On Sunday morning, hundreds of activists protested the building of the Thirty Meter Telescope at Mauna Kea on Hawaii island by gathering at Kalakaua and Kuhio avenues. By 11 a.m., the “Waikiki for Mauna Kea” march filled the street with hundreds of people, backing up traffic near the Honolulu Zoo, according to the Star Advertiser.
Last week, hundreds of protesters stopped the beginning of the construction on the $1.4 billion telescope on Mauna Kea, an area considered holy and sacred to native Hawaiians.
Protest group leader Kaho’okahi Kanuha told CNN that more than 2,000 people have gathered at the access road that leads to the construction site. To disrupt construction, the activists have build a camp and blockade. “It is without a doubt one of our most sacred places in all of Hawaii,” Kanuha said in an interview with CNN.
Kanuha told the network that the activists — who refer to themselves as “protecters” — will remain. “We are taking a stand not only to protect our mauna and aina, our land, who we have a genealogical connection to,” Kanuha told CNN. “We are fighting to protect it because we know if we cannot stop this, there is not very much we can fight for or protect.”
“This is our last stand,” he added.
Sunday’s protests was just the latest action in a week of protests by the protectors. Last Monday, between 300 and 500 activists showed up to protest the telescope, according to multiple news outlets. On Wednesday, The Washington Post reported that as many as 1,000 protesters arrived. That same day, more than 30 Native Hawaiian elders were cited and released, before Democratic Gov. David Ige expanded law enforcement authority via emergency proclamation.
Scientists see the site as an ideal location for the telescope. Thirty Meter Telescope project spokesman Scott Ishikawa told CNN that the site is the best location for the project. “We’ve been part of the Hawaii Island community for over 10 years, and we have tried to do the right thing, with consideration for the environment, the culture, the economy and the future of Hawaii Island. But we know that TMT has become a symbol for larger issues within the native Hawaiian community,” according to a statement given to CNN. “While we haven’t been privy to the State’s security or enforcement plans, like everyone else in Hawaii, we want to find a way forward that is safe for everybody.”