Former HPD negotiator lays out path to resolution for State, Protestors in TMT standoff

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As the State of Hawai’i and the protesters or Kia’i of Mauna Kea continue their standoff over the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope, Tuesday’s meeting between Governor David Ige, Mayor Harry Kim, and the Kia’i has started a line of communication.

KHON2 News spoke with former Honolulu Police Department negotiator and current conflict management expert Robert Carvalho about the steps the two sides will need to take to reach a resolution.

“Well the first thing is when you’re negotiating with someone you have to establish communications.” Carvalho said.

“Without communications there can be no negotiations.”

Back on July 19th, comments from Governor Ige and leaders of the Kia’i movement made it apparent that talks had fallen apart.

“Both The Mayor and I have had discussions with many people but many of the leaders of this protest do not want to meet. They would rather post to social media spread rumors and fear.” Governor Ige said Friday.

“Downright absolute lie. I have never received any communication from the governor and none of us have.” Kia’i leader Kaho’okahi Kanuha said Friday from Pu’uhonua o Pu’u Hululu at Mauna Kea.

Since then, Governor Ige has handed over operations to Mayor Kim. Carvalho says that this is a difficult transition in negotiations.

“Very difficult because you have to establish who you’re speaking to. Who is that person that has the power to resolve the situation and make everyone happy.” Carvalho said.

Moving forward, Carvalho suggests more of what happened Tuesday during Governor Ige’s visit to Mauna Kea.

“Once you have that communication, you have good report, then its a lot of active listening. Listening to that person, empathizing with them to determine what’s going on in their life right now, and how is it that you can help.”

Carvalho has successfully negotiated with protesters before in Hawai’i. He led HPD’s peaceful dealing with Chinese dissidents during the APEC convention in 2011. He says a way to ease tensions in an emotional standoff such as Mauna Kea is to allow time to pass.

“When we say emotions are high logic is low.” Carvalho said.

“So the whole idea is to bring emotions down so logic can take over. Once logic takes over then hopefully you can come to a compromise. There has to be a compromise. Both sides have to win. Once you get your compromise you can bring it to conclusion.”

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