MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - At least eight people were arrested early Thursday morning as hundreds of protesters attempted to block construction of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on the summit of Haleakala, organizers say.
About 150 people are at the Central Maui Baseyard because they believe the construction trucks holding telescope parts will leave out of a gate there and head up to Haleakala.
If or when the trucks exit out of that gate, they will be met by opponents marching back and forth, chanting, singing, holding up Hawaiian flags and signs. It's a stall tactic as they are trying to obey traffic laws.
On the other side of that march is a platform, a symbolic structure where they will offer hundreds of lei. It is another stall tactic. They're asking people to offer their aloha for Haleakala, to get as many lei on the structure as possible, to serve as a symbol for their opposition.
The protesters explained that, in their previous protest in July, they themselves stood in the crosswalk and this didn't really mean much. However, they say this is a different way to reach construction crews and police officers on a more emotional level.
They've been there since about 6:00, going over strategy and tactics on how exactly they plan to stop this convoy of three semi trucks carrying wide loads of equipment to the summit of Haleakala.
Unlike the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea on the Big Island, they've been working on construction for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope since November of 2012, but telescope opponents on Maui say their passion and motivation has grown from the Mauna Kea Movement. Critics of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope are upset construction continues despite a challenge in the Hawaii Supreme Court.
Kahele Dukelow of Kakoo Haleakala stated, "Like the last time, I think we have some people who are prepared to engage in civil disobedience if need be. We're that serious about the protection of our aina and the protection of our national lands.
We reached out to the project manager for the Daniel K Inouye Solar Telescope, but he declined our request for an interview but said in an email the project has been in full compliance with the law and all permits for site construction since 2012 and that they are committed to an environmental program that improves the situation on the Haleakala summit.
Organizers of this rally mentioned that people from all over the state flew in for this rally tonight and another rally is going on this very same night at the intersection of Haleakala Hwy or Crater Road and Kekaulike Avenue upcountry. So, the idea is, if the trucks somehow break through this demonstration, they will be greeted by another group before reaching the summit of Haleakala.