Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Maui Houseless Residents Evicted In 2023 With 'Nowhere To Go'

Fact Check

  • by: Madison Dapcevich

STORY UPDATED: check for updates below.

Fact Check: Video Does NOT Show Maui Houseless Residents Evicted In 2023 With 'Nowhere To Go' 1985 Oahu Doc

Does a video shared to social media in September 2023 show Maui residents "being arrested for camping on the beach with nowhere to go" following the destructive wildfires that killed at least 115 people? No, that's not true: The video in question was filmed in 1985 as part of a documentary showcasing a group of houseless native Hawaiians in the community of Waimanalo, on the outskirts of Honolulu on the island of Oahui.

A version of the implied claim appeared in a post and video shared on Instagram on September 5, 2023 (archived here), with a text overlay that read:

They are being arrested for Camping on the beach With no where to go!


Below is how the post appeared at the time of this publication:

Screenshot 2023-09-10 at 16.50.16.png

(Source: Instagram screenshot taken Mon Sept 10 16:50:60 UTC 2023)

A watermark on the video indicated that it likely originated on TikTok, however, the account usernames were obscured and illegible.

Lead Stories determined that the video in the post did not show houseless Hawaiians on Maui being arrested in the aftermath of the 2023 fires as is implied. Rather, the footage was captured on June 5, 1985, as part of a documentary focusing on the eviction of Hawaiians living in Waimanalo Beach Park near the capital city of Honolulu on the island of Oahu.

Hawaii-based producer Joan Lander confirmed that their production company, Nā Maka o ka 'Āina, owns the copyrights to the video, "Waimanalo Eviction," which was shown in the post on Instagram.

"We covered the 1985 eviction as independent filmmakers. It originally played on the cable public access stations of Hawai'i and then aired on the local PBS station in 1992," Lander wrote to Lead Stories in an email received September 14, 2023.

The clip shared on Instagram is shown at the 22-second mark of a 3:56-minute trailer shared to YouTube on April 9, 2012, by the documentary filmmaker HawaiianVoice. It was titled "Waimanalo Eviction - TRAILER." The video's description read:

In 1985, a group of houseless native Hawaiians took a stand for their right to live at Waimanalo Beach Park, an area set aside as Hawaiian Home Lands.

A link included in the trailer's description on YouTube led to the Hawaiian documentary and educational videos website, Nā Maka o ka 'Āina, which was said to translate to "The Eyes of the Land." A section of the website identified its creators as Joan Lander and Puhipau, "an independent video production team that, since 1981, has focused on the land and people of Hawai'i and the Pacific."

The video shared on Instagram was originally part of a 37-minute documentary created by the filmmakers. Its description read:

In 1985, a group of houseless native Hawaiians took a stand for their right to live at Waimānalo Beach Park, an area set aside as Hawaiian Home Lands.

The resulting police action and violent eviction is the subject of this video. Iconic footage from this video has been used in numerous other documentaries around the world.

Other identifiable signs shown in the video that indicate it was not filmed in 2023 include visuals of outdated technology common in the 1980s, such as the video cameras and police cars shown below:

Screenshot 2023-09-14 at 12.16.13 PM.png

(Source: Lead Stories screengrab taken Thurs Sept 14 18:16:00 UTC 2023)

As of September 13, 2023, at least 115 people were reported by the Maui Police Department to have died as a result of the wildfires. Lead Stories also contacted the agency for further information regarding the video and will update the article if we receive a response.

Following the devastating wildfires on Maui, Lead Stories has debunked a wide array of false information online, including that 2,000 kids were not missing on Maui a month after the fires occurred, that there was no evidence insurance companies were denying Maui fire losses due to "zoning infractions," and that the Hawaii Digital Government summit was not planned to rebuild Maui as "the first smart island" to be "governed by AI."


  • 2023-09-19T17:57:16Z 2023-09-19T17:57:16Z
    Adds confirmation from filmmaker that video clip is from a documentary shot in 1985.

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  Madison Dapcevich

Raised on an island in southeast Alaska, Madison grew up a perpetually curious tidepooler and has used that love of science and innovation in her now full-time role as a science reporter for the fact-checking publication Lead Stories.

Read more about or contact Madison Dapcevich

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