The Hawaiian government continues to allow protesters against the Thirty Meter Telescope to block all access to Mauna Kea, thus also blocking researchers and maintenance crews from working on the thirteen operating telescopes already there.
Protests against construction of a giant telescope have halted work at existing observatories on the Big Island, a report said. Workers at other facilities on the dormant Mauna Kea volcano have been denied access by demonstrators opposed to the Thirty Meter Telescope, Hawaii News Now reported Sunday.
The Mauna Kea Observatories house 13 telescopes that have led to astronomical breakthroughs for more than 40 years, including the first photo of a black hole and the discovery of the first interstellar object in space.
“All we’re looking to do is to go up the road and resume what we’ve been doing for 50 years,” said scientist Doug Simons from the Canada-France-Hawaii Telescope. The two-week closure of the access road leading to the summit has resulted in the potential loss of a year’s worth of discoveries, said Simons.
The demonstrations have also affected the scientists’ interactions with family and community members. “They have these great bonds within their family and their friends, and now there’s a big rift there,” said Jessica Dempsey from the East Asian Observatory and the James Clerk Maxwell Telescope. [emphasis mine]
If my memory is correct, previous protests did not block access to the other telescopes. That they are now doing it suggests that the protesters feel empowered and are now going for their real goal, a complete shutdown of all astronomy on Mauna Kea. The highlighted text implies this. Native workers for the other telescopes appear have suddenly discovered that these protesters want to also destroy their jobs.
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