3 arrested at Salt Pond

  • Caleb Loehrer / The Garden Island Joseph Kaneapua was released from custody Wednesday afternoon after prosecutors dropped charges against him in several previous cases stemming from illegal-camping citations.

LIHUE — Kauai police arrested three Westside men Wednesday morning at Salt Pond Beach Park for illegal camping. One of them insists it was nothing more than harassment, and said state and county officials have been targeting them for months.

Two of the three men arrested were bailed out by friends that morning, but Joseph Kaneapua was forced to remain in custody and appear before a judge that afternoon for a three-year-old bench warrant issued after he didn’t show up to court for a traffic citation in 2016.

That charge, along with several others he picked up earlier this year for illegal camping and failing to appear in court, were dropped at the request of a county prosecutor, who told the judge the state intended to dismiss all of Kaneapua’s pending cases, “in the interest of justice.”

Kaneapua, 37, spoke with The Garden Island about the arrests and his ongoing conflict with county and state officials outside the Fifth Circuit courthouse Wednesday afternoon.

“Just like they tell us, we can sleep on the beach with our keikis, and that’s all we were doing,” he said. “I have no more home. I have four kids and a wife.”

Kaneapua said his children, ages 17, 15, 10 and 8, were left to fend for themselves after police took him from his home early Wednesday morning, something his friend and political activist, Rhoda Libre, described as criminal behavior.

“They cannot do that,” she said. “It’s reckless endangerment, what they do.”

Libre, executive director of the Westside Watershed Council, a nonprofit organization focused on protecting Kauai’s natural resources, notified TGI about the arrests and talked about what she feels has been a prolonged campaign against hanakaumaka pu‘uhonua at Salt Pond.

“The county and the state have been killing our reef through the park. That’s why we started taking care of the park,” Libre said, citing damaged coral and foul-smelling water she says are the result of sewage runoff from poorly maintained county facilities.

Kaneapua said police and county officials have harassed and intentionally targeted him in recent months, something he suspects is related to a controversial county Parks and Recreation Department proposal that would turn over stewardship of a one-acre parcel of land near Salt Pond Beach Park to a local hula school.

The stewardship agreement drew public outcry from dozens of Westside residents at a Kauai County Council hearing last December, and plans have since stalled.

But the subject remains a sore spot for many kanaka who camp, live, farm and harvest salt in the area and insist they have no need for the county to sanction stewardship for land they and their ancestors have maintained on their own for generations.

“You got plenty soldiers, but you need that one antenna,” Kaneapua said. “I became that antenna.”

A county spokesperson in an email Wednsday disputed Kaneapua’s claim that he was intentionally targeted, and other campers that morning were asked to vacate the park and did so willingly.

A county press release said Department of Parks and Recreation officials issued multiple verbal warnings and written citations to the “unpermitted campers” prior to the arrests that morning, and notified them Salt Pond Beach Park would be off-limits for camping from Tuesday to Wednesday for “scheduled maintenance.”

A statement from Kauai Police Department Chief Todd Raybuck said campers were told to vacate the premises during that time to allow county officials to “clean for sanitary purposes.”

But Kaneapua said he and the other men arrested are regulating their own community and have been keeping the park up on their own without county interference.

According to Kaneapua, Salt Pond Beach Park was once a hangout for drug addicts, a problem he and other community leaders have tried to combat.

“As the years progressed, there was plenty crystal meth users,” he said. “And today zero. Zero. And I’m proud of that number. Only family and kids over here.”

According to Raybuck’s statement, the arrests were made “due to violations of park rules that are in place to protect public health.” He said police “will continue to enforce the rules so that Salt Pond Beach Park can continue to be enjoyed by the entire community.”


Caleb Loehrer, staff writer, can be reached at 245-0441 or cloehrer@thegardenisland.com.

  1. mina December 12, 2019 6:45 am Reply

    Kaneapua, the way you are providing for your family and raising your kids is a crime. You should have been sterilized ages ago. You’re uneducated, irresponsible, and unemployable…not exactly the best candidate for being a father.

    1. Kaiholo February 25, 2020 4:23 pm Reply

      I agree 100%. Kameapua needs to understand he is as destructive to the community and Kauai on a whole as ice heads. Clean yourself up and go get a job and stop having kids. I’m Hawaiian and you are doing great harm to Hawaiians on a whole. Time to grow up brah. You should realize you’re screwing up when the cops have to give you a kick in the okole! You bring shame to everyone respectable in your life and our community. In accent Hawaii you would be banished from the community.

  2. Seems about December 12, 2019 6:58 am Reply

    Seems about right on how the corrupt county, state of Hawaii and corrupt police Dept target and attack by retaliation.

    Take a look at past history: Anthony Sommer-KPD Blue, K.Pinkerton-Public corruption in KPD, Barbara Elmore-protesting, and many more who have suffered through these a retaliatory acts.

    All were charged, prosecuted, and or attacked on social media.

    This is the good ol boy and gal plantation system that tragically occurred during the Hanapepe massacre.

    If you stand up and identify suspicious activities by officials, you will be retaliated against and I know this through personal experience.

    KPD leaked info to criminals, mma schools, unions, and others to help them retaliate against me. They tried to set me up, frame me, and use these criminals to ambush me.

    I have probably around 100 witnesses and I am waiting for my public corruption trial in federal court to expose what they did and continue to do.

