Honolulu Police Department officers have disproportionately arrested Micronesian, Samoan and Black residents as they enforce pandemic-related stay-at-home orders, according to a new analysis published by our partner Hawaii Public Radio.

Reporter Ashley Mizuo analyzed police data and found 26% of arrests involved Micronesians, Pacific Islanders indigenous to Micronesia who represent just 1% of Hawaii’s population, and 8% involved Samoans, who represent about 3% of the population.

About one-fifth of the arrests involved people who appeared to have a history of homelessness, even though the emergency order wasn’t supposed to apply to people who don’t have houses. Mizuo also noted there was a cluster of arrests in Kalihi.

Josie Howard, the head of We Are Oceania, told Mizuo that lack of cultural proficiency, language barriers and discrimination could have contributed to the higher arrest rate.

Language access is an ongoing challenge in the community where many are recent immigrants. Neither the governor nor the mayor have been publishing stay-at-home orders in any language other than English, prompting community leaders to scramble to fill the gaps.

HPD data over the past 10 years shows Black, Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander communities disproportionately are subjected to police force compared with their share of the population. Implicit bias against Micronesians and dark-skinned people in general is a problem in Hawaii, according to University of Hawaii researchers. The non-Hawaiian Pacific Islander community is also suffering from disproportionately high rates of COVID-19.

Click here to read Hawaii Public Radio’s full story, including an interactive map of where the arrests occurred.

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