State sheriffs’ deputies arrested a 23-year-old woman today at the shuttered Coco Palms property on Kauai after they ordered occupants to vacate the property.
Twenty-five deputy sheriffs executed a court-ordered writ of ejectment at 8:30 a.m. against protesters who object to the redevelopment of the property that was destroyed by Hurricane Iniki in 1992. Two people were on site when deputy sheriffs arrived. One individual voluntarily left but the 23-year-old woman was arrested on suspicion of trespassing. A trespassing charge is pending against her.
Kauai police said they temporarily closed a section of Kuamoo Road between Kuhio Highway and Opaekaa Falls parking lot in Wailua Homesteads as a safety precaution. Police reopened the road at about 9:50 a.m.
For months, dozens of people — including organizers Noa Mau-Espirito, who says he is a descendant of the last ruler of Kauai King Kaumualii, and Kamu “Charles” Hepa — occupied the land. In January, a District Court judge ordered Mau-Espirito and Hepa to leave the property. According to a source, both men were there during the enforcement action but were on the road, not on the property.
In an e-mailed statement, Kauai Police Chief Darryl Perry said, “Our law enforcement officers are required to uphold the laws of the county of Kauai, and protect and serve its people without prejudice”
“Consistent with the court order, we were asked by the state’s Sheriff Division to assist. Our primary mission for today was to ensure the safety of all parties involved, which we will continue to do in all matters we respond to,” he said.
Demolition of Coco Palms began in 2016, with the goal of reopening in mid-2018. The clash has caused delays, so the developers hope to start construction soon after the protesters leave. The renovated hotel will have 350 rooms, including 22 master suites and about 50 junior suites.
Coco Palms opened as a resort in 1953. Eight years later, it served as the backdrop for scenes in a the movie “Blue Hawaii,” a romantic comedy featuring Elvis Presley.
The Associated Press contributed to this report.