Critics of telescope atop Haleakala gear up for another showdown
KAHULUI, MAUI (HawaiiNewsNow) - Aloha Aina activists are gearing up for another showdown on the Valley Isle.
Just weeks after one confrontation, another convoy is planning to move more material to the summit of Haleakala to continue the telescope construction on Wednesday.
But once again, critics are ready to take a stand.
This will be the third attempt to stop construction of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope (DKIST) atop Haleakala in three months.
In June, the convoy turned around after a group blocked its access to the summit. But last month's rally resulted in several arrests.
Organizers are calling it a "Direct Action." Details about how they plan to stop the convoy this time around is unclear, but they are confident that come Wednesday, oversize trucks carrying construction parts for the DKIST won't have an easy time driving up to the summit of Haleakala.
"They have to get up to the national park before sunrise in order to not affect the community going to work in the morning. So that's kind of our theory, just kind of delay them as long as we can because we know they're on a strict timeline with this permit," said Tiare Lawrence, organizer for Kakoo Haleakala.
Last month, the convoy was delayed by a group of people who lay on the driveway in front of the trucks, linking arms together inside PVC pipes. It took hours for police to cut away the pipes with hacksaws. Twenty people were later arrested.
"For us, getting arrested was worth it. To me, it was worth it because now people know our story," Lawrence said.
Lawrence said Hawaiians don't oppose telescopes. They're just against having them built atop Haleakala, a place they call sacred.
DKIST Project Manager Joseph McMullin said in a response to an email, "My understanding is that the protestors associate themselves with the word "protectors". If so, they should be helping us build the observatory."
McMullin also said, "We respect everyone's right to express their views but ask that our rights be similarly respected."
The Maui Police Department released a statement saying:
"The Maui Police Department is aware of the planned wide load transport of materials to the Haleakala National Park for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope. The Maui Police Department respects the public's right to demonstrate peacefully and will take the necessary actions to address any and all issues associated with the transport to ensure the safety of everyone involved."
The convoy will consist of three semi-truck and trailers carrying equipment over 23 feet wide. Crater Road and the park's summit road will be closed from 6:00 p.m. Wednesday to 2:00 p.m. Thursday. The summit will not be accessible for sunrise viewing on Thursday.
A time and location for Wednesday's demonstration will be announced on Monday.
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