Hundreds of Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian protesters rallied yesterday in San Francisco against a court ruling that struck down Kamehameha Schools' native Hawaiian admissions policy. The protesters marched past the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, which handed down the ruling.

Kamehameha rally
draws 400 to protest
in San Francisco

Protesters say they support
the schools' mission to
preserve Hawaiian culture

SAN FRANCISCO » About 400 alumni and supporters of the Kamehameha Schools rallied in San Francisco yesterday to protest the recent court ruling striking down the school's policy of giving admissions preference to students of native Hawaiian ancestry.

John Doe v. Kamehameha Schools/Bernice Pauahi Bishop Estate
(PDF, 208K)
Donning red-and-black T-shirts reading "Ku I Ka Pono -- Justice for Hawaiians," the protesters marched past the 9th U.S. Circuit Court of Appeals, home to the three-judge panel that handed down the ruling.

In its 2-1 ruling, the appeals court said on Aug. 2 that the schools' Hawaiians-first admissions policy violates federal anti-discrimination laws.

"We will not -- we will absolutely not -- give up our mission, no matter what stands in our way," Dee Jay Mailer, the schools' chief executive, told the crowd at the rally.

"Kamehameha Schools is a symbol to the Hawaiian people of hope. It is a symbol of native people's heritage and culture, and continues to be a tool for native people."

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

The decision struck down a century-old policy established under the 1883 will of Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, who created a trust now worth $6.2 billion that funds the schools' main campus in Honolulu and other campuses on Maui and the Big Island. The schools, which receive no federal funding, educate 5,000 students each year in grades K-12.

Hundreds of Hawaiian and non-Hawaiian protesters rallied yesterday in San Francisco. A photograph of the founder of the Kamehameha Schools, Princess Bernice Pauahi Bishop, is carried by alumni.

Curtis Heen, right, comforted his daughter, 10-year-old Cassidy Heen, as he spoke to Georgette Holt during the rally.

Retired Santa Clara Superior Court Judge William Fernandez, a Kamehameha alumnus, said yesterday that the court's ruling incorrectly applied laws aimed to protect blacks in the wake of the Civil War, not prevent native Hawaiians from preserving their heritage.

"It is not Congress' intent to apply an anti-slavery statute to a private person who uses her Hawaiian ancestral land to provide education to Hawaiian children," Fernandez told the crowd.

A similar rally in Honolulu on Aug. 6 drew more than 10,000 people.

Organizer Noelani Jai, of Huntington Beach, Calif., said alumni living in California, as well as other Hawaiians living on the mainland, wanted to voice their support for the schools at the site of the court's ruling.

"The decision over Kamehameha has drawn a lot of attention, and we hope to use this attention so that folks can know that ... there are people that have Hawaiian blood and that we're an endangered species. And decisions like this very much impact our ability to survive as a people," Jai said.

Many of those who attended the rally yesterday did not attend Kamehameha Schools, but said they were upset over what they considered an attack on Hawaiian heritage.

Denise Teraoka, 56, who grew up in Honolulu but now lives in San Francisco, said she didn't qualify for admission to the schools because of her racial identity, but still respected its mission.

"We grew up knowing we would never be eligible. But I think a lot of people here are not of Hawaiian blood but they know it's really important to the native Hawaiian people," Teraoka said.

Kamehameha Schools

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