As Honolulu police clear roads for wind farm, some ask why the same can’t be done for TMT

Updated: Oct. 29, 2019 at 9:32 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - As Honolulu police arrest Kahuku wind farm protesters night after night, supporters of the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope say it’s time for action on Mauna Kea.

“Clearly it’s possible to move people out of the way,” said Samuel Wilder King II, Imua TMT executive director. “I think the Honolulu police department has a lot of experience with this. They’ve been very careful and very patient.”

So far, police have made 127 arrests at wind farm protests to clear the roads for trucks carrying heavy equipment to Kahuku.

The arrests come as the Thirty Meter Telescope protest drags on with no resolution in sight.

It’s been more than 100 days since protesters formed a blockade to stop construction equipment from getting to the planned construction site for TMT.

Mauna Kea remains TMT’s preferred site, but no one knows if or when the blockade will be broken. Meanwhile, TMT officials said staff visited the Canary Islands last week to discuss the alternate site.

TMT opponents have made it clear there is no compromise. They have refused any proposal that still includes the building of the telescope.

Hawaii County Mayor Harry Kim says he doesn’t want to see people arrested. But with no hope of a breakthrough, he knows it may be necessary.

“I don’t think government has a choice on an issue like this,” said Kim. “The law needs to be enforced.”

TMT opponent Andre Perez said arrests remain a concern for protesters.

“We’re always concerned about law enforcement engaging in mass arrests and law enforcement escalating and law enforcement coming with a heavy hand,” he said.

Perez said that has been the fear ever since July when 38 people were arrested on Mauna Kea, mostly kupuna.

He said the police response to the wind farm protests may be allowing the trucks to get through, but are causing troublesome rifts in the community.

“How they’re coming in in formation, cutting off the people, very militarized tactics to me can have long-term effects on the community in terms of the relationship with law enforcement, the credibility and the image of law enforcement.”

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