Supporters of Kamehameha Schools marched from Iolani Palace to Mauna Ala yesterday.

‘This ruling
is disgusting’

More than 10,000 people rally
against the 9th Circuit Court decision

Speakers advocate unity of purpose
to support Kamehameha's policy

Pledging to stand together -- despite differences on how to ward off challenges to Hawaiians-only programs -- more than 10,000 gathered yesterday on the lawn of Iolani Palace to protest a federal appeals court ruling against Kamehameha Schools' Hawaiians-first admissions policy.

In Honolulu Lite: Schools' problems the result of mismanagement, not racism.

(PDF, 208K)
During a two-hour rally, filled with chanting, speeches and prayers for strength, Kamehameha's trustees and its chief executive officer vowed to vigorously fight the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals ruling, but conceded victory was not certain.

Meanwhile, Gov. Linda Lingle, standing next to Lt. Gov. James "Duke" Aiona, called the 9th Circuit decision "a test" that Hawaiians must overcome and said she would work to keep Kamehameha's admissions policy intact. Both Lingle and Aiona wore red T-shirts, like many attendees, emblazoned with the words Ku I Ka Pono ("justice for Hawaiians").

"We are here to support your cause," Lingle told attendees. "This decision by the 9th Circuit was not a just decision."

After the rally, attendees made their way down South King Street and up Nuuanu Avenue to the Royal Mausoleum. Some waved upside-down Hawaiian flags, while others carried signs that read, "Hawaiians only" and "Stop stealing from Hawaiians."

Police estimated the crowd at between 10,000 and 15,000 people.

At the head of the procession, two men carried a portrait of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, whose trust paved the way for the creation of Kamehameha Schools.

On Tuesday, a three-judge 9th Circuit panel ruled 2-to-1 that Kamehameha's admission policy amounted to "unlawful race discrimination." The ruling reverses a Nov. 17 decision by U.S. District Judge Alan Kay that tossed out a challenge by an anonymous student to the school's admissions policy.

Lance Foster showed his support in the march.

Gov. Linda Lingle and Lt. Gov. Duke Aiona were at the march against the 9th Circuit Court's ruling.

The next step in the appeals process is for Kamehameha Schools to request a hearing by the full 9th Circuit and possibly to the U.S. Supreme Court.

"We need to consider the unthinkable -- that somehow this further appeal may not be accepted," trustee Doug Ing told yesterday's crowd, adding that school officials are thinking about "Plan B," which includes deciding what the schools' admission policy would look like if it wasn't race-based.

A ruling on whether Kamehameha should be compelled to admit the boy, identified only as "John Doe," at the center of the case is expected as early as this week. If admitted for the 2005-06 school year, the student would enter his senior year. Kamehameha officials have said they will not willingly admit the boy.

"Hawaiians deserve to have something of their own," said Brenda Ryan, one of many non-Hawaiians who attended yesterday's events, as she marched along South King Street.

"I'm Hawaiian," Ryan's husband, Russell, piped in. "And this ruling is disgusting."

Both supporters and opponents of the Akaka Bill attended the rally and march. Proponents of the bill argue it would help protect Kamehameha, along with other Hawaiians-only programs and institutions, from future challenges. Others, though, say the bill wants native Hawaiians to give up too much.

Kamehameha Schools supporters marched from Iolani Palace to Mauna Ala yesterday. Here they prepared to enter the grounds of the Royal Mausoleum.

Students Kapono Rawlins-Crivello and Mana Lolotai held Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop's portrait yesterday.

But rather than focus on differences, protesters were encouraged to focus on what brought them together. The more united they are, they said, the stronger the message.

"There is a strong unity, even within the divisions of our community," said Kainoa Fukumoto, a 2002 graduate of Kamehameha. "We have to fight for the rights that we have left."

Several speakers echoed the sentiments.

Kumu Hina Wong, a charter schoolteacher, got shouts and whistles of support after telling attendees, "It doesn't matter where you stand, you just better show up."

In a speech that was interrupted at least three times by applause, Kamehameha trustee Nainoa Thompson said native Hawaiians are now in a "time of crisis."

"We have got to come together," he said. "No longer can we divide."

Kyson Manaku-Kalili stood by as she waited to address the rally at Iolani Palace.

Kamehameha Schools alumni Leina‘ala Naipo-Akamine and Le Roy K. Akamine are class of 1952 graduates.

About 12 police officers and eight state Department of Public Safety officers worked overtime, for about $30 an hour, to provide security and control traffic.

The mayor has said that the officers' pay was covered by Kamehameha Schools.

The rally at Iolani Palace coincided with events across the state and on the mainland.

Rallies and marches were held on Maui, the Big Island, Kauai and Molokai. In Wilmington, Calif., a rally and open forum was held from 9:30 a.m. to 12:30 p.m. Similar events happened in Oregon and on the East Coast, said Dee Jay Mailer, Kamehameha's chief executive officer.

"All over the world, Hawaiians are standing as one," she said. "When we leave here today, we are one."

Kamehameha Schools

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