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Hawaii officials: $7.7M spent to police telescope protests

October 3, 2019 GMT

HONOLULU (AP) — The state and counties in Hawaii have spent at least $7.7 million on law enforcement costs related to demonstrations opposing the Mauna Kea telescope, officials said.

The cost estimate includes previous county figures and new information released Wednesday by the Hawaii Attorney General’s office, The Honolulu Star-Advertiser reported Wednesday.

Protesters who oppose the Thirty Meter Telescope planned on Mauna Kea have blocked the road to the mountain’s summit since July. Some Native Hawaiians oppose building the $1.4 billion observatory because they believe the summit is sacred.

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The $7.7 million does not include figures from the Department of Land and Natural Resources, which has maintained officers at the site since demonstrations began.

The state public safety department, including the state sheriff’s division, spent $558,000 through Aug. 15. The state spent $985,000 on Hawaii National Guard personnel who assisted police, the attorney general’s office said.

The costs estimated so far have only been tabulated through the end of August or mid-September and are likely to rise as new figures are calculated, officials said.

The Attorney General’s office said it spent another $1.5 million through Sept. 6.

Figures released by Hawaii County indicate it has spent more than $4.4 million on costs related to policing the demonstrations, with most of the outlay for overtime pay to officers.

The Honolulu and Maui County police departments spent about $260,000 combined in overtime, travel and vehicle shipping, officials said.

Earlier this year, the state budgeted $15 million to be used for law enforcement costs related to managing the demonstrations.

The funding allocated during the legislative session that ended in May was transferred from the Department of Transportation to the Attorney General’s Community Safety Program trust fund, according to the governor’s office.

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Information from: Honolulu Star-Advertiser, http://www.staradvertiser.com