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Saturday, March 16, 2024

Kaʻū News Briefs March 16, 2024

Raising fighting cocks is common in Hawai‘i, called cultural by some, cruel by others. It is the
subject of Bill 1980 at the Hawai‘i Legislature that would classify chicken fighting, associated gambling and
possessing chicken fighting paraphernalia as felonies. Photo from Humane Society of U.S.

RAISING FIGHTING CHICKENS AND FIGHTING THEM WOULD BE ELEVATED FROM MISDEMEANORS TO FELONIES with up to five years in prison or a $10,000 fine, under proposed legislation making its way through the 2024 Hawai‘i Legislature. The measure would also make it a felony to allow minors to attend chicken fights. The state Office of the Public Defender opposes the bill, while the state Attorney General, state Department of Law Enforcement, animal rights groups and Hawai‘i Humane Society support it.
    State House member Jeanne Kapela, who represents all of  Kaʻū, and Rep. Richard Onishi, who represents Volcano into Hilo, were both introducers of a version of the measure back in 2022.
    The latest House Bill 1980 separates chicken fighting from other animal cruelty law. It would also create separate second-degree felonies for gambling on chicken fights, paying to go to the fights, and possessing chicken fighting paraphernalia, with a $1,000 fine per first violation or up to 30 days in jail, or both. A second violation would net a $2,000 fine or up to a year in prison, or both.

Equipping a fighting chicken with spurs would be a felony
 under proposed state law. Photo from Humane Society of the U.S.
   Devices include slashers, gaffs, knives, and muffs designed to be attached to or in place of the birds' natural spurs.
   The legislation defines a fight as "a bird or birds pitted against another bird or birds, with the intent that the encounter will result in injury to one or more of the birds." The legislation would mean "Each violation of this section, including each bird and each device used in violation of this section, shall constitute a separate offense."
    The narrative for the bill says: "The legislature finds that illegal animal fighting is directly associated with other criminal activities such as illegal gambling, illegal firearms possession, illegal drug distribution, endangerment of minors, and human violence, as evidenced by a double homicide that occurred at an illegal bird fighting operation in Maili, O‘ahu, in April of 2023, and this was but one of a number of cases of human violence occurring at an illegal animal fight over the years. Further, Hawaiʻi is one of only eight states that lacks a felony penalty for animal fights between birds and has no existing penalty for attending a fight or allowing a minor to attend a fight.
    "Psychologists and criminologists have long determined that children exposed to human or animal violence, or who engage in animal cruelty, are more likely to escalate to violence against humans, threatening the overall community and public safety. In addition, birds used for fighting purposes are mutilated in preparation for a fight by having various body parts cut off and their natural spurs either removed or sharpened, in preparation for a fight, in which even the winner of the fight often dies. Birds subject to such mutilations suffer unnecessary pain and are more prone to illness and disease, including zoonotic diseases that can be spread to humans and to other avian species including native birds and birds at agricultural facilities."
Photo of fighting chicken from Humane Society of U.S.

   Opposition to the legislation includes testimony from state Public Defender Jon. N. Kenaga writes: "Cockfighting in Hawai‘i is a deeply ingrained part of the community that traces its roots to immigrants who came to work on sugar and pineapple plantations more than a century ago. What to do about it has been a recurring discussion among generations of local lawmakers. This bill is a reaction to the terrible violence that erupted from a cockfight on O'ahu last spring. The violence is indeed abhorrent and troubling, but it was made possible because the event itself was driven underground by making the cockfight a crime in the first place.
    "Criminalizing cockfighting—like possessing fireworks, using drugs, gambling, or even riding in the back of a pickup truck—does little to stop the activity itself. Making it against the law removes the activity from the normal regulations and protections of the law. That attracts more unlawful activity.
    "If it was tolerated and lawfully permitted, the presence of police officers could ensure safety at these events. Making it a more severe criminal offense will only drive it further underground, make the events even more clandestine, and will only make it more conducive to unwanted criminal activity.
    "Parts of the bill are also unconstitutional. Long ago, the City and County of Honolulu criminalized going to cockfights and the Hawai‘i Supreme Court held that unconstitutional because “[a]n ordinance or statute proscribing presence, whether at a cockfight, a gambling game, or a house of prostitution, is too vague to satisfy the requirements of due process.” State v. Abellano, 50 Haw. 384, 386, 441 P.2d 333, 334 (1968). While the Legislature should be and remain committed to ending violence, disrupting organized crime, and ensuring safety in the community, criminalizing a deeply engrained part of local culture has not worked in the past and is not likely to work in the future. This is not an ideal way to reduce crime."
    See more testimonies, which are mostly in support of making chicken fighting a felony, at https://data.capitol.hawaii.gov/sessions/session2024/Testimony/HB1980_TESTIMONY_JHA_02-21-24_.PDF

