KOLOA — Gerald Shaddock attended the Reggae for Life music festival to listen to some jams, dance a little and have a good time.
When he started to head out around 9 p.m., he said he was taken aback by the shining blue police lights that blocked his exit on Poipu Road. He said he thought it was a car accident or that someone had broken out of prison.
“I was surprised that they were there,” he said.
Officers asked Shaddock for his driver’s license and proof of insurance, and when he remembered he had just renewed his insurance and didn’t have it on him, the Kauai Police Department officer asked him to step out of the car.
“I wasn’t speeding, I wasn’t drinking. I don’t have drugs,” he said. “I’m a respected businessman. I don’t think I should have been pulled over. I don’t think it should have been as enforced as it was. It wasn’t a riot. People were just going home. It was a peaceful, charitable situation and I don’t understand why it would have been like this.”
Fewer than 50 people attended the Reggae for Life music festival at CJM Stables last Saturday in Koloa, which began at 3 p.m. The attendance was hundreds fewer than the organizers expected.
And they blame it on police setting up the checkpoint.
“We took a financial loss,” said Bri Cosier Dawkins, event coordinator. “We weren’t able to give these charities a dime. I think that’s disgusting. It turned out to be a complete flop.”
The organizer, Phillip “Angel” White, said he believes attendees were intimidated by police, who put up a roadblock barricading the event and checking each car that went in and out.
“The road block was set up 50 feet before the dirt road,” White said, meaning the entry way to CJM Stables. “You’re funneling everyone from the concert. They were stopping people going into the concert.”
Cosier Dawkins said only a few tickets, ranging from $35 to $70, were sold at the door.
“Officers were parked alongside the road,” she said. “They had it coned off. This is very intimidating. They barricaded the one and only entrance. Many of our friends turned around and left.”
Last year’s Reggae for Life, held at Trees Lounge in Kapaa, attracted about 250 people. White said he took a loss of $9,000 this year.
White said he doesn’t understand why the county took an interest in the event, as it was a cancer charity, with prize drawings, a rodeo and food vendors.
County spokeswoman Sarah Blane said police set up the DUI checkpoint from 7:30 p.m. to 10:30 p.m. No arrests were made. It wasn’t set up for the specific concert, Blane said.
KPD reported that 10 officers were present at the roadblock.
DUI checkpoints are not unusual during the summer months, Blane said.
“It is common for KPD to increase traffic enforcement during the summer months, particularly near graduation and holidays, when there are an increased number of celebratory events,” she said. “As many traffic fatalities involve alcohol and other influences, the increased enforcement encourages responsible drinking and safe driving.”
White said the roadblock caused a disruption to his event, and said many attendees called him to say they decided to turn around and head home.
“That show of force was excessive,” White said.
The Garden Island took several calls from people upset about the KPD roadblock.
James Miranda, owner of the CJM Stables, said after the rodeo portion of the festival, he went by to check out the music scene and noticed the poor turnout. His first thought was to question advertising and promotion.
“I’m not going to say that the roadblock was a direct correlation to the poor attendance,” Miranda said.
Although he has never, in 30 years, seen a roadblock set up in front of the Grand Hyatt, Miranda said he knows officers have the right to set them up to protect the public from driving under the influence.
The organizers used social media, like Facebook and Instagram, as well as fliers to promote the festival. TGI published a story about it the day of the event.