Judge dismisses charges against TMT protesters arrested in 2019

Hilo District Judge Kanani Laubach today dismissed obstructing charges against the remaining defendants among 38 arrested or cited during peaceful protests of the Thirty Millimeter Telescope on Maunakea Access Road on July 17, 2019.

Those arrested were: Walter Ritte, Loretta Ritte, Abel Lui, Liko-o-Kalani Martin, Deborah Lee, Maxine Kahaulelio, Kelii Ioane, Raynette Robinson, Marie Alohalani Brown, Kaliko Lehua Kanaele, James Naniole, James Albertini, Richard L. Deleon, Renee Price, Pualani Kanakaole Kanahele, Daniel Li, Patricia Green, William K. Freitas, Tomas Belsky, Ana Kahoopii, Daycia-Dee Chun, Flora Hookano, Desmon Haumea, Linda Leilani Lindsey-Kaapuni, Edleen Peleiholani, Gene Burke, Luana Neff, Carmen Hulu Lindsey, Deena Oana-Hurwitz, Wilson Wong, Damian Trask, Mililani Trask, Mahea Kalima, Donna Leong, Haloley Reese, Sharol Awai, John Turalde and Alika Desha.

Ages and hometowns of those arrested were not provided by the state Department of Land and Natural Resources, but the majority are considered to be kupuna, or elders.

They were among thousands protesting the planned construction of the $2.4 billion next-generation telescope on Hawaii’s highest peak, a site some Hawaiians consider to be sacred.

Opponents of the proposed observatory, who refer to themselves as “kia‘i,” or protectors of the mountain, successfully blockaded the road and maintained a presence at its intersection with Daniel K. Inouye Highway until the novel coronavirus pandemic hit Hawaii.

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