WAILUKU — County prosecutors in Maui have declined to file charges against protesters who were arrested after demonstrating at the construction site of a water project that may lie on historic burial grounds.
Five Hawaiian women were arrested in October after climbing into a trench excavated by developer West Maui Land Co. to build a waterline for farming. The women arrested by Maui County police were released after posting $100 bail.
Maui County refunded the protesters’ bail. Robert Rivera, the county’s acting prosecutor, told the Associated Press his office declined to file second-degree criminal trespassing charges because he considers the incident to be a civil, rather than criminal, matter.
The demonstrators were identified as Uilani Kapu, 55; Linda Magalianes, 57; Victoria Kaluna-Palafox, 64; Kahikilani Niles, 35 and Consuelo Apolo-Gonsalvez, 47, The Maui News reported.
The women are part of a group that protested at the site in October to stop construction and protect ancestral remains.
“We going stop all this desecration,” Kaluna-Palafox said Monday outside the Lahaina District Court House after the group’s charges were dropped. “We going stop the taking of lands that do not belong to other. We as mothers are making a path for our future.”
The site is close to a number of cemeteries and burials. About a week into the protests, human remains were found at the opposite end of the worksite. The developer West Maui Land said the discovery was not close to where protests took place.
Construction has halted in the area until West Maui Land receives further guidance from the State Historic Preservation Division, Hawaii Public Radio reported.
The Maui Lana’i Island Burial Council will hold a meeting to discuss the issue on Wednesday.