Hundreds Congregate at Illegal Beach Party Over Holiday WeekendMay 25, 2020, 12:30 PM HST (Updated May 25, 2020, 12:22 PM)
Memorial Day crowds nationwide have health professionals fearful of COVID-19 surges across the country in the coming weeks, and Hawai‘i isn’t exempt.
Late Sunday night, and into the early hours of Memorial Day, officers from the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement (DOCARE) and the Honolulu Police Department worked to clear an estimated 200 people from a beach at the Mokuleia Section of Ka‘ena Point State Park on O‘ahu’s North Shore. Witnesses report the crowd was even bigger earlier in the evening, according to a DLNR press release.
When officers arrived at 10:30 p.m., they recorded at least 170 cars. Three DOCARE officers, joined by five HPD officers, spent the next 4.5 hours directing partiers to clean up their messes and to leave the area. A DLNR Division of State Parks employee captured photos before and after the party and said this morning the area was left “spotless.”
That was not the case after large gatherings on Friday and Saturday evenings. Saturday morning, DOCARE officers cleaned up trash and pallets used to fuel giant bonfires the night before. Open fires on Hawai‘i beaches are illegal.
Participants were also in violation of COVID-19 Emergency Rules, as well as not having permits for large gatherings in a state park. Saturday and Sunday night’s parties were promoted on social media.
Sunday night, due to the size of the crowd and the small law enforcement contingent, the goal was to disperse the crowd and get their messes cleaned up. Officers report that most people were compliant, but there were a couple of verbal altercations. No citations were issued, however, DLNR said.
On the other side of Ka‘ena Point State Park, DOCARE officers report the Keawaula and Makua Sections were also packed by beachgoers and park users. Many Illegal camping issues were also addressed.
“This is exactly the kind of bad and selfish behavior we’ve all been asked repeatedly not to engage in during this emergency,” said DOCARE Chief Jason Redulla. “It’s unfortunate, that at least in the case of the Sunday night party, from our officers’ contact and observations of those involved, many were off-duty military personnel. This is a day when we remember the sacrifices of the men and women who’ve given their lives in defense of our country, and it’s disappointing that the urge to socialize and party, at this particular time, overrides any obligation to duty and common sense.”