DLNR Veteran Officer: Situation on Maunakea is “Emotionally Difficult”
Lino Kamakau is a 33-year veteran of the DLNR Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement. He is among those on the front lines as part of the state effort to dialogue with individuals opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope project atop Maunakea on Hawaiʻi Island.
Officials with the DLNR say that for Kamakau and many of the 22 officers under his command the situation on Maunakea is described as “emotionally difficult.”
“There are times I can’t tell the protesters everything I know, but I try to be completely honest with them,” said Kamakau who serves as the DOCARE Hawai‘i Island Branch Chief.
Kamakau spoke with kupuna before 34 arrests were made on Wednesday. The elders who were arrested were subsequently cited for obstructing a government operation.
Tears were shed and impassioned remarks were exchanged prior to the first arrest.
According to DLNR, “Kamakau calmly explained what was about to happen and asked again for the protesters to remove themselves from Maunakea Access Road. They didn’t and they’ve vowed to stay.”
DLNR officials say “the conflicting emotions were in obvious play.”
“We all live here,” said Kamakau. “Many of these people are our blood relatives and in nearly all cases members of our island ʻohana. This is why it is so important that we continue to show respect and kindness on both sides.”
According to a DLNR press release, “despite conflicting emotions,” officers “are sworn to uphold the laws and constitution of the State of Hawai‘i and as long as TMT has the legal right to move equipment up to its worksite near the summit of Maunakea that’s exactly what they’ll do.”
State officials say “no matter what happens, law enforcement hopes for a peaceful resolution, but the goal remains the safe, secure, and lawful movement of construction equipment.”