Gov. David Ige said today that he and others in his administration have been the target of death threats during the two-month protest over the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.
During a news conference at the state Capitol today, Ige and his lieutenants presented various examples of threats and harsh language and urged both sides of the issue to lower the tone of the debate before it escalates into violent action.
“I’m calling on everyone responsible for these examples of cyber-bullying and hateful speech to stop immediately,” Ige declared.
Attorney General Clare Connors said she could neither confirm nor deny any investigation connected to the death threats.
Connors played a voicemail recording in which an unidentified man told a state employee, “I hope you die.”
She showed reporters a social media post offering a $5,000 reward for the identity of a law enforcement officer involved in last week’s demolition and removal of a small wooden house built by demonstrators near the camp where they are blocking the telescope’s construction.
“I hope that we can all agree that putting a bounty on the head of law enforcement officer is disturbing and deeply concerning,” Connors said. “It’s dangerous.”
After the news conference, protest leader Andre Perez denied that members of their movement are involved, saying followers are urged everyday to maintain “kapu aloha,” a nonviolent form of civil disobedience.
“We are not here to attack and to hurt people. We are here to protect a sacred mauna,” he said.
Healalani Sonoda-Pale of Ka Lahui Hawai‘i Political Action Committee said the governor’s accusations were an attempt to criminalize the kiai, or “protectors” of the mountain.
Activists have been blocking construction of the TMT on Hawaii’s tallest mountain by maintaining their position on Mauna Kea Access Road since mid-July.
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