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June 24: Mauna Kea protectors vs cops

We’re late in sharing this, but at the end of June the DLNR attempted to escort a TMT construction crew past the peaceful protesters blockading access to Mauna Kea’s summit. The crew and their armed security were turned back by the bravery and ingenuity of the defenders as they creatively used rocks to slow and ultimately halt the progress of the assaulting forces.

Will Falk, who has been reporting regularly on the fight to protect Mauna Kea, wrote a gripping eyewitness account of how events unfolded that day. He shares his personal experience, describes people involved in the struggle, and shows the importance of their relationships to each other and to the sacred mountain, driving home the personal connections making this resistance possible. Just as importantly, he recounts how personal connection and integrity do not stop those in power and their hired guns from harassing and roughing up nonviolent resisters. It may be important for us on the side of life to maintain moral superiority over those furthering business as usual, but it’s not enough. As militaries know around the world, only application or the credible threat of force will stop those in power.

On June 24th, that force took the form of piles of rocks slowing the ascent of the construction crew. The crew was on tight enough a schedule that this delay made it impossible for them to reach their goal. This application of force is a beautiful example of using our strength in numbers to work with the aina (which also wants to protect itself) strategically against agents of destruction. (And unsurprisingly, those agents and their media mouthpieces immediately tried to spin the piles of rocks as a “public safety concern” ― a laughable example of why you can never believe their rhetoric!)

As the fight on Mauna Kea continues, and resisters to another telescope on Maui’s Haleakala prepare for their own showdown this week, the lessons of June 24th are important to ponder.

Read Falk’s report-back: Protecting Mauna Kea: “We Are Satisfied With The Stones”

Protecting Mauna Kea: Pule Plus Action

Will Falk reports with clarity on what is needed in the struggle to protect Mauna Kea from the Thirty Meter Telescope project. It is critical for defenders to connect with the land and the mountain they love through prayer, but also crucial to translate that love into effective action. The environmental movement has been losing on all fronts for 40 years: not because of any lack of love for the world, but because we aren’t taking this war seriously and are not developing and implementing strategic plans.

Falk shares his perspective as a member, on the ground, of a developing resistance campaign. Different people have different ideas for how to proceed, often based in well-meaning and tradition-rooted ideals of kapu aloha, love and respect. Defenders of the land, holding to these ideals, must recognize that the state and its minions will not behave with the same respect. A successful campaign strategy must take this into account.

I think I’ve demonstrated that the TMT project is enabled by a problematic worldview and should not be allowed to proceed. After Governor David Ige’s announcement last week that he would support and enforce the TMT’s construction, the Mauna Kea protectors want the world to know we never expected the State to help us. We must stop the TMT project and we must do it ourselves. The question becomes: “How do we do it?”

The occupation on Mauna Kea is an expression that the protection of Mauna Kea is the people’s responsibility. We cannot trust the government to stop the TMT. We cannot trust the police. We cannot trust the courts. We have to do it ourselves. In other words, nothing has changed since the occupation began over two months ago. In many ways, the occupation on Mauna Kea reflects all of our environmental and social justice movements around the world.

Read the rest of Falk’s analysis at Protecting Mauna Kea: Pule Plus Action. And for a big picture scenario of what successful resistance might look like, read the Deep Green Resistance strategy of Decisive Ecological Warfare.