Hawaii officials arrest telescope protesters

HONOLULU — The Latest on protests of a telescope on Hawaii mountain (all times local):

8:50 a.m.

Hawaii officials say police are arresting protesters who are blocking a road to prevent construction of a giant telescope on a mountain that some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

Police arrived to Mauna Kea on Wednesday and started taking away about 30 elders, who are ready and willing to be arrested.

Protest leader Kealoha Pisciotta says hundreds of protesters had planned to clear the road to allow the elders to be taken away.

Some are using canes and strollers to walk. Others are taken in wheelchairs to police vans. Those who can walk on their own are being led to police vehicles with their hands in zip ties.

Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe says construction equipment is expected to start going up the mountain later Wednesday.


8:20 a.m.

Police are removing protesters who are blocking access to Hawaii’s tallest peak where a telescope will be constructed on land some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

Protest leader Kealoha Pisciotta tells The Associated Press that police are taking Hawaiian elders off the road leading to Mauna Kea on the Big Island.

Pisciotta says a state law enforcement official told protesters earlier Wednesday that police would be coming in to arrest those who are blocking the road.

She says the protesters’ plan is for hundreds of protesters to move to the side of the road and allow police to take away about 30 elders, who are willing and ready to be arrested.

Officials with the state wouldn’t confirm that arrests are happening.


12 a.m.

Astronomers have stopped peering through 13 telescopes on top of Hawaii’s tallest peak as protesters block the road to try to prevent construction of a giant observatory on the mountain that some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

Dozens of researchers from around the globe won’t be able to gather data and study the sky atop Mauna Kea, one of the world’s best spots for astronomy with clear weather nearly year-round and minimal light pollution.

Observations won’t resume until staffers have consistent access to the summit, which is needed to ensure their safety, said Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the East Asian Observatory, one of the existing telescopes.

“Our science time is precious, but in this case, our priority is just to make sure all of our staff is safe,” Dempsey said.

The announcement came as Native Hawaiian protesters blocked the base of the road for a second day Tuesday. They object to construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, which is expected to be one of the world’s most advanced when it’s built, out of concern it will further harm the mountain.

Hawaii authorities haven’t arrested any protesters but have indicated they would. Law enforcement was focused on preparing a path to construction, said Jason Redulla, chief of the state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement.

Protesters said they told authorities that they would allow telescope technicians to pass if they could drive one car to the summit each day for cultural and religious practices. No agreement was reached.

The East Asian Observatory was scheduled to study carbon monoxide clouds in star-forming regions inside the Milky Way on Tuesday night. Dempsey called the clouds “the DNA of how baby stars form” and said they help astronomers figure out how stars work.

Officials closed the road to the top of the mountain starting this week to allow construction to begin, attracting hundreds of protesters who formed their own roadblocks.

Gov. David Ige has said unarmed National Guard units would be used to transport personnel and supplies to the peak but would not be used as law enforcement during the protests.

Demonstrators said they wouldn’t allow National Guard members to pass.

Kaho’okahi Kanuha, one of the protest leaders, told reporters that efforts to stop the Thirty Meter Telescope were about protecting Hawaii’s indigenous people.

“This is about our right to exist,” he said. “We fight and resist and we stand, or we disappear forever.”

Other Native Hawaiians say they don’t believe the Thirty Meter Telescope will desecrate Mauna Kea. Most of the cultural practices on the mountain take place away from the summit, said Annette Reyes, a Native Hawaiian from the Big Island.

“It’s going to be out of sight, out of mind,” she said.

Reyes said many others agree, but they’re reluctant to publicly support the telescope because of bullying from protesters, a group she calls a “vocal minority.” She says she’s been called a fake Hawaiian for supporting the project.

Reyes said Hawaii’s young people can’t afford to miss out on educational opportunities, citing telescope officials’ pledge to provide $1 million every year to boost science, technology, engineering and math education.

