Hundreds of protesters flocked to Mauna Kea Wednesday to prevent construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope from resuming.
“It wasn’t so much a decision as an automatic responsibility that we have to keep those physical manifestations of our kupuna safe by removing them from the road”, said Kamahana Kealoha, head facilitator with the Sacred Mauna Kea Hui.
Construction crews eventually turned around and retreated from the site.
Officials say a group of protesters were walking on the access road at around 6:00 a.m. on Friday when one person was allegedly hit by a vehicle’s side-view mirror.
Construction stopped for about two months after the arrests of 31 protesters in April. David Ige agreed to decommission “as many telescopes as possible” in the surrounding areas “with at least 25 percent of all telescopes gone by the time TMT is ready for operation”.
McCartney said crews will work to clear the roadway on Thursday and that construction was put on hold.
Mike Bolte, a board member of the Thirty Meter Telescope worldwide Observatory, said the nonprofit company is assessing its plans to restart construction.
The Hawaii governor’s office confirms state Department of Land and Natural Resources officers arrested 11 people when protesters prevented workers from accessing a construction site for what would be one of the world’s largest telescopes. He says the protesters had deployed small groups of people to block the road at regular intervals over several kilometers, starting above the Mauna Kea visitor center at about 2700 meters up the 4200 meter high mountain.
Te Rawhitiroa Bosch says, “There’s a big difference between their officers and ours back home”. A 44-year-old man was arrested and charged with obstructing, a misdemeanor, and released after posting $250 bail, police said. There’s also very little air and light pollution. Some say it’s time to curb development on the mountain, where 13 other telescopes sit. In his statement, Governor Ige said the closure is authorized under the Mauna Kea Comprehensive Management Plan, which allows the University of Hawai’i to close the road when hazardous conditions or emergencies arise.
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.
Protesters Wednesday ranged from toddlers to the elderly. The protestors have said the $1.4 billion TMT would desecrate sacred land. “They were grabbing people”, he says. “Our people are not standing down”, she said.
Its partners include India, China, Canada, Japan and the Thirty Meter Telescope Observatory Corp., formed by the University of California and the California Institute of Technology.
“We were happy that they are not going to be desecrating our aina today”, said Freitas, using the Hawaiian word for land. “And the day after, and the day after that”.
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