Arrested protesters post bail, return to mountain to guard against telescope

Construction on the Thirty Meter Telescope is set to resume Wednesday af…

Protesters oppose the Thirty Meter Telescope, saying many Native Hawaiians hold the construction site sacred.

(Holly Johnson/Hawaii Tribune-Herald via AP). CBC News reports, noting there are already 13 other telescopes on Mauna Kea’s summit. Protests and demonstrations have plagued construction crews since ground broke on the telescope in October 2014, including Wednesday when several protesters were arrested after they forced workers to turn away. Hawaii Governor David Ige issued a statement Wednesday and said he was “disappointed” with the actions taken by the protesters. It was unclear when there might be another effort to resume. The protesters blocked the road, then let workers pass, and different groups repeated the pattern several times at higher points on the mountain.

With all of its approvals and permits in place after more than 7 years of public review, Ige has acknowledged that the TMT team has the legal right to proceed with construction. In April, at least 31 protesters were arrested while blocking workers from reaching the construction site at the mountain’s summit.

A dozen of protestors arrested Wednesday for obstructing were released after posting $250 bail.

A spokesperson with the Department of Land and Natural Resource’s DOCARE (Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement) confirmed to Hawaii News Now on Friday morning that crews were responding to a situation at Mauna Kea, but declined to comment on the specifics involving that situation.

“Sorry, just got out of jail”, Kahookahi Kanuha, one of the protest leaders, said in a text message to The Associated Press. The released protestors returned to the Hawaii Mountain in order to protect it from being destructed.

“The state and Hawaii County are working together to uphold the law and ensure safety on roadways and on Mauna Kea, while allowing the people their right to peacefully and lawfully protest”, the governor’s office said in a statement late Tuesday.

Hawaii County police say a man arrested while protesting construction of one of the world’s largest telescopes has been charged with obstruction. Also, “somehow”, large boulders were strewn across the rugged access roads leading to the TMT site – forcing vehicles back.

A crew of a few workers and vehicles will go to the site Wednesday for vehicle maintenance and to install safety fencing, Mike Bolte, a Thirty Meter Telescope global Observatory board member, said in an email through a public relations firm. They describe a history of mismanagement of the summit area by the state government and University of Hawaii, which has held a master lease on more than 11,000 acres of the mountaintop since 1968. “It is considered the temple of the most supreme being for Hawaiian people”.

“Hawaiians would rather eat rocks than succumb to suppression”, Ritte said.


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