The Hanapepe Massacre

#194 in the Moʻolelo series

On September 9th, 1924, an altercation between striking Filipino (Visayan) sugar plantation workers and police led to 16 workers and four police officers being killed, with many others wounded. The strike was blamed entirely on the workers, and “it appears that no law enforcement officers connected to the incident were investigated or charged with criminal offenses” (Hawaiʻi State Legislature). The Hawaiʻi Sugar Planters Association gave $500 to the families of each of the sheriffs killed, while the slain workers’ families had to split $75 (Hawaiʻi State Legislature). Many of the strikers were deported to the Philippines.

Eyewitness to the event described it this way:

 Ignacia Lagmay, a witness to the fighting, vividly recalled the fear that gripped her as she hid inside her small Hanapepe home with her husband, a striker who did not participate in the fighting, and her 3-month-old child, while gunfire and fighting erupted outside.

“The time I stay inside the house, I can hear the guns: Pak! Pak! Pak! Pak! And oh, somebody only call the husband. That I can hear clear. Died in the wife’s arms. The bullet go inside the stomach. I listen to what the people screaming — somebody died, how many died. I so scared.”

Another witness, a reluctant striker named Mauro Plateros, remembered that on the night before the fighting, he was talking with a fellow striker who told him, “Oh, if anything happen, I’ll just run away.” “But he was killed on that day,” said Plateros.

The Hanapepe massacre was even bloodier than the Hilo Massacre and is considered “the bloodiest confrontation in all of Hawai‘i’s labor history (The Garden Island, May 17, 2020). The Hawaiʻi State Legislature wrote a bill to erect a monument to the event and a film project was under consideration.


Hank Sobelesky, “Eyewitnesses to the Hanapepe Massacre of 1924,” The Garden Island, May 17, 2020

Senate Bill 2998 “Relating to the 1924 Hanapepe Massacre”

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