6 protesters arrested in Haleakala telescope protest
Six protesters, two women and four men, were arrested Wednesday morning while protesting telescope construction on Haleakala, according to the Department of Land and Natural Resources.
WAILUKU, Hawaii - Maui Police arrested six protestors involved in demonstrations against a contested solar telescope project on Haleakala summit.
Overnight Tuesday, more than a hundred people rallied near King Kekaulike High School in opposition of the construction of the Daniel K Inouye telescope.
About 60 law enforcement officers tried to break apart a chain of people linked together with PVC pipes. The protestors were attempting to block telescope equipment set to be delivered to the summit, land many Native Hawaiians consider sacred.
Intense video captured people screaming at police to back off of protestors. The chaotic scene took a dramatic turn when a protestor appeared to go unconscious.
"There were about four of them (police officers) just putting their body weight on his body. I was just really scared. It was pretty heavy to see that happen," said protestor Jade Chihara.
Friends identify the unresponsive man as Kai Prais. They claim police failed to render aid. Video off of Kako'o Haleakala's Facebook page show officers carrying Prais into an ambulance. Fellow protestors said Prais was rushed to Maui Memorial Medical Center and treated for a concussion.
This latest protest is another outcry in opposition of the $340 billion dollar project on the summit. Construction on the telescope is already in motion.
In a joint statement, the Department of Land and Natural Resources, Maui Police and Haleakala National Park said:
"Police officers gently lifted the prone protestors to the highway's shoulder to give the big rigs enough turning radius."
Trucks were eventually able to pass safely and continue up to the national park.
Police released the names of the six people arrested; Jonathan Kaeo, Joseph Henderson, Samuel Kaeo, Monika Sipaite Kerr, Shalia Henderson and David Kai Prais. MPD said each one faces charges including Disorderly Conduct, Obstructing a Highway, Obedience to a Police Officer and Resisting Arrest.
Protestors said even though the next phase of construction on the project will begin, they will never give up fighting against it.
"It proves to myself that more people need to be there, more people need to show up. If you are a part of this community and you care about your neighbors this is something you need to show up to," said Chihara.
The telescope is expected to be fully operational by 2019. Calls made to DKIST project organizers were not returned to Island News.
Photo courtesies: DLNR, MAUIWatch / Raysha Mamala, Facebook/Kako'o Haleakala