TOM FINNEGAN / TFINNEGAN@STARBULLETIN.COM
Native Hawaiian protesters linked themselves together using PVC pipe on Thursday to disrupt the building of a home atop a native Hawaiian burial ground. Pictured are Hanalei Colleado, left, Palani Kaauwai, Hank Fergerstrom, Jim Huff, Andrew Cabebe and Hanaloa Helela.
Group faces arrest over home blockade
The men say they will return if work restarts on top of Kauai graves
HAENA, Kauai » Kauai police plan to issue arrest warrants for the protesters who stopped construction Thursday on an oceanfront home being built over 30 graves, Kauai Police Chief Daryl Perry said.
Perry said yesterday that Kauai police were on their way to arrest the men for trespassing when the group decided, after eight hours, to leave on their own at about 5 p.m.
The protesters, who have been identified in video and pictures taken by police and others, will be charged with second-degree trespass, a petty misdemeanor, Perry added.
Construction was halted for the day, and it will likely be halted until a preliminary injunction hearing Thursday in Circuit Court in Lihue. The construction crew apparently is waiting for home-building materials to arrive from the mainland, Perry said.
However, the protest and the injunction might have been a little late, since the foundation and pilings have been completed, according to a letter sent to the Kauai Niihau Burial Council by lot owner Joseph Brescia's attorney Walton Hong.
According to the letter, sent this week, the seven burials directly affected by the foundation have been "capped and covered in accordance with the approved burial treatment plan" and that the other groundwork was completed and monitored by an archaeological firm.
Still, protesters said yesterday that they are proceeding to their goals: to raise awareness of the plight of Hawaiian burials and to get Gov. Linda Lingle to condemn the property.
Any attempts to do work at the site will bring more protests, said Andre Perez, one of the native Hawaiians who linked themselves together Thursday. "Our goal is to force the issue to the forefront so the governor has to deal with it," Perez added. "We've had some success" in highlighting the issue.
"No one else in Hawaii has to worry about their graves being desecrated, only the Hawaiians," Perez said. "We are committed to protecting these burials."
A Kauai County planner who had come to investigate complaints about the home site, including its setback from the shoreline and other concerns, was also turned away by protesters Thursday.
Perry, who talked to protesters several times via cell phone during the protest, said he "was unhappy that they didn't dialogue with us" prior to staging the protest.
As for arrest warrants, Perez said he was not surprised. "We're not elated, either, but we'll just have to deal with it."
Brescia, a California businessman who has built a number of beachfront homes in the area, bought the lot in 2000 from actor Sylvester Stallone. The property sits on Naue Point and just off Alealea Road.
After numerous legal battles, Brescia began excavating at the site in 2007 and found at least 30 intact burials on the small triangular lot.
He asked for, and received, permission to continue the work after meeting with the county Planning Commission, the state Historic Preservation Division, the Kauai-Niihau Burial Council and others.
At the site, about 24 concrete pilings have already been poured, and at least a dozen grave markers, put there by protesters months ago, have been removed.