TMT protesters predict police sweep as early as Monday, but Mayor Kim doubts it
Opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope who are camped at the Mauna Kea Access Road are predicting law enforcement will move in as early as Monday to clear the road and the nearby encampment, but Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said Saturday he is “pretty damn sure” there is no such action planned so soon.
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MAUNA KEA >> Opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope who are camped at the Mauna Kea Access Road are predicting law enforcement will move in as early
as Monday to clear the road and the nearby encampment, but Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim said Saturday he is “pretty damn sure” there is no such action planned so soon.
In a call for reinforcements issued Friday night and shared thousands
of times on social media,
the protesters said they have heard from “multiple sources” that the clearing operation may begin as early as predawn Monday, and the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as
Saddle Road, may be closed as early as Sunday.
Law enforcement is expected to meet with state and county officials today to plan the operation, according to the bulletin on the Facebook page called Pu‘uhonua o Pu‘uhuluhulu Maunakea, which is often used to distribute communications for the activists.
The bulletin urges people who respond to the summons to bring gear for camping under harsh conditions and to be committed to the nonviolent protest tactics known as kapu aloha.
However, Kim said in an interview Saturday he had in-depth discussions about Mauna Kea on Thursday and Friday in connection with the clearing of an illegal structure near the protest camp, and no one said a word about a major sweep to open the access road.
“If I had money to bet, I’d bet anything I had that it won’t happen,” Kim said.
“I don’t know how these
rumors start. I hope you don’t call me Monday and say ‘You were wrong,’ but I don’t know anything about it. I have no idea of anything
He added: “I doubt anything like that would happen without me knowing about it. I mean, that would be our police.”
State Attorney General Clare Connors declined
to discuss any operational details of state efforts to cope with the protests, but suggested Saturday that talk of an impending sweep may have grown out of heightened tensions after the state tore down an illegal structure near the protest camp Friday.
At the Mauna Kea Access Road, protest leader Kaho‘okahi Kanuha briefed about 250 activists Saturday to help them prepare for
the possibility of a sweep
by law enforcement, urging listeners to remove all children from the site by today and to secure their valuables.
“We may get notice of when they’re coming, we may not,” he told the crowd. “We’re hearing things from different places, and we’ve been hearing these things from the very beginning, and we do our best to dig through and filter through what’s good information
and what might not be so credible.”
“We’re making the best
educated guess that we can make,” he said. “Like I said last week, I would rather assume they’re coming, be ready, and be wrong than assume they’re not coming, and not be ready, and be wrong.”
The activists last week predicted the Hawaii National Guard and law enforcement agencies from outside the state would be used to clear the road and the protester encampments, but did not give a specific time frame.
The access road has
been closed since July 15, and 38 people were arrested
July 17 as they blocked
the roadway to prevent
construction equipment from reaching the summit
to begin site work for
the $1.4 billion TMT project. Mauna Kea is considered
sacred by some Hawaiians, and the protesters believe the construction of
the telescope would be
In another development, Hawaiian Homes beneficiaries Edward Halealoha Ayau, Pualani Kanakaole Kanahele and Kaleikoa Kaeo gathered on the access road Saturday to sign a letter to state officials and executives with the Thirty Meter Telescope demanding they remedy “the unlawful taking of the road that we are standing on,” according to Ayau.
The letter gives legal
notice to members of the Hawaiian Homes Commission, state Department of Transportation Director Jade Butay, TMT officials and Attorney General Connors that the activists may sue for trust breaches in connection with the state taking and using Hawaiian Home Lands for public roads, Ayau said.
The state built the Mauna Kea Access Road across
Hawaiian Home Lands in 1968 without authorization of the Hawaiian Homes
Commission, which Ayau said means the road was built on “stolen lands.”
Lawmakers in 1995 passed
a law that required the state to pay $5 million for the
HHL land that was taken for roads, but that payment was never made, he said.
The letter was also signed by activist Kelii “Skippy”