I was disappointed in the Maui Weekly's article from the Aug. 2-8 issue entitled, "The State's Had Enough." Along with discussing the legal infractions that are troubling the DLNR about the Sunday fire dancing gathering at Little Beach, which included underage drinking, littering and marijuana smoking/eating, the article lightly touched on the fact that "violation of the park closure rules is a criminal offense... punishable by a fine of up to $500 and/or up to 30 days in jail."
I am confused as to why the DLNR or the applicable authority is not citing individuals for the legal infractions mentioned (under-age drinking, littering and marijuana smoking/eating). Why are they only citing individuals who violate the "park closure rules?" It troubles me as a resident of this island, and of the U.S., that this is even considered a criminal offense.
The article described the DLNR "law," but did not cite it (HAR 13-146-4; www.hawaiistateparks.org/documents/hsp_13-146_har1.pdf). The article also mentioned that, "According to www.hawaiistateparks.org, Makena State Park's hours of operation are 6 a.m. to 6 p.m. daily." It failed to mention that the signs posted at the entrance to Makena State Park stating the hours of operation read 6 a.m. to 7:45 p.m.
The article also did not reference HRS 115, (www.capitol.hawaii.gov/hrscurrent/Vol02_Ch0046-0115/HRS0115/HRS_0115-.htm), which states, "The absence of public access to Hawai'i's shorelines and inland recreational areas constitutes an infringement upon the fundamental right of free movement in public space and access to and use of coastal and inland recreational areas," and which also guarantees that every person on this island--and in the state--has a right to access the beach. The underage drinkers, litterers and illegal substance users at Little Beach should be cited according to the confines of the law! Yet the DLNR (or the police) are not giving those lawbreakers the citations. Instead, they are citing arbitrary pedestrians who are in the park after "closing time"--people who have the right under Hawai'i law to use the beach, and are doing nothing wrong other than being "on the beach." I am truly disappointed that your article failed to mention any of these points.
As a voice of this island, the Maui Weekly should know that this situation has been brewing in Maui for many years. I myself received a citation, along with three of my friends, for being on Big Beach past 7:45 p.m. in May 2009. We were not participating in the drum circle events and we were not on Little Beach; we were watching the moonrise on Big Beach. Our car was not parked in the state park parking lot. Two of my friends were tourists leaving the island that night.
The DLNR citation requires a court appearance, and since they couldn't come back for that, they had to hire a lawyer at their own personal expense. I knew about HRS115 and, along with my public defender, contested the citation. A year later, amid red tape and a tanking economy, my case was randomly chosen to be dropped--dismissed with prejudice.
It's wrong that innocent pedestrians are being cited for this "offense." It's wrong that lawbreakers are not being brought to justice. And its wrong to blame, and possibly put a stop to, a cultural event/tradition that has been occurring weekly on this island "for 40 or 50 years" due to the criminal activity the police are supposed to be enforcing.