State briefs for July 4

City to make Haiku Stairs a public attraction

HONOLULU — Ownership of a stairway that snakes along a mountainside on Oahu was transferred to the city of Honolulu in hopes of transforming the currently off-limits hike into a public attraction.

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The city Board of Water Supply transferred the staircase known as the Stairway to Heaven or Haiku Stairs to the city on Wednesday. It also transferred 200 acres of land that surrounds the structure.

The staircase was built in the 1950s when the Navy replaced a World War II ladder that was used to access mountaintop radio equipment.

The Coast Guard allowed monitored public use of the stairs beginning in 1975 but access was prohibited in 1987 because of vandalism.

For decades people have trespassed and ducked past guards to access the hike and its stunning scenery.

The city is now responsible for maintaining security until an outside operator is chosen to oversee the staircase.

Name of ex-justice taken off warship

BALTIMORE — The name of a former U.S. Supreme Court chief justice who ruled before the Civil War that free Black people and enslaved persons were not U.S. citizens is being removed from a historic warship.

Roger B. Taney’s name was taken off the retired warship that survived the Japanese attack on Pearl Harbor and is currently being overseen by Baltimore’s Living Classrooms Foundation.

Taney delivered the majority opinion in the 1857 Dred Scott v. Sandford case, which also asserted enslaved Black people had no pathway to citizenship and no rights.

Taney, who was born in Maryland and practiced law there, rose to become the nation’s fifth chief justice.

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The former U.S. Coast Guard Cutter Taney, a national historic landmark and the last surviving warship from the Pearl Harbor attack, serves as a museum for students and the general public.

James Piper Bond, president and CEO of Living Classrooms Foundation, said in a statement that the foundation was inspired to make the change, calling the court ruling involving Taney “an abomination” and “great injustice” toward African-Americans.

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