TMT protesters urged to leave during strong winds. They say they’ll stay put

TMT protesters urged to leave during strong winds. They say they’ll stay put

MAUNA KEA, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Protesters at Mauna Kea are being urged to evacuate ahead of potentially dangerous winds late Friday, but the TMT opponents say they’re not packing up.

Forecasters say blustery conditions, with gusts to 60 mph, could persist through Saturday.

The winds are a concern for protesters, but they say they’ll weather the storm.

The decision comes a day after the state announced it was withdrawing law enforcement from the encampment for an indefinite period of time.

On Friday morning, law enforcement personnel had all left the base of the Mauna Kea summit and Mauna Kea Access Road had been reopened.

But tents and bamboo barricades are still in place.

Kahookahi Kanuha, TMT opponent, said protesters are taking the wind warning seriously.

“We also understand that we cannot afford to just completely desert this place, especially with structures here. If anything happens, we need to be able to respond to that,” he said.

Gov. David Ige said he decided to pull law enforcement from the mountain because the Thirty Meter Telescope is not ready to proceed with construction. TMT officials, meanwhile, say it can’t move forward without safe access to the telescope’s planned site at Mauna Kea’s summit.

Meanwhile on Friday, frustrations boiled over in a Hilo courtroom.

It was supposed to be the official start of trial Friday for the 38 mostly Hawaiian elders who were arrested in July.

But by mid-afternoon, trial hadn’t started because of arguments between the lawyers and confusion over the process.

There are eight groups of defendants and the first group wanted dozens of witnesses, including the other people who were arrested.

The day ended without opening statements and the judge scheduled a lawyers-only hearing on Jan. 3.

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