Watch protest leader Kahookahi Kanuha’s message to demonstrators at Mauna Kea

Updated: Jul. 15, 2019 at 8:50 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - One of the leaders of the demonstrations against the Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea delivered an impassioned speech to protesters Monday morning, imploring them to continue their fight but to asking all to obey the law and be respectful of law enforcement officers on the mountain.

Kahookahi Kanuha ― a well-known Hawaiian activist who has long been among those at the forefront of the demonstrations against TMT ― spoke to a group of demonstrators shortly after being informed that law enforcement officers were going to begin moving up the mountain.

[Read more: Hundreds of protesters gather at base of Mauna Kea ahead of TMT construction]

"They’re gonna come up and they’ve given us their commitment ... these officers that I’m talking to, from what I can see, they’re not bad people,” Kanuha said. “They are not the enemy. The state is the enemy.”

Of the officers, Kanuha added: “Be respectful. These are our kanaka. Our ohana. We would love for them to be with us on this side, and calling them out is not necessarily going to make that happen.”

He also gave demonstrators instructions about the group’s course of action once officers actually began clearing Mauna Kea Access Road.

“Hold space as long as you can, until the point of forced arrest. At that point, move to the side, allow them to move forward,” Kanuha said. “Remain dignified, remain disciplined, remember kapu aloha, remember that we have a plan, and trust in it.”

“If anybody starts to escalate things, kindly try to calm them down. De-escalate them. If that’s not happening, ask them to remove themselves to the side,” Kanuha said. “If they’re not going to do that, they are going to continue to jeopardize our stance.”

Earlier in the morning, Kanuha ensured police officers that the members of his hui, or group, would follow the rules and were committed to safety.

“If anybody here acts out, you take them,” Kanuha tells police officers, in video captured by Hawaii News Now. “I’ll point them out to you.”

“That’s not what we’re about,” someone off camera can be heard, adding to the conversation.

This story will be updated.

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