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The Latest: Hawaii flag torn in protest structure removal

September 6, 2019

HONOLULU (AP) — The Latest on the removal of a wooden house built near an anti-telescope protest camp (all times local):

12 p.m.

Hawaii officials say they had no choice but to tear a state flag that was mounted on an unpermitted house built by protesters near where they are blocking construction of a giant telescope.

Officials say two men were arrested after refusing to leave the wooden structure when crews arrived to demolish it Friday.

Andre Perez, a protest leader, says a group of men built it as a children’s center. He says families with children are among those who have been camped at Mauna Kea on the Big Island to protect the mountain from telescope construction crews.

Some Native Hawaiians consider the site sacred.

Perez says the cutting of the flag escalates an already tense situation.

Attorney General Clare Connors says there was no way to get into the building without cutting the flag on a barricade over the door. She says great care was taken to respectfully remove a second flag on the roof.

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10:45 a.m.

Police on Hawaii’s Big Island have arrested two people as crews demolished a small house built by demonstrators near the place where they are blocking construction of a giant telescope.

Hawaii County Managing Director Wil Okabe says officers arrived at Mauna Kea Friday morning to clear the way for crews to take down the structure. He did not have details about why the arrests happened.

Officials say protesters who oppose the planned telescope near Mauna Kea’s summit constructed the wooden building in a lava field near their protest camp without a permit. Some Native Hawaiians consider the telescope site sacred.

The Department of Hawaiian Home Lands said this week that the building would be removed.

State officials planned a news conference later Friday about what they called “recent action.”

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