After another night of protests, number of arrests linked to wind farm opposition hit 200

Updated: Nov. 20, 2019 at 8:18 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - More arrests were made overnight after hundreds of wind farm opponents showed up in Kalaeloa for another night of protests.

According to the Honolulu Police Department, 21 people were arrested for disobeying a police officer.

Bail ranged from $100 to $1,000, and each person was released after posting bail.

State Sen. Kurt Favella, who has been at prior protests, was also at Tuesday night’s protest.

After a quiet past few weeks, hundreds of protesters have been descending on Kalaeloa in recent days, showing their opposition to the project.

So far, a total of 200 arrests have been made since equipment transports from Kalaeloa to Kahuku began a month ago.

The convoy left around 12:30 a.m. Thursday and got to the project site about two hours later.

Police also arrested 18 people from late Sunday into early Monday.

An HPD spokeswoman said 17 people were arrested for disobeying a police officer and one was taken into custody for obstruction of a government operation.

Bail amounts for the protesters ranged from $100 to $1,000. All 18 of those arrests were released after posting bail.

Wind farm opponents say Sunday’s protest was calmer than Thursday night where there were accusations of shoving from both sides.

“I think we had up to 500 people at one point and with those barriers there, it constricted us,” said Kaukaohu Wahilani, who opposes the wind farm.

Added Nakia Naeole, who opposes the wind farm: “It was to show that it was the rules that we have provided for ourselves and that a few bad apples on the opposite side of us, the police can ruin it for everyone there."

HPD did not hold a news conference Monday, but deputy Chief John McCarthy has stressed police’s role is safety and law enforcement.

At the Kapolei Courthouse on Monday, nearly two dozen wind farm protesters, including Wahilani and Naeole, arrested last month made their first appearances on petty misdemeanor charges for obstructing a private road.

Attorney Aaron Wills, who’s representing roughly 70 arrestees, says some are accepting plea deals but others are pleading not guilty.

“This is more about protecting the environment, protecting the aina, standing up for their community. Their community in their particular cases, their voices are not being heard,” he said.

Wills is also representing 21 of the Sherwoods arrestees and two of those arrested on Mauna Kea.

“We are expecting more. So this is just the tip of the iceberg as far as volume. I don’t know when it stops,” he added.

Wind farm protesters in Kalaeloa have sought to block the transport of equipment and parts to the North Shore for weeks.

Twenty-six people were arrested late Thursday into early Friday after a large group of protesters descended upon the AES Na Pua Makani storage yard in Kalaeloa in response to a call on social media, asking for at least 1,000 fellow opponents to join the blockade. As the night wore on, the protest grew increasingly heated.

Some accused officers of using excessive force during the protest, but the Honolulu Police Department disputed those claims.

In a statement last week, AES COO Mark Miller said, “After performing extensive studies and securing all necessary permits, we are confident that we are building a project that is safe and, ultimately, will help advance Hawaii’s transition to 100% renewable energy.”

Critics of the project are concerned about potential health effects and the killing of native Hawaiian wildlife such as the Hawaiian hoary bat.

Officials say once the wind farm is operational in 2020, the facility is expected to produce enough renewable energy to power 16,000 homes.

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