Pro-TMT rally planned for today at the state Capitol
Oahu supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope will be holding their first major demonstration in favor of the $1.4 billion project today at 4:30 p.m. at the state Capitol.
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Oahu supporters of the Thirty Meter Telescope will be holding their first major demonstration in favor of the $1.4 billion project today at 4:30 p.m. at the state
How many people show up is anyone’s guess.
“Some people are terrified to come out,” conceded Samuel Wilder King II, one
of the rally’s organizers from the Facebook page Imua TMT.
King, a Native Hawaiian attorney practicing in Honolulu, said even though most people in Hawaii, including Native Hawaiians, support the TMT, it’s a huge risk to organize such an event because of how it might play
in the media.
“If people don’t show up, it looks like nobody supports the TMT,” he said. “That may be, but I still want my voice to be heard.”
King said anti-TMT forces are “crazy organized” and “on top of their game” after years of cultivating social media networks.
“The reality is the protesters have been going at this a lot longer than any average supporters have been,” he said.
He said he wouldn’t be surprised if TMT foes attempt to overwhelm the rally with big numbers,
although to him that would be disrespectful of the kapu aloha concept opponents pride themselves in
Malia Martin, another rally organizer, said she doesn’t mind opponents showing up.
“We welcome them with open arms and facts,” she said.
Martin, a Native Hawaiian who works in the Waikiki tourism industry, said Mauna Kea is indeed a
sacred place, but there is room for a noble scientific endeavor that fits nicely into her Polynesian heritage of using the stars for navigation, exploration and
Martin said backers are part of a silent majority for
a reason, and for Native
Hawaiians it can be particularly uncomfortable.
“There are a lot of Hawaiians who support it but don’t want to make their
Hawaiian relatives angry,” she said.
Today’s rally will offer a safe space for supporters of the landmark telescope, she said.
According to the latest Hawaii Poll commissioned by the Honolulu Star-
Advertiser in 2018, a majority of Native Hawaiians support the project.
While a similar poll three years ago found that 59%
of Hawaiians opposed
the TMT’s construction, there was a turnaround in opinion in the latest statewide poll with 72% expressing support for the telescope.
Overall, 80% of Oahu residents supported the project, according to the poll conducted by Mason-Dixon Polling &Research Inc. of Washington, D.C.
King said anti-TMT forces have claimed the moral high ground on culture and are using it to peddle a victimhood story that doesn’t represent historical truth. They are also using the project to advance their sovereignty aims.
“We’ve got to be patient,” he said. “Time is on the supporters’ side. We can keep explaining and every time talk about the truth and reality and more people will support it.”