Officials in Hawaii have said they will not call up additional national guard troops or use force on peaceful protesters who are blocking access to the state’s highest peak.
Friday was the fifth day of protests at Mauna Kea in response to the closure of the road to the summit so construction equipment for the $1.4bn Thirty Meter Telescope, a major new international astronomy project, can be taken up. No trucks have made the trip.
The Thirty Meter Telescope obtained permits to build after a decade-long review. Last year the Hawaii supreme court ruled the permits were obtained legally.
There have been protests in other parts of Hawaii, including on Maui and at the state capitol in Honolulu.
Hawaii governor David Ige said his priority was to keep everyone in the community safe, including the activists. The 80 guard members who have been on the Big Island since the start of the protests will remain, state officials said.
“We will not be utilizing teargas, as some of the rumors have been [saying],” Ige said. “We are looking for the best way forward without hurting anyone.”
The governor said last week national guard units would be used to transport personnel and equipment as well as to enforce road closures. Ige said on Friday no more troops would be called in, but he did not remove an emergency proclamation he enacted on Wednesday. The order broadened state authority to remove protesters, including the use of national guard troops.
Big Island mayor Harry Kim, who met Ige on Friday morning as about 800 to 1,200 activists gathered on the mountain, said he hoped protesters and officials would take time to discuss a better way forward...