UPDATE: Eight Arrested on Mauna Kea Early Wednesday
***Updated at 1 p.m. to include information from the Office of Hawaiian Affairs and one of the arrestees, Ku’uipo Freitas.***
Seven women and one man were arrested atop Mauna Kea early Wednesday morning at what the State of Hawai’i Department of Land and Natural Resources calls a protest camp. The arrests were the second wave since the implementation of the 120-day emergency rules set in place by the State of Hawai’i Board of Land and Natural Resources.
Bronson Kobayashi, 32, of Hilo; Sandy Kamaka, 46, of Kailua-Kona; Hawane Rios, 36, of Kamuela; Jennifer Leina’ala Sleightholm, 41, of Waikoloa; Shanell Subica, 43, of Kailua-Kona; Kuuipo Freitas, 26, of Kona; Patricias Ikeda, 65, of Captain Cook; and Ruth Aloua, 26, of Kailua Kona were all among those arrested.
The arrests occurred for “being present in the restricted area,” an area outlined in the 120-day emergency rule that limits access on Mauna Kea between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., in addition to limiting “camping equipment.”
Freitas, one of the eight arrested on Mauna Kea early Wednesday morning, told Big Island Now that the early morning hours were like every other on the sacred mountain of Mauna Kea.
Freitas, along with a group of six additional women were taking part in a pule circle, or praying, something they had been doing the entire night, when she says a line of DLNR officers drove up to the site to arrest them.
“We were standing in front of the Hale Ku Kia’i a Mauna. We had actually been praying all night. There were seven wahine praying in a circle and it happened really quickly. All of a sudden we saw the DLNR trucks coming and parking and they all came out and just took us,” Freitas recalled Wednesday morning from atop Mauna Kea.
The DLNR says the eight arrested were breaking emergency rules that were approved by members of the BLNR on July 11 and subsequently signed by Governor David Ige on July 14.
“We [the women arrested] came up to support and pule and be there. We don’t stay on the mountain. We weren’t planning on getting arrested at all. It wasn’t a thought that even crossed our mind. We thought that if anything, they would give us a warning and tell us to leave and we would have left. There was no warning or citation. They just arrested us,” Freitas said.
The eight were arrested by DLNR officers and transported by the Hawai’i Police Department to Hilo from the camp that is located across the Mauna Kea Visitors Center for booking.
Frietas says the entirety of the arrests lasted less than five minutes.
On July 31, seven individuals were arrested on similar offenses and six received citations. Kobayashi, arrested early Wednesday, was also among those arrested on July 31.
Bail was set at $250 for all those arrested, except for Kobayashi, who had bail set at $1,000 since he is a repeat offender.
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs announced its continued support for the individuals arrested following the arrests.
“OHA contiues to question the legality of the recently adopted Department of Land and Natural Resources rules under which the arrests were made. These rules do not account for the constitutionally protected rights of Native Hawaiians to engage in traditional and customary practices.”
All of the arrested individuals had posted bail and returned to Mauna Kea before 8 a.m. Wednesday, according to Freitas.