Native Hawaiians in Bay Area hold rally to protest telescope project on Mauna Kea

PALO ALTO, Calif. (KGO) -- Bay Area-based Hawaiians - along with their friends and family - gathered in Palo Alto to stand in solidarity with those on the Big Island doing the exact same thing - standing up for what they call their "sacred mountain" and demanding an end to the Thirty Meter Telescope project. It was supposed to begin construction at the summit of Mauna Kea last week.

"We're not against science, we're not against the telescope. We think it's great... just not on our land, not on our sacred place, Hawaiians are willing to lay down their life for this," said Britt Yap, a native Hawaiian business owner based in the Bay Area.

So far, 35 people have been arrested on the Big Island, many of them, the community's elders. Renee Ku'uleinani Price was one of them.

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"I went and yes I did with the intention of getting arrested because I wanted to make a point," she said, "that is a monstrosity it's a 30M telescope, that's bigger than Aloha Stadium, it's going 40 feet into a dormant volcano."

The Thirty Meter Telescope project chose to build on Mauna Kea in 2008 and has been controversial ever since. It finally got the greenlight in 2018 -- on its website, the project claims that the telescope will "revolutionize our understanding of the universe."

Many here are singling out Gordon Moore, the 90-year-old Intel-founder billionaire who is helping to fund the project through his Palo Alto-based foundation that he started with his wife.

"We have been fighting to exist since 1893. Do the right thing Mr. Moore, do the right thing," said Yap in tears.

The Beth and Gordon Moore Foundation sent us this statement :

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"We recognize the strong feelings both in support and in opposition to this project. We respect every person's perspective and the right of all to express their points of view. We hope all actions on the mountain will continue to be respectful and peaceful."

The group marched peacefully to the foundation's office and presented a representative with a petition signed by 7,000 people from around the world who want the project stopped. I asked one of the group's leaders if they will ever demand or confront the foundation if they don't get the response they are looking for.

"I can say, if Hawaii says go for it, we will. If our Kapuna says lock down, we have people who are ready to lock down." said Kumu Kaui Peralto, one of the group's leaders.

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