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Love Has Won protests continue into the weekend

  • Contributed photo

    Damage to a vehicle and a rental home in Wainiha is seen Saturday morning t the dwelling believed to be occupied by members of Love Hs Won.

WAINIHA — The arrival of the group Love Has Won has drawn protests that started Friday afternoon and continued Saturday.

The protest, which started peacefully Friday, got rowdy late into the night, which resulted in property destruction.

Love Has Won is a religious nonprofit based in Crestone, Colorado. Its leader, who goes by “Mother God,” arrived on Kaua‘i in July, and has urged followers to join her here.

Kaua‘i residents have found the group’s ideology to be predatory of vulnerable populations, offensive and appropriative of Hawaiian culture, with the group’s leader claiming to be the Hawaiian goddess of fire, Pele.

Residents gathered around 4 p.m. Friday with signs requesting the group leave the island. Protesters surrounded the beachfront rental on all four sides, their numbers growing as residents came to check out the commotion.

Around 4:45 p.m., the first of three small bonfires was lit on the beach near the property, using driftwood. According to protesters, the fires were a symbol of purification and not as a sign of aggression.

Around 5:30 p.m. Friday, three officers with the Kaua‘i Police Department arrived to enforce social distancing, clear the roads and monitor the situation. Kaua‘i Fire Department firefighters from the Princeville station put out the bonfires around 6 p.m.

While some residents called it a night, others continued into the evening and early morning, departing from the peaceful nature of the daytime protests.

At times during the night, the police were called to the Kuhio Highway residence, where they parked in the driveway. When the officers would leave, protesters would get rowdy and disperse when police were again called back.

A firework was set off in the driveway of the residence around 11 p.m., and sounds of shattering glass and shouting were heard throughout the night, according to neighbors.

On Saturday morning, the windows and windshield of a blue Honda in the driveway of the residence had been shattered, and dents could be seen to the car’s body. It is unknown if the nonprofit or protesters did this damage.

KPD continues to monitor both the protesting and religious groups this weekend.

“Police are attempting to keep the peace and prevent any criminal behavior,” a KPD spokesperson said. “The Kaua‘i Police Department supports lawful protests, as well as the freedom of religion. However, if members of either group break the law, police will need to take appropriate action to stop the illegal behavior.”

Earlier this week, KPD thanked the community for its vigilance, but said there was no probable cause that Love Has Won members were breaking quarantines or other rules or laws.

The Love Has Won members at the Wainiha residence are not currently on quarantine. Several other members are currently in quarantine at the Kaua‘i Inn in Niumalu and have not been found to be out of compliance.

“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 last week.

Mayor Derek Kawakami joined Mel Rapozo and Charlie Iona on the pair’s online talk show Thursday, and touched on the topic.

“We have people, we have law enforcement observing the group,” Kawakami said. “So far, the reports back to me is that they are quarantining. … Until they break a law, we can observe.”

Kawakami went on to explain that he understands residents are concerned, but asked that people be open-minded. Kawakami, a Catholic, used himself as an example, saying he and his family own crystals and burn sage.

“What it boils down to is respect,” Kawakami said. “What I get, and what I hear, and what I’ve observed, is that this is an outspoken group that may not understand our culture and the way that we do things. As long as there’s a lack of respect, people are going to respond.”

As protesters gathered a second day at the residence, KPD officers shut down the highway in the area around 3 p.m., only allowing residents through.

At 4 p.m. Saturday, 24 hours since the first gathering began, protesters again filed across the street of the residence in Wainiha. Kawakami arrived at the gathering around 6 p.m. to level with the groups.

Saturday Hoku Cabebe, who was in Wainiha yesterday, went to the Kaua‘i Inn to educate those in the hotel and its staff of Love Has Won.

“We’re not going to stop until these people are off the island,” Cabebe said.

Saturday morning, Love Has Won leader Amy Carlson spoke on the group’s livestream via speakerphone.

“I’m Pele,” Carlson said as protesters are heard outside. “Do your thing, I’ll do my thing: it’s called love,” she said.

•••

Sabrina Bodon, can be reached at 245-0441 or sbodon@thegardenisland.com.

16 Comments
  1. Flipper Purify September 6, 2020 1:45 am Reply

    I don’t know how that’s a rental car when it clearly has temporary plates from King Auto Center.


  2. Jake September 6, 2020 3:10 am Reply

    “Kaua‘i residents have found the group’s ideology to be predatory of vulnerable populations, offensive and appropriative of Hawaiian culture, with the group’s leader claiming to be the Hawaiian goddess of fire, Pele.”

    Um, like, what “residents”?? ….or is this drama where there is no drama?

    Glad to hear the Mayor is not taking sides and remaining neutral until all facts are determined. SMH.


  3. Vegreef September 6, 2020 5:43 am Reply

    Kauai’s fear-based view toward new arrivals has a lot in common with Trump’s position on immigration. And now, by writing a a terribly irresponsible article, Civil Beat has incited violence/ intimidation (that some commenters on the article predicted) against these kids. Salem witch trials redux – and now arriving a 100 yers late on Kauai.

