2 Maui men sentenced for 2014 racially motivated attack in Kahakuloa
Two men from Maui were sentenced in federal court for their racially motivated attack on a white man who was attempting to move into their neighborhood of Kahakuloa, according to the U.S. Department of Justice.
The department reported that 33-year-old Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi was sentenced to 6.5 years in prison and 33-year-old Levi Aki Jr. was sentenced to four years and two months in prison.
“The defendants in this case nearly killed a man because they believed he did not belong in their neighborhood because of the color of his skin,” Assistant Attorney General Kristen Clarke with the Justice Department’s Civil Rights Division said in a press release. “The law protects everyone in this country from racially motivated violence, and these sentences send a strong message that such violence will not be tolerated.”
U.S. Attorney Clare E. Connors, for the District of Hawaiʻi, said in the release that no one should suffer the violence, cover-up and injustice the defendants wrought in this case.
“All persons have a right to freedom from violence motivated by racial hatred, and the department is committed to ensuring that right is protected in a court of law,” Connors said.
“This horrific violence was motived by nothing other than hate,” Special Agent-in-Charge Steven Merrill with the FBI Honolulu Field Office added in the release.
At trial, evidence showed that the victim, C.K., purchased a house in Kahakuloa and decided to move there with his wife and three daughters after his wife was diagnosed with multiple sclerosis and forced to retire. According to the Justice Department, when C.K. arrived in Kahakuloa, he was harassed and threatened by various Kahakuloa residents who told him things such as, “This is a Hawaiian village. The only thing coming from the outside is the electricity,” and “You don’t even belong in Hawaiʻi.”
The U.S. Department of Justice recounted the events in the release:
On Feb. 13, 2014, when C.K. was unpacking his belongings with his elderly uncle, the defendants, who had never met C.K. before, stormed onto his property and demanded that he pack his things and leave, threatening to “tie [him] up and drag [him]” and make him “go missing” if he did not comply. When C.K. replied that he owned the house, Alo-Kaonohi dragged his index finger along C.K.’s jaw and told him, “Your skin is the wrong f****** color.” Aki then picked up a roofing shovel and handed it to Alo-Kaonohi, who struck C.K. in the head with it, opening up a bloody wound on the back of C.K.’s head. Later on, after C.K. had already begun packing up his possessions, the defendants attacked him a second time. During that attack, Aki head butted C.K. and struck him in the face with the shovel a second time, giving C.K. a concussion and causing him to lose consciousness. When he came to, the defendants were kicking him in the side and broke two of his ribs. During the second attack, one of the defendants said, “no white man is ever going to live here.”
At the sentencing hearing, the government introduced evidence saying that just months after his unprovoked attack on C.K., Alo-Kaonohi committed a similar attack on a white-skinned man at the Steel Horse Saloon, a bar in Wailuku, Maui. In that attack, Alo-Kaonohi approached the victim from behind, tapped him on the shoulder and then punched him repeatedly in the head until he was unconscious, according to the department. The victim sustained a large gash on his head that required seven staples to close and suffered permanent brain damage, the release stated.