More than a dozen Honolulu police officers spent much of Saturday afternoon listening to Hawaii Micronesian community members share information about their culture and their hopes for better relationships between their community and police.

The event took place nearly a year after Iremamber Sykap, a 16-year-old Chuukese boy, was shot in the back multiple times by a Honolulu police officer during a car chase.

His death came just months after Hawaii Public Radio reported racial disparities in stay-at-home order violation arrests affecting Micronesian, Samoan and Black communities in Hawaii and Civil Beat reported on years of disparities in police use of force against Native Hawaiian and other Pacific Islander communities.

Volunteers hand out water and donuts from Marshallese Baked Goodies to Honolulu police officers at an event at St. Elizabeth’s Church. Anita Hofschneider/Civil Beat/2022

Since then, members of Hawaii’s Micronesian community have sought to improve relations with the police and vice versa. Saturday’s event was organized by Hawaii’s Chuukese Catholic community and held at St. Elizabeth’s Church in Aiea.

Police officers who attended were greeted by men and women dancing and singing in red shirts and yellow skirts.

Kandhi Elieisar, secretary of foreign affairs of the Federated States of Micronesia, greeted the police officers in a recorded message on behalf of the country and its leaders.

He said that the nation wants its citizens in Hawaii to be law-abiding and productive but also to be treated equally and fairly.

Several people spoke on behalf of the Federated States of Micronesia community in Hawaii, emphasizing that their community has many languages and cultures and that they are trying to teach their children to both learn about U.S. culture while also holding onto the cultural values of their parents.

Acting Honolulu Police Chief Rade Vanic told the group Saturday that the event helped him understand how rich Micronesian culture is and its similarities to Native Hawaiian culture. Both HPD and the community members present promised to continue the dialogue.

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