Sovereignty activists in court


By TOM CALLIS

Tribune-Herald staff writer

A trial will be held in September for two sovereignty activists who are challenging charges that they were illegally camping on state land earlier this year while protesting the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom.

Abel Simeona Lui and Kittrena Morgan were among 11 people arrested for camping near the King Kamehameha the Great statue in Hilo in April.

The activists had planted a small taro patch, called the “Kanaka Garden,” in front of the statue to highlight the 1893 overthrow and challenge the state Department of Land and Natural Resources’ jurisdiction over the park, part of the Wailoa River State Recreation Area.

The garden was started in January. Lui was camping at the park, he said to watch over the garden, for much of that time.

He was joined by the other activists in early April as they anticipated the removal of the garden.

On Wednesday, Lui and Morgan were each given a trial date of Sept. 16 in Hilo District Court.

A third activist, Simbralynn Kanaka‘ole, had a hearing extended to Sept. 11.

As of June, four activists pleaded no contest and were sentenced to a day in jail. Cases are still pending for the others.

Lui and Kanaka‘ole did not cross the bar to the defense table in court Wednesday.

By staying in the gallery, Kanaka‘ole said they were sending a message that they don’t recognize the court’s authority.

“Not crossing the bar tells them they have no jurisdiction over me,” she said.

Kanaka‘ole said she showed up in court because failing to do so would have resulted in arrest.

“We are all forced to be here,” she said.

Kanaka‘ole said they will be challenging the jurisdiction of the United States during the trial.

They believe Public Law 103-1550, better known as the “Apology Resolution” signed by President Bill Clinton, addressing the overthrow of the kingdom, backs up their argument that the state and federal governments don’t have legitimate authority over the islands.

“What we’re trying to do is get them to acknowledge their ignorance of the law,” Kanaka‘ole said.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

 

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