A Day of Protest

From all accounts it was a bit of crazy on the mountain today. I did not attempt to go up, even though I had originally been scheduled to do some training today for the summit crew. I have spoken with guys at HP and gotten fragmentary information here and there.

Mauna Kea Protest
Protests on Mauna Kea, June 24, 2015. Photo by Dan Birchall, used with permission.
Word is that the road is blocked in multiple places and will not be cleared until tomorrow morning. This was planned for, if worse than anticipated. The message went out early this morning that regular day crew was cancelled, and only a couple guys would stay to make the attempt if possible, if only to do the basic needed tasks. All I can do is say thanks to these guys! The Keck summit crew is a dedicated and professional organization, and it is amply demonstrated at times like this.

This is also the day I got called in to our HR manager’s office to discuss my blogging. It seems someone, who I will not name but is probably reading this, was not happy with my getting quoted on the BIVN website. Not that I gave David Corrigan the quote, he simply lifted it out of my Monday post about the ahu being constructed at the TMT site. Which is interesting as I was only noting the blindingly obvious fact that the protesters had assembled the ahu in the middle of the road as a dare to the construction crews. In response I simply noted that I had complied with observatory policy.

The current rules of engagement are that we are welcome to personally engage in social media conversations on the subject, but to be sure to keep it respectful. Anyone who has been reading me here and on Facebook should be quite aware I have followed that policy. Indeed, I would have done pretty much the same, company policy or no policy. In fact, my astute readers may have noted that my writing lately has been a bit bland on the TMT issue, the result of a reluctance to state strong opinion. I have struggled with how to maintain respect for someone, or a cause, while disagreeing on the issue.

In response to Monday’s ahu building there have been some hilarious, if very disrespectful, edited photos posted of the ahu. I did laugh, but I did not re-share those images.

With that statement completed I will now engage in a little conjecture of my own…

Talking with folks who were there, and watching the media coverage of today’s events on the mountain I have a few observations… I get the feeling that today was entirely staged, on both sides. The construction crews ascended the mountain fully knowing they were not going to make it through the protest. The police were there, possibly with direct instructions to keep arrests to a minimum and to otherwise allow the protesters their day of victory.

I will repeat… Just my take on the day’s events. Only eleven arrests? Very restrained.

That being said there were a number of disturbing elements. Foremost of these was that protesters blocked the road with boulders rolled off the slopes above the road. Aside from the personal objections to wanton destruction of the natural landscape, this is also a major safety concern. Blocking the road means that emergency vehicles can not get through. It is similar to the groundbreaking protests in October when the road was also blocked by the protesters, preventing two ambulances from getting through. Given a large number of people at high altitude, including a lot of children and young adults, the odds of a few of those people experiencing serious altitude sickness is quite good. This was just bad, for the protests and for Mauna Kea.

It remains to be seen what happens tomorrow. What is the script? I am sure it has already been written. Personally I am not scheduled up tomorrow, but I am still on the schedule for Friday. Nothing critical, I can cancel if needed and reschedule.

Author: Andrew

An electrical engineer, amateur astronomer, and diver, living and working on the island of Hawaiʻi.

3 thoughts on “A Day of Protest”

  1. And of those 11 requests, only ONE was by HawaiiPD on the county road. Extremely restrained on their part – aided by the protestors adopting a strategy that involved moving when they were told to move… just… very… slowly.

  2. Thanks for keeping us all informed about whats going on up there Andrew. I think you have shown un biased view of whats happening

  3. great post. i wouldn’t say staged exactly, but i do think TMT and the state expected this would happen. the boulders in the road are a huge liability issue that the state has justification to take care of now. also, governer Ige supposedly put construction “on hold” today, but he already gave full permission earlier. i have a feeling TMT has a lot more control over this situation than people realize.

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