UPDATE: 5 p.m.
MAUNA KEA >> Law enforcement said there would be no arrests on Mauna Kea today as long as protesters let 22 astronomy workers through their access road blockade.
They agreed and then celebrated with hugs and songs in what they called another victory.
State officials said the move was intended for health and safety of everyone concerned, including the astronomy workers.
A representative of the observatories atop Mauna Kea announced this afternoon that all observations, maintenance and other activities will stop tonight after about two dozen observatory workers were evacuated from the summit.
The spokeswoman was unable to say when operations might resume. She said the decision to remove staff from the summit was to try to ensure the safety of all.
Protesters have been blocking Mauna Kea Access Road and workers have been unable to enter or leave at will.
There were an estimated 200 people near the intersection of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway and Mauna Kea Access Road, officials said tonight.
Puʻu Huluhulu remains open to the public and parking is available.
Negotiations over ground rules about access to Mauna Kea Access Road broke down between the Native Hawaiian activists and the state this afternoon.
Kahookahi Kanuha, leader of the Thirty Meter Telescope protesters, said police refused a handful of terms, including the continued maintenance of the protest checkpoint, including the kupuna tent with about a dozen elders, and not allowing the National Guard up the mountain.
Kanuha said the group would allow summit observatory personnel to pass through with one condition: that the Hawaiians be allowed one car a day access to the mountain for cultural, religious or gathering purposes.
“After hours of negotiation, we have no agreement,” he said.
As it stands now, the protesters are maintaining a checkpoint at beginning of the access road, while the police are maintaining a checkpoint another 100 or so yards up the road.
While the activists were allowing observatory cars to pass through, police officers were not permitting unauthorized vehicles.
A strategy meeting by the protesters this afternoon broke up with the group preparing to face eviction from the access road. The question of when was uncertain.
State officials continue to emphasize the importance of safety as protests continue along the road that leads up to the planned construction site of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
“Our message is safety, safety safety,” said Jason Redulla, chief of the Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement Unit, known as DOCARE, during an 11 a.m. media briefing.
Redulla urged motorists to slow down and be attentive as they drive along Daniel K. Inouye Highway near the intersection of Mauna Kea Access Road.
Redulla said negotiations continue with protesters, but wouldn’t divulge specifics.
“Today communication lines remain open and dialogue continues as we work on the path forward to construction,” he said.
Protesters are seeking to stop construction of the telescope and it’s not clear how the impasse with the state and law enforcement officials will be resolved.
Redulla wouldn’t comment as to whether there is a timeline for when the state will try to move forward regardless of protesters efforts to block the road.
He said that communication with the protest leaders and various parties would remain ongoing “as long as necessary.”
Officers of the Honolulu Police Department were to arrive on Hawaii island to assist the Hawaii Police Department in “keeping the roadways clear for the movement of construction equipment and vehicles,” according to a spokeswoman.
The police department declined to say when the officers were expected to arrive.
“The HPD officers were chosen from various units and shifts to ensure that the deployment will not impact police services on Oahu. For security reasons, the number and travel dates of the officers will not be released,” said spokeswoman Sarah Yoro in an emailed statement today.
The sun rose on Mauna Kea this morning as dozens of protesters took up positions early guarding the entrance to the access road to Hawaii’s tallest mountain, slated to be the site of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
On Monday no arrests were made as eight activists chained themselves to a cattle guard on Mauna Kea Access Road near its intersection with Daniel K. Inouye Highway, the former Saddle Road.
The standoff ended when law enforcement apparently failed to appear with a threatened “extraction team.”
Also Monday, state officials and the activists negotiated the placement of barricades along the highway as well as a kupuna tent 50 yards up the middle of the access road.
So far this morning it’s very quiet. But more than 100 vehicles were parked along the highway.
“If those guys try to do something, we’re going to be ready,” said William Freitas, sitting in the kupuna tent.