Managing emergencies and protecting liberties

Radio host David Lister of Kauai’s Star 94.3 interviewed Keli’i Akina, president of the Grassroot Institute of Hawaii, on Jan. 24, 2021, about the institute’s new “Lockdowns Versus Liberty” policy brief. A full transcript of the brief conversation is below.

1-24-2021 Keli ‘i Akina interviewed by David Lister, Star 94.3 FM

David Lister: There’s always a better song playing on Star 94.3, Hall & Oates … As promised, our studio guest on the phone with me now is Dr. Keli’i Akina from the Grassroot Institute [of] Hawaii. Good afternoon to you, Doctor.

Keli’i Akina: David, it’s wonderful to be with you and your listeners.

Lister: We’ve asked you to call in because you guys have published this study called “Lockdowns Versus Liberty,” where you look at the problem of civil liberties in the time of an emergency. What is the goal of your report there online?

Akina: We take a hard look at the lockdowns and see the consequences, some of them unintended, that have happened as a result, and we ask tough questions like, “Could there be a better way that preserves liberty?” All of that is available online. One of the things people ask is, “Can’t we solve the problem of losing our liberties by going to the courts?” We also take a look at court cases.

Lister: If you can’t rely on the courts, why is that? You would think that’s where you got to go with it.

Akina: That’s the initial reaction of most people, but the truth is the courts tend to give the government a lot of leeway in the cases of emergency. That’s why the strategy that might work better is to change the law, which I can talk about later. We’ve taken a look at New York’s examples with Go. Cuomo and their restrictions on religious activities, and a Pennsylvania case as well. That’ll be interesting to look at in our report, “Lockdowns versus Liberty.”

Lister: We’re talking with Dr. Akina from the Grassroot Institute, Hawaii, and we want you to go to their website, grassrootinstitute.org, and check out “Lockdowns versus Liberty.” We’ll come back and talk to Dr. Keli’i. I’ve got some Journey coming up on Star.


Train with “Drive By” on Star 94.3, Dave Lister. We’ve got Dr. Akina from the Grassroot Institute [of] Hawaii on the phone with us. We’re talking about liberties versus lockdowns. It’s a report that’s at their website. You want to check this out, grassrootinstitute.org. Doctor, what can we do to stop the perpetual lockdowns?

Akina: The lockdown shouldn’t be perpetual in the first place. They’re supposed to last only 60 days. But what has happened is our governor has added one lockdown after another, and we’re in the next year already of perpetual lockdowns. The bottom line is that the law has to be changed. We’ve got to reform Hawaii’s emergency-management statute so that the Legislature, which represents the people, can actually put a limit to the lockdowns, and can actually review the lockdowns, and can actually pass a resolution that keeps the governor in check. It’s about checks and balances, and it’s about accountability.

Lister: So it is about accountability.

Akina: Oh, absolutely. We need more transparency. People should have a greater say in how the emergency is handled. Right now it is either the governor or the mayor who gets virtually absolute power. Through our Legislature and City Council, we’d need to be able to put a check on that. We’ve got to balance the goal of protecting our health with the goal of preserving our liberties. That’s an important balance to maintain.

Lister: And it’s in the Constitution.

Akina: Absolutely.

Lister: Dr. Keli’i Akina from the Grassroot Institute, Hawaii. We thank you so much for calling in. We will talk to you in the months to come. We want to definitely keep this on the public conscience. Go to grassrootinstitute.org, very informative website. Doctor, thank you for all your efforts and have a great day.

Akina: David, thank you, and thank you to all your listeners today. Aloha.

Lister: Aloha. More music coming up on Star.


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