(BIVN) – Leaders in the Kū Kiaʻi Mauna movement who are holding space in defiance of the Thirty Meter Telescope project planned for Mauna Kea issued a video statement on Tuesday, alleging police misconduct and harassment.
The standoff over the TMT has been going on for just over two months. Law enforcement has not made an effort to clear the Mauna Kea Access Road to make way for TMT construction crews since July. However, as the standoff drags on, tensions remain high.
The kiaʻi say a Hawaiʻi County Police officer approached Mikey Glendon, the Hawaiian Homes beneficiary who helped build the unpermitted keiki library that was dismantled by law enforcement on September 6. The meeting between the officer and Glendon was recorded on video. The officer appears to inform Glendon that the police had information, shared by an informant from inside the Puʻuhonua, that someone was going to “put kids inside the building and then was goinʻ have one guy inside with one gun, waiting for us come inside”.
Audio files provided by the Puʻuhonua show the officer later spoke to Glendon over the phone. During the call, the officer informed Glendon the names of the alleged police informants.
The TMT opponents say the police officer’s information was false. Providing video and audio evidence to support their claim, the kiaʻi shared this media release:
The State of Hawaiʻi may be using unethical law enforcement tactics to harass, intimidate and vilify Maunakea protectors, incite fear in our communities, and escalate tensions in the Puʻuhonua. We are especially concerned about a recent act of possible misconduct by a law enforcement officer who attempted to turn protectors against each other and provoke tension and conflict among us.
We have video and audio documentation of the officer giving false information to one of our protectors in an apparent attempt to provoke him to retaliate against two supposed informants in our Puʻuhonua. This officer’s actions, the escalating law enforcement activity in and around Maunakea Access Road, combined with recent public statements by the State of Hawaiʻi, appears to be a concerted effort to create conflict within the Puʻuhonua, sway public opinion against protectors, and provide justification for forceful action against us.
Over the past 10 days, law enforcement actions have included:
● No notice “sobriety checkpoints” on the Daniel K. Inouye highway, manned by the Hawaiʻi County’s Special Response Team (SRT) and possibly State Sheriffs using Department of Transportation barricades on multiple nights, including this past Sunday night.
● State Sheriffs lining trucks along the road above the cattle guard on the Maunakea Access Road and shining high beams on kūpuna at 1:00 am on Monday, September 9 and Tuesday, September 10 for no apparent reason, causing anxiety and fear amongst the kūpuna.
● A blackhawk helicopter flying at a low-level over the kūpuna tent on Mauna Kea Access Road on Tuesday, September 10.
● Groups of 6 to 7 police vehicles staged in different areas near the Puʻuhonua over the last several days with no communication about their purpose, raising further anxiety.
Even more egregious are actions that appear to be aimed at inciting hostility and conflict in the Puʻuhonua. On September 6, a law enforcement officer used a power saw to saw a Hawaiian flag in half. The choice of using the power saw to enter the building through the one panel where the flag was situated, rather than any other panel, seemed calculated. The unnecessary destruction of the Hawaiian flag occurred within the Puʻuhonua and before a crowd of protectors that had assembled, suggesting an apparent attempt to inflame anger and test our Kapu Aloha.
On September 12, the State of Hawaiʻi held a press conference in which they accused protectors of negative environmental impacts at Puʻuhuluhulu, even though conservation efforts of the Kanaka Rangers are admittedly addressing the issue effectively.
On September 13, the State of Hawaiʻi held another press conference inferring a connection between protectors and random online comments that violate Kapu Aloha. Just yesterday, Governor Ige posted on his Facebook page the following: “If the activists say there’s no compromise, then it leaves the state with few options.” Painting protectors as the side offering no compromise without offering meaningful compromise of his own, appears intended to add to this campaign to malign protectors and embolden negative opinion against us.
Most concerning, however, is a police officer’s purposeful sharing of false information that had a high potential to provoke conflict between protectors. This kind of tactic has no place in Hawaiʻi.
We do not know whether the officer’s actions were his alone or part of a larger law enforcement effort. We ask that the officer’s personal information be kept confidential and that media use this information responsibly as we seek an investigation of his conduct.
These actions are possibly being employed to create a false pretext for the use of force on our peaceful protectors at Puʻuhuluhulu. However, they only serve to strengthen our resolve and commitment to Kapu Aloha, peaceful, non-violent conduct. We will not be provoked or distracted from our purpose, which is peaceful protection of Maunakea. We humbly ask everyone to join in our pledge to KAPU ALOHA.