Plea deal offered to arrested Hawaii telescope protesters
HILO, Hawaii (AP) — A plea deal was offered to protesters arrested on the Big Island during the first week of Mauna Kea demonstrations in July, state authorities said.
Dozens of people were arrested on obstruction charges for blocking access to the summit of Mauna Kea to prevent construction trucks and workers from building a giant telescope, The Star-Advertiser reports .
Demonstrators have said the Thirty Meter Telescope could damage land considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians.
The plea deal would dispose of their cases if each pays a $100 fine, authorities said. It is unclear how many of the protesters would accept the deal.
Petty misdemeanors are punishable by up to 30 days in jail and a $1,000 fine and violations carry smaller fines and no jail time, authorities said.
One of the protest leaders, Noe Noe Wong-Wilson was not inclined to accept the offer, she said. She has until Friday to make a final decision.
“If I feel that we can prevail on the merits of the case, and for me personally, I think I would rather do that,” she said.
Deputy Attorney General Landon Murata declined to discuss the offer, he said. Murata is prosecuting the activists.
“This is an ongoing prosecution we have nothing to share at this time,” said Krishna F. Jayaram, special assistant to Attorney General Clare Connors.
Trials for the protesters were scheduled for Dec. 20, but they are likely to continue into 2020, authorities said.