Honolulu police commission nominee denies racism exists in Hawaii

HONOLULU — A white man the mayor has tapped to fill a vacancy on the Honolulu Police Commission said he doesn’t believe racial discrimination exists in Hawaii.

Larry Ignas, 77, said he hasn’t seen any in his more than 30 years in the state, when city Councilwoman Esther Kia’aina asked him at a council meeting Wednesday if he acknowledged there is racial discrimination in Hawaii.

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“I have never seen any,” Ignas said. “I don’t see any discrimination in Hawaii — not like back in the mainland.”

He founded the private security firm Star Protection Agency and later ran United Security Alarms. Before coming to Hawaii, he was a police officer in East Chicago, Indiana.

Honolulu Mayor Rick Blangiardi, attended the council meeting but did not testify on behalf of Ignas, the Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported. Blangiardi declined to answer questions from the newspaper, including whether he shares Ignas’ beliefs on racial discrimination.

Fourteen out of 17 people who submitted written testimony and all five who testified remotely were opposed to Ignas serving on the commission.

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Councilwoman Radiant Cordero called his comments “out of touch” and “upsetting.” Council Chairman Tommy Waters said, “Mr. Ignas’ comments were insensitive, offensive and frankly, ignorant.”

After the hearing, council members referred the nomination to the City Council Committee on Public Safety for further review.

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