Scientists are speaking out against the ‘violence’ required to build this new telescope

Mauna Kea's newest observatory continues to fuel protests.

Chris Finch

As protests in Hawaii shade into their second week, allies of Native Hawaiians acting to protect Mauna Kea are calling on the institutions backing the Thirty Meter Telescope project to take action to protect the protestors and, in some cases, to divest from the project altogether.

“We are just imploring the investors to divest and to prevent what could be major violence against the Indigenous people and other residents of Hawaii,” Noelani Goodyear-Ka’ōpua, a University of Hawaiʻi at Mānoa professor and one of those standing in protest at Mauna Kea, told the Canadian Broadcasting Corporation on Friday.

Big Island Now reports that graduate students and professors from UC Berkeley, Caltech, the University of Toronto, and numerous other institutions have signed a petition asking that “members of the astronomy community leverage their power to oppose further violence against Mauna Kea protestors.”

The letter’s demands include asking the powers behind the TMT to “engage protestors in discussion with the aim to reach consensus” as well as prevent legal action against the protestors and contribute to the bail fund for those who have already been arrested.

Canadian astronomer David Charbonneau, one of the letter’s signatories, “said that the prospect that further police action will be required to move construction forward should be a concern to the Trudeau government, which has committed to advancing Indigenous reconciliation in Canada,” writes The Globe and Mail‘s Ivan Semeniuk.

Meanwhile, at UC Berkeley, a group of students organized a protest to demand that the institution divest from the TMT project altogether. “Our sacred places are becoming smaller and smaller,” Corrina Gould, a representative of Indian People Organizing for Change, told Annie Cheng of The Daily Californian. “We have to stand right now to protect the sacred sites, the places to which we are tied; otherwise, we, as humans, tend to lose altogether.”