The protests on Mauna Kea are still noviolent, but the tension is ratcheting up as police began arresting opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope today when they attempted to block construction on the site of the giant telescope.
Reports about how many people were arrested varied. Hawaii County Police reported as of mid-afternoon today that twelve persons had been arrested for allegedly blocking access to construction workers en route to the TMT site near the summit of Mauna Kea .
“During the arrests, our officers practiced the Hawai?i Police Department’s core value of compassion,” said East Hawaii Assistant Chief Henry Tavares.
Both Police and TMT opponents said that they’d had earlier discussions in which ground rules were laid out for the protests. According to police, protestors were told they had the right to protest peacefully.” but were asked for their “cooperation in keeping the roadway openBut by mid-afternoon, Police and Department of Land and Natural Resources agents moved in to remove activists who were blocking the road. Among those arrested were Ronald Fujiyoshi, 75, of Hilo; Moanikeala Akaka, 70, of Hilo; Joseph Kanuha, 56, of Kailua-Kona; Eric Heaukulani, 38, of Kealakekua; Kelii Ioane Jr., 63, of Hilo; James Albertini, 68, of Kurtistown; Erin O’Donnel, 40, of Kamuela; Craig Neff, 56 ,of P?pa?ikou; Gary Oamilda, 66, of Ocean View; Chase Kahookahi Kanuha, 26, of Kailua-Kona; Dannette Henrietta, 45, of Hilo and Lambert Lavea, 27, of Mountain View. According to the police press release, all those arrested were released after posting $250 bails. The DLNR, in another release, said that eight persons had been arrested for blocking the road and another 11 had been arrested for trespassing at the construction site. Kealoha Pisciotta of Mauna Kea Ainaina Hou, reporting from the Mountain via cell phone, said that at least 30 had been arrested.
“Mauna Kea Ohana defending Hawaii island’s fresh water supply and sacred site from devastation have been arrested, at least 5, we are through the second wave of protectors, wrote one Babes Against Biotech member in a blow-by-blow account on Facebook: “We are completing pilgrimage up the mountain to the summit where they want to do construction. Waves of protectors are slowing down the sheriffs we are now past county lines into state conservation district. They have called in the military, we don’t know what kind of military but they are trying to come up the mountain with DOCARE DLNR police. Please pule all hands on deck head up the mauna. Mahalo nui.”
A video that appeared on Facebook showed some of the arrests taking place. A woman knelt in the road while officers cuffed her and those around her chanted “Auwe!” There did not appear to be signs of violent resistance or excessive police force.
“Last night we were informed by the Governor’s Chief of Staff that there was ‘too much construction company money at stake” for us to expect Governor Ige to use his executive authority to hold off construction until our appeal can be heard by the State Supreme Court,” texted Pisciotta, one of the litigants in the court case against the TMT. “We understand that Governor Ige’s office is getting flooded with phone calls today from Hawai?i citizens expressing shock at these arrests…Unfortunately, today’s arrests are consistent with the way the State has treated the Hawaiian community during the whole TMT hearing and permitting process—by the Board of Land and Natural Resources (BLNR), the University of Hawai?i Board of Regents, and the Office of Mauna Kea Management (OMKM), all of whom have worked diligently to forward the interests of this University of California/Caltech project and Hawai?i’s local construction companies.”
Governor Ige’s official Web site today contained no mention of the protests. The only new entries on his “News Room” pages were announcements of “Architecture Month” and “Child Abuse Prevention Month.”
Several different groups are involved in the protests. A Web page was started today by an umbrella group calling itself “Mauna Kea Ohana” to raise money to support the TMT opponent’s actions, including bail money. in its first six hours of operation, it had already raised $3,635 dollars, with a goal of $10,000