HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - Several hours after they first occupied the Iolani Palace grounds, members of the Hawaiian Kingdom Government were arrested for trespassing Monday evening.
Kingdom government members locked themselves on the palace grounds overnight late Sunday night before departing Monday morning. The state then announced Monday afternoon that it was closing the palace grounds at 5 p.m. until next Tuesday to protect it from all protests, including those that could be APEC-related, such as the "Occupy Honolulu" protest at Thomas Square over the weekend.
"Iolani Palace is the only palace in the entire United States," said William Aila, chairman of the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. "And the department has a responsibility to ensure that the palace is protected for everyone."
The Kingdom Government members returned during the day and were told about the closure.
"'If you don't leave by five, you going get arrested.' I said, 'are you threatening me? are you prejudicing us from being here because this place closes at eleven o'clock p.m.,'" said Kingdom Government leader Mahealani Kahau.
At 5 p.m., about two dozen members remained on the palace grounds, while dozens more law enforcement officers waited to take action.
"I know they don't want this to happen to us because they're trying to give us whatever time for us to go," Kahau said. "But we are not going. We're going because are forced to betaken out from here."
Aila talked with the kingdom members in an effort to avoid making arrests. But finally, at about 7 p.m., the state moved in to arrest the members for trespassing.
"I am disappointed that -- you know, I thought that they had their opportunity to address you folks, that they had made their point and we didn't have to go to this extreme," Aila told reporters.
The two dozen people were taken to the Sheriff's Department's new booking center in Kakaako. They said they were not going to post $25 bond, and would spend the night at the Kapolei Police Station.
After their release, they said they would be back.
"Definitely," Kahau said. "This is our seat of government. It belongs to our people of this nation."
When asked if Monday night's scene will be repeated with Hawaiian Kingdom Government members, Aila had this two-word response: "It will."