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DLNR: State is NOT Preparing for ‘War’

July 19, 2019, 4:03 PM HST
* Updated July 20, 7:47 AM
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TMT protest, July 15, 2019. PC: Gerald Besson

4:40 PM

The Joint Information Center is providing the following update:

Gov. Ige held a press conference today and emphasized that safety remains the state’s number one priority as law enforcement continues to plan and prepare for the movement of construction equipment up the mountain. The governor met with Mayor Harry Kim and agencies to determine next steps, and ensure all resources are in place. The governor’s comments at the news conference are attached.

There were over 1,000 people in the area and around the intersection of the Daniel K. Inouye Highway (Saddle Road) and Mauna Kea Access Road.

There were no arrests or injuries reported today.

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There have been claims circulating that the state has approved the use of excessive force. This is inaccurate, and no state agency or leader can make such an approval. This, and rhetoric such as “the state is preparing for war,” is dangerous and false.

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Many questions have been asked about why more can’t be shared about law enforcement activities, and the reason is for safety and security purposes. In law enforcement, there is a focus on decreasing vulnerabilities while conveying essential information. Law enforcement has continually assured it has the resources necessary to bring about a peaceful resolution, which is the top priority.

Access to Mauna Kea remains closed for safety reasons.

The emergency proclamation remains in place. It provides law enforcement increased flexibility and authority to close more areas and restrict access on Mauna Kea to ensure public safety.

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2 PM, July 18, 2018: Mauna Kea Media Press Conference Update

Today’s crowd atop Maunakea was estimated at between 800 and 1200. There have been no arrests or injuries today.

“Law enforcement continues to make preparations for the lawful transport of construction equipment up Mauna Kea,” said DLNR Communications Manager Dan Dennison. “They continue to meet with all agencies to determine the next steps. They are making sure appropriate resources are in place to handle the crowd that is gathered now or in the future.”

He said he wanted to remind everyone that law enforcement are members of the community and “just doing their jobs.” He said their priority is to keep everyone in the community safe.

Dennison addressed claims again regarding the rumors about approval of excessive force.

“There is no such thing as a state leader or agency approving of using excessive force,” stated Dennison. “Rhetoric that the state is preparing for ‘war’ is being used on traditional and social media. It is dangerous and false.”

He said for safety and security purposes, the state cannot comment on planning of law enforcement activities.

TMT protest, July 15, 2019. PC: Gerald Besson

All access to Mauna Kea is restricted.

When asked what Gov. David Ige is doing on Hawai‘i Island today, he said he had no idea what he is doing today.

He was then asked about the perceived threat

“If it’s a perceived threat, that’s all it is because law enforcement is not here to threaten anyone,” stated Dennison. “Law enforcement is here to provide for safety and security of the protestors, all you folks in the media—everyone involved in the operation, including the folks that are working with TMT to get the construction equipment up to the mountain.”

He was asked again why law enforcement officers were wearing badges. He said that he was told each different law enforcement agency has their own policy and could not speak to the policies.

Big Island Now can confirm that none of the officers from Honolulu, Hawaii Island, the Attorney General Investigators Office, nor any of the DLNR or DOCARE officers were wearing badges with identification five days of protests.

TMT protest, July 15, 2019. PC: Gerald Besson

Dennison said there is no chance that law enforcement is planning to clear anyone from Pu‘u Honua o Pu‘u Huluhulu. There have been rumors circulating that this was going to take place. The state says it is not.

“The real critical issue is crossing Saddle Road or Daniel K. Inouye Highway,” said Dennison. “That’s really important for both drivers and people here on the scene to be really careful.”

All are reminded to look both ways, pay close attention, drive with extreme caution and care in the are of mile marker 28 and 30 on Saddle Road (Daniel K. Inouye Highway) at the intersection of Mauna Kea Access Road. Drivers are asked to slow down to 10 mph and to pay attention to what is ahead.

Dennison was then asked what the emergency proclamation; there is no lava flow or hurricane. What is the emergency that required a proclamation?

“I’d rather defer that off to the governor’s office because I don’t know how they developed that,” stated Dennison. “The way I understand it, it gives the governor broad authority to issue these proclamations on something happening now, or something predicted in the future.”

TMT protest, July 15, 2019. PC: Gerald Besson

He was pressed that given there has been no violence, why issue an emergency proclamation? He said he each state has their own rules and that he couldn’t speak to why.

“Whatever law enforcement wants to do under the emergency proclamation, if they deem its necessary, they will take those steps in order to assure public safety,” explained Dennison. “We are continuing to have discussions with the protestors, and we want to bring this to a peaceful resolution as soon as possible and I think everyone has shown a lot of patience and we would encourage everyone to show a lot of patience.”

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