Parade Staging Criminal Trespass Case Forwarded to Prosecuter
By Debra Lordan
Not a single horse and rider was deterred from participating in the 50th Makawao Fourth of July Paniolo Parade, despite the presence of a large digital sign threatening legal action, said parade organizer Theresa Thompson.
A sign reading, “No parade staging–violators will be prosecuted,” was posted in the middle of the Maui Veterans Cemetery parking lot, the traditional staging area for the parade’s horse units for the last 50 years.
“Apparently, the county put up the sign the night before at sunset,” Thompson said. “Someone drove by and told me about it.”
Although Thompson hired six off-duty Maui Police Department officers to man the parade route, she said they were also there to gather information about the parade.
“Maui police were present, but only to observe and take down information that would be used to put together a case later,” said Maui County Spokesman Rod Antone.
“The Maui Police Department has full authority to enforce all of Maui County’s laws,” said Antone. The Mayor’s Office does not tell the Maui Police Department how to do its job. What we did do is inform police of the situation. If the MPD felt the best way to handle the situation was to take down information and make a case later rather than cite on location, then that is their call and we stand by their decision.”
Since March 2014, parade officials have been in a debate with the state Department of Defense over the use of the Maui Veterans Cemetery parking lot. Last July, Thompson was told that she would no longer be permitted to stage her horse unit in the veterans cemetery parking lot on Baldwin Avenue, saying the activity is “disrespectful to the veterans and their families.” In addition, a multimillion-dollar expansion planned for the area, along with a change in status, may jeopardize the parade’s use of the parking lot.
“It is with great honor and respect that we conduct the parade on that day,” argued Thompson. “I feel like I’m being picked on. Our community uses the parking lot one day a year for three hours. Others use it throughout the year and don’t receive these kind of scoldings.”
Thompson said Maui County Public Works Director David Goode called her the week before the parade was scheduled and told her that “Honolulu’s Office of Veterans Affairs is very upset that she was still planning on staging in parking lot.”
Thompson added that she was also told that she should have acquired a special use permit, although she had all the other permits required by the county and police.
“I have written letters to everyone from the governor on down, and there was no mention of a special use permit until I read it in The Maui News,” said Thompson. “I never heard of a special use permit in the 23 years I have been organizing the parade.”
On July 4, 2015, Thompson ran the parade as has been done since 1965, when late father, Charlie, served at the parade’s first grand marshal.
As far as Thompson knew as of Monday morning, July 6, no arrests had been made or citations issued for using the parking lot, “but we still might,” Thompson added.
The Maui Police Department will forward any violations to the county Department of the Prosecuting Attorney.
“From what we understand from Maui police, there is a case that will be forwarded to the Prosecutor’s Office in regard to this matter,” said Antone.
MPD Public Information Officer Lt. William Juan, said there were no citations issued on July 4; however, “a criminal trespass in the second degree case was initiated and forwarded to the Prosecutor’s Office for their review.”
Antone said that the county is willing to do whatever it can to help her, but stressed that the parade must not use the cemetery parking lot in the future.
“The county has been willing to help Thompson, in light of what she has done in organizing the Makawao Parade all of these years,” said Antone. “But the simple fact is that the parade permit that they have from the county does not include permission to be on Makawao Veterans Cemetery property.”
“To avoid a conflict with the work the Department of Defense has been doing at the cemetery, Mayor Alan Arakawa early on offered an alternative staging area that would be provided by Maui Land & Pine, right across the street from the Makawao Veterans Cemetery, that would have worked out just fine for this year’s parade and for future parades,” continued Antone. “But it was rejected by Thompson. There is no good excuse at this point for parade staging to continue at the cemetery and the county does not support having it there.”
Antone said the county has spoken to members of the Maui Roping Club, who say the ML&P area will be good for the horses.
While staging the horse units at the parking lot, Thompson said that she and several parade participants brought lei to pay their respects to friends and family in both the Maui Veterans Cemetery and the adjacent Makawao Cemetery.
“I was so pleased that everyone came and rode and that the sign didn’t scare anyone away,” said Thompson. “Nobody backed out–everybody came and marched.”
Thompson said she plans on organizing the parade again next year and is open to moving the staging area to a location that could be prepared in advance for the horses.
“I’m very protective of my community,” said Thompson. “Those are our people in the cemetery. I just wish the county would take back the parking lot so we could take care of it ourselves.”