LATEST: After 3 days of peaceful protest kupuna are arrested at the base of Mauna Kea
UPDATE 11:30 a.m.
The Hawaii Police Department has issued an advisory that Daniel K. Inouye Highway is closed at the time due to masses of people being on the roadway.
Big Island police say that at this time the closure is indefinite "for the safety of protesters and motorist alike."
Dan Ahuna, the Chair of the AD-HOC Committee on Mauna Kea issued the following statement in regards to the arrests made Wednesday morning:
"Our kupuna are being arrested. Fellow OHA Trustee Hulu Lindsey was taken into custody. 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 Hawaii, UH and the Thirty Meter Telescope until the matters in our lawsuit are resolved."
UPDATE 10 a.m.
Kupuna demonstrators were arrested by law enforcement Wednesday morning.
Emotions ran high among the demonstrators with crying and chanting as police arrested the kupuna who were blocking Mauna Kea Access Road.
Law enforcement gave them notice that they would be arrested if they did not move. It is unclear how many were taken into custody, but KITV4 reporters at the scene witnessed at least over a dozen were arrested.
Some willingly walked but others were in wheelchairs and had to be pushed out. At least one man was lying on the ground and had to be lifted by police.
Despite being arrested, it was a peaceful and respectful process, some officers were emotional themselves and were seen hugging the demonstrators and crying.
State officials tell KITV4 that some of the officers are related to these kupuna.
After being arrested the kupuna had the option to either be cited and appear in court or go to Hilo for processing and bail out.
The state says it is committed to seeing this project move forward and allow TMT to start moving their equipment on top of the mountain.
UPDATE 5:00 p.m.
The Joint Information Center is providing the following update:
- Today communication channels between the state and telescope project opponents remained open as preparations for construction continued.
- Safety remains the state’s number one priority.
- There were an estimated 200 people near the intersection of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (formerly known as Saddle Road) and Mauna Kea Access Road.
- There were no arrests made today.
- Pu?u Huluhulu remains open to the public and parking is available.
- As planned, officers and vehicles from other law enforcement agencies are on island to assist with ongoing construction preparations. Details about their operations will not be released.
- The Mauna Kea Observatories announced the withdrawal of all personnel from their telescope facilities this afternoon. They anticipate returning to normal operations as soon as the situation allows.
- Please continue to drive carefully if you are in the area and expect increased traffic and possible delays.
UPDATE 3:54 P.M.
For the second day, no arrests will be made at Mauna Kea. State officials are planning to hold a press conference on the latest developments.
Telescope employees working at the summit are coming down.
UPDATE 1:57 P.M.
Heated exchanges between law enforcement and demonstrators on Mauna Kea ended peacefully Monday and both sides are back Tuesday.
There is no sign of Thirty Meter Telescope construction crews Tuesday afternoon, but demonstrators who call themselves "protectors of the Mauna" are still there.
Their numbers have dwindled since Monday, however, several hundred are still at the base of Mauna Kea.
Tuesday morning a group from the NASA infrared telescope facility had to wait behind a man-made barrier, however, they were eventually allowed to go through.
KITV4's Eliza Larson spoke with one of the astronomers who said they expected the delay, but they need to relieve a co-worker who had been up at the summit for four days.
"We essentially need to allow one of our employees to get down from the summit he has medical issues he has to have addressed and we need to get to the summit and do some maintenance on the telescope," Greg Engh with the NASA infrared telescope facility.
UPDATE 7/16 1:43 P.M.
Demonstrators are currently located across the street from Puuhonua O Puu Huluhulu at the bottom of Mauna Kea Access Road.
TMT opponents have been in contact with DOCARE since 7 a.m. Tuesday morning where they are trying to negotiate terms of access.
According to TMT opponents, they have four conditions for the state listed below:
-They do not want the National Guard to go up Mauna Kea.
-They will continue to allow astro-technicians up mountain under certain conditions. They say, "kanaka who are from this aina have rights to this aina," and should be allowed access to the mountain.
-Opponents of TMT also want "access" defined as ability for demonstrators to take one vehicle up to the mountain.
-Demonstrators can maintain safety checkpoint on Mauna Kea Access Road.
UPDATE 1:24 P.M.
Protesters created human barriers to stop construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope Monday.
Right now police are preparing to extract people blocking the roadway due to the road being closed.
KITV4 is at the base of Mauna Kea where some construction equipment has come through, but for now they're not getting far.
Some demonstrators have chained themselves to a cattle guard with the intention of "protecting sacred land."
"They've taken everything from us Hawaiians. This illegal government taking fish from our oceans. There's not enough food for people. People are on the streets. There's no housing for our people, poisoning our farmland, now they're taking away our sacred mountain. That's the last straw they're not gonna take this mountain," Walter Ritte, who chained himself to the cattle guard, said.
According to the Department of Transportation they are putting up barricades and will be towing cars parked on the shoulder of Daniel K. Inouye Highway.
UPDATE 11:30 a.m.:
DOT is putting up "safety barriers" along the shoulder of Daniel K Inouye Hwy. within the next few hours, says Jason Redulla, DOCARE Chief.
DOCARE is in dialogue with the demonstrators. So far, those who have chained themselves and are blocking the roadway remain where they're at. No arrests have been made at this time.
Redulla says DOCARE's number one priority is the safety of the public, that's why they will be installing the barriers on the shoulder of the highway to separate pedestrians and vehicles.
Pu'u Huluhulu and the adjacent parking lot remains open.
DOCARE is asking the public to exercise extreme caution, but feel the area should be avoided. They would not discuss tactics, and law enforcement officers cannot say what equipment they are using.
At 2p.m. DOCARE will provide another update near the intersection of Daniel K. Inouye Rd and Access Rd.
7/15 7:45 a.m:
Demonstrators protesting TMT construction atop Mauna Kea are blocking access to the summit Monday morning.
Governor David Ige announced that the Mauna Kea Access Road would be blocked off to the public starting on Monday in order to bring heavy equipment up the mountain.
According to Governor Ige, Big Island police and prosecutors as well as the National Guard have prepared for the possibility of protests.
Monday morning cars and tents belonging to protesters could be seen along the access road to Mauna Kea.
People camped there tell KITV4 that they're planning to stop construction at any cost. They say they will be peaceful but will try to block crews from coming in.
Although demonstrations worked four years ago, the state now promises a heavy presence of National Guard to help facilitate the transporting of equipment.
Organizers also tell KITV4 that they are in it for the long haul since construction on the telescope wouldn't be completed until 2027.
This story will be updated as more details become available.