Protesters file complaints against police, DLNR

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Before police arrived at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station on June 24 where Thirty Meter Telescope opponents were blocking the road, they had to answer a few questions from the protesters themselves.

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Before police arrived at the Mauna Kea Visitor Information Station on June 24 where Thirty Meter Telescope opponents were blocking the road, they had to answer a few questions from the protesters themselves.

The caravan with about 50 Hawaii County police and state Department of Land and Natural Resources officers was stopped by a few protesters seeking to get their names and badge numbers.

Most complied with the request, though protester Pua‘ena Ahn said a dozen officers declined to provide that information.

In response, he filed complaints Monday against both agencies.

Ahn said the purpose of getting that information was to be able to keep officers responsible in case they violated protesters’ rights. It also worked to delay their arrival close to an hour, he said.

“It’s a matter of accountability,” said Ahn, 29, of Honokaa. “That’s the primary issue. If they are going to be arresting people, we would like to know who they are.”

He said police Capt. Richard Sherlock and DLNR Deputy Director Kekoa Kaluhiwa were present and allowed them to speak to each of the officers.

Ahn said protesters weren’t threatened with arrest or told to move.

The complaints filed with the county Police Commission and DLNR alleges misconduct by the officers who declined to provide their names and badge numbers.

“This raises concern that officers of County of Hawaii PD have attempted to place themselves beyond the reach of accountability and displayed a dismissive attitude toward their own protocols,” the complaint says.

Ahn said he hasn’t received a response yet from the agencies.

A DLNR spokeswoman said the complaint is being handled as a “personnel matter.”

“The ‘checkpoint’ was not addressed because officers were participating in an operation where the immediate priority was to address road access at the higher elevations,” she said.

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Sherlock couldn’t be reached for comment.

Email Tom Callis at tcallis@hawaiitribune-herald.com.

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