Protests continue as officials build gate to close off Mauna Kea Access Road

Local News

The mood here at the base of Mauna Kea is upbeat, almost celebratory. After a lengthy peaceful stand off, protesters seem to have succeeded in protecting Mauna Kea. At least for today they have won, but the scene earlier this morning was much different.

Billy Freitas, Kupuna Kiai Mauna Kea said, “My plan here is to stay here kupaa and protect Mauna Kea.”

Billy Frietas and at least a dozen kupuna bound themselves together with maile lei across the base of Mauna Access Road. Eight others chained themselves to a cattle grate further up the road. Their determination and message was clear.

Imai Winchester, teacher at Halau Ku Mana said, “We’ve already been informed that we will be arrested which is something that we are wiling to do, as our kuleana, it’s our burden and privledge. To show our children and the rest of the world how much we love our land. To show my students at home that things are worth fighting for.”

Protesters continued to fight.

In the early morning hours it seemed as though police might make a move to arrest the kupuna, but they were quickly confronted by protesters.

Communication between both sides was open throughout the day as police and those opposed to TMT negotiated the safest path forward.

Kahookahi Kanuha, Kiai of Mauna Kea said, “We are committed to nonviolent action and peaceful action. We are not going to allow anybody to jeopardize that period.”

Concrete barriers were put in along Daniel K. Inouye Highway to ensure protesters could exercise their right safely but also to allow police and sheriffs to manage the crowds.

Ed Sniffen from the Department of Transportation said, “The concrete barriers are gonna serve a couple of things. We won’t have people parking on the highway anymore, and we’ll also make sure we have an area where people wanna express their feelings about this project can be behind and be safe.”

Since the protesters are unwilling to leave it felt like it was only a matter of time before someone was arrested. Then at 2pm after almost 11 hours,
officers relented.

“The chief the head of the faction let us know that due to the long jeopardy of this commitment the unwavering commitment of these key i.e. They are backing off their retreating all those were is supposed to be arrested 3:30 this morning are going back to the Puuhonua,” said Kanuha.

I asked said, “What do you think it was that initially made the sheriff say we’re not gonna do this today?”

Walter Ritte responded, “I think it was the same thing that saved Kahoolawe it was Aloha that’s what I feel on both sides.”

Noe Goodyear Kaopua said, “It was hard, it was a difficult day, but I feel at the end of the day grateful to be alive, great to be standing in front of the Mauna grateful to be a part of this amazing movement.”

The state faced a myriad obstacles today. The large and motivated crowd made it extremely difficult for construction to progress. Protesters are meeting to discuss their game plan, and it looks like DOT crews are inspecting the cattle guard.

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