Hawaii officials say they had no choice but to tear a state flag that was mounted on an unpermitted house built by protesters near where they are blocking construction of a giant telescope.
Officials say two men were arrested after refusing to leave the wooden structure when crews arrived to demolish it Friday.
Andre Perez, a protest leader, says a group of men built it as a children’s center. He says families with children are among those who have been camped at Mauna Kea on the Big Island to protect the mountain from telescope construction crews.
Some Native Hawaiians consider the site sacred.
Perez says the cutting of the flag escalates an already tense situation.
Attorney General Clare Connors says there was no way to get into the building without cutting the flag on a barricade over the door. She says great care was taken to respectfully remove a second flag on the roof.