Mule Ride Evicted
The Molokai Mule Ride has been evicted from the Kalae barn that served as the business’ base for more than four decades. Last Saturday morning, state sheriffs, Molokai police and representatives of R.W. Meyer arrived to carry out the eviction, leaving the barn’s entrance chained up.
“We are only leaving this place under duress,” said Molokai Mule Ride co-owner Kalehua Sproat-Augustiro in a live video of the eviction she streamed on Facebook. Rising tensions were caught on camera, including a sheriff’s threat to place Sproat-Augustiro under arrest. Her father, the legendary muleskinner Buzzy Sproat, operated the family business for more than 40 years and his wife and children carried it on after his death.
The eviction by Molokai landholder R.W. Meyer, Ltd. came after both parties have claimed ownership to the Kalae property. Paul Meyer, president of R.W. Meyer, Ltd., said the mule ride operators, which previously held a lease agreement on the property, hadn’t paid rent in more than a year. Sproat-Augustiro says her family holds the allodial title to the land so they don’t need to pay rent. Meyer said an eviction notice was served on March 20.
Sproat-Augustiro said in the video that it’s not over for her family and their legacy on the property, and said in a previous statement they “look forward to this issue being settled in court.”
In the meantime, the barn is shuttered and quiet. New R.W. Meyer signs warn off would-be trespassers, and Sproat’s 50-year-old kalo patch — which Sproat-Augustiro said in the video her family is no longer able to care for or transplant — continues to grow behind the barn.