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Woman admits to defacing property on Mauna Kea


    Graffiti was discovered on rocks within the Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve.

A woman has confessed to writing graffiti on a Hawaii mountain area considered sacred by some natives.

Hope Cermelj, 64, admitted to spray-painting words on asphalt, telescopes and portable toilets at Mauna Kea mountain west of Hilo, but she denied defacing rocks, the Hawaii Tribune-Herald reported on Friday. Hawaii officials found “stop bombing” and “stop D.U.” messages spray-painted within the Mauna Kea Ice Age Natural Area Reserve on April 28.

Cermelj identifies as a member of a sovereignty group known as the Lawful Hawaiian Government and considers herself a subject of the Hawaiian kingdom.

Her actions were in protest to military training taking place nearby, she said. She decided to write the messages after hearing explosions while near the summit.

Cermelj said she acted alone and has no idea who vandalized the rocks.

Hawaii activists who agree with her message nevertheless have called Cermelj’s actions a desecration of a sacred place. Mauna Kea is sacred because it is considered the meeting place of the gods, native Hawaiians say.

Cermelj is facing $1,000 worth of fines and up to a year in jail, according to the report. She is scheduled to appear in Waimea District Court on June 22.

Cermelj was placed under house arrest, and she can’t leave the island because of the vandalism, she said.

“I did the wrong thing; I made the wrong decision,” Cermelj said. “And I will suffer the consequences in the de facto state of Hawaii.”

Cermelj said she depends on Social Security and does not have the money to pay the fine. She is willing to go to jail or help remove the graffiti.

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