  3. d. slaski December 12, 2019 8:29 am Reply

    OK, now start working your way East and do something about the illegal camping at Nukoli’i (Kitchens) Beach. Those people are TRASHING the place! It’s one thing to “camp” but to be so disrespectful to trash the Aina and create an eyesore to the Kauai Ohana and visitors that actually want to enjoy the beach is absolutely unacceptable! They are also using the facilities at the Wailua golf course as their own, leaving trash and belongings. That means its all of our hard earned tax money going to support this situation. So please use our tax money in the form of enforcement and remove these “campers”!

    1. Kaiholo February 25, 2020 4:35 pm Reply

      Agreed, Kauai is a beautiful place reliant on tourism and and open to all residence to enjoy equally. I don’t care who he thinks he is based on his last name or his race he is no more Important than you or I. I have a solution. political activist, Rhoda Libre should let them set up camp in her yard not the Community’s. Shame on her for supporting his behavior above the community of Kauai!

  4. Makani B. Howard December 12, 2019 9:38 am Reply

    This guy needs to get a job!!! He has a family and needs to support them, not be some mayor of a park.

    Go to work!

    1. Kaiholo February 25, 2020 4:39 pm Reply

      You tell ‘um Brah!

      Kaneapua get off you okole!

      1. Raja Dat June 1, 2020 5:05 pm Reply

        What are we really going to do about the Homeless ? They are people too. If they are not going to work and try to change their situation, that’s one thing but get plenty just Ruining Kauai. Out at the Lighthouse by the airport there are Choke people living out there. We took the babies out there and felt radically unsafe. Lots of people Not From Here

  5. Joe Public December 12, 2019 11:34 am Reply

    I remember when we were able to use the parks and enjoy the day at the various beach parks, now it seems if there are facilities at any public park, there are numerous “campers” that permanently live there, messing up the park and facilities.

    I applaud the State and County trying to enforce illegal camping to return the parks back to the rest of the community.

    1. Kaiholo February 25, 2020 4:45 pm Reply

      Also a large percentage of the people camping are using drugs. Take a walk down by the boat ramp in Kapaa, blatant drug use and illegal drinking. Not to mention trash!

      I’m proud of our new police chief wanting to give these places back to the community.

      Mahalo Chief Raybuck, keep up the good work. The county prosecutor and the judge need to start working for the community’s they represent! Maybe it’s time for a change in those departments to better Kawai in the right direction.

  6. Debra Kekaualua December 13, 2019 3:51 pm Reply

    If you probe the different agenda of the COK and state, including but not limited to new No Trespassing DHHL signage in the Aliomanu Road Park and canoe clubs, while nothing on dannerhola kumu camp side. So obvious to see the continuing harassment of the local people. It is a no-brainer what the “leaders” are up to. The new terminology being incorporated to confuse Kumu and others who are not paying attention is, “steward”. The area ‘dog pound’ near salt beds, salt pond park that Bernard had kumu alone, in front of council, which turned out to be a good thing as there were current area stewards in the house. Next, YWCA party, two homeless wahine were in line to “steward” their very own homeless camps via Felicia invite. All of the “leaders” are all of a sudden stepping up the pace to quiet the natives who are beyond restless. TGI is very much on the side of the politico maneuvers and have refused to publish what is truth to all those who might think they know! If you know you know! if you do not know, you havent been paying attention or don’t have a working brain that can figure out what is fake news! Should fake news continue in the TGI, i and a few dozen others are poised to a civil suit. Barring the community from having a free speech conversation that educates, not distorts or hides what is Really going on! Many more guilty kealoha “Stolen Mailbox”, except Exposing all the other big dogs and cats will be my pleasure accompanied by the residents who have played this same game 60-years that i have!

  7. commonsense December 13, 2019 3:54 pm Reply

    What makes these individuals think they have the right to ‘live’ in our public park areas? It’s not ‘their place to keep up’. It’s time to put forth more effort to get these, unfortunately homeless, people out of our parks and off our beaches. Just stop by any of these areas and see that the areas are filthy and treated like their own personal living and trash space.

    1. Wailua March 31, 2020 1:36 pm Reply

      That’s the kind of attitude and ignorance that is at the root of our problems in the world. It’s that “All about ME and less about WE” mindset.
      Where are the homeless suppose to go, huh? We don’t have permanent shelters for them on Kauai. But you don’t care because you got a home to live in and also to sit and judge from.

  8. Kaiholo February 25, 2020 5:31 pm Reply

    The state should develop a “helping hands work community ranch” on state Ag land past Kekaha where all the down on their luck people and families and contribute with hard work and build self esteem. Small simple shelters to live in and work the land provide food for themselves and learn skills to be placed in jobs later. A self-sustaining community that grows food and life skills to become self-sufficient in the future. These camps are for people who have been born on the island. Not people dumped on Kauai from other mainland states or people looking for a easy free way to live in Hawaii. For those addicted to drugs or mentally ill. They should be put in to facilities that will help their specific needs. For those shipped here from the mainland he should be arrested and given a option freedom by you going back to where they were shipped here from. Hawaii is a very small state with limited land and resources. We cannot take on other states discarded humans with excessive needs. Our beaches and parks can not be human dumping grounds for those with needs, drug addicts and or the mentally ill. From one Hawaiian to another. If guys like Joseph Kaneapua don’t want to contribute to help themselves. Put his kids with other family members with homes or foster care and he can go to prison till he wakes up.

    1. Joe December 1, 2020 5:26 pm Reply

      Couldn’t agree more. I’ve been preaching this same concept for California too, yet the homeless problem continues to get much worse while the state government spends hundreds of millions to house limited numbers of homeless in centrally located hotels. Many businesses would assist with facilitating a work community ranch, because they offer the innovative thinking and ingenuity that the elected local leaders lack.

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