Mark Zuckerberg is officially dropping the lawsuits he filed against hundreds of Hawaiians that would compel them to sell their inherited “kuleana” land.
Zuckerberg and his wife Priscilla Chan announced the news in an open letter printed in the Kauai newspaper The Garden Island on Friday.
“We’ve heard from many in the community and learned more about the cultural and historical significance of this land,” the Facebook CEO wrote. “Over the past week, we’ve spoken with community leaders and shared that our intention is to achieve an outcome that preserves the environment, respects local traditions, and is fair to those with kuleana lands.”
“To find a better path forward, we are dropping our quiet title actions and will work together with the community on a new approach,” he continued. “We understand that for native Hawaiians, kuleana are sacred and the quiet title process can be difficult. We want to make this right, talk with the community, and find a better approach.”
Zuckerberg’s decision to drop the suits comes on the eve of a protest that his neighbours had planned to take place at the six-foot wall he erected last year, along part of his 700-acre estate on Kauai.
“People are furious down here with him,” the protest’s organiser, Joe Hart, told Business Insider on Thursday. “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.”
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 native Hawaiians 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.