    To the kids in there, properly quarantining – you have some names now – and you have a very obvious case to obtain restraining orders.


  4. Uncleaina September 6, 2020 9:02 am Reply

    I encourage the mana of our islands to do its thing to these people. Protestors need to chill out – aggression isn’t needed. These people are so fake they’ll be gone in no time. Kauai will chew them up and spit them out! Make sure Big Island people know Pele is now on Kauai apparently lol!


    1. Mailman Mile September 6, 2020 4:56 pm Reply

      👍 🤙🤙🤙


  5. Da Shadow September 6, 2020 10:56 am Reply

    the North Shore Militia, at it again, using terroristic behavior to intimidate those whose perspectives differ from theirs.
    Have this angry mob of protestors forgotten that religious freedom applies to ALL of us?


  6. Mark Z September 6, 2020 11:21 am Reply

    Kauai residents should be ashamed of themselves. This is America. We are free to practice any religion. We are also free to protest. When you use violence, your side has lost.
    It’s so sad to see comments on social media turning racist. Aloha is dead on the North Shore.


  7. David Jones September 6, 2020 11:37 am Reply

    The headlines should read:

    One online wacko group forms a vigilante mob go physically attack another online wacko group.

    Aloha.


  8. Comical September 6, 2020 12:05 pm Reply

    Harassing, intimidating, and criminal property damage and the mob is not being held accountable?

    The mob should be disbanded and arrests for their crimes.

    The local mob vs the radical cult and how inefficient the judicial system on Kauai works is an undeniable mixture of a toxic brew.

    This is like a wacko, TX mess.


  9. Wailua September 6, 2020 12:10 pm Reply

    The destruction of property and threatening of lives is unacceptable. That is obvious.

    That said, people need to understand where the small Haena community is coming from.

    They are angry and scared.

    This home is rented out as a vacation rental at an exorbitant rate ($500 to $700 a night!). It was illegally leased to tourists throughout June 2018 to July 2019 when the road was partially shut down following the disastrous 2018 floods that this small, isolated community is still recovering from. While there are plenty of beachfront secondary homes owned by rich mainlanders most of the actual residents live in small, derelict multi-generational homes and can not afford such a luxury, let alone a small bedroom in a shared home. The Covid-19 crisis has put many out of work and many who grew up here are now living in tents and vans in their relative’s back yards or on the beach. Homelessness is rampant throughout the island, the welfare system and charities are overwhelmed. The unfolding economic crisis has no end in sight as the sanitary situation is spinning out of control on Oahu and the government wants to avoid our extremely limited health care facilities being overwhelmed.

    This cult is not a religious organization or a church like most of us attend on Sundays. This has nothing to do with religious freedom. Love Has Won manipulates, brainwashes, drugs, abuses and scams their vulnerable followers. They have insulted the community where they want to settle and probably strive on the attention they are recieving. These maniacs are constantly broadcasting themselves and are preparing for some kind of end-game. They are un-hinged and unpredictable. Ideally they should be separated one from another and treated as they most likely are coming from abusive households themselves and don’t understand what really love is. But they chose to settle on a small remote island with virtually no psychiatric services and limited resources.

    Residents are worried for there kids and teenagers. The beach doesn’t feel safe to them anymore. They do not want them to be drawn into this insane drug cult. They are extremely welcoming to outsiders when they are in a position to safely welcome them.

    The situation is complex and requires treading lightly but this cult needs to be dismantled. Followers need to know that they can safely leave the cult and start a-new.


  10. Ray Songtree September 6, 2020 1:12 pm Reply

    The article didn’t mention that the locals were drunk and it was they that vandalized people of a different view. The police know what happened. They are protecting violence just as Seattle and Portland is protecting violence. These drunks, in now way represent the Haena community. The same bullies as always, needing someone to hate. Is that “our culture?”.
    Mayor is wrong, there is no one culture on Kauai. There are many and by the way, everyone is hapa.


  11. Leone Solurson September 6, 2020 1:13 pm Reply

    the spoiled children of the north shore vs. The lumerians from Colorado! Can I get some popcorn 🍿 for this one? Lots of good men lying in the ground who fought and died for this. This?


  12. Once was free September 6, 2020 1:30 pm Reply

    Protests??? Protesting what, living in a legal residence? Believing something different than you? Being from Colorado?

    No different than burning crosses in front of someone’s house.

    When some gang thinks it can decide if other people’s religions are “acceptable” or not, and then choose to drive them off the island through violence, it’s a hate crime, straight up.

    KPD do your job and arrest the “protestors” for terrorist threatening.


    1. Raphael E. September 9, 2020 10:14 am Reply

      I do not agree with violent protesting, but they are protesting because they feel unsafe living next to a cult.


  13. Civil and Right September 6, 2020 2:38 pm Reply

    If they went to Saudi Arabia and said she was Mohammed, they might not last long there either. If they went to Japan and claimed to be Buddha, they’d probably just get eye rolls.


  14. George Ho September 6, 2020 2:44 pm Reply

    The article is written well. This ‘group’ is insulting to native Hawaiians if nothing else by the “leader” claiming to be Pele. The leader needs to be offered to Pele for such vulgar disrespect.


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