Over 700 demonstrators stall construction

A Kauai man was at the Big Island’s Mauna Kea when protesters stopped construction from continuing on a giant telescope.

Eric Hansen was part of the contingency of demonstrators on Wednesday. He said Department of Land and Natural Resources officials and the Hawaii police accompanied TMT construction workers, who attempted to begin construction of the telescope but turned back at 12:30 p.m.

“They got to the first switch back around 12 o’clock and they didn’t realize that people had … put big boulders on the road,” he said. “So when they got to the first hairpin turn, around 12:30 p.m., eventually with all the people just putting rocks down on the road, they said, ‘OK, this isn’t working today. We’ll try again tomorrow.’”

Hansen said about 10 people were arrested Wednesday.

“When you don’t move, you’re obstructing traffic; they’re going to arrest you. I seen people that (were) moving, and they trying to arrest them, anyways,” he said.

Hansen said the group of protesters lined up from the crosswalk of the mountain to a portion where the pavement ended. Officials arrived around 7 a.m., he said.

“DLNR came up first and we were holding them at the crosswalk,” he said. “Up the mountain where there was no pavement anymore, the strategy was to have a line of guys to hold back the line of officers, so everytime the officers came close, they had to address that group of line and say, ‘If you guys don’t move, we going to have to arrest you.’”

Hansen, who arrived on the mountain Tuesday evening, said the protesters rose as early as 4 a.m. to prepare.

“Was in general kapu aloha – very much a peaceful thing,” he said. “At first, there was a lot of confrontation. The DLNR director had a real emotional (moment). He was just like, ‘I’m sorry I’m doing this. I don’t want to be doing this.’”

Hansen, who was also on the mountain for the April demonstration, said the demonstrators will be up early today to figure out their next move.

“Everyone (acted) in the most respectful manner — very pono with kapu aloha and try to figure out the next strategy,” he said.

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