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Latest Developments On Mauna Kea TMT Protest

Updated: July 21, 5:11 p.m.

About 2,000 people gathered Sunday near the intersection of Daniel K. Inouye Highway and Mauna Kea Access Road, state officials estimated. There were no arrests as the protest continues against the Thirty Meter Telescope planned near the summit of Mauna Kea.

Updated: July 21, 1:53 p.m.

State officials say Hale Pohaku employees will have better access up Mauna Kea Access Road under changes made by law enforcement officials. The road has been closed to the general public as the protest against the planned Thirty Meter Telescope continues on Mauna Kea.

Jason Redulla, chief of the state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, said in a Sunday afternoon media briefing that there is a chance of lightning this afternoon. If it occurs, he advised that people take shelter in their cars with the windows up. Tents and canopies won't be safe, he said.

Redulla would not disclose details of law enforcement plans for Monday. Officials are continuing to prepare for movement of construction equipment up the telescope building site near the summit.

On Saturday, Hawaii Island police arrested a 60-year-old man after receiving a call about a disorderly male at Pu'u Huluhulu. He was arrested without incident, officials said. 

Updated: July 21, 12:45 p.m.

Supporters of the protest against the planned Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea took to Waikiki streets Sunday. KHON News and Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported hundreds of demonstrators participated. 

Updated: July 21, 8:32 a.m.

As the protest against construction of the planned Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea enters its second week, another front is developing in the courts.

Mauna Kea Anaina Hou's suit against Gov. David Ige, TMT International Observatory and other defendants seeks a security bond to be posted covering the full cost of the project, estimated as high as $2 billion. Without the bond, Hawaii would be financially liable for the project, according to the plaintiffs. TMT has called the suit another tactic to delay the project.

A telephone status conference with the parties was held Friday and another is set for July 30. 

Native Hawaiian cultural practitioners have also filed court challenges, including one seeking to rescind Ige's emergency proclamation. The order gives the state more control over access of Mauna Kea. The mountain has been closed to all unauthorized vehicles and pedestrians, preventing access to the summit by all others.

Yesterday, the state Senate Hawaiian caucus called on Ige to rescind the emergency proclamation. 

"While we support the Governor's commitment not to deploy the national guard, we ask that the Governor rescind his emergency proclamation in order to deescalate tensions. It is vitally important that people on both sides continue to engage in kapu aloha and use non-violent means to express themselves and seek redress," the caucus stated.

State Rep. Daniel Holt, chairman of the House Hawaiian caucus also released a statement: ""When an issue of this magnitude and sensitivity arises, it demands an approach of utmost care and understanding. We ask that Governor Ige immediately rescind the proclamation of emergency in order to de-escalate the situation and to allow space for the voices of Hawai‘i’s people to be heard. It is inappropriate to respond to peaceful protests with disproportionate force."

Updated: July 20, 2 p.m.

State officials estimated about 1,400 people have gathered Saturday near the intersection of Mauna Kea Access Road and the Daniel K. Inouye Highway, location of the continuing protest against the planned Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.

Jason Redulla, chief of the state Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement, said in an afternoon media briefing that it appears the number of people joining the protest has been growing as the day goes on.

Saturday's crowd may be the largest since the latest protest began. Officials expected the numbers would grow over the weekend. Redulla would not say if law enforcement numbers are being adjusted as the crowd grows. 

An Army Reserve unit of the 100th Battalion, 442nd Infantry Regiment, has arrived on Hawaii Island, but Redulla said it is not connected to the National Guard or the TMT law enforcement effort. 

On Friday, Gov. David Ige visited Hawaii Island and told reporters that because he does not want to escalate the situation on Mauna Kea, no more National Guard will be brought in. Presence of the National Guard has been a flashpoint for some of the protesters.

Redulla said the state continues to prepare for the movement of construction vehicles, which would need to roll up the access road to the telescope building site near the summit.

Saturday is the sixth day of the demonstration against construction of the telescope. Ige issued an emergency proclamation last week, giving the state more control over access to Mauna Kea. Only authorized vehicles and people are allowed past a checkpoint about one-eighth of mile from the intersection with the highway.

This is a developing story. Please check back for updates.

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