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Prominent Kahuku wind-farm protester says officer mistreated him during arrest

  • ANDREW GOMES / AGOMES@STARADVERTISER.COM
                                Activist Kent Fonoimoana leaves the Kahuku police substation after his arrest this morning during the protest against the wind turbine construction.

    ANDREW GOMES / AGOMES@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Activist Kent Fonoimoana leaves the Kahuku police substation after his arrest this morning during the protest against the wind turbine construction.

In Kahuku, one allegation of police misconduct was made shortly after close to 100 demonstrators against the Na Pua Makani wind farm were peacefully met by a roughly equal number of police officers at the entrance to the project site shortly before 2:30 a.m. Thursday.

After a few warnings from police for protesters to clear the project site access road, two people remained in an act of defiance and were arrested.

One of the two was Kent Fonoimoana, the former president of the Kahuku Community Association recognized for establishing the foundation of the movement against Na Pua Makani that he has been contesting since 2008.

Fonoimoana, 62, complained about mistreatment by one HPD officer during his arrest, and said he plans to file a complaint with the Honolulu Police Commission.

“Getting arrested is not supposed to be pleasant, and I understand that,” he said. “But if somebody is complying (with police) orders, they should not be disrespected, and they certainly should not be assaulted.”

Instead of lying or sitting on the ground and forcing officers to carry him, Fonoimoana stood calmly waiting for his hands to be to zip-tied behind his back, and complimented one officer for binding the ties fairly loose.

“I said I was going to make it easy for them,” Fonoimoana said. “I was complying with every order. Before they even asked me to put my hands behind my back, I had my hands behind my back.”

But before he got into the police van headed for the Kahuku police station, Fonoimoana said an officer grabbed four of his fingers — two from each hand bound together behind his back — and began twisting them to a point where it was painful.

That, Fonoimoana said, led him to wince and complain in a reaction that sparked other officers to get involved with what he said should have been a casual placement into the van.

After the ride to the police station, Fonoimoana suggested the officer work on his handcuffing technique, which touched off an exchange of mild but antagonistic words between the two, according to Fonoimoana.

Fonoimoana questioned whether the finger twisting was an effort to agitate him and escalate the situation that he said resulted in an assault.

“There was no reason for him to be twisting my fingers,” Fonoimoana said.

Fonoimoana said he isn’t sure if his prominence as a longtime Na Pua Makani opponent singled him out for a bit of unusual treatment.

While he was being arrested, supporters played “The Queen’s Prayer,” a song written by Queen Liliuokalani while she was imprisoned in Iolani Palace, on a loudspeaker.

The song speaks of forgiveness, and Joshua Kaina announced to the line of police officers that they should be forgiven for arresting Fonoimoana.

“I just want you guys to know that tonight someone was arrested — he was the man who started this movement,” Kaina said. “Ten years ago, he held signs saying no to these wind turbines all by himself. We thought he was crazy. All by himself. He fought for us.”

Kaina, who called Na Pua Makani irresponsible green energy, or greed energy, continued telling HPD officers about Fonoimoana: “We are here today because of him. I just want you to know that. But we forgive you guys. We know you are just doing your job.”

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