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Protesters against building a giant telescope on top of a mountain some Native Hawaiians consider sacred said they tried unsuccessfully Tuesday to negotiate access up Mauna Kea while the road to the summit is closed in preparation for construction equipment to be taken up.
Kaho'okahi Kanuha, one of the protest leaders, told reporters that activists asked state officials if they could have one vehicle access the road daily. He said that in exchange, protesters would have allowed workers at the mountain's 13 existing telescopes to travel freely, but no agreement was reached.
Mauna - Kea - Observatories - Operations - Protesters
Mauna Kea observatories are suspending operations while protesters block the road downslope. East Asian Observatory Deputy Director Jessica Dempsey said Tuesday the existing observatories decided to withdraw personnel from the summit for safety.
Gov. David Ige has said unarmed National Guard units would be used to transport personnel and supplies and enforce road closures but would not be used in law enforcement capacity during the protests.
Protesters - National - Guard - Members - Kanuha
Protesters won't allow National Guard members to pass, Kanuha said.
'We are at a standstill,' he said.
Base - Mauna - Kea - Tuesday - Crowd
Several hundred gathered at the base of Mauna Kea Tuesday. The crowd was smaller than the one that assembled a day earlier, when officials closed the road to the summit and eight protesters shackled themselves to each other over a grate in the road.
Authorities didn't arrest anyone, saying their priority was installing concrete barriers along a nearby highway to create a buffer between speeding cars and the large numbers of people congregating in the area.
Understand - Struggle - Kanuha
'We understand that this going to be a prolonged struggle,' Kanuha said.
Astronomers are hopeful the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope will help them study the earliest moments of the universe after the Big Bang as well as identify more planets outside our solar system.
Mauna - Kea - Big - Island - Air
They favor Mauna Kea on the Big Island because the clear air and limited...
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