Hawaii: Protesters arrested blocking road to giant telescope construction site
Protesters on Hawaii’s Big Island have been blocking the road to a mountain peak where one of the world’s largest telescopes is being built.
Hawaii County police spokeswoman Chris Loos said Thursday that some people have been arrested for blocking the road to the Mauna Kea summit, which is held sacred by Native Hawaiians.
Opponents who question whether land appraisals were done correctly and whether Native Hawaiian groups had been consulted have tried to prevent the construction of the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope.
Kealoha Piscottia, a telescope opponent, said 15 people were arrested Thursday when they tried to block trucks heading to the peak.
After the vehicles were allowed to pass, about 40 to 50 people began following the trucks, which moved slowly because of their heavy loads, she said.
Protests also disrupted a groundbreaking and Hawaiian blessing ceremony last year.
Native Hawaiian leaders have been meeting and talking about the issue with state officials, police and prosecutors, Piscottia said.
“We have told them that this is desecration and there are laws against desecration,” she said.
Astronomers say Mauna Kea is the ideal location for observing the most distant parts of the universe. The observatory is expected to be operational by 2024, the same year a 39-meter telescope is expected to be completed in Chile.