ANAHOLA, Kauai — A long-festering dispute between the state Department of Hawaiian Home Lands and a nationally prominent Native Hawaiian activist boiled over Wednesday with the arrest here of Robin Danner, who heads the Anahola Hawaiian Homestead Association, and her 34-year-old son.
Robin Danner and Garrett Danner were both charged with trespassing and interfering with a government official in the confrontation, which occurred near Anahola Beach Park. They were released after posting $100 bail.
Five carloads of Kauai Police Department officers and four DHHL “enforcement agents,” as they identified themselves, had staged a raid to evict a man who Danner said was the caretaker of a section of Kumu Camp.
Kumu Camp, founded by Danner and others, makes camping and meeting facilities available to nonprofit organizations, community groups and the public. It includes open air campsites, tents and small yurts. Danner contends Kumu Camp is a legal facility. DHHL has, at various times, declared the camp illegal.
Robin Danner was charged with trespassing and interfering with a government official during a protest on Department of Hawaiian Home Lands land. She and her son were released after posting $100 bail.
allan parachini/Civil Beat
DHHL said its enforcement officers lack power of arrest and detention and that they were present to remove property, but that enforcement actions were to be taken by KPD.
Since the caretaker, Keikilani Pa, is homeless, Danner said Thursday that she would start a large encampment on the land in question and live there herself part-time with as many as 300 Native Hawaiians.
On Thursday, Kauai Mayor Bernard Carvalho was scheduled to meet on unrelated matters with Gov. David Ige in Honolulu. Danner urged Carvalho to protest to Ige. Ige’s office confirmed that Carvalho and the governor did meet, but declined to identify issues discussed.
Danner is a Kauai native who lived for decades in Alaska. She helped found the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement. She was president of the National Bank of Alaska and currently serves as vice chair of the State Council of Hawaiian Homestead Associations.
Widely known in Native American rights circles and a frequent visitor to Washington, Danner is considered one of the most influential Native Hawaiian leaders in the country.
The situation had been building for more than a month after DHHL officials, including William Aila, the agency’s deputy director, taped a notice demanding demolition of a wood platform constructed to provide a Neighborhood Watch vantage point to discourage illegal drug dealing. DHHL ordered Pa to abandon an encampment where he resided.
A conflict had been brewing for a month after DHHL ordered the demolition of a wooden platform on Kumu Camp, co-founded by Danner, that was used for a Neighborhood Watch effort. Danner contends the camp is legal.
Allan Parachini/Civil Beat
In late September, Danner filed a 13-page protest of the order, which DHHL issued Sept. 21.
Then, on Oct. 3, Kauai County Council Chair Mel Rapozo sent a letter to Aila and Jobie Masagatani, the DHHL director, defending the Neighborhood Watch founded by Danner and others as “creating a safer community for their children.”
Danner said DHHL had not responded to her letter before appearing to begin the raid Wednesday morning.
Also on Thursday, Danner:
— Repeated her vow to start a homeless encampment at the site of the raid for as many as 300 Native Hawaiians and confirmed she would live there. Were such a homeless camp to materialize, there appeared to be little doubt it would spark an even more tumultuous confrontation with DHHL.
— Sent demands for an investigation of the Wednesday incident to Ige and state Senate President Ron Kouchi, who represents a Kauai district. In a letter, Danner contended that DHHL’s “enforcement unit” consists of people untrained in law enforcement and that they behaved unprofessionally.
— Called on Carvalho and Rapozo to order the Kauai Police Department to stop participating in DHHL raids on Hawaiian Homelands property on Kauai.
“I am a law abiding citizen. I am not a criminal,” Danner’s letter said. “I (have) never been arrested, never done drugs or neglected my children. No, DHHL, you will not crush the spirit of any Hawaiian.”
The Wednesday raid came without warning to Danner’s organization, according to the Danner. At least 10 officers were at the encampment.
Kauai Police said they had been asked by the DHHL to assist in the raid.
Allan Parachini/Civil Beat
An official county statement said the police officers had merely been asked to “stand by” and assist DHHL.
There was no sergeant or lieutenant or anyone else of apparent supervisory rank within KPD present for the raid, even though five patrol cars and 10 officers would have been the equivalent of more than half the normal daytime patrol strength on the island for a weekday.
A county statement released late Wednesday did not address when KPD knew about the raid or who within the department approved participation in it.
DHHL defended the actions of its enforcement officers and said Pa did not have “permission” to maintain his encampment. However, a tax map appeared to show that Pa’s site was within an area to which Danner’s group has legal access.
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