Public presentation questions sentencing of men convicted in West Maui hate crime

A public presentation Wednesday on a high-profile hate crime on Maui.
Published: Jul. 5, 2023 at 9:42 PM HST
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HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A public presentation held on Wednesday night at the University of Hawaii Maui College raised concerns about the recent sentencing of two men involved in a high-profile hate crime that took place in West Maui in 2014.

Legal analysts and speakers at the event argued that the punishment handed down to Kaulana Alo Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. for their attack in Kahakuloa Village was unjust.

The 2014 incident in question occurred when Chris Kunzelman attempted to move into a new home in Kahakuloa Village and was assaulted by two Native Hawaiian men.

Kunzelman suffered a concussion and broken ribs due to the attack and has claimed that he was targeted because of the color of his skin, considering it a hate crime.

But the speakers at the presentation dispute the classification of the incident as a hate crime.

“We are definitely not racist where we come from. We learned from our capos of how to live their life in. It just hurts me that my son is paying a price we think is for nothing,” said Chico Kaonohi, the father of Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi.

Ken Lawson, the Beyond Guilt Clinic Director, echoed these sentiments, “these young men had already been pled guilty in the state system, but that wasn’t good enough. They’re being used as scapegoats for the white culture to teach everybody else a lesson.”

Don’t say the word haole. We take it as racist. That’s not how we meant it.