(CN) – Five members of a group pushing for Hawaiian sovereignty were arrested after an hours-long seizure of the Office of Hawaiian Affairs Thursday, and are accused of assaulting staff and prompting a building evacuation and lockdown by Honolulu police.
Twelve members of the Kauai-based Kingdom of Atooii, also known as the Nation of Hawaii, stormed the offices at around midday, according to an official statement from the Office of Hawaii in Affairs. All were cited for trespassing.
The incident occurred as official remembrance ceremonies commemorating the 126th anniversary of the overthrow of the Kingdom of Hawaii and imprisonment of the last remaining monarch, Queen Liliuokalani, in 1893 were being held about a mile away at the Iolani Palace.
Native Hawaiians who believe their homeland was taken illegally want to restore crown lands to a monarchy led by descendants of King Kamehameha I. The sovereignty members consider the capital of this kingdom to be Waimea, on the island of Kauai.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs is a public agency founded in 1978 to advocate for Hawaiian people and issues including culture, education and financial well-being.
In 1893, American businessmen including Sanford Dole, whose cousin later started the Hawaiian Pineapple Company and predecessor to Dole Foods, set up a provisional government with the support of U.S. military troops.
Queen Liliuokalani remained steadfast in asserting the constitutional sovereignty of Hawaii, bringing about a year-long investigation by then-U.S. President Grover Cleveland. He acknowledged the overthrow was wrong and sought to repair the United States’ relationship with the kingdom.
Congress instead passed a resolution to annex Hawaii, resulting in the lowering of the Hawaiian flag and raising of the American flag above the Iolani Palace on Aug. 12, 1898.
On the centennial anniversary in 1993, President Bill Clinton formally apologized for the overthrow through a resolution while more than 10,000 people flooded the streets for a march and rally.
The marches continue annually.
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