HONOLULU (HawaiiNewsNow) - A founder of a group that opposes the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope is apologizing for an online tirade filled with profanity and threats against TMT supporters. The Facebook message by Kamahana Kealoha just surfaced, prompting a swift backlash.
"Their throats should be slashed and their blood should be spilled on our Sacred Mauna A Wakea!" the post said.
The UH Manoa student later deleted the obscene post and wrote a lengthy explanation online. Despite his apology, he said his words were taken out of context.
"I take full accountability for what happened and for what I said in the past, but one snapshot is not who I am and does not define me or this movement," said Kealoha, a founder of Sacred Mauna Kea Hui.
Kealoha said the message was part of a heated exchange with a Florida woman nine months to a year ago, before he started following the Kapu Aloha mandate for respectful resistance.
"That was coming from a place of anger when I was speaking of that. That should not happen now and I am in no way encouraging violence," Kealoha said.
The message also threatens Mailani Neal, a senior at Hawaii Preparatory Academy, who recently started an online petition backing the telescope construction.
"I was also surprised because I don't think there's any situation that calls for language that is used in the post to be directed towards someone and a group of people," said Neal by phone.
The 18-year-old launched the petition on April 13. Kealoha couldn't explain the reference to the student in a post he said went up months ago.
"I'm not aware of how that could happen at all. That's a surprise to me because there was absolutely no post put out from the 13th until now, I can guarantee you in that tone, from myself," said Kealoha.
Other anti-TMT activists said they're not sure about all the facts, but they've had concerns about Kealoha's behavior in the past.
"He's been conducting himself in a very good way recently and we've actually all been quite surprised and very proud that he has been able to huli his stance. This might be just another slip-up," said activist Joshua Lanakila Mangauil. "If it happened, it happened. It's not pono and we're going to address it as well."
Kealoha's group, Sacred Mauna Kea Hui, just received $25,000 from Abigail Kawananakoa. The Campbell Estate heiress had been impressed with the peaceful protests.