Protests at other projects empowered by successful anti-TMT protest

Updated: Oct. 14, 2019 at 5:45 PM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - On July 15, kiai, those who call themselves protectors of Mauna Kea, attached themselves to a cattle guard stopping TMT equipment from going up to the summit of Mauna Kea.

Two days later, more activists blocked the road and 38 people, mostly kupuna, were arrested. Since then thousands have visited the campsite like a Hawaiian pilgrimage.

On September 26, a mix of older and younger people sat in the entrance to the Sherwoods park project at Waimanalo Bay Beach Park. Some of the 28 arrestees showed solidarity for Mauna Kea with mauna hand signs and chanting 'ku kiai mauna'.

On Sunday night, protesters sat in chairs with chains and tape blocking the transport of equipment to a Kahuku windfarm called Na Pua Makani.

All three projects went through the regulatory process and all three are stopped for now.

"It all started from Ku Kiai Mauna. If it wasn't for them, I don't think we would have had this much support," said Kamalani Keliikuli, vice president of Ku Kiai Kahuku.

UH law professor and civil rights activist Ken Lawson has been to Mauna Kea 8 times in support of the protest. He says compared to mainland civil rights protests, the anti-TMT protest involved peaceful elders which sparked younger people to awaken.

"So when the stance was taken by the protectors on the mountain and they are still there, it sparked a lot of people around the state to say enough is enough," said Lawson.

But TMT supporters are concerned about the wider impacts of the 92 day protest at Mauna Kea.

"We cannot have a situation where someone just says I don't like this and therefore I'm going to have all my friends to block the road," said Sam King, a TMT supporter.

“No one is willing to come with us and have a discussion and I feel that’s why we have the stalemate that we have. They just want to sit there,” said Makana Silva, UH astrophysics student and TMT supporter.

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