Palace closed after trespassing
Iolani Palace will remain closed today while state and palace officials assess the damage done by a native Hawaiian pro-sovereignty group that occupied the property Friday.
The executive director of Iolani Palace says it started Friday night with a phone call from a palace volunteer reporting people outside locking the gates.
"Our investigation is continuing, and we are assessing when we could reopen the palace," said Deborah Ward, spokeswoman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, which oversees the palace grounds. The historic landmark remained closed over the weekend.
Honolulu police arrested 23 people. Fifteen were charged with second-degree criminal trespassing and posted $50 bail.
James Akahi, who claims he tried to sit on the throne, was released without charges. His wife and five others were charged at about 5:30 p.m. yesterday with second-degree burglary. They posted $5,000 bail.
One man remained in police custody on a hold by the state attorney general's office.
No artifacts were damaged when a group calling itself Kingdom of Hawaii, Nation, broke into the palace Friday afternoon, the statehood holiday, according to Kippen de Alba Chu, executive director of Friends of Iolani Palace.
But the attempted takeover brought about serious concerns, including an allegation that a Honolulu police sergeant stood idly while a group member assaulted a palace employee.
"Whenever there is an issue of threat to the public or employees, there should not be any hesitation on any law enforcement office regardless of jurisdiction," de Alba Chu said.
Gov. Linda Lingle criticized the Honolulu Police Department and instructed Attorney General Mark Bennett to investigate the case, including the calls made to 911. Honolulu Police Chief Boisse Correa on Saturday called HPD's inaction on Friday "appropriate."
The most recent previous protest at the palace was by members of a group called the Hawaiian Kingdom Government, who chained the gates April 30.
"Ever since the April 30 lock-down, we've actually been on alert no matter what the day is," de Alba Chu said.
De Alba Chu said he has been in contact with other pro-sovereignty groups but had not heard of Kingdom of Hawaii, Nation.