Lā 128: At least 20 arrested in attempt to block work on Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Maui

Hawaiʻi News Now Posted: Jul 30, 2015 11:49 PM HST Updated: Jul 31, 2015 3:10 PM HST By Ben Gutierrez

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At least 20 people were arrested overnight in an attempt to block a convoy of large equipment from heading to the summit of Haleakala for the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope.

Despite their efforts, three trucks with large parts for the telescope left the Central Maui Baseyard shortly before 1 a.m.

Some 200 demonstrators gathered for a loud but peaceful protest at a baseyard gate that opened onto Mokulele Highway. That's where the trucks were parked and ready to leave for the summit.

"Well, they're more prepared this time around, it seems," said Kahele Dukelow of the group Kakoo Haleakala. "And from what people have said, talking to some of their representatives tonight is that they're not going to back down tonight."

"Our tactic this evening is really to choke this crosswalk first, and if we cannot stop them here, there are other crosswalks along the route that also can be walked," said rally organizer Trinette Furtado.

At least 30 Maui County Police officers also showed up at the site to assist in getting the trucks out of the gate. But when the trucks started their engines, several protesters lay down in the driveway, with their arms linked together with PVC pipes.

"It’s taking them a while to get through the pipes. But at some point they’re going to get through it, and we’re going to try here at the crosswalk, and we just gotta see what happens." said Dukelow.

It took officers several hours to cut through the pipes with saws. Once the pipes were cut, the protesters were arrested and taken away.

Jonathan Irvine was one of those arrested. He bailed out Friday morning, and said he didn't intend to be taken into custody.

"But when I heard the call, I really had no choice," said Irvine. "I really didn't make the decision consciously. It kinda was put on me, and I just heed the call and it was my kuleana, I felt."

When those demonstrators were finally cleared, officers moved others back toward the highway and out of the crosswalk, and eventually opened the driveway to allow the trucks through.

The protesters are concerned that construction on the $300 million telescope atop Haleakala has continued – despite a challenge before the Hawaii Supreme Court.

Longtime telescope opponent Kiope Raymond was also arrested. He's part of the court case challenging the legality of the telescope construction on state conservation district land at the summit.

"What are we going to be able to conserve in the future? it just doesn't make any sense to us at all," Raymond said.

They’ve also been spurred by the protests against the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea. But unlike the TMT, the Inouye Telescope is already halfway to completion.

Alex Quintana of Waikapu was at last month's rally that postponed the convoy. He was arrested at Thursday night's protest.

"I think the first one was a good one. I was there for that," he said. "But this one, with the arrests, I think gonna spark one fire. The embers will turn into a fire."

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