Lindsay Myeni is left heartbroken after she moved back to her home state of Hawaii because she felt it would be safer to raise her two Black sons there compared to other states in the U.S.
But just three months into living in Honolulu, her South African husband Lindani Myeni was shot and killed by police officers, ABC News reports. While in most cities, local residents would respond in the form of mass protests, Hawaii has been utterly silent about the details surrounding Myeni’s death.
“We never thought anything like this would ever happen there,” Lindsay told the Associated Press. “We were refreshed to be back to somewhere that is so diverse.”
Hawaii’s response to the fatal police shooting paints a different picture than the one many Americans consider the state to be. The Myeni’s moved to Hawaii in January in hopes that it would be safer for their two sons.
Black people in Hawaii make up just over 3% of the state’s 1.5 million population but somehow still account for 7% of arrests, via U.S. Census Bureau. The possible racial bias from police is what’s being pointed out in Myeni’s case.
According to Kenneth Lawson, a Black professor at the University of Hawaii’s law school, one main reason for the lack of public response to Myeni’s killing is due to police only revealing “what they want us to see.”
Police reports claim Myeni entered into a home that wasn’t his and took his shoes off. This prompted one frightened occupant to call 911. Upon police arrival, Myeni reportedly ignored the officer’s commands to get on the ground and allegedly attacked one officer leaving him with a concussion. Bodycam footage doesn’t show much since it was dark at the scene. But three gunshots can be heard going off before cops yelled out “police.”
Lindsay believes her husband mistook the residence for a Hare Krishna temple located next door. She has since filed a wrongful death lawsuit against the Honolulu police saying they were “motivated by racial discrimination towards people of Mr. Myeni’s African descent.”
But retired police chief Susan Ballard claims officers responded to Myeni’s actions, not his race. “This person seriously injured the officers and their lives were in jeopardy,” Ballard said.
Lindsay has taken her children to her husband’s home country in South Africa.
“Hawaii is my home, so I really feel like I broke up with my country and my state and like maybe I’ll go back there one day,” she said. “It’s really hard to say, but right now I just can’t fathom even visiting.”