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Hundreds in Hawaii protest construction of telescope on sacred land

Indigenous Hawaiians on Monday demonstrated against the planned construction of a telescope on the dormant volcano of Mauna Kea, according to the Associated Press.

Hundreds of people protested against building the giant telescope on the site, which many indigenous Hawaiians consider sacred land, with a group of kupuna (elders) sitting in chairs and tying themselves together with rope to block the road to the volcano's summit, according to the AP.

A separate group of protesters lay on the ground with their arms shackled beneath a grate in the road, according to the news service.

Police, after speaking with protest leaders, told the crowd that anyone who did not move aside would be subject to arrest. Law enforcement had made no arrests by mid-afternoon, according to the AP, saying they were focused on installing a series of concrete barriers along a highway nearby to shield people from speeding cars.

"It was so cold at 4 o'clock in the morning," Walter Ritte, one of the activists chained to the grate, told the AP. "It was a test of our fortitude. This mountain is like our last stand."

Jennifer Leina'ala Sleightholm said she knew the protests were unlikely to prevent construction of the telescope but that she remained hopeful.

"I think I know what will happen, but what I hope will happen is I hope that they would just turn around and save our kupuna," she said.

Scientists selected the summit for its vantage point in 2009 but legal battles and demonstrations have delayed telescope construction for years, with actor Jason Momoa, who is of partial indigenous Hawaiian descent, weighing in against construction in 2015.

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