33 TMT Protesters Issued Citations, Emergency Proclamation at Maunakea

July 17, 2019, 9:00 AM HST · Updated July 17, 5:22 PM
Wendy Osher · 0 Comments
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33 TMT Protesters Issued Citations, Emergency Proclamation at Maunakea
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UPDATE: 5 p.m.

Governor David Ige today issued an emergency proclamation allowing additional state assets to support actions at Maunakea.

State officials say the proclamation is also aimed at ensuring lawful activities and the safety of all in the area. The proclamation also expands the authority of law enforcement to control and manage areas on Maunakea.

According to state estimates, there were approximately 1,000 people at the intersection of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (formerly known as Saddle Road) and the Maunakea Access Road.

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At one point (11:15 a.m.) the highway was shut down to traffic as protesters amassed in the roadway. The Daniel K. Inouye Highway was reopened at around 2:40 p.m., after a more than three hour closure, which included a 30-mile stretch of road.

Law enforcement had indicated that people and vehicles were posing a safety hazard. “Safety remains the state’s number one priority. Fortunately, despite the large crowd on a major highway, there were no injuries reported associated with the protest,” state officials said in an afternoon media update.

Department of Land and Natural Resources Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers issued citations to 33 individuals, and say all were almost immediately released.

The majority of those taken into custody were kupuna or elders, many of whom are well known in the Native Hawaiian community.

The citations were issued in accordance with Hawaiʻi Revised Statutes for Obstructing Government Operations, which is considered a misdemeanor offense. Arraignments at Hilo District Court are scheduled for Sept. 20 at 8:30 a.m.

Four people were taken away in ambulances with minor health issues, according to a state update.

“Our top priority is the safety and security of our communities and the TMT construction teams. This is a long-term process and we are committed to enforcing the law and seeing this project through,” said Gov. Ige.

Opponents of the project say development atop the mountain would further desecrate land they consider to be sacred. Supporters of the project say they believe in the co-existence of culture and science atop the mountain.

Meantime, here on Maui and throughout the state, sign waving demonstrations are planned by those standing in solidarity with opponents of the TMT project.

A Stand With Maunakea sign waving event takes place today and tomorrow afternoon beginning at 4:30 p.m.along Ka’ahumanu Avenue fronting UH Maui College.

Earlier today in Lahaina at the corner of Front and Hotel streets, a peaceful protest was held in support of protesters on Maunakea. Keeamoku Kapu, spokesperson for Hui Aloha Aina O Lahaina coordinated gathering in West Maui.

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    UPDATE 2:47 p.m.

    Hawaiʻi Island Police report that the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (also known as Saddle Road) is now open as of 2:47 p.m. It was closed earlier due to protesters massed on the road.

    UPDATE: (11:07, 11:33 a.m./ 12:01, 12:22, 2:35 p.m. 7.17.19)

    The Hawaiʻi Police Department issued a road closure notification at 11:33 a.m. saying the Daniel K. Inouye Hwy (Rte 200) is now closed due to “protesters massing on road.” Police say the closure is indefinite “for the safety of protesters and motorist alike.”  The Daniel K. Inouye Highway on Hawaiʻi Island is closed above Kaumana Drive in Hilo and the Old Saddle Road intersection above the Waikiʻi Ranch Subdivision in Waimea.

    The state’s Maunakea Media team held a press briefing at 11 a.m. to provide an update on today’s developments.

    Dan Dennison, Senior Communications Manager with the Department of Land and Natural Resources said, “The state of Hawaiʻi and Governor Ige are totally committed to seeing this project move forward and to allow TMT to start moving their equipment and start staging their equipment on top of the Mountain.” He continued saying, “How long that’s going to take, I don’t think anyone knows, but the state remains committed to this operation,” said Dennison.

    When asked how many law enforcement personnel were on scene and responding, state officials called it an “operational security question” and could not provide that information.

    “Both law enforcement and the protesters were absolutely respectful.  I think you all observed an operation that really went down without any violence.  And as I’ve said before, a lot of the officers and the folks that were arrested are either close friends or family. Most of the DOCARE officers involved today live here on Hawaiʻi Island.  I think all things considered, it really couldn’t have gone better,” said Dennison.

    More than 15 individuals had been taken into custody with some of them returning to the site. Authorities say it is likely that those who returned were cited rather than booked, given their quick return to the demonstration site.

