About 200 Native Hawaiians and others protested today in Chicago against Aloha Poke Co., the business that trademarked the words ‘Aloha’ and ‘Poke’ and sent threatening letters to companies bearing similar names to stop using the most common of Hawaiian words.
The event was organized by the Aloha Center Chicago, an arts and culture organization, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, and ʻIlioʻulaokalani Coalition, a political advocacy group led by kumu hula Vicky Holt Takamine, as well as the Office of Hawaiian Affairs.
The group of native Hawaiians shouted ‘Ku’e Aloha Poke,’ which means to oppose or resist Aloha Poke, and held signs that read: ‘Aloha is Not For Sale,’ as they stood at the entrance of a building on Clark Street where the mainland company operates one of its fast-food shops.
Some small businesses with similar names re-branded to Lei’s Poke Stop due to the threat of litigation, including Aloha Poke Shop in Anchorage, Alaska, which changed its name to Lei’s Poke Stop.
The protestors hope to get the company to retract its cease-and-desist letters and issue a “true apology to the Native Hawaiian people.”
“We fully support the expression of free speech and their right to protest in a peaceful manner,” Aloha Poke Co. CEO Chris Birkinshaw said in response to today’s march.