Stories from Hawaii
November 10, 2016 10:30 AM   Subscribe

Offshore Podcast, a collaboration between PRX and Honolulu Civil Beat, is "a new immersive storytelling podcast about a Hawaii most tourists never see." Season 1: A Killing in Waikiki presents the story of two killings, 80 years apart, that highlight the race and power struggles in "the most multicultural place on the planet." [CW: sexual assault, racism, violence]

Episodes 1-4 (~20-30 mins each) out of 10 are currently available:

Episode 1: The Death of Kollin Elderts
Early morning in Waikiki and two men get into a fight. That’s not really all that uncommon. But this fight is different because one of the guys is a Native Hawaiian named Kollin Elderts. The other, an off-duty federal agent named Christopher Deedy. Deedy’s white. And he’s got a gun.
Episode 2: Two Lives Collide
Christopher Deedy and Kollin Elderts had never met before Nov. 5, 2011. But a 3-minute fatal confrontation would link their names in Hawaii history forever. Offshore looks beyond the headlines — who are these two men and what brought them together? How did a Native Hawaiian born in the islands and a white federal agent who’d just arrived end up on opposite sides of a gun?
Episode 3: The White Minority
Hawaii is the only state where whites have always been in the minority. There is this idea that people in Hawaii are racist against white people, that they hate the federal government. So, with a huge diplomatic summit taking place in Honolulu, tensions were high the week that Christopher Deedy shot and killed Kollin Elderts. Blocks away from the McDonald’s where their fatal confrontation took place, tanks had taken over a local park and protesters were out on the streets. There was a reason Deedy and dozens of federal agents were in town. And there were a lot of people who wanted them out.
Episode 4: A Sinister Past
A reckless socialite with ties to America’s most powerful families. A young Native Hawaiian accused of a crime he didn’t commit. A ruling elite willing to protect whites at any cost. So begins the Massie Case, an 84-year-old murder case that says a lot about Hawaii society in the 1930s and today. And it’s one of the reasons that some Hawaiians were convinced — even before Special Agent Christopher Deedy’s trial began — that he would never be punished for Kollin Elderts’ death.
posted by melissasaurus (6 comments total) 18 users marked this as a favorite
My younger brother lives on the Big Island and is involved in the residential real estate development industry there. He says that if you are not of Japanese ethnicity, Nikkei, you can pretty well forget about clearing any hurdles or solving any disagreement with the building or permit bureaucracy. He says the local government is rife with nepotism and back-room deals that deeply favor the local Japanese.
posted by bz at 12:19 PM on November 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

bz, I live in Hawaii and that is not consistent with my experience at all.
posted by Joey Michaels at 1:58 PM on November 10, 2016 [3 favorites]

I love true crime podcasts, but this was a slow builder for me. I'm listening still, but it's a super complex story to keep straight and it didn't grab me from the start.

I also grew up in Kauai, and didn't experience the kind of contentious racism and prejudice she talks about. But as a kid, I probably wasn't quite as aware of that kind of stuff.

Thanks for posting!
posted by guster4lovers at 5:06 PM on November 10, 2016

"... that is not consistent with my experience at all."

Well, that's good. Maybe it is something that is more prevalent on the big island. It has been a few years since he told me of the troubles his company has had but a couple of the anecdotes he related sounded pretty authentic.
posted by bz at 6:05 PM on November 10, 2016

I gave Episode 3 a shot, but the perspective seemed a bit forced. If we say there were tanks in the streets and protesters in the streets, it is technically accurate but gives a very innacurrate picture of the overall scene. The anti-globalization groups flew in to march, and we had a nascent Occupy movement that never really gelled, but in the end thousands more locals volunteered to help out the conference than to protest against it.

And we've hosted world leaders before here. We understand how security works. The podcast found someone who was traumatized by this, but I think most of us accepted that this was the world we now live in, even if the scale of the security measures during APEC gave us pause.

I didn't finish the episode, but my early take is that it's forcing the crime to fit a thesis rather than letting the crime form the thesis.

side to bz: it's hard for everyone to get ahead here, but it's real common for guys from the mainland to blame a local non-white ethnic group when they, personally, don't get ahead. I regularly do battle with developers as part of my job, and I can assure everyone that we fight everybody - Japanese locals don't get special privileges.
posted by kanewai at 2:07 AM on November 11, 2016 [6 favorites]

Addendum - I don't recall tanks at all, the more I think about it. There were lots of mysterious black SUVs, some super high-tech speed boats, lots of barbed wire, and rumors of top-secret specially-trained combat dolphins in the harbor ... but no tanks that I ever saw.
posted by kanewai at 2:16 AM on November 11, 2016 [1 favorite]

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