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Protesters Expect Clearing of Mauna Kea Site Following Peaceful Convoy

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Catherine Cruz
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On Sept. 8, 2019, supporters wait on an H-1 overpass for a convoy of cars protesting the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.

Protesters on Mauna Kea are on high alert preparing for what they say could be police action to clear them out this week. The group sent out a call-to-action to reinforce their numbers on Hawai?i Island, while supporters on O’ahu mobilized a cross-island convoy from Maunalua to M??ili without major disruption.

 

Big Island Mayor Harry Kim told the Star-Advertiser and he knows nothing of a sweep early this week to make way for the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope. 

Now holding out on the mountain for the eighth week, the protesters aim to stop construction of the telescope on Mauna Kea, considered sacred by the demonstrators.

Meanwhile on O'ahu, dozens of cars, trucks, and motorcycles – many outfitted with Hawaiian flags – lined up near the Maunalua Bay boatramp just before dawn Sunday morning.

John Akana and his wife Shanita left their home in ?Ewa Beach at 2:30 a.m. to join the convoy supporting the protest against the planned telescope.

"You know, we couldn’t make it up to the mauna [mountain]. We didn’t make it to Waik?k?. But here we are. Akanas in full force. Four flags. Not one, not two, not three," said Shanita Akana.

For Kela Kani?aupio, a Maui resident in town for a birthday party, the convoy turned into a family event with eight of her 15 siblings joining in as well as her three children.

"It was just something that for me personally, being a parent, I lead by example. You know what? I want my voice to be a part of the voices out there," said Kani'aupio. 

Joshlyn Rodrigues, 24, was one of the convoy’s organizers. She emphasized nonviolent conduct to those participating.

"One of our biggest things that we’re stressing is kapu aloha…and that is how we are going to carry ourselves and that is how we’re going to be portray this movement," Rodrigues said.

The crowd was urged to act righteously. Drugs, alcohol, or violence were prohibited and participants were urged to show respect to Honolulu police officers.

"K?kua our HPD brothers and sisters because they are volunteering their time to be here and help us," Rodrigues said.

The first 70 vehicles in the convoy were escorted by police. But according to convoy organizers, more than 500 joined along in the general traffic. There were no major problems reported as the motorcade made its way to M??ili.

Along the route, supporters of the convoy held signs on street corners and hung flags from pedestrian overpasses. Makana Kane-Kuahiwinui stood on one pedestrian overpass in Makiki.

KANE-KUAHIWINUI: P?nei wau e k?ko?o ai. K? me ko?u mau hae Hawai?i ... I k?ia kakahiaka, ?ano pa?ahana wau ma ka hele ?ana i ke kahua mokulele, ka hele i ka papa hula. K?ko?o i ka hiki a me ka pono, a ?o k?ia n? ko?u pono i k?ia kakahiaka.

With her busy schedule, she said wasn’t able to commit to the cross-island drive. She said standing with her Hawaiian flags was how she could best support the cause.

The convoy ended with a celebration at M??ili Beach Park in Wai?anae. 

The convoy traveled along Kalanianaole Highway, the H-1 Freeway and Farrington Highway just days after emotions ran high when state crews dismantled an illegal structure at the Mauna Kea protest site last week.

Kuli?ou?ou resident Makaokalani Minihan believes the action inspired more supporters to join the convoy.

"It fueled the fire and the fueled the passion. It’s not a fight against anybody. It is a fight for our ??ina. We are standing up for our ??ina. We are here for our ??ina. We are here for our future generations. We?re not going anywhere," Minihan said.

The convoy was the most recent public show of support for the Mauna Kea protest that is showing no signs of a quick ending.

Kuʻuwehi Hiraishi is a general assignment reporter at Hawaiʻi Public Radio. Her commitment to her Native Hawaiian community and her fluency in ʻōlelo Hawaiʻi has led her to build a de facto ʻōiwi beat at the news station. Send your story ideas to her at khiraishi@hawaiipublicradio.org.
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