Hawaiian Protesters Block Construction of Thirty Meter Telescope
Group of hundreds of protestors on a Hawaii mountain road erupted in cheers on Wednesday after construction crews turned around and returned from the site for what would be one of the world’s largest telescopes i.e. Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT).
The billion-dollar project has drawn intense opposition from Native Hawaiians who believe that the 18-story observatory on the Big Island’s Mauna Kea would damage the land they consider as sacred.
Work on the Thirty Meter Telescope has been stalled for months after a large group blocked access to the mountaintop in April, a demonstration that led to 31 arrests. Arrests have also sparked debate over native Hawaiian rights and sacred lands.
Protestors said they were ready to adopt similar tactics and are even ready to go to jail if necessary to make their point Wednesday.
Hawaiian officials said Hawaii County police arrested one man, while state Department of Land and Natural Resources said police arrested nearly 11 others as well.
Mike McCartney, Gov. David Ige’s chief of staff, said in a statement that large boulders were found on the road leading to the summit. McCartney said crews will work to clear the roadway on Thursday, and meanwhile the construction was put on hold.
Henry Yang, the chair of the TMT International Observatory Board, said, “For the safety of our team, we made the decision to bring them off the mountain and we are planning to resume when the issue is resolved”.
Protester Kainoa Stafford said he saw Hawaii Department of Land and Natural Resources authorities putting plastic cuffs on protesters at several points up the mountain and put them into vans.
As per sources, astronomers are interested in the site because its summit is nearly 14,000 feet high, well above the clouds and able to provide a clear view of the sky 300 days a year.
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