HONOLULU – For the second time this year, a Native Hawaiian sovereignty group has taken over the grounds of Iolani Palace, residence of Hawaii's last monarch.
About a dozen men, wearing red shirts with "security" stenciled in yellow on the back, locked the gates of the landmark Friday evening and posted no trespassing signs that read: "Property of the Kingdom of Hawaiian Trust."
The action came on Admission Day, a state holiday marking Hawaii's admission to the Union on Aug. 21, 1959.
Kippen de Alba Chu, executive director of the Friends of Iolani Palace, told The Honolulu Advertiser by phone that he and other staff members were "in lockdown" in the palace and a nearby administration building.
"These guys are threatening to go in the palace," Chu said. "There's about 25 of them. They've got a king and the king wants to sit on the throne."
Television station KITV quoted an unidentified palace spokesperson as saying security personnel were guarding the palace, while staff locked themselves in the administration building. The Advertiser reported people on the grounds were later allowed to get to their cars.
Calls to the police department spokeswoman were not immediately returned.
"We're going to be here for a while. Four days, five days, a week. A while. As long as it takes," one of the men posting the signs told the Advertiser. He declined to give his name.
An "occupation public information bulletin" distributed by a member of the group began: "Majesty Akahi Nui, the King of Hawaii, has now reoccupied the throne of Hawaii. The Kingdom of Hawaii is now re-enacted."
Akahi Nui claims to have been coronated in 1998.
Hawaiian activists have long used Iolani Palace, the site of Queen Liliuokalani's imprisonment following the 1893 U.S. overthrow, as a prime location for protests against the United States' occupation of the islands.
Another group, the Hawaiian Kingdom Government, occupied the palace grounds April 30.