Day 2: Protest at Maunakea
By Wendy Osher
A protest at Maunakea on Hawaiʻi Island is now in Day 2 as opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope project continue their efforts to block construction atop the mountain which they consider sacred.
On Monday, seven protesters chained themselves to a cattle guard while a group of kupuna or elders were staged at the entrance to Maunakea Access Road, blocking vehicle access for the planned transport of equipment for telescope construction.
The chained demonstrators peacefully unchained themselves after 12 hours (from 3 a.m. to 3 p.m.), following negotiations with law enforcement. No arrests were made on Monday.
Opponents of the project say further development atop the mountain would desecrate the sacred site.
“Out of concern for the health and safety of those protesters,” law enforcement officials said they decided to “give them the option of unlocking themselves and leaving without being arrested.”
State crews then installed a gate at the location and concrete barriers along the Daniel K Inouye Highway to better separate people from traffic. The area was not blocked by a gate this morning, however law enforcement personnel were staged at the location.
Here on Maui, an estimated 150 people turned out for a protest on Monday afternoon at the northwest corner of the Hāna Hwy/Haleakalā intersection, also against the TMT construction. And this morning, there were about 50 people who showed up at a demonstration in West Maui fronting the Lahaina Cannery Mall.
Meantime, supporters of the TMT project say they believe in the co-existence of culture and science atop the mountain. In making the announcement last week, Govenror Ige said that after a 10 year process, the day for construction of the 30-meter-telescope has arrived.
Supporters of the project say it will provide permanent jobs for as many as 140 workers in addition to those that would be hired during the construction phase.