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Police arrested elderly protesters, some using wheelchairs and canes, as they blocked a road Wednesday to Hawaii's highest peak to try to stop construction of a giant telescope on land some Native Hawaiians consider sacred.
Protest leader Kealoha Pisciotta told The Associated Press that hundreds of demonstrators moved aside to allow police to take away about 30 elders, called kupuna in Hawaiian, who were prepared to be arrested.
Kupuna - Pisciotta
"They're taking our kupuna," Pisciotta said, sobbing.
Some used canes and strollers to walk, while others were taken in wheelchairs to police vans. Those who could walk on their own were led away with their hands in zip ties.
State - Spokesman - Dan - Meisenzahl - Arrests
State spokesman Dan Meisenzahl confirmed the arrests. He said in an email that the number of people arrested and what charges may they face were not yet available.
Officials said construction equipment planned to go up Mauna Kea on the Big Island later Wednesday to start building the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, which is expected to be one of the world's most advanced.
Authorities - Road - Top - Mountain - Monday
Authorities closed the road to the top of the mountain Monday to allow construction to begin, attracting hundreds of protesters who formed their own roadblocks.
The blockade forced astronomers to stop peering through 13 existing telescopes on the mountain Tuesday.
Dozens - Researchers - Globe - Data - Sky
Dozens of researchers from around the globe won't be able to gather data and study the sky atop Mauna Kea, one of the world's best spots for astronomy with clear weather nearly year-round and minimal light pollution.
Observations won't resume until staffers have consistent access to the summit, which is needed to ensure their safety, said Jessica Dempsey, deputy director of the East Asian Observatory, one of the existing telescopes.
Science - Time - Case - Priority - Staff
"Our science time is precious, but in this case, our priority is just to make sure all of our staff is safe," Dempsey said.
Native Hawaiian protesters and other opponents...
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