(KHNL/NBC News) Hours after 33 arrests at a growing protest against Hawaii’s Thirty Meter Telescope project, the governor issued an emergency proclamation Wednesday that he says will give authorities “more flexibility” to clear the way for construction equipment to get to the site for the planned telescope atop Mauna Kea.
“The protesters continue to break the law and place the safety of the public at risk. We are looking at being able to provide safe access of equipment to the site,” Governor David Ige said, in a news conference Wednesday afternoon announcing the state of emergency. “It’s very clear that we need to be able to secure access in a better way.”
He said the proclamation will allow authorities to “manage access to the site in a better way.”
He didn’t elaborate on what that greater flexibility would look like or whether he believes more arrests are likely.
Many native Hawaiians consider the land where the telescope project is planned a sacred site. In ancient times, the mountain’s summit was considered the realm of the gods.
It was kapu – a forbidden place – for all but the highest chiefs and priests.
Protests against construction have been going on there for decades, and older, existing observatory buildings are easily seen from many parts of the island.