On Thursday a jury in Hawaii found two native Hawaiian men guilty of a hate crime relating to the serious assault of a white man. The victim was reportedly working on his house in a Maui neighbourhood when the incident took place.
Prosecutors said during the trial, which took place in U.S. District Court in Honolulu, that Alo-Kaonohi and Aki were motivated by Christopher Kunzelman’s race when they punched, kicked, and used a shovel to assault men. They said that Kunzelman was left concussed, he had two broken ribs and suffered trauma to the head and abdominal, prosecutors alleged.
Lawyers for Alo-Kaonohi and Aki did dispute the assault took place; however they refuted claims that it was a hate crime. The defence said that Kunzelman’s entitled and disrespectful attitude was the catalyst for the attack.
“Haole,” a Hawaiian word with meanings that include foreign and white person, was a large part of the prosecution’s case.
At one point Aki is heard saying, “You’s a haole, eh,” but defense attorneys argued that he didn’t use the word in a derogatory way.
“It’s not a hate crime to assault somebody and in the course of it use the word ‘haole,’” attorney Lynn Panagakos said during her opening statement. She noted that Aki is part-Hawaiian and part-haole.
“’Haole’ has multiple meanings depending on the context,” she argued. “It’s an accepted word.”
U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright found both men guilty of a hate crime and ordered Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. remain in custody until sentencing, which is scheduled for the 2nd of March 2023.
Alo-Kaonohi’s father, Chico Kaonohi, said that race played no part in the attack and “’Haole’ is not a racial word.”
“Where we come from, we’re not racial people,” Chico Kaonohi, said. “It wasn’t about race.”
ARTICLE: PAUL MURDOCH
MANAGING EDITOR: CARSON CHOATE
PHOTO CREDITS: ABC NEWS
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