Maui professor sentenced in 2015 telescope protest case

WAILUKU, Hawaii (AP) — A professor who was one of 20 people arrested during a protest over the construction of a solar telescope on Maui last year has been ordered to pay a $200 fine for disorderly conduct.

Samuel Kaeo was sentenced Wednesday in connection with the July 2015 protest of the Daniel K. Inouye Solar Telescope at the Haleakala summit, The Maui News reported (

Deputy Prosecutor Brandon Segal had sought 15 days jail time for Kaeo, noting that he had been one of the leaders of the demonstration.

But Kaeo’s attorney said the case should be treated as a “simple violation” and that none of the other five protesters, whom he represented, received jail time.

"(This is) another example of individuals attempting to perpetuate change by invoking America’s long tradition of peaceful, nonviolent dissent,” Attorney Hayden Aluli said.

Kaeo, an assistant professor at University of Hawaii Maui College, was found guilty of disorderly conduct earlier this year.

He had been among more than 200 people who tried to stop a convoy of trucks from leaving the Central Maui Baseyard to deliver parts for the telescope. The 20 protesters who were arrested had connected themselves with PVC pipes, tape and chains as they lay on the ground blocking the path of the truckloads.

During his sentencing in Wailuku District Court on Wednesday, Kaeo said he would not apologize to the state or the court for his actions. He only apologized to “my people that we were not able to stop further injury upon us.”

Kaeo, a Native Hawaiian, said protection of Haleakala is part of “our people reclaiming our humanity.”

Judge Blaine Kobayashi said the court acknowledges and respects Kaeo’s expression for his beliefs. However, he maintained that his actions “constituted criminal conduct.”

“The court, frankly speaking, believes that type of conduct is unacceptable under the state of the law at this time,” Kobayashi said.


Information from: The Maui News,