James O’Keefe Faces Arrest Threat in Hawaii for Capturing Burn Zone on Camera

James O’Keefe, founder of O’Keefe Media Group, recently traveled to Lahaina, Hawaii where he was threatened with arrest by police for taking photos and videos on public land near the burn zone.

Citing Hawaii Governor Josh Green’s emergency proclamation following the devastating wildfires that claimed 115 lives last month, an officer with the Maui Police Department told O’Keefe, “It’s part of the emergency proclamation that this whole area is deemed under the wildlife disaster area…So if you guys park here, that’s technically in violation.”

However, when O’Keefe expressed his concern that the policeman was “going to detain” him, a Hawaii Army National Guardsman said, “No, they’re probably just being assholes, man. I’m a policeman in Honolulu and I never heard of that.”

Another National Guardsman said, “Anybody can take pictures. No one can stop you guys from taking pictures.”

When speaking to another officer with the Maui Police Department, O’Keefe asked, “If we want to stop and do like a news report on the side of the road, they won’t allow us to do that?”

The officer responded, “I think you would be able to do it where it’s not in front of the burn zone.”

A Hawaii deputy sheriff said the order was “for safety,” before adding, “It’s not like they’re trying to hide anything, but it’s actually an emergency thing down there.”

While filming the burn zone of downtown Lahaina from inside of a moving vehicle, O’Keefe said, “This is the zone where we’re not allowed to photograph – the police officer telling me that I’m not supposed to be doing this, I could be arrested for doing this – but we are filming because we have a first amendment right to film.”

Near the end of O’Keefe’s video, he announced that O’Keefe Media Group is filing a federal lawsuit with Attorney Mike Yoder against the governor in regards to Hawaii Revised Statute 127A-29, which is what the police are using to enforce the Governor’s proclamation in regards to photography of the burn zone.

“The first and most important thing is just so people in Hawaii and Lahaina understand that what we’re trying to do is ensure that the land they are so sincere about and that they care so much about isn’t taken from them a second time,” Yoder explained. “A lot of the animosity and hostility is understandable based on the history and the culture that is very deeply rooted in Hawaii. But if we don’t have freedom of the press, we don’t have the freedom of speech and people are kept in the dark as to what the government’s doing and what is going on, then there’s no way to ever have a people-led or people-controlled society.

“So the first step, we’re going to take down this oppression of electronic media. Make sure people are able to speak freely. Second step is to take out the criminal provisions of people exercising the rights they are guaranteed under both the U.S. Constitution and the Hawaiian Constitution,” Yoder added.

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Kaitlin Housler is a reporter at The Tennessee Star and The Star News Network.
Photo “James O’Keefe” by O’Keefe Media Group.





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