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Thousands of protesters have joined a swelling effort to stop construction of a telescope they have long tried to keep off a mountain considered sacred to some Native Hawaiians, but state officials doubled down Wednesday on their commitment to ensure the project will be completed.
After a day of growing crowds and arrests of elderly demonstrators, Hawaii Gov. David Ige signed an emergency proclamation giving law enforcement more options to end the blockade.
State - Protesters - Mountain - Proclamation - Option
The state hadn't decided whether to remove protesters from the mountain, but the proclamation makes that an option, Ige said.
"We are certainly committed to ensuring the project has access to the construction site," Ige said. "We've been patient in trying to allow the protesters to express their feelings about the project."
People - Base - Mauna - Kea - Arrests
About 2,000 people packed the base of Mauna Kea after the arrests, Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe said. That's more than three times the number of protesters who had showed up in previous days.
Police in riot gear temporarily lined the road to the top of the Big Island mountain, which is valued by astronomers for its consistently clear weather and minimal light pollution and the site for the $1.4 billion Thirty Meter Telescope, expected to be one of the world's most advanced.
Protest - Leader - Kealoha - Pisciotta - Associated
Protest leader Kealoha Pisciotta told The Associated Press that police took away about 30 elders who were prepared to be arrested as they blocked the road.
"They're taking our kupuna," Pisciotta said, using the Hawaiian word for elders, and sobbing. Around her, people sang "Hawaii Aloha," a Hawaiian song that's common at events.
Elders - Canes - Strollers - Others - Wheelchairs
Some of the elders being arrested 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 Dennison 33 people were arrested, given citations...
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