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Battle heats up over sovereignty group’s signs

LIHUE — After more than a week, members of the Lawful Hawaiian Government said they have still not been granted permission to retrieve signage it owns and was wrongfully confiscated by the Department of Land Resources last year.

Timothy Oga, a noble with the LHG, said he was met with resistance on Thursday when attempting to enter the DLNR office to resolve the issue. As he approached the site, Oga was told to leave.

“You have to leave the building now,” said the guard, who refused to give his name. “Or I can call KPD and they can help you leave. You have to be conducting business.”

He told the group that DNLR had just vacated its office.

One member of the group, Jangee Westphal, was holding a camera and documenting LHG’s progress of the sign retrieval.

At one point, the guard asked Westphal to shut off the camera. He didn’t and they continued to shout at each other.

Ogo then contacted the Kauai DLNR office and was told to submit proof of ownership of signs. Despite his attempts to provide necessary paperwork later, Oga said he was again told to leave the scene.

Marvin Mikasa, acting district land agent for Kauai, told the group that he did not have the sign and that it would be under Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. He signed the group’s proof of ownership but told them he could not act upon it.

Alison Lewis, one of the LHG members, said she didn’t believe they were treated fairly.

“What’s so interesting to me is why don’t they want us here?” she said. “It’s a public building. We’re not causing any trouble.”

The case unfolded in February 2015 when the DLNR removed two LHG signs from private property at a Hanapepe lookout. The LHG was subsequently successful in court efforts to have the signs re-installed, but that never occurred. Last week, the Kauai prosecutor’s’s office directed the DLNR to release the signs to the LHG.

Late Thursday afternoon, DLNR sent The Garden Island an email stating it “would have no further comment on the matter at this time.”

The LHG maintains that its signs are educational and that DLNR confiscated them as a way to prevent their free speech.

“We’re trying to educate and people keep taking them down,” Oga said. “It’s a shame.”

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