Kona Nui Nights is a free monthly event that honors and highlights Hawaiian language, music, and the art of hula. Hosted beneath a massive tent behind the IBM building, Ward Village presents one of the best cultural experiences on Oahu. December’s special night featured Kupaoa (Kellen and Lihau Paik) and Mark Yamanaka. This delightful Kona Nui Nights was a family-friendly celebration with holiday-themed activities and treats throughout the night. Guests had to RSVP well in advance, and the event was completely booked to capacity. However, some disabled guests with tickets found they were robbed of this Christmas gift due to a Grinch who decided to block the handicap aisle and ramp with his Lexus. Instead of allowing the path 50 inches for a wheelchair to pass through, he must have thought handicapped people only need a few inches to accommodate their wheelchairs and walkers in the space between his car and the cement wall. (See photo) A real disabled person would have known better.
The driver of the Lexus decided to hog the entire reserved area, designated for a van to open its doors and extend a wheelchair lift. In doing so, he blocked the van’s lift kit access, the wheelchair aisle, plus the wheelchair ramp. In other words, he parked his Lexus in a space that not intended for parking a car at all. This prevented disabled guests from being able to enter the IBM building at Ward Village. The driver, a young man, and his young girlfriend came to the car more than once during the evening to remove items from the back seat of the car. The back seat had items strewn across it; nothing had been pushed aside indicating a disabled person had been sitting there. The “mystery” disabled person, for whom a handicap space was reserved, was nowhere to be seen – AWOL so to speak.
The Lexus displayed a Department of Defense permit, B6F 8S2 prominently in the dash. Hanging onto the mirror was a disability placard expiring July 2020, stamped P-074-338. Personally, I have never seen a person in a wheelchair fight in combat, but I digress. The young man and his girlfriend were clearly able-bodied and had no need for a wheelchair space by any stretch of the imagination. A real disabled person would be unable to exit the Lexus as situated because there was no room on either side of the car to transfer to a wheelchair. The selfish driver simply created his own parking space, depriving several people of being able to use the handicap aisle and ramp. The Lexus driver lacked the integrity to park in the free garage at Ward Center. He wanted the spot for his Lexus rather than allowing a real handicapped person to utilize the space or use the ramp. There is only one handicap entrance into the IBM building, but the Lexus Grinch was too cold-hearted to care.
I don’t own a Lexus. I have muscular dystrophy. I use an electric wheelchair and have to be transported in a van with a lift. I googled what the profile of a typical Lexus driver might be. National Network Hit asked their readers what their perception of Lexus drivers is. One respondent signed Julia, wrote: “I am going to be brutally honest … based on many years of observation … They (Lexus drivers) are usually quite snotty – noses in the air, as if they are somehow “superior” to other drivers, they usually are very aggressive – they ignore the rules of the road and especially the rules of parking, meaning they think nothing of hogging two spaces so their precious cars won’t get nicked. I find this happens mostly with Lexus owners. … For the record, my Mother, my husband, and several of my friends have noticed this too.”
I was shocked to see this car associated with Fort Shafter. My biological father was in the Army, my older brother was in the Marines, my younger brother was in the Army Reserves, my grandfather served in World War I, and my great uncle served in World War II at Pearl Harbor. I know my family very well, they would never, in a million years, selfishly take a handicapped person’s spot fraudulently, nor block the handicap aisle and ramp, preventing people from entering a Christmas event.
Since I saw the two young people access the car, and saw how their back seat looked as if no handicapped person could have been there, nor how any handicapped person could have gotten out of the car, as the Lexus was wedged into a space not designed for such placement, I called the police to have the car ticketed. The Honolulu police did not come. So 20 minutes later, I called the police again and expressed my disappointment they did not send an officer. So the dispatcher said he was sending an officer immediately.
When Officer Chin, badge number 2991 showed up, I could tell from the first five seconds he had no interest in serving or protecting the needs of the disabled. I showed Officer Chin how the Lexus was blocking access to the handicap aisle and ramp. I told him the two young people were inside the Kona Nui Night bar area and gave their description, but he refused to go inside to ask them to move out of the reserved area. Then the “Fort Shafter” Lexus driver came back to his car for yet another time, to retrieve more items. Officer Chin asked the young Asian man, “Is this your car?” And the driver said “Yes.” The officer asked, “Is that your handicap permit?” The driver said, “It belongs to my auntie, but she’s no longer here, she went away with someone else.” “Auntie” is a local term for “old woman,” not your real aunt, nor your mother nor grandmother. The semantics of his linguistic choice inferred the permit belongs to a person not his relative, therefore a highly suspicious circumstance.
