Maui police return home after assisting at site of telescope protest

WAILUKU — Two dozen Maui officers have returned home after spending a week on the Big Island assisting Hawaii police with a telescope construction convoy, a report said.

Maui police officers responded July 16 to calls for assistance from Hawaii County Police Chief Paul Ferreira, the Maui News reported Thursday.

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“Initially it was to assist with the safe convoy of vehicles to the summit,” Assistant Police Chief John Jakubczak said. “By the time we got there, there were demonstrators at the access road.”

Demonstrators oppose construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope they say could harm land considered sacred by some Native Hawaiians.

The 25 officers returned to Maui Tuesday after helping clear the roadway to the summit of the dormant Mauna Kea volcano, the Maui Police Department said.

Demonstrators used abandoned vehicles to block the road leading to the construction site 44 miles west of Hilo.

Officers ensured demonstrators remained nonviolent and provided support once the roads were clear.

“The purpose was to make sure everything was safe for everyone on both sides of this situation,” Jakubczak said. “Once the roadway was cleared, we were pulled back. And for the most part, the rest of our time there was in a support role if need be.”

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Honolulu Police Department officers also provided assistance at the site.

“If one county police chief requests assistance from another police chief and there’s an agreement between the chiefs, officers can go to the other jurisdiction with all authority and rights,” acting Maui Police Chief Victor Ramos said.

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