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The Plateau of Makanau rising in the distance from the viewpoint of Heiau Punalu'u Nui, also known as Heiau Kāne'ele'ele, adjacent to Punalu‘u Black Sand Beach and Bay. Photo from Kai Markell

Kai Markel
PUNALU‘U IS A TOPIC FROM KAI MARKELL, COMPLIANCE ENFORCEMENT MANAGER FOR OFFICE OF HAWAIIAN AFFAIRS. He is former Director of Native Rights, Land & Culture at OHA, former Director of Burial Sites Program at state Department of Land & Natural Resources and former Investigator at state Department of Commerce & Consumer Affairs. He posted this look back into Punalu‘u history this week with accompanying photos of Punalu‘u:    

    Punalu‘u Nui is a po‘o kanaka class of temple, or luakini, with human sacrificial use by the Ali'i Nui of Hawai‘i Island, the Chiefess Keakealaniwahine, in the 1600s. Also used in the time of Kamehameha, its last recorded use as a luakini was by Liholiho, Kamehameha II, after Kamehameha passed as part of the required ‘Aha Rituals of the new young leader.
    Makanau, which also has a heiau on its plateau, is said to be the starting point for the Beloved Ka‘ū Chief, Keouakū‘ahu‘ula, on his somber fateful journey across the island to Heiau Pu‘ukoholā, where he was sacrificed at that luakini, to dedicate its construction, and activate it.

    This was to fulfill the prophecies rendered by Kaua‘i Kahuna and Kaula, Kapoukahi, regarding the acts needed to ensure the unification of the Hawaiian Islands.
    The prophecy Kapoukahi is said to have uttered was "war shall cease on Hawai‘i when one shall come and shall be laid above on the altar (lele) of Pu‘ukoholā, the House of God."
    The death of Kamehameha's cousin came in 1791 when Keouakū‘ahu‘ula was placed on the altar in Heiau Pu‘ukoholā, and the whole of Hawai‘i eventually became Kamehamehas, as prophesied by Kapoukahi.
    Archaeologists will tell you that so much has been destroyed from previous recorded tsunamis and from rampant bulldozing for previous development projects in the area.
    What lies beneath, however, is where the Mana resides.
    When the old, now long gone, wharf warehouse was built next to the heiau, they discovered the lua, or "body pit", where the mōhai kanaka, or human sacrifices were deposited, much like the lua discovered at the heiau luakini, Ke‘ekū, in Keauhou, in the early 2000s. That pit, or ana, cave, is still there.
    The fresh water springs, which erupt on the sands, and in the near-shore waters, is where Ka Wai Ola a Kāne, the Living Waters of Kāne, meet the ocean waters of his brother, Kanaloa, Creating Life, Thriving Limu, Fish Fingerlings, Estuaries, Healing Springs, and all kinds of Mauli Ola Life Sustaining Mana.
    A former Sugar Cane Plantation Luna, or Boss, at C. Brewer, in his 80s at the time, shared with me about twenty years ago, when we were battling the Sea Mountain Development proposal there in 2006, where the location of a massive, as of yet, undisturbed Ali‘i Burial Cave resides.
    The workers lifted up a massive pāhoehoe slab with a backhoe, by accident, and it revealed a subsurface lavatube. The Luna was immediately called to the site and the workers went in, and soon came out shook up, and reported a large canoe in the cave, with bones, feathered garments, large standing kahili, or feathered standards, and other artifacts or nā mea kapu.
    The Luna had them immediately lower and replace the pāhoehoe slab, cover it with earth, and they revised their project around the burial cave.
    What lies beneath...
    All of Hawai‘i should be concerned about what is happening at Punalu‘u, and the entire Lāhui on all islands, given its history in our National Identity and the Mana which resides there.

To read comments, add your own, and like this story, see facebook.com/kaucalendar. See latest events, print edition and archive at kaunews.com. See 7,500 copies the mail and on stands.