Lā 128: July 31, Lā Hoʻihoʻi EA. Authorities arrest 7 protestors atop Mauna Kea as enforcement of emergency rules begins

Hawaiʻi News Now Posted: Jul 31, 2015 3:39 AM HST Updated: Jul 31, 2015 5:41 AM HST By Ian Scheurin

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Law enforcement authorities on Hawaii Island arrested seven protestors atop Mauna Kea early Friday morning, the first arrests for violations of a new emergency rule designed to limit overnight access to the mountain.

A Department of Land and Natural Resources spokesperson says at least six others were given citations for violations of those rules, which prohibit camping on the mountain and restrict access to the Summit Access Road between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.

The seven protestors who were arrested early Friday morning were taken into custody at around 2:00 a.m., but not until they refused to accept citations instead, law enforcement officials said. The men were booked at the Hawaii Police Department substation in Hilo, and each was subject to $250 bail before being released.

A land department spokesperson says nearly 30 DLNR enforcement employees and Hawaii County Police Department officers were involved in Friday's enforcement effort.

Governor David Ige signed the new emergency rules into effect on July 14, but it wasn't until a week later that signs informing the public of the emergency rule were posted along the summit access road. Two days later, DLNR Conservation and Resource Enforcement officers started distributing educational handouts to protestors, alerting them to the rule changes.

Officials said the rule was needed to assert control and restore safety to the mountain following months of protests over the controversial Thirty Meter Telescope project, but there was not a single arrest or citation for violations of that rule until early Friday morning. Protestors have continued their vigil atop Mauna Kea despite alerts from DLNR officers.

Friday's arrests on Mauna Kea came just hours after at least 20 people were arrested during protests of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope on Haleakala. At least 200 protestors gathered late Thursday in an attempt to block trucks containing parts for the telescope from reaching the construction area, though witnesses at the scene say at least three trucks were able to make their way through the blockade.

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