Updated 5:25 p.m., 6/24/2015

Law enforcement officers arrested 12 people Wednesday who were blocking a road up Mauna Kea in protest of the Thirty Meter Telescope project.

Hundreds were gathered on the mountain early in the morning to stop construction crews from resuming work on the $1.4 billion project.

The protesters forced the TMT workers to turn around after 11 adults were arrested by the state Division of Conservation and Resource Enforcement and one person was arrested by Big Island police.

Law enforcement officers arrest a protester on Mauna Kea.

Law enforcement officers arrest a protester on Mauna Kea on wednesday.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

Update Gov. David Ige’s chief of staff, Mike McCartney, issued a statement just after 5 p.m. on Wednesday calling the arrests “unfortunate” but reiterating that safety of the TMT workers and the protesters remained the top priority.

“We are disappointed and concerned that large boulders were found in the roadway leading to the summit of Mauna Kea,” McCartney said. “This action is a serious and significant safety hazard and could put people at risk. Because of this, we are making an assessment to determine how to proceed.

“We will be working to clear the roadway tomorrow. Therefore, construction is on hold until further notice.”

Mauna Kea TMT Protesters

TMT protesters used rocks as well as their bodies to block construction crews.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

TMT construction has been stalled since early April when 31 protesters were arrested. Ige called a “timeout” the following week to facilitate a dialogue with stakeholders who have an interest in the sacredness of Mauna Kea to Native Hawaiians and its importance in scientific research and discovery.

McCartney issued a statement late Tuesday saying it was the administration’s belief that there would be “mutual respect and aloha” in the days ahead as TMT restarts construction.

“TMT has the approvals needed to proceed with construction,” he said. “We respect those who oppose the project and their right to peaceably assemble and to protest in an orderly and civil manner.”

Protestor arrested on Mauna Kea, June 24, 2015.

Protesters were arrested for blocking the road to the telescope site.

Cory Lum/Civil Beat

The state’s primary concern is the health and safety of its people, McCartney said.

“The state and Hawaii County are working together to uphold the law and ensure safety on roadways and on Mauna Kea, while allowing the people their right to peacefully and lawfully protest,” he said.

Ige is out of the state on an official trip to Washington, D.C.

A similar protest over a telescope on Haleakala on Maui was scheduled for Wednesday evening at the Maui Central Baseyard, according to a press release.

Read past Civil Beat coverage here.

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