials put an end to the garden a few weeks after at least one activist, Abel Lui, began camping at the park to protect the crops.
The protesters say 11 of them were arrested during what they refer to as an “early morning raid” by police. They were charged with illegal camping, they said, which comes with a $30 fine.
Tamashiro, a man of Okinawan descent who also started the group “Aloha Uprising,” said the activists want to challenge the state’s jurisdiction over ceded lands, which is why they haven’t asked for permission to make the garden.
Those lands, including the park, once belonged to the kingdom. The state has responsibility for their management.
Tamashiro said he sees it as “stolen property” and wants the state to prove otherwise.
For the activists, the Republic of Hawaii, formed in 1894 after the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani, was never a legitimate government and didn’t have authority to seek annexation to the United States.
Tamashiro contends the evidence supports that view, even if others come to different conclusions.
“Two plus two is always four,” he said.
Tamashiro said he wants to enter into a use agreement with DLNR that would allow the garden to remain in place, a step that he doesn’t believe recognizes the state’s jurisdiction. He said the area of the park could also be used by activists to make their case to anyone visiting the statue as well as arguments for the other side of the issue to be heard.
That proposal has not yet been made to the state.