News

Pāhoa Man Arrested at Maunakea Encampment for Reported Harassment

February 29, 2020, 8:00 AM HST
* Updated February 29, 6:53 AM
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Jacinto Zulueta

A Pāhoa man was arrested at the encampment by Maunakea Access Road off of Daniel K. Inouye Highway where demonstrators have stood their ground against the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope.

Hawai‘i Police Department was called to the camp Thursday between 9:30 and 10 a.m. Authorities say 35-year-old Jacinto K. Zulueta was taken into custody for harassment after “purportedly hurling a urine filled jug at the victim.”

Zulueta was charged with harassment and is currently in custody. Bail was set at $250.

These incidents are unusual for the encampment, said Noe Noe Wong-Wilson, a spokeswoman for the group. She could only recall three times in the entire time they’ve been at Maunakea that they’ve asked someone to leave.

Demonstrators, who also call the themselves kia‘i or protecters, blocked Maunakea Access Road for five months to halt construction of the telescope. For the last two months, supporters and opponents of TMT agreed to a moratorium on the project, restoring public access to the mauna.

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The protectors view Maunakea as sacred Hawaiian land and believe the construction of TMT as a desecration.

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Since the establishment of the encampment, the rule for anyone who comes to the mauna is to practice kapu aloha. Wong-Wilson said Zulueta had been at the mauna for a period of time.

“Unfortunately, he was unwilling to play by camp rules,” Wong-Wilson said.

On Thursday morning, Wong-Wilson said the Pāhoa man was asked to leave — he refused and accosted one of the camp members. Kia‘i called police for assistance.

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Wong-Wilson said the rules of the camp are repeated daily.

“We don’t allow alcohol or drugs,” she said. “We don’t even allow cigarettes or marijuana, even if you have a medical marijuana card.”

Wong-Wilson said the kia‘i often are accused by opponents of being lawless. She added that she’s seen news reports of the group drinking, doing drugs and littering at the camp.

This is not the case, Wong-Wilson said.

“We’re doing the best we can to have the least impact on the environment as possible and to leave the area better than when we came,” she said.

There is no timeframe for when construction of TMT will begin.

“We continue to engage in private discussions with community members in finding a peaceful, lawful and non-violent way forward that honors and supports our scientific goals, environmental stewardship and the traditions and culture of Hawai‘i,” TMT officials told Big Island Now earlier this month.

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