Eight protesters were arrested early Thursday after police said they found trees, rocks and glass on the roadway ahead of a convoy of telescope parts and materials traveling to the 10,000-foot summit of Haleakala.
Protesters said they didn’t know who put the debris on Crater Road and countered that Maui Police Department officers were too aggressive.
After maneuvering through two separate demonstrations that caused several hours of delay, the convoy of three oversize trucks and auxiliary vehicles eventually reached the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Thursday morning.
It was the second shipment in a row that protesters failed to stop after successfully blocking a convoy June 24.
This time, police allowed a group of about 150 flag- and sign-waving demonstrators to conduct a lei ceremony in front of the Central Maui Baseyard. An altar was set up at the baseyard driveway, and for a couple of hours hundreds of lei were slowly placed on the structure made from sticks.
Shortly after midnight, however, officers informed the group that they were going to stop the ceremony and clear the driveway to allow the trucks to depart.
Dozens of police officers, dressed in what appeared to be riot gear, removed the lei-draped altar and forced the people off the driveway, allowing the slow-moving convoy to proceed on Mokulele Highway.
Hours later, in the early morning, officers confronted an additional 100 or so protesters in Kula, some of whom were sitting with arms locked on Crater Road, which is at the start of the final leg to the summit.
Kahookahi Kanuha, one of the leaders of the Mauna Kea “protectors,” accused police officers of being overly aggressive and “militaristic,” using unnecessary tactics against peaceful protesters.
“We were there with ti leaf lei,” he said. “They were there dressed in riot gear, as if they were going to war.”
Kanuha also said he saw two trucks filled with riot shields in what appeared to be a deliberate show of intimidation.
During one tense moment on Crater Road, Kanuha was struck by a car moving at the rear of the convoy. He ended up sprawled on the car’s hood. Kanuha said he was OK physically but shaken up.
Seven men and one woman were arrested on various charges, including failure to disperse, obstructing and disorderly conduct, police said.
Among those arrested was Lanakila Mangauil, 28, of Honokaa, one of the leaders of the Mauna Kea protest group.
A post on the Kakoo Haleakala Facebook page claimed Mangauil was minding his own business when an officer accused him of putting a large branch on the road.
“They came in full force last night with riot gear. Our protest was peaceful and our hui maintained KAPU ALOHA (reverential and peaceful civil disobedience). This is ‘A‘OLE PONO! Our people have suffered enough, now is the time to rise and take a stand,” it said.
Others arrested were:
» Joseph Henderson, 26, no local address.
» Shane Louro, 39, of Maunaloa, Molokai.
» Hanoa Puaa-Freitas, 22, of Waihee, Maui.
» Keith Kauhane, 35, of Lahaina.
» Kealii Kaaikala, 21, refused to give address.
» Chase Nomura, 21, of Makawao, Maui.
» Hooleia Kaeo, 19, of Kula, Maui.
Twenty protesters were arrested in the last Maui protest July 30 and still face court hearings on similar charges.
A statement updated Thursday on the Inouye Telescope website said the transport reached the summit construction site safely.
“We are again grateful to law enforcement authorities for ensuring the safety of everyone during this process,” the statement said.
Formerly known as the Advanced Technology Solar Telescope, the Inouye Telescope has been under construction since 2012 and is about 80 percent built at the University of Hawaii’s Science City at the Haleakala summit.
The project, planned for completion in 2019, is expected to be the world’s most powerful solar telescope, giving scientists an unprecedented view of our nearest star that could lead to better protection for the power grid and communication and weather satellites.
A small group of Native Hawaiians has been fighting the telescope for a decade, claiming the Haleakala summit is sacred. They have appealed their case to the state’s highest court, which is now weighing the merits of a challenge to the project’s state-issued conservation use permit.
Later Thursday many of the protest leaders appeared before the Office of Hawaiian Affairs board of trustees, which was meeting in Wailuku.
Kanuha said he asked the trustees to take a formal stand against the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea and to support the campaign against the Maui telescope. He also asked trustees to back off on efforts to use state funds to help form a Hawaiian government.
He said the Hawaiian people are now waking up to mobilize for their sovereign rights, and that OHA needs to support this renaissance.
Kahele Dukelow, a leader with Kakoo Haleakala, said that while it is frustrating to have failed in preventing the convoy from reaching the summit, the event was successful in that it further raised consciousness about the issue in the community.
She said the campaign will continue.
Kanuha added, “It’s not over, by no means.”