Hawaiians protest massive telescope on sacred mountain

Officials close road as opponents pursue legal halt

Annette Reyes is a Native Hawaiian who supports building a massive telescope on Hawaii’s tallest mountain.

Some Native Hawaiians say the project will desecrate sacred land. Reyes doesn’t agree.

She says there are many others like her, but they’re reluctant to publicly support Thirty Meter Telescope because of bullying from protesters she calls a “vocal minority.” She says she’s been called a fake Hawaiian for supporting the project.

Reyes says Hawaii’s youth can’t afford to miss out on the educational opportunities the telescope has brought.

She says science is an integral part of Hawaiian culture. She says ancient Hawaiians practiced science while farming fish and navigating the seas.

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Protesters continued to gather at the base of Mauna Kea on Tuesday, the day after officials closed the road to the summit in preparation for trucks to begin taking equipment to the top.

Attorneys for a $1.4 billion telescope project say a petition filed in court seeking to halt construction on Hawaii’s tallest mountain has no merit.

In seeking a temporary restraining order, opponents say the project must post a security bond equivalent to the construction contract cost before starting construction. Thirty Meter Telescope attorney Doug Ing says the lawsuit is just another delay tactic.

About a dozen elders, or kupuna, sat in chairs at the start of the road on Monday, committed to being arrested if need be. Another eight shackled themselves to each other over a grate in the road.

They acted after state officials announced they would close the road to the summit of Mauna Kea so they could begin bringing equipment to the construction site in coming days.

The confrontation was a dramatic start to what could be weeks or more of protests pitting scientific discovery against cultural preservation and indigenous rights.

Authorities didn’t arrest anyone, saying their priority was installing concrete barriers along a nearby highway to create a buffer between speeding cars and the large numbers of people congregating in the area. No construction vehicles went up to the summit.

Hundreds of protesters remained at the scene and many promised to continue their fight.

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