Let's change the law and save Sweetie's mom

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Since the current Kilauea eruption began on May 3, 2018, there have been areas in lower Puna that have been mandated to evacuate. Pohoiki is not on the list of mandatory evacuation areas. On June 27th, Sweetie’s mom, Melanie Thomas and Sean Burgoon were cited for being in the Pohoiki area on someone’s private property that they had permission to be on. The Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR) proceeded to issue the citations for trespassing and loitering in a disaster area while on private property. Melanie and Sean were in the Pohoiki area to search for Sweetie, the three-legged dog.

In the course of evacuating the Lower Puna area, while helping neighbors, retrieving belongings or lost pets, people are being charged by DLNR with criminal citations. Citations are being issued to citizens with placards, on private property, and in areas not designated as mandatory evacuation zones. The penalties for these citations are up to a year in jail and/or a fine up to $5000 per Governor Ige's Second Supplementary Proclamation issued on June 5th. The citations are criminal charges, which will affect people detrimentally for a long time. People who have a valid reason to be in the area are being unfairly criminalized.

The mental strain and stress of facing jail time for these mothers and fathers with children, pregnant women, people with disabilities, and homeowners trying to protect and maintain their property, combined with already significant loss and grief from the utter destruction caused by this disaster, is a disaster in itself.

Mitch Roth, Hawaii County Prosecuting Attorney, and Governor David Ige can request that the charges be dismissed.

Please call and write them today. Please mention Melanie Thomas, Sean Burgoon, and Edric Money when you reach out to officials to request dismissal of charges. Please also include:

  • All charges be dropped immediately against all individuals cited that were not breaking any laws while in non-mandatory evacuation areas.
  • Hawaii County and DLNR to provide proper signage and consistent notice of closed areas. 

Governor Ige - Phone: (808) 586-0034  

Cindy McMillan (Communications Director to the Governor) - cindy.mcmillan@hawaii.gov

Mitch Roth - (808) 961-0466 hilopros@co.hawaii.hi.us

Fresh Onishi - Phone: (808) 586-6120 

Joy San Buenaventura - Phone: (808) 586-6530 - repsanbuenaventura@Capitol.hawaii.gov

Russell Ruderman - Phone: (808) 586-6890 senruderman@capitol.hawaii.gov


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