Activists Arrested After Hawaiian Palace Takeover

AP, August 16, 2008

A group of Native Hawaiians claiming to be the state’s legitimate rulers occupied the grounds of a historic palace for two hours before being arrested by state officers in the second recent takeover of its kind.

A staff member of the Iolani Palace said she was assaulted and slightly injured during the takeover Friday night and then snubbed by city police who claimed that they didn’t have jurisdiction. Gov. Linda Lingle said Saturday that there would be an investigation into the police response to the takeover.

A group of men, wearing red shirts with “security” stenciled in yellow on the back, took over the grounds by chaining the gates of the palace next to the State Capitol and posted signs saying, “Property of the Kingdom of Hawaiian Trust.”

Kippen de Alba Chu, executive director of the Friends of Iolani Palace, said he and other staff members were locked down in the palace and a nearby administration building during the takeover.

“They’ve got a king, and the king wants to sit on the throne,” de Alba Chu said.

State law officers climbed over the fence a couple of hours after the takeover began and made about 20 arrests. The palace, normally open to tours, will remain closed during the weekend to assess any damage and to ensure its security, police said.

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The takeover of the palace—built in 1882, when the islands were ruled by a monarchy—came on Admission Day, a state holiday marking Hawaii’s admission to the United States on August 21, 1959.

Several Native Hawaiian organizations have rival claims to sovereignty over the islands. Another group calling itself the Hawaiian Kingdom Government occupied the palace grounds April 30 and has been getting permits to set up on the grounds each week since then. That group claims to be operating a functioning government from the palace grounds.

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