Hundreds gathered Wednesday morning as it was anticipated that there would be movement on the third day of the standoff between state officials and kanaka maoli.
The tension was high, though respectful.
Viewers watched as vans were pulled around to the line of kupuna who sat and waited, knowing that law enforcement would come in to arrest them.
Billy Freitas, a long-time opponent to the building of TMT on Mauna Kea, was the first arrested. Freitas laid himself on the land, calling out ‘eō,’ to which the others answered in unison, ‘eō.’
Other kupuna were arrested shortly thereafter, their wrists zip-tied together as they were taken to a van to be transported to Hilo.
Thirteen people had been arrested by 8:45 a.m. By 10:15 a.m. that number had risen to 23, according to our crew at the scene. By late in the 10:00 a.m. hour, Dan Dennison, Senior Communications Director of the Department of Land and Natural Resources (DLNR), stated that the arrests had come to a halt.
In a late-morning press conference, Dennison stated that they were not confirming the number of those arrested but the state later confirmed that there were citations issued to 33 people. Dennison later confirmed that the charges were Obstruction of a Government Project.
According to Dennison, kupuna were given the option to be cited and leave the area. Some did leave.
At around 11 a.m. many more police officers arrived. They lined the roads as kanaka sang.
Law Enforcement announced over loud speaker to stay off the road and to cooperate with their instructions.
At 12:30 p.m., the County of Hawaii closed the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, also known as Saddle Road, citing safety reasons.
The road was re-opened shortly before 3 p.m.
Wednesday afternoon, Gov. David Ige held a press conference to announce that he had issued an emergency proclamation for the County of Hawaii. He said in part:
The proclamation will give authorities more power to enforce the laws and close more areas, including public highways.
The governor said that the timeline was fluid and that they had set no particular day for when the equipment would be up at the summit.
He also praised law enforcement for their patience in dealing with the crowd, which the state has estimated to be 1,000 people. Ultimately, he said, it is about keeping everyone in the community safe while getting equipment to the construction site.
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