Chad Blair: Hate Crimes And Hate Groups In The Land Of Aloha - Honolulu Civil Beat

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About the Author

Chad Blair

Chad Blair is the politics and opinion editor for Civil Beat. You can reach him by email at cblair@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @chadblairCB.

Something about the address cited in the news caught my attention: 3430 N. Academy Blvd., just south of North Carefree Circle.

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Although I had not lived in Colorado Springs for decades, I recognized the area that was my stomping grounds for a spell.

It’s one thing when a mass shooting, seemingly an everyday occurrence in these United States, occurs in a city or town that is unfamiliar. But the mass shooting of at least five people and the wounding of 17 at the LGBTQ nightclub over the weekend in a state and city that I once called home really hit home.

It is also the 61st — not a typo — mass shooting since 2013 in the Centennial State.

“This year will finish as the worst year for mass shootings in the last decade, with at least 13,” according to The Colorado Sun. “Of the 61 mass shootings since 2013, more than half — 36 — have occurred in the last three years.”

That figure does not include the massacre of 12 and the injuring of 70 at an Aurora movie theater in 2012. Nor does it include the Columbine High School slaughter of 12 students and one teacher in 1999 near Littleton that left some two dozen others injured.

The topic of Colorado and gun violence I’ll leave for another day. And we are still learning more about the Club Q murders that as of Tuesday were officially charged as a hate crime.

But I do want to talk about hate crimes — something that Hawaii has experienced as recently as last week, when a jury found two Native Hawaiian men guilty of the 2014 beating of a white man on Maui — as well as reports that there are organized hate groups in Hawaii.

What’s A Hate Crime?

The Southern Poverty Law Center reports that the U.S. Congress passed the first federal hate crime law in 1968. Prior to that time local law enforcement “refused to investigate or prosecute lynchings and other race-based crimes,” especially in the South.

According to the SPLC, “This narrow law made it a federal crime to forcefully injure, intimidate or interfere with someone — on the basis of their race, color, religion or national origin — as they tried to participate in any of six federally protected activities, including voting or attending school.”

The U.S. laws on hate crimes have been amended since then, including the passage of the Hate Crime Statistics Act in 1990. It requires the U.S. attorney general to publish an annual report on crimes with evidence of prejudice based on race, religion, sexual orientation or ethnicity.

screenshot from HNN story on guilty men in hate crime
According to Hawaii News Now’s Nov. 17 report, “Kaulana Alo Kaonohi and Levi Aki Junior were caught on camera eight years ago telling Chris Kunzelman he had the wrong color skin.” Screenshot/2022

In 2010, Congress passed the Matthew Shepard and James Byrd Jr. Hate Crimes Prevention Act. Shepard was a gay student beaten and murdered in Wyoming. Byrd was a Black man in Texas dragged to death behind a truck by white supremacists.

Among other things, the 2010 act removed the requirement that a victim of a hate crime must have been participating in a federally protected activity like voting.

Today, a hate crime is defined by the FBI as a violent or property crime — murder, arson, assault, vandalism — that is “motivated in whole or in part by an offender’s bias against a race, religion, disability, sexual orientation, ethnicity, gender or gender identity.”

In 2020, the FBI documented 8,263 hate crimes nationally, reported by more than 15,000 law enforcement agencies. But SPLC says it “vastly understates the extent of the problem,” in part because it’s voluntary and because many victims never report what happened to them.

Meanwhile, according to national surveys conducted by the Department of Justice’s Bureau of Justice Statistics, almost 250,000 hate crimes occurred each year between 2005 and 2019. The BJS bases the estimate not on the Uniform Crime Reporting data collected from law enforcement agencies “but rather on its annual National Crime Victimization Survey, which samples about 95,000 households.”

Hawaii’s Law

In addition to the federal statutes, 46 states and the District of Columbia have hate crime laws, although they differ.

Hawaii’s law dates to 2001 and says that hate crime “means any criminal act in which the perpetrator intentionally selected a victim, or in the case of a property crime, the property that was the object of a crime, because of hostility toward the actual or perceived race, religion, disability, ethnicity, national origin, gender identity or expression, or sexual orientation of any person.”

The law has reporting requirements, as compiled by the state attorney general. A total of 48 hate crime cases — 30 of them in the City and County of Honolulu — were reported since the program began in 2002, which works out to an average of 2.5 cases reported statewide per year.

