Both sides of the TMT debate make their point known with rallies across the state

Updated: Jul. 15, 2019 at 8:30 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Mauna Kea isn’t the only place where members of the community voiced their opinion on what was set to be day one of TMT construction.

In Hilo, supporters of the project waved signs along Kanoelehua Avenue.

Many wore t-shirts that read “IMUA TMT” — which is also a trending hashtag posted on the observatory project’s website.

They welcome the telescope for its potential benefits to science, and Hawaii’s economy.

“It’s going to create a lot of jobs, education for the children, and education for the rest of people for centuries to come,” supporter and carpenter Dennis Walsh said.

TMT officials estimate 140 permanent jobs will be created in addition to 300 jobs during 10 years of construction. After it’s built, TMT officials say it will voluntarily pay an annual lease of $1 million for as long as the telescope is in operation.

“This is a very passionate issue for many folks. And we respect that," said TMT spokesman Scott Ishikawa. “Regardless of your position on this project, we just want everybody to be safe.”

Meanwhile on Oahu, about 200 people gathered at the Hawaii State Capitol Monday afternoon to express their opposition, and to stand in solidarity with those on the mountain.

Residents like Makahiapo Cashman said they were overwhelmed to see the community support across the different islands.

“For a lot of us, it’s an attack on a very sacred place for us, and it shows the world we’re united, and we’re going to stick it out until the end,” Cashman said. “We’re tired of being pushed to the side by greed and money. This is our chance to say enough already.”

Opponents who arrived at the capitol building lined the road with flags and hand-made signs.

Kekailoa Perry, another participant in Monday’s gathering, said that while opponents are not against law enforcement in general, they are against the use of law enforcement against the Hawaiian people.

“They’re advocating for our erasure, for our disappearance in the world, and we won’t stand for that,” Perry said.

Dozens of project opponents gathered with Hawaiian flags and signs in Maui and Molokai as well.

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