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No Arrests Made Atop Maunakea Site

July 15, 2019, 4:33 PM HST (Updated July 16, 2019, 7:05 AM)
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VIDEO: DLNR

At 8 a.m., the Department of Conservation and Resources Enforcement closed the Mauna Kea Access Road to all traffic until further notice.

Hawai‘i Department of Land and Natural Resources officers on the scene this morning, July 15, 2019, said protestors, who arrived to the site in the early morning hours, would not be arrested unless they attempted to block the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road).

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More than 500 protectors are on-site.

By 4 p.m. no arrests were made, although eight Maunakea kia‘i (protectors) chained themselves to the cattle guard on Mauna Kea Access Road in the early morning hours, the day the road closed at 7 a.m. to accommodate heavy equipment for the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauakea.

The eight chained to the cattle guard untethered themselves and no arrests were made as of 4 p.m.

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After the attorneys general left, the sheriffs team rolled in, according to a Big Island Now reporter on the scene this afternoon.

Opponents of the project say the TMT is a desecration of a mountain that some Hawaiians consider sacred.

The state’s Joint Information Center is provided the following update at 4 p.m.

The top priority continues to be the safety of all. To that end, a strong line of communication and respect between law enforcement and the protest leaders has been established. The state is committed to continuing that dialogue and respect.

An estimated crowd of about 300 to 500 people gathered at the intersection of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (formerly known as Saddle Road) and Mauna Kea Access Road.

No injuries were reported and no arrests made. Initially, it was reported that seven protesters who had secured themselves to a cattle guard were arrested. Out of concern for the health and safety of those protesters, law enforcement officials decided to give them the option of unlocking themselves and leaving without being arrested.

For public safety, the State Department of Transportation set up concrete barriers today along the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (formerly known as Saddle Road) near the Mauna Kea Access Road intersection and installed a gate today on the access road.

Please continue to drive carefully if you are in the area and expect increased traffic and possible delays.

We urge everyone to stay away from the area. It is a remote area and access to medical care limited. If you are in the area, which is at about 6,000 feet altitude, remember to monitor your physical health, stay hydrated and protect yourself from sun exposure. The area is also prone to sudden changes in weather including temperature, rain and visibility.

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