UPDATE: 9:20 p.m.
Sen. Elizabeth Warren showed her support for the opponents of the TMT earlier today.
“The Hawaiians who have been protesting construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope are trying to protect a sacred site from further desecration,” she wrote in a tweet. “I stand in solidarity with them.”
Mauna Kea is sacred to Native Hawaiian people. The Hawaiians who have been protesting construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope are trying to protect a sacred site from further desecration. I stand in solidarity with them. #TMT https://t.co/uInzGrrQp6
— Elizabeth Warren (@ewarren) July 23, 2019
The Massachusetts senator is running for president in the 2020 elections.
State officials estimated today’s crowd at the base of Mauna Kea be at about 1,500 people, which is down from the peak over the weekend but higher than the estimated few hundred late last week.
They said this afternoon law enforcement officers last week reported “alcohol and marijuana use in the protest area, which was the basis of the governor’s statement Friday regarding the illegal activity.”
Protest leaders subsequently told law enforcement that they would patrol the area and ask violators to leave. “Those efforts were successful as officers say there is no longer evidence of alcohol and marijuana use,” a state news release said.
The Honolulu Police Department, meanwhile, confirmed today that 56 of its officers were sent to Hawaii island July 16 to assist law enforcement efforts at Mauna Kea, but are returning today and Tuesday.
“Their assignment was to assist Hawaii police officers in keeping roadways clear for the movement of construction equipment and vehicles. Vans, trucks, and utility vehicles were shipped to transport the officers and their equipment, ” an HPD statement said. “The officers come from non-patrol and support units on Oahu. Their salaries will be paid by the department, and other expenses, including overtime and airfare, will be reimbursed by the Attorney General’s Office.”
The state Department of Transportation has placed electronic message boards in both directions on Daniel K. Inouye Highway (formerly called Saddle Road) asking motorists to slow down. Traffic cones and barriers have also been placed by the intersection of Mauna Kea Access Road for pedestrian safety, DOT officials said.
A panel of three state judges heard arguments this afternoon for and against a Big Island kumu hula’s challenge to Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation blocking off public access to Mauna Kea.
The proclamation is in effect until Aug. 2, though Ige could extend it.
The hearing was on Paul Kevin Neves’ request for a temporary stay or suspension of the July 17 proclamation.
Neves says the proclamation prevents him from practicing his traditional, native cultural rights.
Circuit Judge Gary W.B. Chang said the court will have a decision Tuesday.
Ten state and county elected officials from across Hawaii issued a statement today urging Gov. David Ige to rescind the emergency proclamation he signed Wednesday, which gave law enforcement more authority to close down areas of Mauna Kea.
“The emergency declaration violates the aloha spirit that binds our society through care, compassion, and a commitment to the common good. We are asking Governor Ige to show aloha for the aina and the people of Hawaii by repealing the unjustified emergency proclamation and allowing those for whom the mauna is sacred ground to continue assembling their voices,” the statement said.
The 10 officials who signed are: Kauai County councilmembers Mason Chock and Felicia Cowden, Hawaii County councilmembers Maile David, Karen Eoff and Ashley Kierkiewicz, Maui County councilmembers Keani Rawlins-Fernandez; state Sens. Mike Gabbard and Kai Kahele; and state Reps. Amy Perruso and Tina Wildberger.
A member of the Sioux tribe from Standing Rock visited the base of Mauna Kea today.
Brenda White Bull was an important part of the protests at the Standing Rock Indian Reservation against the Dakota Access Pipeline in 2016, which opponents said could affect groundwater and sacred tribal sites. The reservation is located in North and South Dakota.
“It brings back emotions from Standing Rock,” White Bull said. “The flags, the spirit of the people.”
She also said the organization was similar for both protests, and that everyone was urged to help out and do their part.
The number of people gathered at the base of Mauna Kea dropped from as many as 2,500 people over the weekend to about 1,000 people today, said Dan Dennison, spokesman for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources.
Last week, law enforcement officials saw some protesters — who call themselves “protectors” — drinking beer and they could also smell marijuana, Dennison said. Other protesters said they would patrol the area and ask the beer drinkers and marijuana smokers to leave, Dennison said.
Law enforcement officers no longer report beer drinking or the odor of marijuana, he said.
Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green visited Mauna Kea this morning to offer his ear, advice and services as a doctor to people on the mountain blocking construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.
Green, who is from Hawaii island, also said Gov. David Ige should meet with the kupuna, or Hawaiian elders, serving as decision-makers in the group, and he apologized for some of the things said earlier that have offended demonstrators.
“I am here to listen,” he told a group kupuna under a canopy during a misty morning. “And I want to say I’m sorry for some of the things that have been said in the past days and weeks.”
Green did not specify what things he was referring to. However, Gov. Ige and state Department of Land and Natural Resources officials have expressed concerns about what they termed unsafe conditions at the assembly that numbered about 2,000 people Sunday.
After dropping off medical supplies and touring facilities that include a food service tent, medical tent, supply depot and roughly 30 portable toilets, Green said he saw only a peaceful and safe place.
Green did note that the size of the encampment can appear scary if you aren’t there.
“This is a safe place,” he said, adding that more people need to see it in person.
Green also said he believes the kupuna need to meet directly with Ige, perhaps privately.
“He needs to hear you,” Green said. “You have to talk to the governor. I think you’re right to insist on a face-to-face meeting.”