night was "Navy night" at the Ala Wai Inn in the early 1930s.
Local residents always stayed away. Navy officers, their wives and friends
filled the dance floors and booths of the popular nightclub on Kalakaua
Avenue. In the nightclubs mock-Japanese teahouse décor,
Haole officers tried to pick up the daughters and wives of fellow Navy
12, 1931, Thalia Massie, the wife of Navy Lieutenant Thomas Massie and
daughter of a wealthy and politically powerful Washington, DC couple,
was getting drunk. She was trading verbal insults with Lt. Ralph Stogsdall
who had offended her. Having slapped his face, she left the club. Later,
most of the witnesses who saw her walking down John Ena Road said she
was being followed by a Haole man.
hour after leaving the club, Massie was picked up on the road, her face
bruised, lips swollen and jaw broken. She claimed to have been abducted
by five or six Hawaiian boys who had beaten her up and thrown her out
of a car. Later, she said she had been raped, although nurses and doctors
treating her said there was no evidence of that.
call of an assault of a Haole woman in the Ala Moana area went out at
the same time that five working-class young men had been reported in
an altercation at an intersection in Kalihi a neighborhood about
15 miles from Waikiki.
picked them up and contrary to sound police practice, marched the five
young suspects in front of an opiate-induced Massie for identification.
She claimed she could definitely identify three of them as being the
men who had raped her.
trial, the five defendants presented witnesses who conclusively proved
that they could not have been the culprits. Several years later, an
independent study by the conservative Pinkerton Detective Agency confirmed
their alibi. Their jury couldnt come up with a verdict and the
judge declared a mistrial. The young men were released on bail pending
a new trial.
was perceived by some as a blow against White supremacy. "Under
our own democratic form of government the maintenance of white prestige
had become increasingly difficult," complained Admiral Yates Stirling,
the highest-ranking naval officer in the Islands.
decided to take matter into their own hands. One of the five boys, Horace
Ida, was kidnapped by a group of Navy vigilantes. After stripping him
naked, they beat him unconscious with their belts. No arrests were made.
mother, Grace H.B. Fortescue, and husband, Lt. Massie along with two
men enlisted in the Navy kidnapped another defendant, Joe Kahahawai,
and Lt. Massie shot him dead. The murderers were caught red-handed with
the body before they could drop it over the cliff into the heavy seas
off Koko Head.
brought cries of anger from many Whites in Hawaii and in
the USA. Navy personnel quickly raised defense money. Famous lawyer,
Clarence Darrow, was hired to defend them. The practically all-Haole
jury did not want to take any action against the murderers. The Judge,
Albert Cristy, greatly disturbed, ordered them to "conscientiously
carry out [their] oath of office." In the end, the defendants were
found guilty of manslaughter and were sentenced to 10 years in jail.
Even this was seen as traitorous to the White race.
elites and the military that ran Hawaii immediately applied pressure
on Governor Judd to pardon the defendants. The Governor even received
a telegram signed by 103 members of the U.S. House of Representatives,
including 71 Democrats and 32 Republicans urging the same.
Judd commuted the sentence from 10 years to one hour to be served not
in prison but in his office. The four convicted killers went to his
office, had cocktails and chatted for an hour, and then walked out,
their sentences fully served. Nevertheless, Judd was criticized by some
for only having commuted the sentenced instead of giving the defendants
a full pardon.
Roland Kotani. 1985. The Japanese in Hawaii: A Century of Struggle.
Honolulu. The Hawaii Hochi, Ltd.