Organizers intend to
protest against three cases
that concern native issues
Organizers say a three-day series of marches and rallies later this month, coinciding with three court cases dealing with native Hawaiian issues, could draw up to 20,000 demonstrators.
The events, which will run Sunday through next Tuesday, are aimed at protesting two cases that challenge admission policies at Kamehameha Schools and one that questions the constitutionality of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands.
Arguments in the Arakaki vs. State of Hawaii lawsuit are set to continue on Monday. In the suit, 16 Hawaii residents challenge OHA and the Hawaiian Home Lands Department, alleging their programs are race-based and discriminate against non-Hawaiians.
Proceedings in the two Kamehameha suits, Doe vs. Kamehameha Schools and Mohica-Cummings vs. Kamehameha Schools, are scheduled for Monday and next Tuesday, respectively. Both challenge the school's Hawaiians-only admission policy.
A number of native Hawaiian groups are scheduling events to surround the cases in hopes that "the judge will know how Hawaiians feel," said Lahela Perry, an organizer and doctoral student at the University of Hawaii at Manoa.
"It's better to be seen and heard than not at all," she said.
The events begin 3 p.m. Sunday with a ceremony to honor alii at the Royal Mausoleum. From there, protesters will march to Iolani Palace, where there will be speeches, music, hula and oli, or Hawaiian chants, through the night.
The next day, there will be a candlelight procession beginning at 5 a.m. from the palace grounds to the U.S. District Courthouse, where the Arakaki and Doe cases will be heard.
At 8 a.m. next Tuesday, demonstrators will gather at the federal courthouse again for the Mohica-Cummings case.
Lilikala Kameeleihiwa, director of the Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies at UH-Manoa, said the events are aimed at gathering opposition to the cases.
"This is going to go on as long as these court cases go on, if it's a year or two years or 10 years or 100 years," she said. "We're gearing up for the long haul."
In September more than 8,000 demonstrators marched from Kalakaua Avenue to Kapiolani Park as a prelude to a hearing on the Arakaki lawsuit. Kameeleihiwa said that she expects more than 20,000 to attend this month's marches and rallies, organized by the same groups that put together the earlier demonstration.
"We've peacefully asked for our rights," she said. With these events, "we're looking for a peaceful way to resolve our political differences."