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Kanahele to go from prison to halfway house

Honolulu Advertiser
Tuesday, November 14, 1995

By Mark Matsunaga

Hawaiian sovereignty activist Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele last nightrepented for his past aggression, drew endorsements from other Hawaiianleaders, then won a court order freeing him from prison.

"My past is my past. I was hard head before, " Kanahele, headof the self-proclaimed Nation of Hawaii, told federal Judge David Ezra."Whatever it takes to patch things and make things work, you got myword."

Leaders from such organizations as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs, stateHawaiian Sovereignty Elections Council and Ka Lahui Hawai'i assured thejudge that Kanahele is neither a danger to this community not a flight risk.

They testified he should be released on bail pending trail in January oncharges that he harbored convicted tax protester Nathan Brown and foiledtwo attempts to arrest Brown last year.

A half-dozen church leaders also were on hand to testify.

After a 2 1/2-hour hearing, Ezra ruled that Kanahele can be released asearly as today to the Miller Hale "halfway house" on the slopesof Punchbowl until his new trial.

Kanahele will be required to spend his nights there, but will be free togo out during the days. Ezra cited the risk of danger of "overzealoussupporters" and ordered Kanahele to stay out of Waimanalo, where hisclosest supporters have established a settlement on state land. The Nationof Hawai'i calls it "Puuhonua (Refuge) Village;" federal officialscall it "a compound."

The state offered the facility to Kanahele and his followers last year,in exchange for their ending a 15-month occupation of Kaupo and Makapuubeach parks. The Nation of Hawaii claims several thousand members, who advocateHawaiian independence and contend that the federal and state governmentsare occupying the Islands illegally.

Deemed a danger to the community and likely no-show for trial, Kanahelehas been held without bail since he was indicted and arrested on Aug. 2.

Kanahele stood trial on the charges last month, but that ended in a mistrialbecause of the jury's deadlock and a juror's misconduct.

Yesterday he and his lawyer, Hayden Aluli, asked Ezra to reconsider holdingKanahele without bail.

Kanahele said that he's been pushing Hawaiian independence, but believedit was his right under the U.S. Constitution: "I thought you couldspeak without getting in trouble."

But he told Ezra, "Today I understand that it cannot be done the wayI like 'em done. . . . I think I was put in prison for understand that Imight have been too aggressive."

Kanahele, 41, also mentioned that yesterday was his 21st wedding anniversary.

Aluli called seven people to the stand, and offered endorsements from manyothers.

Among those who testified were OHA trustees A. Frenchy DeSota and Kina'uKamali'i as well as Hawaiian scholar Lilikala Kame'eleihiwa.

"We who grew up poor, who grew up in the street, who grew up rough,sometimes we say rough things," said Kame'eleihiwa, a citizen of KaLahui Hawai'i, a sovereignty group that has often clashed with Kanahele.

But she pointed out that during the 1986 Makapuu occupation that resultedin Kanahele's conviction for threatening a policeman, no one was killedor shot.

Office of Hawaiian Affairs trustee Kamali'i called Kanahele "passionate.

"Some people might take that as being violent," Kamali'i said.

When Ezra mentioned that Kanahele might have to pay his own rent at theMiller Street halfway house or stay at Halawa until the federal governmentcould find the money, Aluli turned around and saw Kamali'i sitting behindhim. She immediately offered to put up $2,000 in personal funds to coverKanahele's costs.

DeSoto, who has know Kanahele since he was a child, promised Ezra that hewould return for his second trial.

"I swear to you, judge, on the lives of my children and my grandchildrenand my great-grandchildren, he will not run. He has given his word, andhis word is sacred," DeSoto said.

Ezra on his own came up with the notion of sending Kanahele to the MillerHale halfway house.

Assistant U.S. Attorney Les Osborne wanted Kanahele to remain in jail. Hesaid Kanahele's "antisocial dangerous conduct" has continued intothis year and argued that Kanahele "has no reason" to return tocourt for his case.

But Aluli said Kanahele's supporters could post bail of up to $250,000 andanother $57,000 from the equity in Kanahele's Hawaiian Homes house.

Ezra said he wanted to balance Kanehele's rights with the safety of thecommunity and concerns by law enforcement officials.

The judge cited the time Kanahele has already been held without bail andthe initial mistrial.

Any further detention would not "serve any useful purpose," thejudge said.

Osborne said he was disappointed in Ezra's ruling.

"I sincerely hope he (Kanahele) doesn't disappoint the judge or thepeople of this state." Advertiser Staff Writers Ann Botticelli andKen Kobayashi contributed to this report.

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