WAINIHA, Kauai — Kauai police and the National Guard sealed off much of the North Shore with roadblocks Saturday to prevent demonstrators from joining a protest that left a house occupied by a former Colorado cult vandalized and a van belonging to the group badly damaged.
The property was attacked Friday night, according to police, after a demonstration at the beachfront home encircled the property and more than 100 protesters demanded that the
group, known as Love Has Won, leave the island.
Three small fires were set on the beach that were extinguished by the Kauai Fire Department. Kauai Police Department units with more than a dozen officers and two National Guard vehicles blocked Kuhio Highway near Hanalei in two places and amassed a presence at the house the group was renting.
They limited access to the far end of the North Shore to those who could produce proof of their addresses. It was the most restrictive shutdown since floods in March 2018 left the area cut off from outside access for several months.
Late in the evening, Kauai Mayor Derek Kawakami arrived at the scene and spoke to the protesters. He said county officials were trying to negotiate an agreement with Love Has Won under which the group would leave the island.
He and police said the county had offered to escort the group from Wainiha to Lihue Airport so they could leave peacefully. He urged the demonstrators to remain peaceful.
Saturday’s action continued a protest of the presence on Kauai of about 15 members of Love Has Won, a previously Colorado-based group that calls itself a religion and whose leader is depicted on videos circulated by the group apparently torturing a cat.
The leader, Amy Carlson, is seen on another video posted by the group in a profane tirade in which she asserts her authority as a divinity over its members.
In another video posted by the group, two members give the finger to the camera as they belittle the COVID-19 quarantine restrictions that apply to anyone newly arrived on Kauai.
At least two apparent cult members could be seen inside the oceanfront house on Saturday. It was not clear whether Carlson was on the property.
The fact that the protest had devolved into violence Friday night alarmed Diane Ventura, a longtime North Shore resident and former Seattle nurse, who said she was concerned that serious property damage had developed from the Friday protest.
“It saddens me because it’s not pono,” she said.
At one point Saturday, three demonstrators engaged in a shouting match with a cult member, identified as Stacy Daly, who had come out onto a second floor lanai. They demanded a dialogue with Carlson, but Daly went back inside the house without apparently responding.
“She was in tears,” one demonstrator said.
The group’s operations are more bizarre than most because it produces a daily video livestream in which members speak for hours at a time of the so-called theology in which Carlson, known alternately as “Mom” and “Mother,” is deified.
One cult member said earlier that the organization was actually “a religion.” It has tax-free status with the U.S. Internal Revenue Service.
Civil Beat engaged in an unusual Facebook interview with members of the group Saturday afternoon. Cult member Robert Begley raged in a series of posts:
“Did you see what the locals did to our mother’s house? They smashed every window in her car. They smashed her house windows. They threw rocks. How would you like that to happen to your mother? Your mother who has full cancer in her body and paralyzed.”
There was clear damage to the house, including several smashed windows with glass shards scattered on the ground outside. Jalousie shades appeared to have been struck by thrown objects. It was not clear how the damage occurred. Some demonstrators contended the cult had done the damage itself.
It was also not clear what Begley was referring to in terms of Carlson’s health, although some social media posts have asserted she suffers from cancer.
Begley said Love Has Won is not confined to just Colorado, where some members are thought to have remained as the rest relocated to Kauai.
“There are those of us all over the planet,” he said.
Asked if Carlson was available for an interview, Begley responded: “Just to see how she’s doing after being attacked?”
Ashley Peluso and Lauren Suarez, the regular hosts of Love Has Won’s daily livestream — which can be viewed on Facebook and YouTube — were dismissive of community objections to the cult’s presence on island.
The daily livestream was cut short, at just over an hour, because of apparent technical difficulties. “It’s a pressure cooker, as you can see,” said Suarez.
To the protesters, Peluso said: “You don’t belong in Hawaii, either. Whatever they want to say, they think they know. They don’t. We are here for the ascension of the planet. We are not here for you guys.”
Police on the scene in Wainiha said the clash Friday night continued until about 11 p.m. Officers were ordered back to the North Shore about 6 a.m. on Saturday, one of them said, apparently because KPD was concerned the situation could get out of control.
The police strategy was apparently successful because, by late Saturday afternoon, only about two dozen demonstrators were present at the house. They complained that the police and National Guard presence had significantly reduced the turnout.
Protesters have said they will continue the action at least through Sunday.
The group had previously been headquartered near Crestone, Colorado, where the local sheriff’s department said it had numerous calls for missing teen and adult children to the cult’s headquarters, but had never made arrests.
Photographs from a person familiar with the group’s operations in Crestone sent Civil Beat photographs of its headquarters there. It consists of two dilapidated mobile homes surrounded by trash.
The group derives income from the sale of vitamin supplements and supposed colloidal therapeutics. A member said last week that the group had received an “endowment” from a Montana minister that has financed much of its activities.
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