VIDEO: Protest Tent Atop Mauna Kea Confiscated
By Wendy Osher
In a third law enforcement operation since a 120 emergency rule was enacted, state officers with the Department of Land and Natural Resources dismantled and confiscated a large tent that protesters had erected atop Mauna Kea on the Big Island of Hawaiʻi.
State officials say that under an understanding reached last week, protesters had reportedly agreed to vacate the tent, located at the 9,000 foot elevation, across the road from the Mauna Kea Visitors Center.
A written warning notice was posted to the tent last Wednesday, and officers confiscated it after authorities say its rightful owner failed to claim it and take it down.
Unlike two previous law enforcement operations, no one was arrested during this third sweep.
On Sept. 9, eight people were arrested at a hale structure located at the protest camp. That hale structure, which is adjacent to the tent, was not removed.
During an earlier round of enforcement on July 31, 2015, six people received citations and seven people were arrested for violating the emergency rule.
Authorities say the sweep involved 19 Division of Conservation and Resources Enforcement officers, as well as four officers from the Hawaiʻi Police Department, and a ranger with the Office of Mauna Kea Management.
The emergency rule prohibits camping in the restricted area between the hours of 10 p.m. and 4 a.m.
State officials say the rule was intended to establish safe conditions on the mountain for protesters, observatory workers and visitors amid ongoing demonstrations against construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope or TMT atop Mauna Kea.