Now, I know from watching investigative reports on TV, where rogues are caught illegally using handicap permits, the first excuse the fraudsters always give is “It belongs to so and so, but she just left.” Mr. Lexus’ admission was a reason to issue a citation and have the car towed because it was no longer parked to the benefit of the disabled person, but rather to the benefit of the Fort Shafter associate. The driver admitted to the officer the “mystery” auntie was nowhere on the premises. Chin told the Lexus driver, “It’s OK,” and let the driver go back to his party. He did not even ask the Grinch to move to a parking spot for able-bodied people. I looked at Chin and told him point blank “You gave him a free pass because he is Asian!”
Chin did not deny my accusation of blatant racism, but he did put on a display of indignation. How dare this white tourist in a wheelchair accuses an officer of the law of showing racial favoritism to an able-bodied Asian parked in the handicap space!
“You did not ask him for ID to prove that handicap permit belongs to him. It could be the permit of his long-dead grandmother,” I told Chin.
“Hey, he has a permit and he’s parked in a handicap spot”, was Chin’s response. “I have no way to check who the permit belongs to or if it is was his dead grandmother’s permit.”
“This is clearly illegal. You are paid to serve and protect the needs of the disabled,” I told Chin, “and you are doing absolutely nothing. You let him walk away.”
“Can you tell me the citation of the law he broke?” Chin asked.
I want all the multiple million readers of this publication to know that if you decide to bring your hard-earned money to Hawaii for a vacation, be prepared to cite the exact law regarding infractions, should you need police assistance. Officer Chin said unless I told him the exact law, he would not issue a citation – what a disgusting policy.
These are the laws Officer Chin took an oath to uphold. These are the laws Officer Chin is paid to enforce. When one doesn’t know the law, I suppose police officers make a decision based on which race they prejudice.
Could such an appalling incident happen? According to the organization that keeps watching over hate groups, the answer is yes. In the article entitled “Hawaii Suffering From Racial Prejudice” the Southern Poverty Law Center reported “For years, Hawaiians have avoided talk of race and hate crimes … The tourism-dependent state barely acknowledges hate crimes.” The highly respected organization related the story of how the police are not part of the solution; they are part of the problem:
Dr. Cecilia Pardon went on a Hawaiian vacation last year, lured by the prospect of beautiful beaches and friendly people. She, her husband and two teenage daughters enjoyed the sandy beaches of these islands. But a Hawaiian girl accosted her two teenage daughters, saying, “Go back to the mainland” and “Take your white ass off our beaches,” says Dr. Padron, a pediatric gastroenterologist in New Jersey. When her husband, 68 at the time, stepped between the girls, three young Hawaiian men slammed him against a vehicle, cutting his ear, and choked and punched him, Dr. Padron says. Police officers persuaded the Padrons not to press charges, saying it would be expensive for them to return for court appearances and a Hawaiian judge would side with the Hawaiian assailants, the doctor contends.
The police are complicit in condoning racism by making overt attempts to prevent white tourists from receiving justice when the perpetrator is non-white. The Honolulu police department has been called “the disgrace of the nation.” Repeated examples of behavior certainly not congruent with the Respect and Fairness principles outlined in the HPD Mission Statement have been noted. However, things are about to change here in Honolulu, we are told.
A few weeks ago, there was an earthquake in the department. They hired a “haole” (white) female, Susan Ballard as the new Chief of Police. She is unlike anything the city has ever known. Stephen Watary, who retired from HPD in 2007, told KHON television, “When I was working with her, she was always known for her honesty, direct approach, and unselfish manner.” Selfishness and dishonesty are repugnant to Chief Susan Ballard; she abhors such immoral proclivity. I believe if she had been on the scene where the selfish Lexus driver blocked the handicap aisle and ramp, and wedged his car into the only open area for handicap people to manoeuver their wheelchairs, as well as heard the driver confess there was no handicapped person on the premises while his car was hogging a handicap spot, she would have forced him to move his sorry Grinch ass. I also believe she would have challenged his very use of the area reserved for disabled people.
While Officer Chin argued he had no way to verify whether the Fort Shafter-tagged Lexus was legally using the handicap permit at Ward Center, I believe Chief Susan Ballard would have followed the law and told Mr. Lexus to produce the ID card given to handicap people when they receive the hang tag, as codified in §11-219-10 of Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 11, Chapter 219 [Eff 12/31/84; am and comp 4/18/94; rem from §19-150-10, am and comp 12/15/00; am and comp 12/24/01; comp 1/23/03; am and comp 7/26/04; comp 8/19/06; am and comp 7/2/12; comp 9/25/15] (Auth HRS §291-56) (Imp: HRS §291-54; 23 CFR part 1235).
Mr. Lexus claimed, “Auntie” had been in the car earlier but left with someone else, and that is why no “auntie” was on the premises. The fact that the invisible “auntie” didn’t take her handicap permit with her when she went bye-bye with someone else would have made anyone with common sense doubt his story. Chin knew what was going on; he’s not stupid. This is characterological, not cognitive.
