The incivility and hostility of the Mauna Kea protesters

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The management of Mauna Kea has released event logs by both their rangers [pdf] and the visitor center [pdf], outlining the generally hostile and illegal behavior of the TMT protesters during the past four months, including threats of violence against visiters and workers to the mountain.

The news story above does not really give the full flavor of the protesters’ generally rude and hostile behavior. They repeatedly threatened workers and visitors, damaged both existing facilities as well as the natural environment on which they camped illegally, and interfered with others who had come to the mountain to star-gaze or work. The logs also include numerous examples of the protesters exhibiting incredible ignorance about the astronomy on the mountain as well as the Thirty Meter Telescope itself. If you get the chance, read these logs yourself. They clarify for everyone which side stands on the side of civilization and which does not.

Finally there is this important tidbit:

From March 24, 2015 through present, groups of protesters, some up to nearly 200 persons, have sporadically been onsite on the University of Hawaii management lands and DLNR lands on Maunakea. A group of about 10 protesters has maintained a continuous presence day and night. [emphasis mine]

As is usual for protests like this, the actual numbers are miniscule, and are magnified by a press that wants to promote the protesters’ agenda, even though a very large majority does not agree with that agenda.


  • bing

    Extreme ignorance? I would have to ask your level of understanding as to why they are up there, do you know? I get your telescope = progress = civility reasoning but it gets down to another huge instance of abuse by this colonial system. So I would have to give it back to you as extreme ignorance on your part. Civil a man as you are you could certainely see that this is all a deeper issue than just a telescope, right?

  • pzatchok

    “Elderly protester parked in beater red pickup just above VIS driveway entrance was intermittently blasting his horn around sunset. He’d been here yesterday too. Protesters stated they wished he’d stop. Rangers approached him to request he stop, but were unable to have much conversation as he was utterly stoned and the truck reeked of marijuana. He explained that he didn’t have his conch shell so the truck horn
    was its replacement. Said he was responsible for protecting the universe. Declared he
    was pau and shortly left the mountain.”

    The best.

    All it is is a bunch of pot smoking hippies getting together for a little fun. When one gets out of hand all the others rush in and say he’s not with us.

  • pzatchok in this comment thread gives just one juicy quote from the ranger and visitor center logs detailing the day-by-day behavior of the protesters on Mauna Kea this past four months. I could give many more, including the threats of violence to rangers, workers, visitor center employees, and innocent tourists. I could also describe the damage they did to facilities and to the environment around them. I could also cite the specific instances where they told visitors that 8 or 9 telescopes on the mountain are broken and don’t work, a blatantly incorrect statement that anyone could have checked with thirty seconds of google research.

    But then, I, and pzatchok read the daily logs as provided at the link. It appears, bing, that you have not. Who is the more ignorant person here?

    As for this so-called abusive “colonial system”, that is Marxist silliness with no basis in fact. The installation of the the telescopes on Mauna Kea followed detailed very reasonable negotiations and involved many compromises by all sides to gain the best for everyone. The handful of protesters showing up on the mountain make if very clear that they don’t believe in respecting those fairly negotiated arrangements. Instead, they repeatedly state that they hate non-natives (translate “whites”), hate capitalism, and hate modern civilization. They have that right (modern western civilization respects their liberty of conscience) but I have the right to note that hatred and publicize it.

    Moreover, if these protesters got what they really want, the removal of all non-natives from Hawaii, I wonder how most Hawaiians would really react. This would end all tourism to the islands.

  • pzatchok

    A few of the protesters are claiming they are religious leaders in traditional Hawaiian culture and want daily access to the summit (the area of the telescopes and construction) for traditional rites. I doubt that the real Hawaiians actually performed ceremonies at the summit everyday.
    I am not sure but I doubt that 200 of them are there. in fact half the people are not even natives.

    They have massage and tattoo tents setup in the visitor center parking lot. And if anyone knows about traditional Polynesian tattooing they should also know its a near religious undertaking. they don’t just hand them out for free to the general public in parking lots. They really do mean something to them.

    Some are even bringing snow boards up to the summit for a few runs down the hill.
    Real traditional.

    They are bringing infants and leaving diapers all over the place. They are trying to camp out on the mountain against the rules of the mountain. In one case they even found evidence of an animal having been field dressed in the public restroom.

    They are corporate hating hippies looking for an excuse for a party.

  • Three thoughts:

    First, if I were a native, that believes this mountain is a sacred place, I would be angry at the destruction of the mountain by the protesters which clearly disrespects the sacred nature of the location.

    Secondly, I would support building a telescope on a sacred mountain, as such a construction – done properly and respectfully – is built to bring us closer to the heavens, Earth, and nature; themes at the center of aboriginal spirituality in Hawaii. Surely, a telescope, implies that in the future, the site will be preserved from other building.

    Lastly, I hope that once built, it would be possible to allow natives access to their sacred mountain reasonably. Perhaps individuals that feel strongly about being there can be given passes allowing them to utilize areas not necessary for the operation of the telescope.

    Robert, keep up the good work. I enjoy hearing you on the John Batchelor show when I drive home from work late.

  • Ken Young

    I worked for years on Mauna Kea (since 1986), and I can assure you that the “natives [have] access to their sacred mountain reasonably”. The road was closed for a couple of weeks because the protestors built rock roadblocks, but in general Native Hawaiian practitioners go up to the summit all the time. They’ve built some shires, including one at the very summit of the mountain (which has no telescope on it), and everyone is fine with that. They often appear in groups around the times of solstice and equinox, to hold larger ceremonies.

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