- REUTERS/Brian Snyder
When Mark Zuckerberg decided to sue hundreds of Hawaiians with ownership rights to small parts of his Kauai estate, he ignited a firestorm of backlash.
Now the Facebook billionaire’s neighbors plan to march in protest this weekend at the 6-foot-high wall he erected last year along Koolau Road, according to the march’s organizer, Joe Hart.
In an interview with Business Insider on Thursday, Hart said he expected at least 200 locals, including several whom Zuckerberg has filed lawsuits against, to participate in the march this Saturday.
“People are furious down here with him,” said Hart, a hibiscus farmer who lives about a quarter-mile from one edge of Zuckerberg’s roughly 700-acre property. Hart is encouraging people who attend the march to blow conch shells and bang drums in peaceful protest.
Zuckerberg filed eight lawsuits in local court on December 30 against families who collectively inherited 14 parcels of land through the Kuleana Act, a Hawaiian law established in 1850 that for the first time gave natives the right to own the land they lived on.
The 14 parcels together total eight of the roughly 700 acres Zuckerberg owns, but the law gives any direct family member of a parcel’s original owner the right to enter the billionaire’s otherwise private compound.
Encounters with security guards
- Shutterstock/Pierre Leclerc
Neighbors of Zuckerberg like Hart have said the Facebook CEO’s security team has used intimidation tactics to keep them off the public beaches and trails that intertwine with Zuckerberg’s mostly undeveloped property.
Hart said he was recently confronted by security guards while walking along a public beach adjacent to Zuckerberg’s property.
“We were walking along and they tried to say that this was private,” he said. “I’ve been walking on this since I was a little kid.”
In a recent interview with the Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Naoshi Grady said he filed a police report last year after being run off a public trail that runs through part of Zuckerberg’s estate.
“They told me I was on private property,” he told the newspaper. “They were threatening to take my picture and have me arrested. They were aggressive, rude, and disrespectful.”
Richard Spacer, a self-described activist for public access who also lives in Kauai, told Business Insider he’s heard of numerous natives who have either encountered no-trespassing signs along the historic Ala Loa Trail or have been forced to leave by security guards riding ATVs.
A 6-foot wall that blocks ‘kuleana’
Both Spacer and Hart said the 6-foot wall Zuckerberg built last year cut off access to an inherited parcel of land, or “kuleana,” that the original owner’s family members had been able to access.
Representatives for Zuckerberg didn’t respond to Business Insider’s multiple requests for comment for this story. Zuckerberg said in a statement on Tuesday that he was “reconsidering” the lawsuits, which would compel owners of the parcels to sell to the highest bidder.
“Based on feedback from the local community, we are reconsidering the quiet title process and discussing how to move forward,” Zuckerberg said in the statement. “We want to make sure we are following a process that protects the interests of property owners, respects the traditions of native Hawaiians, and preserves the environment.”
Hart said he plans to march at the wall every Saturday until Zuckerberg officially drops the lawsuits and meets with his neighbors in person.
“We just want to bring this light to issue,” Hart said. “He’s made his money stealing everyone’s information, which we’ve let him do, but to come down here and start suing everyone, that’s not going to fly down here.”