NOTE: This is part one of a two part series examining the July 31st law enforcement action on Mauna Kea that resulted in seven arrests. Media was not present, due to the suddenness of the action as well as the new rules that forbid anyone – media included – from being on the mountain between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m. Therefore, part one relies on video of the arrests filmed and distributed by DLNR. Part two will feature video taken by Lakea Trask, a supporter of the arrestees who was given a citation that night.
MAUNA KEA, Hawaii – In the early morning hours of July 31st, a convoy of law enforcement vehicles drove up the Mauna Kea mountainside under the cover of darkness. Law enforcement with the State Department of Land and Natural Resources raided the encampment of a group that has been at the heart of the ongoing blockade of the Thirty Meter Telescope, or TMT – the $1.4 billion observatory that has obtained state approval to build on the summit area of the mountain.
The men – called the kia’i, or guardians, by supporters – were given a choice: Take a citation and leave immediately, or be arrested.
Seven men were taken to jail. Some were forcibly taken out of the Hale Kukia’imauna. According to DLNR:
Arrested for prohibited activities (Hawaii Administrative Rules section 13-123-21.2(d) as amended:
- Eric Ana, 35, Oahu ($250 bail)
- Joseph Henderson, 26, Pahoa ($250 bail)
- Laakeaokani Sanborn, 32, Kona ($250 bail)
- D’Angelo Montez McIntyre, 29, Oahu ($250 bail)
- Marcus Yoshizu, 26, Oahu ($250 bail)
- Bronson Kobayashi, 23, Kona ($400 bail, additional for failure to appear)
- Pueo McGuire Turcotte, 27, Naalehu ($3100 bail, additional for resisting arrest and contempt of court)
The state says the Hawaii County Police Department provided transportation support and booking. Rangers from the Office of Mauna Kea Management provided logistical support.
Six men were issued citations and voluntarily left the mountain.
- Citations for prohibited activities:
- Michael Kyser
- Lakea Trask
- Sam Whatley-Keliihoomalu
- Justin Murphy
- Caleb Murphy
- Kapono Kuikahi
The raid was not unexpected. For weeks, DLNR officers have been warning the protectors maintaining an around-the-clock vigil at the location that they are in violation of a newly enacted set of rules:. No one is allowed to camp in a restricted area, one mile on either side of the Mauna Kea Access Road, nor can anyone be present during the hours of 10 p.m. to 4 a.m. in the same restricted area.
According to the DLNR:
DLNR Chair Suzanne Case said, “Our DOCARE officers have done an outstanding job of informing people about the emergency rule. I’m proud of the professionalism they demonstrated, both in making people aware of the rule and in enforcing it.”
Media was also warned to stay away during the overnight restriction, even in the event of an enforcement action. According to Lanakila Mangauil in a Na’ua News Now Facebook video, a high ranking DLNR official clued him in that the arrests were going to come in the dark of night, although the exact time and date were unknown.
July 31st was already a significant day. On Maui, 20 people were arrested for trying to block the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope from being built on Haleakala, an action that was influenced by the stand being taken on Mauna Kea. Also, the day is La Ho’iho’i Ea… the historic day in 1843 when the Hawaiian Kingdom was restored following a five-month occupation by British naval officer Captain Lord George Paulet.
On Friday, Governor David Ige released this statement:
“The emergency rules were enacted to ensure public safety and access after the road was blocked by boulders. The state has made sure people are aware of and understand the emergency rules before taking the next step. While we had hoped arrests would not have to be made in the process of citing violators last night, we were prepared to take action, and we did so.” – Gov. David Ige
But not all state agencies are in agreement with the action…
The Office of Hawaiian Affairs released a statement – attributed to Board of Trustees Chairman Robert Lindsey:
“The Office of Hawaiian Affairs urges the state to cease further enforcement action and arrests until legal questions relating to the Mauna Kea emergency rules are properly resolved. Native Hawaiians have constitutionally protected rights to reasonably engage in traditional and customary practices, and regulations cannot eliminate the exercise of these rights. We hope for a resolution that ensures our beneficiaries’ rights are protected instead of violated.” – OHA Chairman Robert Lindsey