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Nation 'showdown' set

Kanahele contempt trial scheduled for Sept. 15

The Honolulu Advertiser
Thursday, July 13, 1995

By Mark Matsunaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele will have his day in court on Sept. 15.

After spending a night in the police cell-block, Kanahele, head of the self-proclaimed Nation of Hawaii, and one of his supporters were arraigned in Honolulu District Court yesterday on contempt charges for failing to show up in court previously to answer traffic citations.

District Judge Colette Garibaldi assigned Kanahele and Gordon A. Kaaihue to trials on Sept. 15 and freed the pair on their own recognizance, without bail.

"I've been waiting for this," Kanahele said. He expects his trial to force a showdown between the state and his claim that the state and federal governments are invalid and have no authority in the Islands because the 1893 overthrow of Queen Lili`uokalani was illegal.

Duke Sabedong, the nation's justice minister, said they'll challenge the state's jurisdiction before the trial.

The nation, formerly known as the Hawaiian sovereignty organization the Ohana Council, claims several thousand members. Some of them openly flout state traffic laws, driving cars with "Hawaiian Sovereign" license plates.

Kanahele was cited in 1992 and Kaaihue in 1993 for those and other infractions, including lack of valid driver's licenses and insurance. When they failed to answer the citations, bench warrants were issued for their arrest.

Kaaihue, a lieutenant colonel in the nation's "peace force," was arrested Tuesday afternoon at the main police station.

He and other peace officers from the nation had gone there, as they had many times in recent months, to issue summonses from the nation's court to police who had cited nation members.

This time, Kaaihue was arrested on the bench warrant and Kanahele's son, Westin, was arrested for interfering in Kaaihue's arrest.

Kanahele said that when he learned of the arrests, he called police to say he was coming to free his people. He said he arrived with two supporters and was immediately arrested on the contempt warrant by 30 or more police officers.

Bumpy Kanahele and Kaaihue were held overnight Tuesday in the police cell-block. Kanahele's son posted bail and was released.

About 40 of Kanahele's supporters and relatives showed up early at the District Court. Several were dressed in the black military-style battle dress uniforms used by peace officers of the nation.

They joined hands in a circle to pray and chant in the lobby of the Alakea Street courthouse, then headed upstairs for the arraignment.

More supporters arrived, packing the gallery of Garibaldi's courtroom. During a break, Sabedong told the nation members to remove caps and sunglasses from their heads. "We want to show respect, so they respect our head of state."

Garibaldi entered the courtroom and the bailiff ordered, "All rise." They did. When Kanahele and Kaaihue came in, the nation members in the gallery rose again.

"You're standing for a prisoner," another member of the audience muttered incredulously.

Maltbie Napoleon, the Nation of Hawaii's attorney general, challenged the state's authority to try Kanahele and Kaaihue.

Garibaldi said, "I understand your concerns. However, this is an arraignment court, and these matters cannot be resolved today."

The two defendants declined to recognize the court by entering pleas, so Garibaldi entered "not guilty" pleas for them and scheduled trials.

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