HILO >> Gov. David Ige says he will not call in additional Hawaii National Guard troops at this time, and says he never contemplated the use of tear gas on demonstrators on Mauna Kea.
“We have been very patient with all those on Mauna Kea, but we will continue to enforce the law,” he said this afternoon at a news conference in Hilo.
Ige said there were reports of drugs and alcohol in the puuhonua on Puu Huluhulu, but said the state is not on the verge of clearing the activists camp.
He said authorities have told the organizers of the protest that drugs and alcohol were being used at the site, and asked the organizers to enforce the rules of the puuhonua.
>> Fifth day of opposition to Thirty Meter Telescope
Kahookahi Kanuha responded to Ige’s claims later this afternoon. He said organizers have a list of rules that includes no alcohol, drugs and cigarettes.
“We have them (security personnel) walking up and down the roads, even at three o’clock in the morning, making sure they’re engaged in proper conduct, making sure everybody is safe and making sure everybody is following the rules and regulations that have been set forth in the puuhonua.”
UPDATE, 8 p.m.
From Kailua to Haleiwa, hundreds of protesters opposed to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope waved signs around Oahu this evening.
In Kailua, dozens of protestors of all ages, including families with kids, lined the perimeter of Pohakupu Mini Park along Kailua Road and along grass medians near Adventist Health Center. They waved Hawaiian flags and held signs that read “We Are Maunakea” and “Protect the Sacred Mauna Kea.”
Their presence slowed down traffic at the intersection, and elicited honks from supporters driving by.
Kailua resident Samuel Kalahiki Jr., who has family on Hawaii island, said when Gov. David Ige declared a state of emergency, the ball game changed. His son went to Mauna Kea to protest on the front lines.
“People are finally realizing how huge this telescope is going to be, 18 stories is huge,” said Kalahiki Jr. “I seen the area where it was going to be built, it was massive…Sure science. But there’s other places around the world that will take this telescope and people are just getting frustrated because the lands are being misused by UH and the government. So it’s now going statewide. People on the mainland, they’re protesting too.”
— Star-Advertiser (@StarAdvertiser) July 20, 2019
The University of Hawaii Board of Regents has rescheduled its decision-making meeting on new administrative rules for Mauna Kea to Aug. 22.
The meeting was pushed back a month so the university could fully consider all written and oral submissions submitted during the public hearings process in June, when a series of meetings were held on the latest draft of the proposed administrative rules.
The Aug. 22 meeting will be held at UH Manoa’s Information Technology Building, although a time has yet to be determined.
Some of the proposed changes would restrict on commercial tours, limit snow play, prohibit drones and remote controlled terrestrial vehicles, and establish fines for breaking rules.
The latest draft will be posted at least six days prior to the August meeting.
The regents could approve the rules, request a third round of formal public hearings on new draft rules that are substantially different from the current draft or defer decision-making. If approved by the regents, the rules will proceed to Gov. David Ige for final review and approval.
U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard is calling for Gov. David Ige to withdraw his emergency proclamation, delay construction and bring parties together to further discuss differences.
In a video statement released to the media, the Hawaii Democrat said there are spiritual and cultural issues that have not been addressed, even though the legal process has determined TMT can proceed.
“To many Native Hawaiians, kamaʻāina, and malihini alike, Mauna Kea is so much more than a mountain. It’s a revered and sacred sanctuary connecting keiki and kupuna to the past, present and future, and where Native Hawaiians practice their customs and traditions,” Gabbard said in the video.
“The materialistic way that developers and corporations are viewing Mauna Kea — ignoring the spiritual significance and relationship many Native Hawaiians have with the Mauna — is at the heart of the problem.”
Ua mau ke ea o ka ʻāina i ka pono. This is about something much greater than the TMT project — it has to do with longstanding history on Mauna Kea, broken promises, desecration of sacred land and disrespect for native culture. #KuKiaiMauna pic.twitter.com/dQLS16OMyy
— Tulsi Gabbard (@TulsiGabbard) July 19, 2019
MAUNA KEA >> Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green says he opposes the use of Hawaii National Guard troops to cope with the protests on Mauna Kea.
Green, who is traveling in Chicago, described Mauna Kea as a “sacred mountain” in a Facebook post, adding that “first and most important in my opinion, there must not be any violence on Mauna Kea.”
“I want to recognize the Protectors (opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope) right now for their peaceful approach to date. I have enormous respect for that. This is also why I have stated in the past my opposition to using the National Guard on Mauna Kea for TMT matters. I trust and respect the National Guard, however my belief is they should only be used when there is no other way to protect life and safety.”
Green also pledged to meet with anyone with an interest in the issue.
“In my opinion no single project, not any, is important enough to allow ourselves to damage the fabric of our Ohana in Hawaii,” he said.
Gov. David Ige has said unarmed National Guard troops will be used in support roles as the state attempts to move ahead with TMT construction.
State Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo), meanwhile, has asked Ige for an immediate 60-day moratorium on construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, saying in a letter to the governor sent Thursday that he has grown “increasingly apprehensive that the State of Hawaiʻi is not fully prepared for the situation on Maunakea.”
Kahele went on to write that Ige’s decision on Wednesday to issue an emergency proclamation giving law enforcement more flexibility on the mountain was not the solution and that activating the National Guard beyond the role of transporting personnel and equipment would only heighten tensions.
Kahele, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for her Congressional seat, is an officer in the Hawaii Air National Guard.
He also offered to help facilitate ho’oponopono discussions between the Ige administration and leaders of the TMT opposition. Ho’oponopono refers to a Hawaiian process of conflict resolution that aims to heal relationships.
“If culture and astronomy are to co-exist on Maunakea in the future, meaningful conversations about management, stewardship, access, revenue and decommissioning need to occur,” wrote Kahele. “The status quo is unfortunately unacceptable.
The Ige administration did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the letter.
Halting telescope construction for two months could add to the hurdles of getting the TMT built. The project’s conservation district use permit requires that construction begin by Sept. 26. It’s possible that TMT would have to return to the Board of Land and Natural Resources to try to extend that date.
MAUNA KEA >> Democratic socialist candidate for president Sen. Bernie Sanders said that “we must guarantee native people’s right to self-determination and their right to protest. I stand with Native Hawaiians who are peacefully demonstrating to protect their sacred mountain of Mauna Kea.”
In a Tweet posted shortly before 6:30 a.m. Hawaii time, Sanders was replying to a comment on Twitter by former state Rep. Kaniela Ing in support of the activists who oppose construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.
The tweet was later deleted from his verified Twitter account.
MAUNA KEA >> Protest organizers are making preparations for what they say is an inevitable confrontation with law enforcement, naming the National Guard in particular.
During the daily morning meeting in front of hundreds of protesters, organizers practiced their human blockades and gave instructions on what to do in event of a confrontation, including removing children from the scene right away and never resorting to violence.
There are minors on Mauna Kea Access Road.
Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation on Wednesday means National Guard personnel could be deployed to clear the access road to Mauna Kea.
Star-Advertiser reporter Nina Wu contributed to this report.