A group of protesters consisting of 200 Native Hawaiians and others trooped to Aloha Poke Co.’s corporate headquarters
The Chicago-based business, which trademarked the words “Aloha” and “Poke” sparked massive outrage after it was exposed that it sent threatening letters to companies bearing similar names to stop using the words which are native to the Hawaiian people.
Native Hawaiians have since condemned the actions on social media, saying they won’t let themselves be bullied out of their own culture by a corporation.
Arts and culture organization Aloha Center Chicago, the Council for Native Hawaiian Advancement, ʻIlioʻulaokalani Coalition, and the Office of Hawaiian Affairs organized the protest on Monday.
During the event, Native Hawaiians blew conch shells and chanted “Ku’e Aloha Poke” (which means to “resist Aloha Poke”) in front of a building on Clark Street where the business operates in Chicago. Some demonstrators also carried signs that read: “Aloha is Not For Sale.”
Protestors are seeking to get the company to retract its cease and desist letters to other businesses, which include establishments owned by actual Hawaiians.
They are also hoping the company offers a “true apology to the Native Hawaiian people.”
In response to the protest, Aloha Poke Co. CEO Chris Birkinshaw told the Honolulu Star Adviser
, “We fully support the expression of free speech and their right to protest in a peaceful manner.”