Friday, August 19, 2005

Protesters marched in Honolulu this month after the 9th Circuit Court ruled against Kamehameha Schools' admissions policy..

Mainland alumni
to protest ruling

Organizers say expats want to
stand behind Kamehameha Schools

Alumni of the Kamehameha Schools and other native Hawaiians and their supporters plan to rally in San Francisco tomorrow to support their alma mater and protest an appeals court ruling that struck down its admission policy as unlawful racial discrimination.

Organizer Noelani Jai said Hawaiians from throughout California and elsewhere on the mainland will gather at the city's United Nations Plaza at noon and march to the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals.

A three-judge panel from that court, in a 2-1 ruling issued Aug. 2, found that the school's Hawaiians-only admission policy violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

The court has given the schools until Tuesday to file a request for a rehearing by the full court. The ruling came in a lawsuit filed on behalf of boy identified only as John Doe.

"This is not racial discrimination, but restoring an indigenous people back to health," said Dee Jay Mailer, chief executive officer of the school and the $6.2 billion trust that funds it.

Mailer and trustee Nainoa Thompson are scheduled to speak at a rally at the plaza following the march. Jai, an inactive attorney who is now training to be a pastor, said she will offer a pule, or prayer, before and after the rally.

"When I first started planning this in my living room, I was hoping maybe 30 or 40 people would join me," said Jai, of Huntington Beach. "But it quickly grew, and now we are expecting well over 1,000 people."

A candlelight vigil is scheduled tonight in San Francisco, with similar vigils planned in other mainland cities, Mailer said.

The ruling has brought a national spotlight to native Hawaiian issues, Jai said. "This rally will allow us to demonstrate our unity and concern that the kanaka maoli (native people) survive as a people."

Jai said her efforts are on behalf of her daughter and son, and she hopes that her children will go to Kamehameha, where she graduated in 1983.

The march and rally are not aimed at the court, she said, but the court is a rallying point because "it represents another geographical place, like Iolani Palace, where native Hawaiians had something illegally taken." The home of Queen Liliuokalani is where she was held under house arrest after the monarchy was overthrown in 1893.

Vicky Holt Takamine, a Hawaiian sovereignty activist, said she believes the demonstrations can influence the court.

"With African Americans and women, nothing happened until they took to the streets," she said. "You don't effect social change until people get behind the movement. This (court) decision doesn't just affect John Doe, but native Hawaiians wherever they live."

Takamine, a 1965 Kamehameha graduate, heads the Ilio'ulaokalani Coalition, which she said has been building campaigns in the islands to address issues related to native Hawaiians. She organized a similar protest rally on Aug. 6 that drew more than 10,000 people in Honolulu, and she is going to San Francisco to support the mainland Hawaiians.

"This issue has struck with Hawaiians living away from home," said Takamine, noting that many can no longer afford to live in their ancestral homeland.

"This will be a strengthening event," Takamine said. "Sometimes Hawaiians feel defeated but this adds fire. We will fight this to the end."

Mailer said there has been overwhelming response from all over the world, including alumni now serving in Iraq who have written to her.

"What they are saying is that they are there to defend their country but also need to defend their school," Mailer said.

The Kamehameha Schools were established under the 1883 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop. The main campus in Honolulu and newer campuses on Maui and the Big Island are partly funded by the trust, now worth $6.2 billion.


Plaintiff to start year
in public high school

An attorney for a non-Hawaiian teenager seeking to enroll at Kamehameha Schools for his senior year said yesterday that the boy would begin the school year at a public high school.

Attorney Eric Grant said the boy would enroll at a public school in Hawaii while the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals decides whether to finalize its ruling against Kamehameha's Hawaiians-only admission policy or issue a review of the case.

"I wish I was there to escort my client to the school," said Grant, who is based in Sacramento, Calif. "That's unfortunate."

Grant did not say which school the unnamed teenager would be attending. Classes start at many public schools next week.

Classes started yesterday at Kamehameha's Kapalama campus on Oahu.

Kamehameha Schools has until Tuesday to file a request for a review of the case. The court ruled earlier this month that the school's practice of giving preference to native Hawaiians was race-based and unlawful.

Grant said he hopes the court will decline the school's request so the teenager may transfer to Kamehameha.

Associated Press

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