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Kanahele bail denied while he awaits trial

The Honolulu Advertiser
Saturday, August 5, 1995, page A1

By Mark Matsunaga
Advertiser Staff Writer

Federal Magistrate Barry Kurren yesterday declared Dennis "Bumpy" Kanahele a danger to the community and ordered him held without bail until his trial on charges of harboring a fugitive tax protester.

Kanahele, head of the self-proclaimed Nation of Hawaii, is expected to stand trial in October.

His lawyer, Hayden Aluli, said he plans to appeal Kurren's decision Monday to U.S. District Judge Helen Gillmor.

Aluli and the dozens of Kanahele's followers who crowded the courtroom or waited outside insisted Kanahele poses no danger.

"The government is really overreacting... to the most outspoken Hawaiian nationalist," said Aluli.

He said Kanahele is willing to stand trial, offering to put up his house and supporters' money and property as well as abide by any court-imposed conditions for bail.

But Kurren cited his " record of disregard for the judicial system and the proper role of law enforcement officers" and concluded Kanahele is dangerous and is a "serious risk" not to show up for trial.

After a 3 1/2 -hour hearing, Kurren cited:

* Kanahele's claims that the state and federal governments are illegal and have no jurisdiction over his nation.

* Kanahele's conviction of threatening a police officer during a 1987 occupation of Makapuu Lighthouse. (Kanahele served 14 months in prison.)

* His failure to answer traffic citations in state court. Assistant Honolulu Police Chief Joe Aveiro testified that Kanahele reneged on an agreement to have his supporters turn themselves in to clear up those cases, many of which involve the use of homemade "Hawaiian Sovereign" license plates.

* The allegedly violent nature of the current charges against him.

* Recent notices and warrants accusing federal and state law officers and judges of committing "crimes against humanity," for which they will be sought out, arrested and brought to face "final judgment." Kurren said he received one of the notices and "I consider it a threat."

During the hearing, Assistant U.S. Attorney Les Osborne listed allegations against Kanahele and members of his group. Under questioning by Osborne and Aluli, deputy marshal Charles Markle discussed unsubstantiated reports from unnamed sources that Kanahele's group is stockpiling weapons and preparing fortifications near its village on state land in Waimanalo.

Kanahele's supporters flatly denied those allegations. "There are no bunkers, no weapons," said Duke Sabedong, the Nation's justice minister.

Kurren said he would not consider the testimony in deciding Kanahele's bail status, nor would he consider another allegation that Kanahele's group corresponded with "Independent Patriots," a Mainland group that's been linked to the Michigan Militia.

Kanahele, 41, was indicted and arrested at Honolulu Airport on Wednesday on three counts for allegedly interfering with efforts last year to arrest Hawaiian tax protester Nathan Brown. The most serious charge, harboring a fugitive, carries a maximum sentence of five years in prison. Brown still is at large.

About 50 members of the Nation of Hawaii showed up at the Federal Building yesterday to hold protest signs during the morning rush hour. Their number grew to about 100, including supporters from other groups, by the time the hearing began at 11:15.

Many wore colorful kihei - capes - or Sovereign Nation T-shirts. Young men blew conch shells from time to time.

Protest demonstrations were also held at the state courthouses in Lihue, Kauai, and Wailuku, Maui, and at the Federal Building in Hilo.

No incidents were reported.

By prior agreement, only 31 supporters of Kanahele were allowed in Kurren's courtroom, filling the gallery.

Kanahele, dressed in a gray suit, did not speak in court.

After Kurren announced his ruling, Aluli asked that Kanahele be held in Honolulu until his appeal is heard, rather than be sent to a California detention facility, the usual practice.

Kurren agreed.

As Kanahele was led away, he motioned for his wife, Iwalani, who went over and embraced him.

Some of his followers began murmuring angrily over the outcome of the hearing, but they were quickly quieted by leaders such as the Rev. Nani Saffery, 76 , of Maui.

Saffery had offered to put up $50,000 of her family's real estate on Maui as bail for Kanahele.

Kanahele's followers went outside and spread the word to the crowd.

His elder sister, Mahilani Kanahele-Poepoe, who often leads prayers for the Nation, said efforts to educate people about Hawaiian sovereignty won't end with Kanahele's imprisonment.

"They're using him as a scapegoat. ...We are not violent and my brother is not a violent person."

She and Sabedong accused federal authorities of trying to turn the Nation of Hawaii into "another Waco" - a reference to the siege of the Texas compound that ended with the deaths of more than 80 people in 1993, including cult leader David Koresh.

* * *

On Kauai, more than a dozen Nation of Hawaii protesters met early yesterday morning in Kapaa, and later at the state court building in Lihue, carrying upside-down Hawaiian flags and a banner.

They also waved signs that said "Free Bumpy," "Stop Harassing Hawaiians," and "U.S. and State Are Illegal."

"We're acting as a nation. We served the judges (with the warnings) and now they're getting wild," said Michael Grace.

Sondra Field-Grace said the Nation of Hawaii decided to hold yesterday's protests on separate islands, but representatives will join together Aug. 18 for a Waikiki march under the slogan, "No more state in '98."

"If they think they have financial trouble now, wait until we shut off the flow of money to Waikiki," Michael Grace said.

Maui members of the Nation of Hawaii said they believe that the federal action against Kanahele is aimed at silencing him as a leader of their movement as 30 of them picketed peacefully at the Wailuku courthouse.

"I guess this shows that the they're afraid of him," said Henry Kaililaau, a Kahului officer of the Nation of Hawaii. "The federal government felt they could take him and put him away."

It won't make a difference to the Nation, he said. He said the nation is led by a kupuna council that directs the spokesmen for the sovereignty group.

"He is a high-profile leader. But he has to answer to them," Kaililaau said.

Ed Lindsey, a school counselor, said Kanahele and other leaders of the Nation of Hawaii made Hawaiians aware of their legal and cultural rights. The Nation claims the state of Hawaii was created illegally from the overthrow of Queen Liliuokalani in 1893.

"We won't go back being brainwashed so we believe that we must sell aloha for money," Lindsey said.

Advertiser Staff Writers Ken Kobayashi, Edwin Tanji and Jan TenBruggencate contributed to this report.

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