UPDATED 4:50 p.m.
Police have informed a group of kupuna who were blocking the Maunakea Access Road they would not be arrested today and were free to go.
The crowd of protesters burst into cheers.
Shortly after, protest leader Kahookahi Kanuha credited the kupuna who blocked the road for most of the day for the decision by police to take no other enforcement action today.
“The final deal was made by our kupuna not backing down,” he told the Tribune-Herald. “If this was poker, I guess we called their bluff.”
Updated 4 p.m.
The following statement is attributed to Dr. Jessica Dempsey, Deputy Director, East Asian Observatory:
“This afternoon, the directors of the existing observatories on Maunakea made the joint decision to withdraw all personnel from their telescope facilities at the summit to guarantee the safety of their staff — the institutions’ top priority. Without guaranteed reliable access to the telescopes, the Maunakea Observatories will suspend all summit activities. We anticipate returning to normal operations as soon as the situation allows.
The safety of everyone on the mountain, MKO staff, law enforcement and protesters is of paramount importance to us. This is not a decision we came to lightly, but want to emphasize the importance of safety for our staffs and the facilities.
We are truly grateful to the law enforcement agencies who have been working around the clock to ensure the safety of everyone on Maunakea. The safety of our personnel – and of everyone on the mountain — remains our top priority.”
UPDATED 12:20 p.m.
MAUNAKEA — Protest leader Kahookahi Kanuha told the Tribune-Herald law enforcement has not agreed to conditions requested earlier today by the protesters.
The first condition was that no Hawaii National Guard personnel be allowed past a checkpoint established by police about a quarter mile up the Maunakea Access Road.
The second condition was that observatory service and maintenance personnel who work up the mountain would allowed up the access, in exchange for the protesters being allowed to send specific individuals up the mountain each day.
Despite those requests apparently being denied, protesters did allow two vehicles with personnel from the NASA Infrared Telescope Facility past a barrier on a side path leading to the access road.
Before being let through, Imai Namahoe, observatory manager for IRTF, said he needed to get to the telescope to perform some maintenance.
“They’re not hassling us,” Namahoe said (of the protesters). “They’re being respectful.”
Greg Engh, IRTF night telescope operator, said he needed to get to the facility to relive another operator who needed to come down the mountain for undisclosed medical reasons. Engh said he was beginning a four-night shift.
UPDATED 10:37 a.m.
It appears about 60 Honolulu Police Department officers have arrived at Hilo International Airport this morning to assist Hawaii Police Department and state police officers on Maunakea Access Road.
A Honolulu Police Department statement issued earlier this morning said: HPD officers will be going to Hawaii Island at the request of the Hawaii Police Department. They will assist Hawaii police officers in keeping roadways clear for the movement of construction equipment and vehicles. The HPD officers were chosen from various units and shifts to ensure that the deployment will not impact police services on Oahu.
Unconfirmed reports say officers from other neighbor islands will be arriving on the Big Island today, as well. Jason Redulla, enforcement chief for the state Department of Land and Natural Resources enforcement, is scheduled to address the media at 11 a.m.
UPDATED 9:57 a.m.
TMT protesters have moved their protest higher up the Maunakea Access Road, a couple hundred feet from the police checkpoint at the cattle guard.
The new location cuts off the side path used earlier this morning by staff of the Halepohaku facility.
Protest leaders have asked police to agree to certain conditions.
The first condition, according to protest leader Andre Perez, is that no Hawaii National Guard personnel be allowed past the checkpoint.
Second, service and maintenance personnel who work up the mountain will be allowed up the access road, in exchange for the protesters being allowed to send specific individuals up the mountain. The protesters will inform the police which people will ascend the mountain at the beginning of each day.
Day Two of the standoff between law enforcement and Thirty Meter Telescope protesters has been quiet so far.
Police have set up a checkpoint at a cattle guard about a quarter of a mile up the Maunakea Access Road, where a day earlier eight protesters had chained themselves to the grate.
A group of kupuna and about 200 protesters have reassembled about 100 feet up the access road near the Daniel K. Inouye Highway.
“Yesterday we proved we can fight with aloha and win,” Kahookahi Kanuha, one of the protest leaders, told the protesters this morning.
Pua Case, another protest leader, asked protesters to behave peacefully if and when police begin making arrests. She asked the crowd not to interfere when the kupuna are arrested.
A group of Halepohaku workers was able to walk up a side path to the checkpoint, from which they were shuttled up the mountain to the facility, located near the Visitor Information Station at about 9,300 feet.
Protest leaders were discussing their options this morning, including whether to allow astronomers up the mountain.
Meanwhile, police officers from Honolulu were reportedly deploying to the Big Island today to assist the Hawaii Police Department.