WAINIHA — North Shore residents came out in force Friday afternoon, surrounding the home of a group of new arrivals staying at a rental house off Kuhio Highway.
The group, Love Has Won, is a religious nonprofit currently based out of Crestone, Colorado making the move to Kaua‘i. Its leader, who goes by “Mother God,” has urged her followers to join her in Hawai‘i for a “portal to Lemuria,” of which she believes to have been the queen of in a past life.
Protesters arrived at the beachfront property around 4 p.m., gathering on the beach for a pule. With about 60 people locking hands, Lahela Correa led a prayer.
“We started with the pule because we wanted everybody to be calm, peaceful,” Correa said. “Maybe we can teach them aloha.”
For over two hours, protesters surrounded the house on all four sides, their numbers growing as residents came to check out the commotion.
Around 4:45 p.m., the first of three bonfires were lit using driftwood in front of the residence. Protesters dragged wheel barrels full of driftwood and grabbed cardboard from nearby houses to add to the small fires.
At one point during the protest, one of the group’s members, Ricky Martinez, stood on the balcony of the house dancing.
Kaua‘i Police Department officers arrived around 5:30 p.m., asking protesters to not block traffic or stand on the property. The three officers also reminded the masked protesters to stand six feet apart.
Protesters questioned officers, asking what they were doing to monitor the group.
“We cannot do anything at this time,” KPD officer Derrick Kelley told the crowd. “If there is a crime committed, it will be investigated.”
Earlier this week, KPD thanked the community for its vigilance, but there was no probable cause for breaking quarantines or other violations.
“At this time, we do not have any evidence showing that they are doing anything more than practicing their own religious beliefs,” a KPD spokesperson said this week.
Kaua‘i Fire Department firefighters expunged the fires shortly before 6 p.m.
Officers told protesters to reach out to county officials.
Love Has Won hosts daily livestreams that residents have found offensive. Recently, its leader, Amy Carlson, announced she is a reincarnation of the Hawaiian deity Pele.
When officers asked who started the fire, protesters called out “Pele!”
Jaana Makipaa showed up early wielding a printed out sign that read “Cult not welcome here.”
She learned about the group on Facebook and has begun watching its livestreams. Makipaa said the group targets sad and vulnerable people.
Mahina Laughlin has been monitoring the group for about a week using social media, too.
“I am blown away by the ignorance,” Laughlin said. “They’re predators. They’re not here to be part of the community.”
Some residents said this will not be the last protest.
“We want them to feel uncomfortable,” Louise Sausen said. “Just our presence can do that.”
Sabrina Bodon, public safety and government reporter, can be reached at 245-0441 or firstname.lastname@example.org.