Scientists escorted off of Mauna Kea

Just around 4 p.m., a long caravan of vehicles packed with scientists were escorted off of Mauna Kea. They were being led by sheriffs.

Jessica Dempsey, East Asian Observatory Deputy Director, announced that all the scientists would be leaving Mauna Kea and would be gone possibly indefinitely or at least until TMT is built. The decision was made for safety reasons.

Dempsey said that this action is unprecedented and that this has never happened before.

“The Mauna Kea Observatories have millions of dollars of instrumentation, this isn’t a camera you can go and buy off the shelf. A lot of these are very fickle. These instruments need a lot of love and often this means daily. So this is a risk and a wrench for us to have to step away to this point. It is one of the reasons why we are hoping we do not have to extend this period for very long.”

Day two of the stand off between the kia ̀i of Mauna Kea and law enforcement/state officials is much calmer than on Monday but there was still tension in the air. One of the recurring themes of the day has been access to the mauna.

Lanakila Mangauil, kia ̀i of Mauna Kea said, “This was part of every fabric of our culture as Kanaka Maoli. Part of our culture, it is the essence of our culture to be guardians, to be keepers of ‘aina.”

The stand off continued with both kia ̀i of Mauna Kea and law enforcement clearly setting boundaries along Mauna Kea Access Road.

Bamboo barricades blocked telescope technicians from moving forward.

Kealoha Pisciotta said, “Before, everyone was allowed up in 2015. So it wasn’t the same issue right now they are really holding now. That’s why the gate issue was so problematic because who’s going to be in charge of the gate and they are still not letting us up.”

It’s about the principle of the matter.

“If kanaka don’t have access to the mountain, nobody should have access to the mountain and that was really the crux of the argument,” said Kahookahi Kanuha, kia ̀i of Mauna Kea.

After more than an hour kia ̀i let the workers pass.

Daryl Watanabe, telescope technician said, “We’re very appreciative that they’re allowing us to go up. We are having a problem with our telescope that we need to service.”

Negotiations that had started early in the morning came to a halt after terms could not be agreed upon.

Kia ̀i asked for three things.

Kanuha said, “They weren’t interested in not allowing the National Guard up and under no circumstances are they willing to give us any access pass that with a vehicle. The only thing they were willing to negotiate was a check point. It would be off to the side of the road so after hours of negotiating we had no agreement.”

When asked “What happens next?” Kanuha said, “We will continue to hold ourselves in kapu aloha. We will continue in peace and nonviolence and what they decide to do is what they decide to do.”

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