Governor David Ige is between that proverbial rock and a very, very, very hard place. The situation seems intractable, but it is not. There is a path forward.
Attempting to arrest and detain 2,000 people is I would hope, not an option. Logistically there is no space for that many people, and unless detained most would return immediately to the Mauna, reinvigorated as to commitment and purpose.
There are children and kupuna present in large numbers. The trauma, all caught on camera and beamed around the world – would cause huge harm on many levels.
Mass arrests are not possible, and morally reprehensible. At least not possible in a sane and rational world.
There have already been large demonstrations and marches held on every island, with more being planned. Any escalation of force initiated by state security forces risk further and serious escalation of demonstrations and ultimately civil disobedience statewide.
It is important to remember that on the Mauna the protectors and their leadership are exercising strict kapu aloha discipline. They have been trained and continue to train others on how to NOT push back and to conduct themselves only in respectful and non-violent ways.
Others participating in the many sometimes spontaneous actions around the state have not been so diligently trained or informed. Inevitably, a random provocateur on one side or the other will do something foolish and either intentionally or not…ignite the emotional tinder-box that grows more volatile by the hour.
The only responsible action by the Governor at this point is to acknowledge the situation is untenable, that the state cannot ensure the safe passage of people or equipment, and at a minimum, call for a 90-day moratorium of activity on both sides.
The developers of the TMT should by now see the writing on the wall. If they care about our community (and their own budget, timeline, and personal reputations) they will soon announce a decision to relocate the project to the Canary Islands. They already have permits in place there, the atmospheric conditions are also very favorable, and apparently, there has been no community opposition.
It is time to end this before it spirals even more out of control.
The TMT advocates will say “it’s not fair” and that the developers have “checked all the boxes and followed all the rules” and therefore entitled to build the 18 story structure situated on an area equivalent to 4 football fields.
The protectors will say (and rightfully so), “don’t talk to us about being fair”.
The University/TMT obtained a state permit to build on Mauna Kea. The Hawaiian demonstrators also have un-relinquished claims to the (un)ceded lands of Mauna Kea. The state permit did not address those claims. The courts have said that this is a “political question” that they cannot address. Here and now on the Mauna, without recourse to the court and without relief from the legislature, people have properly decided to press their claims over lands that matter most.
The lands upon which the TMT is proposed are state-owned public trust conservation lands, considered sacred by Hawaiians. Our state constitution states these lands “…shall be held by the State as a public trust for native Hawaiians and the general public.” There are no private property rights being violated.
The TMT advocates will then say, “What about the science? What about the immense value to astronomy and the opportunities to explore the universe?”
The science will not stop, neither will the exploration of the universe and all the incredible value that will be yielded from the telescope’s development. You can be sure this work will continue, whether on the Canary Islands or elsewhere.
Our government needs to follow-through and ensure the decommissioning and removal of the 5 telescopes that are currently obsolete or scheduled to be closed (of the 13 total).
It is well past time that those in positions of leadership, rise to the occasion – unite behind calling an end to the TMT debacle and put forward meaningful initiatives that preserve and protect our public trust resources.
Board President – Hawaii Alliance for Progressive Action (HAPA)
Hawai’i State Senator (2002 – 2010)
Director Office of Environmental Quality Control (2011 – 2012)
Kauai County Council (1998 -2002, 2012 -2016)
Note1: If you agree, I ask that you also consider supporting the protectors on the Mauna by making a contribution of any amount ASAP to the Aloha Aina Support Fund.
Note2: I want to thank everyone who was able to make a contribution to HAPA in support of economic justice issues. Of the $8,500 goal, we received just over $5,000! If you can help close that final gap please visit HAPA online if possible by July 24th, to make a secure and tax-exempt donation.
Note3: Please take moment if you can to read my latest blog piece that better explains the ADC issue of polluting Kauai’s west side waters with pesticides and heavy metals.
“Every single day of the week, the Agribusiness Development Corporation (ADC) dumps millions of gallons of water polluted with pesticides and heavy metals into the ocean in areas where Kauai’s west side residents fish, surf and recreate with their families.
Gary Hooser – http://www.garyhooser.com