HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - After fears that law enforcement could come in soon to clear the protest camp at Mauna Kea, Mayor Harry Kim and protest leaders say there’s assurances Thirty Meter Telescope equipment will not be sneaked in.
Thousands have visited the camp since the protest started on July 15.
Law enforcement reported numbers at their highest at 2,000. Now multiple sources say the numbers have dwindled from 100 to 150 because harsh winter conditions are setting in with rain, wind and temperatures ranging from the 80′s to the high 30′s.
Many are wondering if that leaves an opportunity for law enforcement to move in to clear the road for TMT’s equipment.
Mayor Kim says the public would be told of road closures when TMT plans to move its equipment once again and people would have to move from Mauna Kea Access Road at the base of Mauna Kea. He says assurances were made last month after rumors of an overnight raid by law enforcement sent activists scrambling.
“The Governor assured me that we would not do that and would not try to sneak equipment and manpower up to the summit and I gave them my word that I trust the Governor. He gave me his word so I give my word to you that we will not do that and if equipment and manpower is going to be transported, you will be informed,” said Kim.
“We’ve been given a commitment by governmental leaders that they would not be, for lack of a better term, sneak attacking us on Mauna Kea. We’ve expressed to them that this is a place where families gather,” said TMT opposition leader Kahookahi Kanuha.
Kanuha says kupuna have been steadfast despite the harsh weather and protectors will remain at Mauna Kea as long as TMT plans to build there because they believe construction will desecrate the mountain.
If construction begins, the project is expected to take a decade to build and Kanuha says TMT opponents are in it for the long haul.