Man testifies about beating in Maui, says it was a hate crime
A white man who says he was the victim of a hate crime when two Native Hawaiian men assaulted him while he was fixing a house he bought in their remote Maui village testified Wednesday that his attackers were motivated by race, although he admitted that no racist comments can be heard in a video taken during the 2014 beating.
Christopher Kunzelman said the men beat him and told him no white people would ever live in the village of Kahakuloa – a comment not heard in the footage. Kaulana Alo-Kaonohi and Levi Aki Jr. are on trial on one federal count each of hate crimes. Their defense attorneys don’t deny the assault, but say their actions were motivated by Kunzelman’s legitimate and disrespectful attitude — not his race.
Alo-Kaonohi and Aki punched, kicked and used a shovel to beat Kunzelman, leaving him with injuries including a concussion, two broken ribs and head and abdominal trauma, US prosecutors said. .
When questioned by Salina Kanai, a federal advocate for Alo-Kaonohi, Kunzelman acknowledged that the men were furious that Kunzelman had previously cut the locks on the village gates, but made no mention of his race.
“He doesn’t talk about your skin color, he doesn’t talk about your race,” Kanai said of Alo-Kaonohi, who is heard in the video calling him “brah” and “buddy.” .
Kanai said Alo-Kaonohi, during a swearing tirade about locks, didn’t refer to Kunzelman as “haole,” a Hawaiian word that can mean a white person.
Kunzelman replied, “Correct, not yet.”
More than five minutes into the incident, which was recorded by cameras on Kunzelman’s vehicle parked under the house, there was only one racial expression, Kanai said.
“You’re a haole, huh,” Aki said in the recording.
The video shows what happens downstairs, including Aki pacing with a shovel over his shoulder. Video captures sound from upstairs, where Kunzelman said he was beaten, but no footage.
What isn’t audible in the video are the men calling her “haole” derogatorily and threatening to shoot her with their own guns, even though they were shouting, Kunzelman said.
Kunzelman testified that he and his wife decided to move to Maui from Scottsdale, Arizona, after being diagnosed with multiple sclerosis. He said his wife loved the island.
A Hawaiian woman visited him in her dreams and told him to buy the dilapidated beachfront home he said he and his wife bought unseen for $175,000 after finding a online list.
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