She challenged the characterization of the dispute as a clash between science and culture, saying science was an integral part of ancient Hawaiian lives.

“Everything they did was science, from growing fish and taro to wayfinding,” Reyes said.

The project has been delayed by years of legal battles and demonstrations. Last year, the Hawaii Supreme Court ruled that telescope officials had legally obtained a permit, clearing the way for construction to begin.

Telescope opponents last week filed another petition in court, saying the project must post a security bond equivalent to the construction contract cost before starting to build.

Doug Ing, an attorney for the Thirty Meter Telescope, said the latest lawsuit has no merit and is another delay tactic.

The company behind the project is made up of a group of universities in California and Canada, with partners from China, India and Japan.

  1. Charlie Chimknee July 17, 2019 12:03 pm Reply

    Aloha Kakou,

    Spending a $Billion dollars looking a zillion light years away from earth to see how a star is born when you can see new stars making millions of $$$ on Netflix every few months. And with the Sombrero galaxy, with 50 billion suns, just like our star, in the many galaxies with billions of stars, and those stars each with numerous planets, and with all that magnification they can’t see a single planet with intelligent life on it. With more planets in the universe(s)than a computer can count and we cannot find a single one with intelligent life? Well who cares?

    Although letting us, the public, see live online transmission of the telescope feed from outer space on Hoike may be educational and interesting, but getting fed a few pictures of outer space on a rare occasion with a chaos of white dots and swirls is a bit not much for the money while people are without adequate nutritious food and shelter.

    And to compare the natural unfolding of knowledge as to fishing and farming and seafaring navigation for human sustainability…to…spying on possible communities a billion light years away is indeed perverted.

    And while the sciences of primitive man to today with same topics of basic sustainability are being compared to an over billion dollars of a telescope looking beyond all life on earth by trillions of years…is…ludicrous.

    A Billion $$$ would create enough small businesses to employ all the homeless, and build vertical housing complexes for them, and farm state land for poison free nutrient rich foods. Drugs? There are effective means for that. One very effective method is incarceration with farm and other work of 12 hours a day 7 days a week. Building strong bodies and minds to work a real job upon release.

    Since the Marquesan and Tahitians, (who as some say descended, from the Samoans, (the birthplace of Polynesia) and that era, descended from S.E. Asians…well right or wrong…) the Hawaiians did have sole custody of these Hawaiian Islands for + or – 50 generations, (with some chants displaying that chronology); they too, in their adaptation to, and incredible successful survival all that time in these islands, developed cultural and religious sacred sites as many other cultures and societies have done over hundreds and thousands of years.

    For the Hawaiians, these Sacred Places, the likes of which maintained their valuable human culture until gun powder and measles and other decimating entities plagued their aina and shores. But think about it, gun powder and disease do not destroy Sacredness.

    How come other cultures and religions can have their Sacred Places, and not the Hawaiian?

    1. For the Christians, the Church of the Holy Sepulchre, where Christ hung from the cross on Mt. Golgatha, until presumed dead, then put to rest in a cave, then miraculously escaped, and then ascended outward from our planet, though at that time our planet was thought to be flat. (The vector of his ascension giving indication of the direction of Heaven, another religious Sacred Place,)

    2. For the Muslims, the Islamic most Sacred Place is the Kaaba in Mecca in Saudi Arabia.

    3. For Judaism, their most Sacred Place in the world is the Foundation Stone of their first temple also in JeruSalem.

    4. Hinduism, has many Sacred Places, one of which is Varanasi in India. Hinduism also has a vast array of Gods.

    5. There are even more world religions and cultures with historically Sacred Places. Even surfers have Sacred Places around the world driving annual

    6. Science Believers, going blindly, ignoring the Big Picture, fomenting with their Blind Faith, the destruction of our very own Sacred Place Earthly Habitat, certainly a place more Sacred than, and taking preeminence over all the Sacred Places of all the World’$ Religions; and then there are the AMERICANS and their International Scientist partners, who for some Billion Dollar notion think that in spite of all the world’s Suffering and Problems that extracting the human population’$ food and housing money by mis-directed taxation allows a microscopic amount of people to think they can take a precious amount of food and shelter $$$ and use that $$$ to look selfishly outward to Outer Space but not in a search for Heaven…

