Hawaii: Giant telescope work crews turn back; 11 arrested
West Hawaii Today, June 24, 2015
Workers trying to make their way up Mauna Kea to restart construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope were forced to turn back after protesters blocked the road to the summit with a trail of large rocks.
Starting early this morning, five trucks being escorted by police were stopped repeatedly by more than 300 protesters who set up about two dozen “lines of defense” across the Mauna Kea access road near the Visitor Information Station, which is located at the 9,200-feet elevation.
The trucks inched their way up to each line of protesters, who were then asked by police to move. After clearing a line, the trucks rolled toward the next line of awaiting protesters.
Higher up the road, the trucks reached an impasse when they encountered the rocks on the access road. It was unclear whether the trail of rocks continued all the way up the road to the TMT site. The vehicles turned back shortly after noon today.
Eleven protesters have been arrested — one by Hawaii County police, the others by law-enforcement officers from the state Department of Land and Natural Resources. The names of those arrested were not immediately available.
It was not clear whether any of the protesters were specifically arrested for helping create the rock trail.
About 50 state and county law-enforcement officers are at the scene.
Opposition has been mounting against building what would be one of the world’s largest telescopes on land held sacred by many Native Hawaiians.
Construction of the TMT has been stalled for months after 31 people were arrested for blocking the site.