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Ex-parole chief, legal group back Kanahele bail

Despite pleas, judge rules he's a danger

Honolulu Advertiser
August 10, 1995

By Mark Matsunaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

The prosecution portrays Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele as a danger to the community. His supporters claim he's a peace loving political prisoner.

U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor bought the prosecution's view yesterday, upholding a ruling that Kanahele be held without bail until his trial on charges of harboring a federal fugitive.

Gillmor's ruling came despite testimony on Kanahele's behalf from Mahealani Kamau`u, executive director of the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., and Marc Oley, former chairman of the state Paroling Authority.

Kamau`u, who has known Kanahele for years and served with him on the Sovereignty Elections Council, described him as "a person of deep and enduring compassion for his people; definitely not a danger to the community."

Oley, now with a real estate development company, said he came forward because he was "disturbed" by Kurren's description of Kanahele as a "danger to the community" and a likely no-show for trial.

Oley said he met Kanahele in 1988, when the Paroling Authority set a one-year minimum term for Kanahele's conviction on a felony charge of threatening a police officer during the occupation of Makapuu Lighthouse, and the following year, when Kanahele was paroled.

"We were impressed with his sincerity and his dignity," said Oley, who recalled Kanahele's vowing not to use firearms again. "He promised he wouldn't and, to my knowledge, he never did."

Assistant U.S. Attorney Les Osborne hammered on Kanahele's failure to live up to an agreement with Honolulu police to resolve warrants for traffic citation issued to him and his followers for using homemade "Hawaiian Sovereign" license plates, and for other offenses.

And Osborne cited the nature of the charges against Kanahele. Two of the three counts against him are felonies involving an incident on March 16, 1994, in which Kanahele allegedly blocked two deputy U.S. Marshals who had gone to his home to arrest fugitive Nathan Brown, who remains at large.

The federal attorney said that if Kanahele were to renege on his promise to appear for trial, "the consequences of having to go out into the community to arrest him again would present a clear and present danger to the people of the state."

Kanahele's attorney, Hayden Aluli, described the incident as "a scuffle." And while the charges against him are serious, he said, they don't warrant his being held without bail.

Aluli also asked Gillmor to overturn Kurren's ruling because Kurren was one of the federal officials who had received a Nation of Hawaii "warning notice" accusing them of war crimes and genocide against Hawaiians.

Gillmor said that while Kurren said he considered the notice to be a threat, his ruling was not affected by it.

Through Aluli, Kanahele had offered, as a condition of his release, to have his supporters stop issuing notices or "arrest warrants" to officials.

After yesterday's hearing, Duke Sabedong, the nation's minister of justice, said that action might resume.

Several dozen Kanahele supporters packed Gillmor's courtroom yesterday.

Afterward, they filed out in glum silence, except for one woman - one of several kupuna (elders) who showed up in white dresses and pink capes - who said bitterly, "This is justice?"

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