As promised, TMT protesters move tent blocking Mauna Kea Access Road

Updated: Dec. 28, 2019 at 8:14 AM HST
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HONOLULU, Hawaii (HawaiiNewsNow) - Friday was moving day at Mauna Kea.

Hawaii County trucks brought in heavy equipment. Workers rolled out black ground covering over an old lava road and used gravel material to create a smoother surface for the activists’ kupuna tent.

The tent has been blocking Mauna Kea Access Road since mid-July and was the site of 38 arrests.

But activists agreed to move the tent to the side of the Mauna Kea Access Road after Mayor Harry Kim made assurances that the Thirty Meter Telescope would not build at least until the end of February.

"Today is really a day of an example of of how we work together," said Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, TMT opponent and kupuna spokesperson.

"When we do eventually leave this place, they (the county) will lift all of this material up and lift the filler up as well and everything will be returned to its former beauty," she added.

Despite the kupuna tent moving to the side of the road, protesters insist they won't leave until TMT leaves.

Kim says after the Governor removed state law enforcement and told him it was the county’s responsibility to clear the blocked roadway, Kim felt the county and its police would be outnumbered by protesters.

“I thought at this time it would not be impractical but almost very very difficult mission that would involve using physical force because I don’t have the manpower to assign two or three guys to carry each one off,” he said.

Kim said both Hawaiian Homes and DOT agreed to the move.

"One of the things was to legally find a site where they could legally demonstrate within their rights," he said.

Critics have their doubts about the developments.

"If Mayor Kim feels Hawaii County needs help in dealing with this then he should say so," said State Rep. Scott Saiki, a TMT supporter.

"I'm not really sure what the deal accomplishes because all it does is temporarily push these questions aside for a couple of months until February so really nothing has been resolved," said Saiki.

The access road is expected to reopen Saturday to coincide with the reopening of the visitors center.

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