Peaceful protestors arrested while trying to stop construction of sacred ground

In the latest development of an ongoing struggle, eight people were arrested in Hawaii while trying to protest the construction of a giant telescope on to of Mauna Kea. Native Hawaiians consider this mountain top to be a sacred place.

This marks the fourth time in the last several months that the state has arrested protesters.

In July, the state department of land and natural resources enacted an emergency law forbidding access to Mauna Kea during certain hours of the night. It is with this newly imposed rule that authorities are able to arrest peaceful protestors.

Around one in the morning, 20 officers ascended Mauna Kea to arrest seven women and one man. A video shows that at the time of the raid, the protestors were praying.

The construction of the 30 meter telescope has been stalled since April. Protestors have begun camping around the clock to prevent construction from taking place.

According to the Attorney General, the new ordinance was put in place in part to stop aggressive protestor behavior. This included putting boulders in the roads as well as threatening and harassing the visitors and scientists who work at the other telescopes already installed on the mountain.

The Office of Hawaiian Affairs, an agency in charge of promoting Native islanders’ wellbeing, condemned the arrests.

“It is our understanding that the individuals were arrested this morning while they were in the act of pule, or prayer,” read a statement. “Native Hawaiians have constitutionally protected rights to reasonably engage in traditional and customary practices, and regulations cannot eliminate the exercise of these rights.”

The nonprofit organization that is behind the construction of the telescope has not announced if or when it will resume construction.

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