HONOLULU — A Native Hawaiian group that advocates sovereignty occupied the grounds of a historic royal palace in downtown Honolulu on Wednesday, saying it would carry out the business of what it considers the legitimate government of the islands.
Unarmed guards from the Hawaiian Kingdom Government group blocked all gates to the grounds of the palace, which is near the state Capitol.
After several hours, the protesters agreed to reopen the gates but said they would remain on the grounds until early evening and return today. No arrests had been made as of midafternoon.
The ornate Iolani Palace is operated as a museum. Hawaiian King Kalakaua built it in 1882, and it also served as the residence for his sister and successor, Queen Liliuokalani, the islands’ last ruling monarch. It was neglected after the overthrow of the Hawaiian Kingdom in 1893 and restored in the 1970s as a National Historic Landmark.
Mahealani Kahau, elected “head of state” of the group years ago, said the organization doesn’t recognize Hawaii as a U.S. state but would keep the occupation peaceful. The protesters aren’t damaging anything in the palace grounds, Kahau said.
“The Hawaiian Kingdom Government is here and it doesn’t plan to leave. This is a continuity of the Hawaiian Kingdom of 1892 to today,” she said.
The group is one of several Hawaiian sovereignty organizations in the islands, which became the 50th U.S. state in 1959.