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Atooi leader speaks out

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Posted: Friday, October 26, 2007 12:00 am

The leader of a Hawaiian sovereignty group out on bail spoke out yesterday against his Tuesday arrest.

Police said he was arrested related to charges stemming from his involvement in a Hawaii Superferry protest two months ago.

Kekaha resident Dayne Gonsalves “Aipoalani,” who claims to be Ali‘i Nui of the Polynesian Kingdom of Atooi, refuted all five charges — including impersonating a police officer, an offense that was tagged on the day he was arrested.

“It’s an illegal arrest,” the 43-year-old said. “We’re not imitating. We’re a separate entity as the Kingdom’s marshals. They have no jurisdiction over us.”

The group is in the midst of a decades-old battle to gain recognition for Kaua‘i as a sovereign nation that operates under the oversight authority of its customary chiefs.

Assistant Chief Roy Asher had said Aipoalani showed a badge at the time he was arrested.

Asher said the Kaua‘i Police Department does not recognize the self-proclaimed Kingdom or its federal marshals.

“We have repeatedly asked him to produce those papers — he hasn’t,” Asher said. “We’re still waiting to see them.”

Aipoalani, arrested under the name Dayne Gonsalves, said he was arrested outside a Planning Commission meeting at the Historic County Building.

His intention, he said, was to deliver an Atooi order by writ to the commissioners to revoke building permits for Wainiha Subdivision that would impact ceremonial remains buried there.

Witnesses said two Kingdom members delivered the notice to the commission as police officers outside arrested Aipoalani and another self-proclaimed Atooi marshal, Robert Pa.

Witnesses said an escalating verbal exchange between an Atooi marshal and county officials prior to the start of the 9 a.m. commission meeting may have prompted the phone call to police.

Asher said officers responded to the scene on calls of a disturbance at the Historic County Building, but could not elaborate.

When he arrived, Asher said, officers were already talking to Aipoalani and Pa.

Hanalei Boatyard owner Michael Sheehan said he posted the $2,000 bail for Pa and Aipoalani because he supports the group’s long-range goal of Hawaiian sovereignty.

Sheehan said he received a phone call and was asked if he would be willing to help as a “friendly gesture.”

The two Atooi activists were also charged with simple trespass, obstructing, disorderly conduct and obstructing government operations, according to an Oct. 3 arrest warrant.

The impersonating a police officer charge was added Tuesday when they allegedly tried to present credentials with governmental authority during the arrest.

As a condition of his bail, Aipoalani must not enter or remain within Nawiliwili Harbor during those times the Hawaii Superferry is docked or attempting to dock there.

“How can they kick me out of our own land?” he said.

Asher said the bail condition was set so that should Hawaii Superferry return, Aipoalani will not be there to block the ingress and egress again.

Aipoalani, who can prove his lineage back to King Kamehameha I, said the Kingdom, being recognized with first nation status under a 1947 United Nations declaration on the rights of indigenous peoples, has claimed the rights to Kaua‘i lands by state constitutional law defining the rights of customary chiefs.

Kalaheo resident Dr. Christopher Lyden, who has known Aipoalani the past year, said “Dayne is a very calm, sweet person with tremendous integrity.”

Aipoalani’s role, Lyden said, is to make sure the state and county do not abuse the law.

“They’re not trying to kick anybody off the island,” he said. “They just want oversight … and ‘peaceful justice.’”

Aipoalani acknowledged that on Aug. 26 he parked his truck to block the unloading of cars at Nawiliwili Harbor that were arriving from O‘ahu on Hawaii Superferry’s inaugural trip to the Garden Isle.

His vehicle was one of dozens that residents parked to create a jam to prevent Hawaii Superferry from unloading. The vessel can ferry more than 200 cars and 800 passengers.

Hundreds of residents were part of two consecutive days of protests that resulted in the 350-foot “Alakai” catamaran on Aug. 27 being forced to return to Honolulu without docking.

Asher said arrest warrants for additional Atooi members have not yet been executed. The assistant chief said he could not comment on how many additional arrest warrants have been secured for other individuals involved in the Superferry protests.

“They better arrest all of us that were down there … it’s not right to just arrest a couple of them,” Kapa‘a resident Ken Taylor said. “I think the Hawaiian people have been extremely mistreated by American government since the takeover and I’m very supportive of any and all the groups working toward sovereignty.”

Several other Superferry protesters were arrested and charged with offenses ranging from disorderly conduct to obstruction of government earlier this month.

• Nathan Eagle, staff writer, can be reached at 245-3681 (ext. 224) or neagle@kauaipubco.com.

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