1 month later, police officials detail arrests at Mauna Kea

1 month later, police officials detail arrests at Mauna Kea
Law enforcement officials carry a protester from the Mauna Kea Access Road to a waiting van. (Image: Hawaii News Now)

HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Nearly one month later, Hawaii County police officials are clarifying their side of the story the day 38 people were arrested at a protest site at the base of Mauna Kea.

A week after Hawaii News Now emailed questions to the Hawaii County Police Department, officials responded on Thursday, detailing some of the events of July 17, including why the kupuna who were arrested were allowed to return to the protest site.

Officials said there were two reasons.

“First, many of the kupuna were frail and it did not appear to be in the best interest for their health reasons to transport them to Hilo for processing,” the email said.

The email stated the second reason was, “it would take resources (e.g. personnel and vehicles) away from the operation which would be needed to address the younger group of protesters in the area.”

[Read more: State releases names of activists arrested during telescope protests at Mauna Kea]

In the email, officials also said they believe the protesters are acting illegally by blocking the access road to the summit of Mauna Kea, but they have not removed them “due to the highly emotionally charged situation and the potential for mass violence due to the large numbers involved.” Instead, the state is seeking a peaceful resolution, the email said.

Officers from Hawaii County, Honolulu, Maui and various state agencies responded to the situation at Mauna Kea, which began about a month ago.

Those who are at the base of Mauna Kea are blocking the only access road to the summit, where the Thirty Meter Telescope construction site is slated. They say the $1.4 billion telescope project is desecration to a place they consider sacred.

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