While Officer Chin argued that Mr. Lexus claimed the invisible “auntie” had once occupied the vehicle but was no longer on the premises and therefore Mr. Lexus was legally parked, I believe Chief Susan Ballard would have followed the law and told Mr. Lexus “There is no auntie anywhere around here; the parking is to her benefit, not to YOUR benefit, so move the car out of the handicap spot unless you can prove you are transporting the invisible auntie” as codified in §11-219-11 of Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 11, Chapter 219 [Eff 12/31/84; am and comp 4/18/94; rem from §19-150-10, am and comp 12/15/00; am and comp 12/24/01; comp 1/23/03; am and comp 7/26/04; comp 8/19/06; am and comp 7/2/12; comp 9/25/15] (Auth HRS §291-56) (Imp: HRS §291-54; 23 CFR part 1235).
While Officer Chin argued he saw nothing wrong with Mr. Lexus blocking the handicap ramp and being a completely selfish able-bodied person, I believe Chief Susan Ballard would have followed the law and told the driver get his able-bodied ass out of the access aisle, as codified in §11-219-14 of Hawaii Administrative Rules, Title 11, Chapter 219 [Eff 12/31/84; am and comp 4/18/94; rem from §19-150-10, am and comp 12/15/00; am and comp 12/24/01; comp 1/23/03; am and comp 7/26/04; comp 8/19/06; am and comp 7/2/12; comp 9/25/15] (Auth HRS §291-56) (Imp: HRS §291-54; 23 CFR part 1235).
Officer Chin told me he required me to cite the exact law before he would ticket the Asian driver’s car because he insisted there was no law giving him authority to act.
Even if he truly knew of no law that forbade an able-bodied man to park in a handicap spot based on the existence of an invisible “auntie,” Officer Chin should have taken a look at the way Mr. Lexus was blocking the handicap aisle and ramp, then asked the selfish Grinch to move out of the access aisle simply as a matter of compassion toward the disabled. But you know, you can’t teach compassion toward the elderly and disabled, people either possess it instinctively or they don’t. Likewise, you can’t imbue people with integrity, honor, respect, or common sense. The Honolulu Police sent Mr. Chin to represent them; what an epic service, or should I say dis-service?
I was appalled to see the Fort Shafter permit on the dashboard of the Lexus. I come from a military family; I know military values, and honor is held in highest regard. I know people at Fort Shafter, they would never be so disrespectful toward the disabled. I told Mr. Lexus after Officer Chin gleefully told him he didn’t have to move his car, I would report him to the military. This is a black eye on all the military men and women who have given so much, even their lives, in the name of honor. Mr. Lexus was not a man, a real man would NEVER have looked at me, in a wheelchair, and refused to move his car blocking the wheelchair ramp. He shrugged his shoulder, to let me know he didn’t care, then went back to his young girlfriend so he could continue partying at the IBM bar.
His behavior was unconscionable. Military men with integrity don’t pull that stunt with handicapped people. I know military men. They have character. They have honor. I know men who gave their lives to protect the people of this country. It is an insult to military honor to have one of their people so selfish he would not so much as move his car away from the wheelchair ramp he blocked.
General Robert Brooks Brown is the commander at Fort Shafter. I know him; he is a gentleman and a scholar. He graduated from Grosse Pointe North High School in Grosse Pointe, Michigan. That’s where I am from. I taught at Grosse Pointe Public Schools and Community Education at Grosse Pointe War Memorial. I know his family; they are people with highest integrity and honor. They do not condone that kind of disrespect for disabled people. The General and his family are very well known in Southeast Michigan; his wife, Patti Pope of Grosse Pointe Woods is a teacher for gifted children. They would be appalled to see one of their “men” behaving like that.
I believe Officer Chin’s conduct is a disgrace to the Honolulu Police Department, and moreover, a black eye on the Hawaii Tourism Industry. This is not hospitality. This is Barbarism. Mr. Lexus’ refusal to show common decency toward the disabled is an insult to all the people of honor at Fort Shafter; this man is basking in the glory and respect earned by his fellow solidiers, but being a pig behind the military’s back. Ward Village went out of their way to provide world-class entertainment to the community; people had to RSVP weeks in advance, and every ticket to the event was taken. But because of Mr. Lexus, their joy was robbed.
My post-doctorate graduate degree is in cultural anthropology. I know how seriously the Chinese people value respect for elders, and I know they would never block a handicap ramp needed by elders. Officer Chin’s behavior is a disgrace to the Chinese community; they would never condone screwing over old people.
Kona Nui Nights at Ward Village are held on the third Wednesday of every month. Free self-parking is available across the street in the Ward Village Shops parking garage or in the Ward Centre Parking garage. For further information, kindly visit https://www.wardvillage.com/events/kona-nui-nights.
Follow the author, Anton Anderssen on Twitter @Hartforth