    …but with their rockets ascending into the Quiet Nights of Quiet Stars on different trajectories to the Moon and Mars both of which hold some kind of Scientific Sacredness of Place, for them, the few, in spite of those places of worthlessness to the earth’s 7.5 Billion Club members, a population of certain majority containing all the World’s Religions and Non-Theists, no matter how much in harmony or conflict or competition.

    What could there possibly be in outer space to provide for food and shelter for the meek who have inherited nothing, nor have been adequately trained to survive in a modern society and a depraved Sacred Earthly Habitat…unless of course, the almost criminal search of outer space is to find missile launching un-Sacred Places on the Dark Side of the Moon.

    So you, yes you, try and build a 100’ tall multi million $ Outer Space Telescope on the’s Christians’ Mt. Golgatha, or Islam’s Kaaba, or the Foundation Stone of the Jews, or in central Varanasi of the Hindus, go ahead and watch the stark raving angry Believers rebuke your spaced out telescope…when hey, these telescopic pseudo scientists believing and drooling in the absconded misdirected tax money and they consider that fun and a worthy livelihood? Is there Karma in Outer Space?

    So why can’t they build a telescope that can see farther, like the relatively few thousand feet of height of Mauna Kea, when they are trying to see objects in space millions of light years away…and while they are at it if they need a dark sky how about some empty island or atoll in the Pacific so far from the big HONOLULU City Lights, where the darkness for telescope needs is not an issue.

    First it was gun powder and disease, now it’s spaced out pseudo scientists destroying Hawaiian Sacredness and Beliefs, and their Hawaiian Sovereignty and what remains of it.

    For many of us, we have been to Mauna Kea, and it felt Sacred and awe inspiring too…probably the closest Many of us have ever been to Heaven…maybe the closest We’ll ever get since Blind Faith does little but amuse so many of us.

    In just 12 generations the invaders have been able to do what…to Oahu…even wrapping the aina with concrete straps calling them freeways when they are really freedom-less shackles on the aina.

    When there is no Sacredness left, man will have lost his intelligence, and his way…and the gift of all the Gods, our Sacred Earth will have beed DESPOILED.

    In today’s freaked out toxic chemical world, there’s still a little real food in the Chemical Fake Food. Just read the ingredient WARNING LABELS.


    That’s a Moronic Ox if we ever heard of one.


  2. kauaiboy July 18, 2019 5:58 am Reply

    In response to the last statement made by Charlie Chimknee, I was buying some (organic) supplies at Brewer Environmental Industries in Puhi yesterday. The lady in front of me was purchasing $500 worth of a very powerful concentrate of Round-Up, which is under fire for being a serious carcinogenic. The clerk at the desk asked if the purchase was for personal use or a business, and the lady replied it was for the Sandia National Laboratory. My ears perked up.

    The Kauai Test Facility (KTF) is a rocket launch range in Kekaha, Hawaii operated by Sandia National Laboratories for the Department of Energy.

    I was surprised to hear that the science community at Sandia supported the sale and use of Round-Up. One would think that as evidence mounts up about the dangers of this chemical concoction, scientists would chose an alternative. But no. Like many corporate-type entities on the westside, It is full steam ahead with application of poisons on the aina. If we cannot trust scientists to make careful choices with weed control, why should we trust them with their willingness and desire to spend billions on projects like the 30 meter telescope?

    Tell you what: why not have scientists list all the possible benefits of the construction of this project and subject themselves to questioning from the public (many of whom are smarter that they are given credit for) about why the benefits to mankind far outweigh the detriments, including the desecration of a sacred mountain.

    I, for one, would love to see their justifications.

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