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At the time, it was a defeat of sorts—three dozen Kōkua Hawaii protesters were arrested as they tried, unsuccessfully, to stop the demolition of the last home in Kalama Valley. But the stand they took would later be seen as the birth of the modern Hawaiian political and cultural movement.
The incident was sparked by relocation orders sent out by Bishop Estate to about 150 families living on month-to-month leases in the valley, many of them poor, many of them Hawaiian. A good number of them moved out to make way for development plans by Bishop Estate and the Hawaii Kai Development Corp., but for others, it was the last straw. “They’re not going to push me around no more,” pig farmer George Santos was famously quoted as saying.
The Kalama Valley residents captured the imagination of many all over Hawaii, and there were soon more protesters inhabiting the area than original lease-holders.
“Initially it was about evictions, but I think very rapidly it became a larger vision of trying to understand why Hawaiians found themselves in this position in the first place,” says Jon Osorio, professor at the UH Kamakakuokalani Center for Hawaiian Studies. “Kalama Valley created a foundational Hawaiian leadership that became very effective, and able to move from issues of land and protection of sites to other kinds of issues, like Kahoolawe, like the protection of Hawaiian religion, and perhaps even to the areas of language revitalization and doing historical research.”
After being repeatedly passed over for promotion to police seargent, Lucille Abreu sued the Honolulu Police Department for discrimination in 1972. At the time, HPD limited policewomen to traditionally female tasks such as working with juveniles, offered no chances for promotion and paid them less than male officers.
Abreau’s victory two years later leveled the playing field for women, and she became the first female detective in the department, spending the last four of her 25-year career in the Criminal Investigation Division. Today, the Honolulu Police department employs 228 women officers, 11 percent of the total force.
Few pieces of legislation have had as large an impact on both employers and employees alike: a law requiring that companies provide health insurance to employees working at least 20 hours a week. Hawaii remains the only state to have passed such a law.
Rich Meyers, CEO of the Healthcare Association of Hawaii, says the act hearkens back to plantation-era attitudes about healthcare. “The plantations used to have their own hospitals, and if you worked for a plantation owner, it was his responsibility to keep you and your family healthy,” he says.
“I think that led to people expecting that from employers in general.”
Thanks to this unique law, Hawaii boasted the nation’s lowest rate of uninsured residents for years, often as low as 2 to 3 percent. It’s crept up in recent years, as high as 13 percent, but we still rank as one of the best-covered populations in the U.S.
When Aloha Stadium opened it was considered state of the art—its stands, with 50,000 seats, moved to form a baseball diamond, or, in its second configuration, a football field (it was locked into this configuration in 2007).
The Aloha Stadium also marked the movement of Oahu’s population center from Honolulu—where the former Honolulu Stadium, or the Termite Palace, as it was affectionately known, sat on King Street—to Hālawa. The new stadium houses more than UH football games and tailgating, with events such as its popular three-day-a-week swap meets, the NFL Pro-Bowl, summer carnivals and mega concerts such as Michael Jackson in 1997 and, most recently, U2 in 2006.
It’s hard to pin an exact date on the beginning of Green Harvest. The coordinated program to search and destroy pakalōlō on the Big Island started off as a series of secret missions.
But it was hard to miss low-flying National Guard helicopters filled with local, state and federal narcotics officers. Green Harvest soon turned into a high-profile, long-running game of cat-and-mouse. Year after year, police confiscated millions of dollars’ worth of marijuana, weed
growers grew millions of dollars more to replace it, and innocent landowners complained about the invasion of privacy.
None of the raids did anything to stop Hawaii from turning into one of the pot capitals of the world. A 2006 study by marijuana reform activist Jon Gettman ranked Hawaii as the fourth biggest producer of the drug, with an annual crop worth almost $4 billion.
Today, the war against pot is on the wane. The state Legislature legalized the medical use of marijuana in 2000, and Big Island residents last year voted to make marijuana enforcement the police department’s lowest priority.