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Protesters decry overthrow of kingdom


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POSTED: Saturday, August 22, 2009

Amid a quiet celebration of the state's 50th anniversary, loud outbursts from more than 200 protesters reminded passers-by of the illegal overthrow of the Hawaiian kingdom in 1893.

Protesters gathered at Ala Moana Beach Park at 10 a.m. yesterday and marched to the Hawai'i Convention Center, where statehood festivities were being held.

Large banners were posted in front of the entrance to Ala Moana Beach Park and the convention center with messages such as, “;Kanaka maoli, this is our ancestral lands! Stolen by U.S. troops! The time has come to reinstate don't hesitate!”;

The protest was organized by Hawaiian Independence Action Alliance and the Institute for the Advancement of Hawaiian Affairs, with support from Hawaii People's Fund and Ka Lei Maile Alii Hawaiian Civic Club.

One of the organizers, Hayden Burgess, also known as Poka Laenui, spoke to the group before the march and asked demonstrators to remain peaceful and leave potential hecklers alone. Laenui said he expected only 10 to 20 people, “;so it's already a success.”;

;[Preview]  Group Comes Together To Protest Statehood
 

A group of anti-statehood demonstrators rallied out in front of the convention center this morning.

Watch ]

 

Lorenz Gonschor, a German native who has lived in Hawaii for six years, joined demonstrators at Ala Moana Beach Park after researching Hawaii's political history.

“;I don't think it's appropriate that the state celebrates its 50th anniversary when it's based on an illegal occupation,”; said Gonschor, who is pursuing a Ph.D. in political science at the University of Hawaii. “;I'm still a little surprised at how illegal it actually was in terms of 19th-century international law. I think that makes the Hawaiian argument for independence pretty strong.”;

Louella Kohler drove from Makaha to attend the protest because she firmly believes that the former Hawaii nation was taken over illegally and hopes to restore independence.

“;I think we can be just as strong as we were pre-contact. We were not a stumbling little nation,”; she said.

As the procession marched along a closed lane on Atkinson Drive, drivers honked in support while many held upside-down Hawaiian flags, representing a nation in distress. Protesters pushed a cardboard model of “;Uncle Scam”; throughout the march, as one man yelled, “;Come on Uncle Scam, get out of the way! We want our freedom!”;

Demonstrators even displayed their message through shirts, such as “;Grand Theft Aina,”; “;Made in Occupied Hawaii”; and “;Stop Akaka Bill.”;

George Hall walked alongside the procession since his brother was marching, but did not agree with its message.

“;(Hawaii) has a good deal as a state now. When you look at the freedoms people have in the world, you're not gonna get a better deal being a United States citizen,”; Hall said.

Once marchers reached the convention center, Uncle Scam's hat was removed, and “;colonial feathers,”; representing nations taken over by the United States, were ripped off. Jean Stavrue then grabbed an American flag out of the hat and cut out the 50th star before burning it with her fiance, Curtis Peahi, and Shelley Muneoka. The demonstration elicited cheers of “;Freedom!”; from the crowd and several cries of “;We are not American!”;

Stavrue said she supported the protest to bring Hawaiian people together and educate people about the illegal overthrow. “;Everybody deserves to know the truth, whether you're Hawaiian or not,”; she said.