The day started with the news that a Native Hawaiian sovereignty group had locked the gates to Iolani Palace.

The fear was that there would be an attempt to occupy the official residence of Hawaii’s monarchy as a statement during APEC.

The locks came down Monday morning and the palace opened for business. But by the afternoon the Hawaii attorney general announced that the palace would be closed for the duration of APEC “for the protection of the area.”

But the protesters, members of Aupuni O Ko Hawaii Pae Aina/Hawaiian Kingdom Government movement, weren’t about to leave.

And then came the showdown.

Protestors said they were told by the Department of Land and Natural Resources to vacate the premises by 5 p.m. Monday, or be arrested for trespassing.

At about 5:30, dozens of police officers and sheriffs showed up on the palace grounds. Reporters were told to wait outside of the palace gates.

The sovereignty group remained calm, but members said they didn’t plan on leaving. The group of about two dozen gathered near the gate closest to the Hawaii State Library on South King Street.

As night fell, DLNR Director William Aila had several one-on-one conversations with the group’s leader, Mahealani Kahanaoi, who describes herself as “her royal majesty.”

Members said officials offered to only issue citations instead of arresting people. But in order to be cited, the offender would need a state-issued ID, which most of the sovereignty group’s members don’t carry, according to one protester. Many of the protesters appear to wear their own form of photo ID on lanyards around their necks. Several of their vehicles had license plates labeled “Aupuni O Ko Hawaii Pae Aina.”

At around 7 p.m., 22 people were arrested. They were handcuffed with zip-ties and loaded into large white passenger vans.

Here’s a video of a statement Kahanaoi gave shortly before being arrested. Asked if the group will return to the palace once released, she said “absolutely.”

Deborah Ward, a DLNR spokeswoman, said the protesters would be charged with second-degree criminal trespassing, a petty misdemeanor.

She said they would be taken to a Keawe Street booking station of the Department of Public Safety’s Sheriffs Division. From there, if the protesters don’t post bail — about $25 — they would be held at the Kapolei police station until they can be arraigned.

The Iolani Palace arrests were the second protest arrests since Saturday night, when eight Occupy Honolulu activists were arrested for violating park closure rules at Thomas Square Park, where they were trying to spend the night on the grass. Demonstrators who remained on the sidewalk were not arrested.

About the Author