8 Arrested While Praying At Site Of Controversial Telescope In Hawaii

HONOLULU (AP) — Seven women and one man were arrested early Wednesday in the latest round of arrests in the ongoing battle against building a giant telescope atop a mountain many Native Hawaiians consider sacred.

The state Department of Land and Natural resources said 20 of its officers arrested the protesters on Mauna Kea about 1 a.m. They were enforcing an emergency rule created to stop people from camping on Mauna Kea.

According to a DLNR press release, the eight protesters were arrested for being “in the restricted area, outlined in the emergency rule passed by the Board of Land and Natural Resources and signed by Governor Ige.”

The land board approved the rule in July, which restricts access to the mountain during certain nighttime hours and prohibits certain camping gear. It was prompted by protesters’ around-the-clock presence to prevent construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Protesters say officers hauled them away while they were praying. In video footage provided by the state, officers are seen walking toward a group of people huddled in a circle and chanting. A man’s voice is heard saying, “Eh, they’re praying you guys, they’re praying.”

The footage shows officers putting plastic handcuffs on women and putting them into the back of a vehicle. “Why do I have to have my hands behind my back?” a woman asked. “Because you’ll be placed in restraints, ma’am,” an officer responded.

The emergency rule, in place for 120 days, is intended to make the mountain safe for protesters, visitors and workers of the 13 telescopes already on the mountain, the state said. Attorney General Doug Chin told the land board that even though camping is already prohibited on the mountain, a targeted rule is necessary because of bad behavior by some protesters — —> Read More