Three dozen protest bombing at Pohakuloa Training Area
About three dozen activists gathered at the main gate of the Pohakuloa Training Area on Wednesday to protest continued bombing and shelling on the sprawling U.S. Army base.
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MAUNA KEA >> About three dozen activists gathered at the main gate of the Pohakuloa Training Area on Wednesday to protest continued bombing and shelling on
the sprawling U.S. Army base, which regularly hosts life-fire training exercises for Hawaii-based soldiers and Marines.
A few Hawaii County and military police looked on as the protesters held signs and waved at passing vehicles
on the Daniel K. Inouye Highway starting at about 10 a.m. The group remained within state right-of-way for the highway, and made no
attempt to interfere with
any military operations.
There were no arrests
or other incidents, and the activists scattered shortly before noon as a light rain began to fall.
One of the protesters
was Mary “Auntie Maxine” Kahaulelio, 81, who with Clarence Ching successfully sued the state for failing to enforce the terms of a lease of state lands to PTA. The base includes 22,988 acres of land that the federal government leases from the state. The state Supreme Court ruled in August that the state has failed to properly manage those lands.
Kahaulelio sat in a folding chair near the entrance of the base on Wednesday holding a sign that read “Enough already!”
She was arrested on
Kahoolawe in 1977 for protesting military target practice on that island, and also was one of the Hawaiian
elders arrested on July 17 for blocking the Mauna Kea
Access Road in an effort to prevent construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.
The TMT opponents
believe construction of the telescope would be a desecration of Mauna Kea, which many Hawaiians consider
sacred. Kahaulelio said she was outside the PTA gate with her sign on Wednesday for “the same issue — desecration, whether it be a mauna, an island, or somebody’s home, that’s desecration.”
“The desecration is so enormous right now, and that’s why we’re here today, why we’re at the mauna,
why I was up there getting arrested, was to stop the desecration. It doesn’t matter if it’s a bomb or dynamite” used in construction
of the telescope, she said.
Michael O. Donnelly, public affairs officer for PTA, said in a written statement that military officials there “support the right to free speech as long as it does not impede our mission to support the training of soldiers, Marines, local law enforcement and soldiers of the Hawaii Army National Guard and U.S. Army Reserve.”
“Training at PTA is essential to ensure that service members and law enforcement personnel can successfully accomplish their missions,” Donnelly said in the statement.