2 arrested during protest on Kahoolawe
WAILUKU » Two native Hawaiian protesters were arrested yesterday for allegedly trespassing on the former military target island of Kahoolawe.
Nelson Armitage, 48, and Russell Kahookele, 43, officials with the Reinstated Hawaiian Government, were taken from Kahoolawe to the Wailuku police station yesterday.
Both were released after posting $100 bail, and are scheduled to appear in Wailuku District Court on Aug. 29.
The two were part of a contingent of 18 "citizens" of the Reinstated Hawaiian Government that went to Kahoolawe on two boats yesterday morning to protect what they claim are their sovereign lands.
Agents of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources arrested the men and issued citations to nine of the protesters.
Access to Kahoolawe is restricted because the island remains hazardous after decades of military training, said Sol Kahoohalahala, executive director of the Kahoolawe Island Reserve Commission. About 65 percent of the surface has been cleared of weapons and ordnance, and less than 10 percent of the surrounding waters are considered safe.
Reinstated Hawaiian Government leader Henry Noa said the purpose of the trip was to protest the illegal occupation of native Hawaiian lands by the United States and state of Hawaii.
Noa said the United States illegally overthrew the Hawaiian monarchy in 1893, and the several thousand citizens of the Reinstated Hawaiian Government do not recognize the authority of the United States or state of Hawaii in Hawaii.
"Our purpose is to reclaim our national land," Noa said from Kahoolawe. "We're staking our claim here. We're not terrorists. We're far from being terrorists. We're reasonable people."
Members of the Reinstated Hawaiian Government, formed in 1999 and claiming 3,000 citizens, say their action on Kahoolawe is justified by the 1993 Apology Resolution, in which Congress voted to apologize for the role the United States played in the overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom.
"They did not have the right to take it. That's what they admitted," said Dale Albertson, a Big Island district representative for the group. "We're trying to remove it from future contamination and attempt to push forward the cleanup of the aina (land)."
Star-Bulletin reporter Gary T. Kubota and the Associated Press contributed to this report.