According to the data, which covers the 2001-2020 period, the 48 cases involved a total of 56 bias instances “due to multiple biases” expressed in some cases:

Hawaii AG report on Hate Crimes in Hawaii, 2020 graphic

Still Hate In The 808

When I first wrote about hate groups in Hawaii, back in 2016, the Southern Poverty Law Center reported that Hawaii and Alaska were the only states with no organized hate groups. But there were 842 nationwide.

Three years later, SPLC flagged five hate groups in our islands: one white nationalist, two black nationalist and two categorized under “general hate.” One of those groups was the Proud Boys, whose president at the time was Nick Ochs, a UH journalism student who, in September of this year, agreed to a plea deal for his involvement in the Jan. 6 U.S. Capitol riots.

Today, three years later, SPLC tracked 733 hate groups across the U.S., including four in Hawaii: the Proud Boys, Great Millstone, Israel United In Christ and Sure Foundation Baptist Church.

The first three groups are categorized as general hate groups, meaning that they “peddle a combination of well-known hate and conspiracy theories, in addition to unique bigotries that are not easily categorized.” Some of theses groups “profit off their bigotry” by selling hate materials from the white supremacist movement.

As for that fourth group, the Sure Foundation Baptist Church is described by the SPLC as an anti-LGBTQ group in Kaneohe. For its part, the Sure Foundation Baptist Church’s Oahu website says it’s “an independent, fundamental, King James only, soul-winning, and family integrated Church. … We believe in hard preaching to help keep the congregation from sin and to motivate/exhort them to please the Lord.”

A person who answered the phone number listed on the group’s Facebook page said I had the wrong number. I wanted to ask whether the church is aligned with the Sure Foundation Baptist Church led by Pastor Aaron Thompson of Vancouver, Wash.

Thompson has been described by Metro Weekly as “using anti-gay slurs while preaching the Bible” and has made “homophobic statements and called for the death of LGBTQ people.”

And SPLC reported in 2019 that Thompson was a speaker at a “Make America Straight Again” conference described as intended to move beyond “stock fallacies and hate-filled rhetoric and call for the government to begin rounding up and executing homosexuals.”

As I was filing this story Tuesday afternoon, someone from the Facebook page of Sure Foundation Baptist Church Oahu responded to my Messenger inquiry: “That church is no longer operating.”

I sure hope not.


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About the Author

Chad Blair

Chad Blair is the politics and opinion editor for Civil Beat. You can reach him by email at cblair@civilbeat.org or follow him on Twitter at @chadblairCB.


Latest Comments (0)

Mr. Blair wrote an informative about hate crime as a federal offense. I think if you’re the type who grew up in Hawaii but occasionally visits the U.S. Mainland you are a target of the "Subtle Hate." It’s not a hate crime and the perpetrators know it. This will allow them to continue targeting people of color without consequences. And if anyone calls them on it, they can do the "plausible deniability." Most Americans, mind their own business in public. You will know when you are a target of the "subtle hate." They are razor-focused on you. And start doing degrading behavior towards you (example: spitting, looking down, guttural coughing). I do retaliate and if I’m called for it, I used the "plausible deniability" in turn.There’s a mini recorder (size of a quarter) with a voice changing app. You can record an "anti-hate" message to be played during the encounter.You can even be creative by using Darth Vader’s voice or an echo coming from the Alps. And keep playing your message each time the "subtle hate" is displayed. Even if they call a police, there’s no evidence because you are just standing around doing nothing. "Plausible Deniability" is your friend.

Srft1 · 1 week ago

Thanks again to Chad Blair for focusing on this issue. If I read the chart, in the commentary, correctly then the majority of hate crimes in Hawai'i are anti-white.I wonder if Hawai'i is unique in that statistic. Also interesting that no organized anti-white "hate-group" is listed in SPLC for Hawai'i. Some years ago SPLC had a story entitled "Hawaii Suffering from Racial Prejudice" which focused on anti-white issues.

Kahua · 1 week ago

I am of the opinion that a crime is a crime, no matter the motivation. Adding years on to the sentence just because the perpetrator let a racially charged word slip during the course of the crime just feels wrong to me.

Kakaako96814 · 1 week ago

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