MAUNA KEA >>
With one storm just passed and another approaching, the crowd of activists on Mauna Kea demonstrating against the Thirty Meter Telescope thinned out considerably Friday.
While midday protocols on the closed Mauna Kea Access Road have attracted 1,000 or more protesters on busy weekend days, fewer than 200 people milled around the roadway early Friday afternoon taking selfies or greeting friends.
The crowd thinned considerably Thursday evening after protest organizers warned that the weather could get ugly. But the main tents housing the kupuna — or Hawaiian elders — as well as supplies and a kitchen area remained in place Friday.
Scott Shishido, a Honolulu attorney who traveled to Mauna Kea to join the protests, slept in his rental car Thursday night and cooked pancakes on a propane stove set up in the back of the car early Friday.
“I wanted to be here,” he said. “I wanted to protect the mountain like everybody else and to let the mountain know we never forget about her. We love her.”
The winds picked up considerably in the night, and heavy rain prompted him to the break out rain gear, but it was not enough to drive him off the mountain.
Among the visitors to the protest site Friday were former state Rep. Andria Tupola and her two daughters, ages 10 and 12. State Sen. Kurt Fevella (R, Ewa Beach- Iroquois Point) also arrived in the early afternoon to visit the puuhonua established at Puu Huluhulu.
Tupola, the Republican nominee for governor in last year’s general election, said her daughters saw pictures of her earlier visit to the protests and wanted to see the activists’ camp for themselves.
“I think it’s a time for Hawaiians, of course, to come together and agree on things that we think are important for the state,” she said. “I mean, housing, land use, rights, all of that, it’s all accumulating into one real big frustration with the state ignoring the people for too many years.”
Tupola said during the campaign last year that she does not support building TMT under the current management structure for Mauna Kea. Now she has a simpler message: TMT should be built in the Canary Islands.