Guest speaker

Abolition in Hawaiʻi

Description of presentation:
Discussion led by abolitionist organizers Aree Worawongwasu and Noelle Kakimoto from the Hawaiʻi Abolition Collective. Abolishing prisons, policing, and the military are heated topics with easily manipulated definitions, so Aree and Noelle explained what abolitionists truly want and why these goals are beneficial for everyone. Starting with a quick background on how abolition developed, Aree and Noelle lead audiences into today’s movements for community safety, accountability, and healing outside of the inherently racist and punitive legal system. They shared influences from revered abolitionists like Mariame Kaba and Ruth Wilson Gilmore and present possibilities of what a Hawaiʻi without prisons, policing, and the military will look like.

Aree Worawongwasu’s bio:
Aree Worawongwasu (อารีรัตน์ วรวงศ์วสุ) is a Mon Teochew Thai community organizer, cultural worker, and educator from Bangkok. She is a member of Hawaiʻi Abolition Collective and a PhD student at the University of Hawai’i at Manoa, where she is a teaching assistant in Indigenous Studies and Ethnic Studies. She is the Director of Communications for the Afro-Asia Working Group and a technician for Dark Laboratory, a collective for Black and Indigenous relationality. As a diasporic Indigenous woman, Aree is deeply committed to and in solidarity with the movement for Hawaiian self-determination.

Noelle Kakimoto’s bio:
Noelle Kakimoto is a Kanaka Maoli organizer and writer born and raised in Honolulu. She is a co-founder of the Hawaiʻi Abolition Collective and is on the board of Hawaiʻi Peace and Justice in her free time, and she works for the Office of the Public Defender as an Appellate Legal Clerk and a freelance sports writer at the Honolulu Star-Advertiser. Noelle is passionate about building abolitionist futures in Hawaiʻi and she wants to establish connections between Hawaiians and other communities in our shared struggles. Her goal is to do reentry work with people who are released from prison.

Suggested resources:
A Nation Rising
ACLU Hawaii report on bail in Hawai’i (2018)
Disparate Treatment of Native Hawaiians in the Criminal Justice System, OHA Report
Community Alliance on Prisons
Hawaii Correctional Systems Oversight Commission
Puʻuhonua Penpal Program

Guest speaker

Honolulu Police Commission Task Force and the current state of affairs

Presentation by Cathy Lee, a founder of the Honolulu Police Commission Taskforce. In the past several weeks we have witnessed the tragic events in which Iremamber Sykap and Lindani Myeni , both unarmed men of color, were killed by the HPD. Many of us have been appalled by the systemic issues in policing here in Hawai’i.

Cathy Lee spoke to us about how to be engaged with Honolulu Police Commission and we discussed further actions that we can take to work towards creating a more equitable Hawaiʻi with transparent and just policing.

Suggested resources:

The Untold Story: Policing with Jay Ellis
HPC homepage

Video screening

past ADORE discussion group at All Souls, Unitarian in Washington, D.C

This Sunday we had a unique opportunity to visit a special ADORE (A Dialogue on Race and Ethnicity) discussion group at All Souls, Unitarian in Washington, D.C. which took place in September of 2020.

We listened to and discuss a presentation which examines the racist role of police through US history, particularly in modern times and challenges us to consider alternatives to policing.

Guest speaker

Hawaiʻi’s failed criminal justice system and reforms we can implement

Description of presentation:
Attorney and Deputy Public Defender Jacquie Esser spoke and lead participants in a discussion regarding the following topics:

  • Overview of Hawaiʻi’s failed criminal justice system. Mass incarceration exists here, as on the continent, and is cruel, racist, and ineffective. It wastes money and lives, and doesn’t make our community safe.
  • Examples of how the current system is failing us: the criminalization of poverty and addiction, and discrimination against Native Hawaiians and other persons of color.
  • Reforms we can implement here to create a more just and fair system for everyone, including: Redirecting resources from police and prisons to healthcare, education and public housing; expanding restorative justice and rehabilitation programs.

Jacquie Esser is a mother and career public defender. Jacquie has spent more than a decade fighting to improve the lives of her clients, their families, and our communities. She is a criminal justice reform advocate who is committed to investing in communities, addressing the root causes of crime, building intergenerational stability, giving crime victims a voice in every case, and making our communities safer and more just.