By Alan Matsuoka
Hawaiian sovereignty activist Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele says heis a "changed man" after spending more than three months in prison,and indicated a greater willingness to work with others in the factionalizedmovement.
The leader of the self-proclaimed Nation of Hawaii, whose tactics have sometimesput it at odds with more moderate groups, said he is emerging from behindbars with a better focus and realizing more must be done than "justgoing out there and being politically aggressive.
"It's almost as if this incarceration has made me very consideratefor every Hawaiian's rights, their views, whether it be mainstream or grassroots," he said. "And I was only one- sided all the time. So Ithink now I can understand conventional politics and that kind of stuffa little bit more clear."
Kanahele made the comments outside the federal courthouse after being freedfrom prison, where he had been held without bail since Aug. 2 followinghis arrest for harboring and impeding the apprehension of a tax protesterwho was a fugitive.
His case was heard by a jury last month but a mistrial was declared, andU.S. District Judge David Ezra on Monday ruled that the 41-year-old mancan be released to the Miller Hale halfway house on Punchbowl pending anew trial in January.
Among those who spoke in support of the release were members of the Officeof Hawaiian Affairs and Ka Lahui Hawai'i, two groups which have been criticalof Kanahele's clashes with authority and which have been criticized by him.
Kanahele - who said he had more time to read the Bible in prison and proclaimedhe had "seen miracles" during his trial - expressed gratitudefor their support and said he believed a foundation for cooperation hadbeen laid.
"I think it was more for the fact of the Hawaiians than just Bumpy,"he said. "Because it's not about Bumby. I was just an instrument inprobably getting us all put together, and I think that's what's going tohappen."
He said, "we're going to surprise everybody" at a news conferencetoday.
Kanahele added he would abide by a court order barring him from going tothe Nation of Hawaii's headquarters in Waimanalo, even though it makes hisheart "sore."
OHA land officer Linda Delaney, who loaned $1,000 to help pay for the firstmonth of Kanahele's stay at the halfway house, said an "incrediblething" arising from the case is the recognition by Hawaiian groupsthat they have more binding them together than dividing them.
Kanahele signed a $50,000 signature bond and emerged from the courthousewearing blue jeans and a purple T-shirt with his group's log on it.
He was greeted by about two dozen supporters and family members who broughtHawaiian food and leis, among them one made of ohia, which Blossom Feiteira,the Nation's acting head of state, said is the only plant which can survivea lava flow and thus represents rejuvenation and new growth to the Hawaiianpeople.
He appeared relaxed and good-natured while checking in at the halfway house,a tidy, compact four-story apartment house with lanias that overlook thefreeway and downtown. He is free to go out during the day but must returnat night:
"I'm just happy to be out," he said, speaking from behind a lockedwrought-iron fence.
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