By Honolulu Star-Advertiser, Oct 13, 2015
The Hawaii County prosecutor’s office has filed a motion to drop charges against seven individuals arrested on Sept. 8 for violating the state’s emergency rule that prohibited camping near the summit of Mauna Kea.
The announcement was made Tuesday by the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp., which is representing the seven individuals who were part of an effort opposing construction of the Thirty Meter Telescope atop Mauna Kea.
Dropping the charges was “the right thing to do,” said David Kauila Kopper, NHLC staff attorney. “However, it does not make up for the unreasonable chilling effect and adverse impact it had on Native Hawaiian cultural practioners and the public.”
The decision came on the heels of state Circuit Judge Ronald Ibarra’s ruling Friday siding with an argument presented by attorneys for the protesters that asserted the emergency rule was invalid because the state had not provided proof that it was necessary to prevent “imminent peril to the public health, safety or morals, or to natural resources.”
The rule, which prohibited non-vehicular traffic in the summit area between 10 p.m. and 4 a.m., and camping gear at any time, was adopted by the state Board of Land and Natural Resources in July to maintain order on the summit amid ongoing protests against the planned construction of the $1.4 billion telescope.
Ibarra granted the Native Hawaiian Legal Corp.’s motions for a partial summary judgment in each of the seven cases.
A hearing on the motions to drop the cases is scheduled for Nov. 19.
State officials, shortly after Ibarra’s decision was released, said they would abide by the ruling, but reminded the public that existing laws and rules pertaining to Mauna Kea would continue to be enforced. Among those are laws prohibiting people from blocking the road heading up Mauna Kea, standing in the road, or placing obstructions on it.