30 Hawaiian Elders Arrested As 2000+ Protesters Stand Strong At A Sacred Mountain
“This is about our right to exist,” says Kaho’okahi Kanuha, a leader of the movement. “We fight and resist and we stand, or we disappear forever.”
Hawaiian elders, community leaders and native rights advocates aren’t budging at the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea on the island of Hawaii…unless the cops drag them off.
On Monday, crews arrived to begin the construction on a $1.4 billion, 30-meter telescope atop Mauna Kea, a site that holds exceptional significance to the native people of Hawaii. Protests erupted with an estimated 2,000 coming out to stand their ground.
Blocking a road at the base of the mountain, as things escalated this week more than 30 elders, some using canes and walkers to get around, have been taken into custody.
“They’re taking our kupuna,” Kealoha Pisciotta, one of the protest leaders, told the AP.
“This is about our right to exist,” added Kaho’okahi Kanuha, another leader of the movement. “We fight and resist and we stand, or we disappear forever.”
On Wednesday, an emergency proclamation was signed by Hawaii Governor David Ige giving law enforcement officials the authority to close access to Mauna Kea. No decision has been made regarding the removal of the protesters.
“We’ve been patient in trying to allow the protesters to express their feelings about the project,” Ige explained. “We are taking steps to assure the rights of those in the project to get the project moving.”
The ACLU of Hawaii is warning enforcement authorities must respect the rights of protesters, and has threatened to sue if sound cannons are deployed.
There are already 13 other telescopes scattered around the summit of Mauna Kea. Workers and scientists have been unable to access them this week due to the protests.
Notable personalities in the surfing and ocean community have been quick to voice their opinions in support of the protest movement. “Aquaman” star Jason Momoa, Kala Alexander, Makua Rothman, BJ Penn and a host of others have all jumped on Instagram to rally the cause.
At the moment, the tense standoff continues with neither side clear about what the next move is going to be.
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