(Star-Advertiser) Lt. Gov. Josh Green opposes use of National Guard troops at Mauna Kea

(Source: Honolulu Star Advertiser)

  • CINDY ELLEN RUSSELL / CRUSSELL@STARADVERTISER.COM

    Law enforcement officers relaxed on Mauna Kea Access Road Thursday on the fourth day of opposition to the construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea. The protest continued today with no confrontations with law enforcement this morning.

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UPDATE: 10:40 a.m.

MAUNA KEA >> Hawaii Lt. Gov. Josh Green says he opposes the use of Hawaii National Guard troops to cope with the protests on Mauna Kea.

Green, who is traveling in Chicago, described Mauna Kea as a “sacred mountain” in a Facebook post, adding that “first and most important in my opinion, there must not be any violence on Mauna Kea.”

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“I want to recognize the Protectors (opponents of the Thirty Meter Telescope) right now for their peaceful approach to date. I have enormous respect for that. This is also why I have stated in the past my opposition to using the National Guard on Mauna Kea for TMT matters. I trust and respect the National Guard, however my belief is they should only be used when there is no other way to protect life and safety.”

Green also pledged to meet with anyone with an interest in the issue.

“In my opinion no single project, not any, is important enough to allow ourselves to damage the fabric of our Ohana in Hawaii,” he said.

Gov. David Ige has said unarmed National Guard troops will be used in support roles as the state attempts to move ahead with TMT construction.

State Sen. Kai Kahele (D-Hilo), meanwhile, has asked Ige for an immediate 60-day moratorium on construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope, saying in a letter to the governor sent Thursday that he has grown “increasingly apprehensive that the State of Hawaiʻi is not fully prepared for the situation on Maunakea.”

Kahele went on to write that Ige’s decision on Wednesday to issue an emergency proclamation giving law enforcement more flexibility on the mountain was not the solution and that activating the National Guard beyond the role of transporting personnel and equipment would only heighten tensions.

Kahele, who is challenging incumbent U.S. Rep. Tulsi Gabbard for her Congressional seat, is an officer in the Hawaii Air National Guard.

He also offered to help facilitate ho’oponopono discussions between the Ige administration and leaders of the TMT opposition. Ho’oponpono refers to a Hawaiian process of conflict resolution that aims to heal relationships.

“If culture and astronomy are to co-exist on Maunakea in the future, meaningful conversations about management, stewardship, access, revenue and decommissioning need to occur,” wrote Kahele. “The status quo is unfortunately unacceptable.

The Ige administration did not immediately respond to a request to comment on the letter.

Halting telescope construction for two months could add to the hurdles of getting the TMT built. The project’s conservation district use permit requires that construction begin by Sept. 26. It’s possilble that TMT would have to return to the Board of Land and Natural Resources to try to extend that date.

8:25 a.m.

MAUNA KEA >> Democratic socialist candidate for president Sen. Bernie Sanders said that “we must guarantee native people’s right to self-determination and their right to protest. I stand with Native Hawaiians who are peacefully demonstrating to protect their sacred mountain of Mauna Kea.”

In a Tweet posted shortly before 6:30 a.m. Hawaii time, Sanders was replying to a comment on Twitter by former state Rep. Kaniela Ing in support of the activists who oppose construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope on Mauna Kea.

The tweet was later deleted from his verified Twitter account.

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MAUNA KEA >> Protest organizers are making preparations for what they say is an inevitable confrontation with law enforcement, naming the National Guard in particular.

>> Click here for more TMT coverage

During the daily morning meeting in front of hundreds of protesters, organizers practiced their human blockades and gave instructions on what to do in event of a confrontation, including removing children from the scene right away and never resorting to violence.

There are minors on Mauna Kea Access Road.

Gov. David Ige’s emergency proclamation on Wednesday means National Guard personnel could be deployed to clear the access road to Mauna Kea.

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