HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Gov. David Ige confirmed Friday that he’s faced death threats amid growing tensions over the Thirty Meter Telescope.
“I am aware of death threats made against me personally,” said Ige, declining to go into further detail at a news conference aimed at addressing online attacks against TMT supporters and state employees.
State Attorney General Clare Connors said security around the governor has not been increased in response to the threats. but she said there are investigations underway.
Speaking to reporters, the governor said there’s no place in Hawaii for hateful rhetoric.
“I’m calling on everyone responsible for these examples of cyberbullying and hateful speech to stop immediately. Personal attacks have no place in America and no place in Hawaii,” Ige said.
“They don’t represent who we are and I urge the public to completely reject them.”
The news conference focused solely on negative language, chiefly online, around the TMT issue. Officials said they weren’t pointing the finger at all TMT opponents, but believe those on both sides of the conflict need to make clear that online threats or attacks won’t be tolerated."Our fear is that someone is going to be incited by the rhetoric the negative rhetoric that is out there...
The governor started the press availability, meanwhile, by saying he had no updates on efforts to resolve the conflict. Ige said he continues to work toward a “peaceful resolution.”
The protest at Mauna Kea is now in its 61st day, and opponents have pledged to stay put ― blocking the only access road to the summit ― for as long as it takes.
They say the mountain is sacred and that building TMT would amount to desecration.
Supporters of the $1.4 billion telescope, meanwhile, argue it would bring jobs and greatly add to humanity’s knowledge of the universe.
Officials cited statements from statements from Puuhonua o Puuhuluhulu as examples of a false narrative that law enforcement would attack peaceful protectors.
Andre Perez one of the leaders of the kiai at Puuhonua o Puuhuluhulu, those who call themselves protectors of Mauna Kea, and other activists spoke to reporters after the Governor’s news conference.
He says on their officials pages, they’ve been preaching non violent peaceful protest and their language is about law enforcement harming them.
“We are saying they are going to come and they are going to get us off mountain,” he said.
HNN’s law enforcement expert, Tommy Aiu explained the difference between those expressing outrage on social media and threats.
“If a threat encompasses I’m going to do this to you and I’m going to do that to you and it involves some bodily injury or death that’s a violation and that’s the crime,” he said.