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Two Native Hawaiian men sentenced to prison for hate crimes against White man

A U.S. judge sentenced two Native Hawaiian men to a years-long sentence in prison following a federal hate crime prosecution alleging a racially motivated attack against a White man in 2014. 

Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. reportedly struck Chris Kunzelman with a shovel, punched and kicked him after he moved into their Maui village in 2014, Hawaii News Now reported. 

The pair was caught on camera storming onto Kunzelman’s property and demanded that he leave because of the color of his skin. 

Kunzelman suffered a concussion and broken ribs. A jury ruled that race was a factor of the crime and found the pair guilty of hate crimes back in November, according to Hawaii News Now. 

This Thursday, U.S. District Judge J. Michael Seabright sentenced Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. to more than six years and four years in prison respectively, The Washington Post reported. 

“You were racist on that day,” Seabright said at Alo-Kaonohi’s sentencing hearing.

Prosecutors of the case presented a video of the incident in which Alo-Kaonohi and Aki Jr. told Kunzelman that “No white man is ever going to live here” and that Kunzelman was a “typical ‘haole’ thinking he owning everything … trying to change things up in Kahakuloa.” 

“Haole” is a Hawaiian word that refers to foreigners and White people, which Kunzelman testified that the word was used in a derogatory way. 

“When you watch the video … there was almost like enthusiasm,” Seabright said. “Maybe that’s what’s so disturbing about this case.”

Kunzelman said in court on Thursday that the pair “brutally attacked me out of hate for the color of my skin” and left him with emotional and psychological damage.

The defense argued that the pair was angered by Kunzelman’s sense of entitlement rather than race, according to The Washington Post. 

“There’s not going to really be any dispute that what he did was wrong,” Craig Jerome, a federal defender representing Alo-Kaonohi, told the jury in November. “But he didn’t do any of those things because of Mr. Kunzelman’s race. It was Mr. Kunzelman’s behavior. It was his perceived disrespect. It was his attitude.”

Reportedly, local lawyers believe this is the first time the U.S. has prosecuted Native Hawaiians for hate crimes, according to NPR.  

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2 COMMENTS

  1. Wow. And what of all those white folks that have hated on POC for centuries, killing them, lynching them, dragging them by truck, batting persons to death? They got off scot free. Slap on the wrist. Even the hate on the Black security guarding the WH on 1/6 and bashing him. What did that white supremacist get? Sigh….

  2. It is not the first time where a white person interpreted their loss of entitlement as “hate” for being white. Native Hawaiians are trying to preserve their culture and land and not be erased or ignored. Then an outsider move into a Native Hawaiian area with a typical colonizer mindset of entitlement to impose their will instead of being humble and respectful. But violence is never the answer under any circumstances.

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