A video from a 1985 documentary has been wrongly associated with recent wildfires in Maui on social media platforms. The footage, falsely described as showing police arresting Hawaiian residents post-wildfires, is in fact from a documentary that covered the eviction of native Hawaiians from Waimanalo Beach Park nearly 40 years ago.

The misleading post, dated September 7, 2023, on X (previously known as Twitter) captioned the video: “Lahaina, Maui Cover-Up. Heartbreaking,” accusing authorities of mistreating disaster victims. The footage showcases a young girl confronting police officers and subsequent scenes of officers arresting and relocating people.

In the wake of the Maui wildfires that resulted in the tragic loss of at least 115 lives, similar posts started circulating on platforms like TikTok, Facebook, and Instagram. Some of these posts promoted unfounded conspiracy theories, suggesting the wildfires were a result of high-energy lasers, while others pinned the blame on US President Joe Biden.

However, the truth is that the video clips are from a documentary that chronicled the June 3, 1985, eviction of Hawaiians from Waimanalo Beach Park. The film sheds light on the conflict between native Hawaiians’ rights to live on the reserved “Hawaiian home lands” and the state’s eviction actions.

Joan Lander and Abraham “Puhipau” Ahmad were the creators behind the documentary. Lander, in communication with AFP on September 11, 2023, explained that the Hawaiian government had a rotation system for cleaning state beach parks, during which they would dismantle any existing tents or campsites of homeless populations. The depicted confrontation was an organized resistance by the native Hawaiians to assert their rights.

Lander detailed the distressing physical and emotional ordeal, wherein Hawaiians locked arms inside a shack, resisting police attempts to disband them. The conflict led to several injuries and arrests, with one individual claiming a broken arm as a result.

The late Abraham Ahmad, identifiable in the misrepresented clip, was recorded stating the frequent evictions and arrests from Hawaiian beaches.



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