    When asked if this would continue indefinitely, Dennison said, “We’re prepared to uphold the law and be sure that everyone remains safe and secure.  So, how long that takes, I don’t know,” said Dennison.

    Among those taken into custody was Maui’s own OHA Trustee Carmen Hulu Lindsey.  Dan Ahuna, Chair of the Ad-Hoc Committee on Maunakea released a statement saying, “Our voices are being ignored. I implore the Office of Hawaiian Affairs to immediately file an injunction to halt any further efforts by the State of Hawaiʻi, UH and the Thirty Meter Telescope until the matters in our lawsuit are resolved.”

    About an hour later, the Office of Hawaiian Affairs issued a statement saying, “The Native Hawaiian community weeps today. To see some of our most respected kūpuna, advocates and ʻohana get arrested for voicing the same concerns our community has expressed for decades over the state’s mismanagement of Maunakea brings a kaumaha to our hearts that is unbearable. Regardless of your position on TMT, we must all agree with Gov. Ige’s 2015 statement that the state has ‘failed’ Maunakea.”

    “OHA will continue to proceed with our lawsuit against the state and UH for their mismanagement of Maunakea. We continue to call for the state and UH to be held accountable as fiduciaries for our trust resources, and we demand that a new management structure is immediately installed for Maunakea,” the statement said.

    Others taken into custody include well known activists and cultural advocates Billy Freitas, revered kumu hula Pua Kanahele, long-time activist Walter Ritte, Loretta Ritte and Mililani Trask, among others.

    Meantime, here on Maui and throughout the state, sign waving demonstrations are planned by those standing in solidarity with opponents of the TMT project.

    A Stand With Maunakea sign waving event takes place today and tomorrow afternoon beginning at 4:30 p.m.along Ka’ahumanu Avenue fronting UH Maui College.

    Earlier today in Lahaina at the corner of Front and Hotel streets, a peaceful protest was held in support of protesters on Maunakea. Keeamoku Kapu, spokesperson for Hui Aloha Aina O Lahaina coordinated gathering in West Maui.

    Opponents of the project say development atop the mountain would further desecrate land they consider to be sacred.  Supporters of the project say they believe in the co-existence of culture and science atop the mountain.

    UPDATE: (10 a.m. 7.17.19) Arrests continue this morning as protesters stand their ground against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Maunakea on Hawaiʻi Island.  As of 10 a.m., more than 15 individuals have been taken into custody, many of them kupuna or elders who were staged at the base of Maunakea Access Road.  The arrests began at around 7:45 a.m.  Our sources on Hawaiʻi Island say potential citations include “obstructing a government operation.”

    Opponents of the project say development atop the mountain would further desecrate land they consider to be sacred.  Supporters of the project say they believe in the co-existence of culture and science atop the mountain.

    The state’s Maunakea Media team plans to hold a press briefing at 11 a.m. to provide an update on today’s developments.

    BREAKING (7:45 a.m. 7.17.19) — Law enforcement moved in at 7:45 a.m. as kupuna (elders) prepared for arrests at the base of Maunakea where they are among those protesting the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

    Opponents of the project say development atop the mountain would further desecrate land they consider to be sacred.

    By around 8:30 a.m., about seven individuals had been removed including well known activists and cultural advocates Billy Freitas, revered kumu hula Pua Kanahele, long-time activist Walter Ritte, Loretta Ritte and Mililani Trask.  About 20 more kupuna were situated beneath pop-up tents and were preparing for their removal as well.

    Law enforcement refrained from using traditional tools like handcuffs, and instead carried or led kupuna away from the site to police vans for transport.

    The arrests are being made as law enforcement attempt to remove demonstrators away from Maunakea Access Road.  Construction of the telescope was scheduled to start this week.  Supporters of the project say they believe in the co-existence of culture and science atop the mountain.

    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

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    PC: Kāko’o Haleakalā

    Lahaina demonstration 7.17.19. PC: Jason Fabrao

    Lahaina demonstration 7.17.19. PC: Jason Fabrao

    Wendy Osher
    Wendy Osher leads the Maui Now news team. She is also the news voice of parent company, Pacific Media Group, having served nearly 20 years as News Director for the company’s six Maui radio stations.

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