"Bad night" in Hawai'i as arrests rise to 161

By Mare Haimona-Riki

Photo / Carlos Mozo

More than 25 people were arrested in Hawai'i overnight, in their attempt to halt the planned construction of eight 170-metre-high wind turbines as part of a wind farm development near the community of Kahuku on O'ahu.

People from the frontline of the 300 strong group, were being forced back by the Honolulu Police Department, pushing people on the frontline back onto women, children and the elderly.

Rebekkah Walker said that it only took one officer to set chaos into motion.

"The cops pulled my son off the line where he was protecting his aunty. They picked him up and threw him on the road and arrested him. This was not ok. This makes me cry and feel a loss of hope…. Tonight was a bad night," she says. 

A mother in distress after the HPD allegedly pulled her son off the front line and "threw him to the ground."  Source / Ku Kia'i Kahuku

Honolulu Police Department responded to the events in a press conference held today:

"Because of the geography there, we have to push the people back in order to safely move the trucks.

"The crowd was pushing further and further and the officers have to stand that line, it's there for safety reasons not to deny anybody anything."

Press-conference held with a representative of the Honolulu Police Department. Source / Hawai'i News Now

AES Corporation (AES), a Fortune 500 global power company, will be constructing the eight wind turbines, to be built in Kahuku which has a population of just under 3,000 people. 

The turbines will stand at 170 metres tall and will be bigger than any wind turbine in the United States.

Mark Miller, Chief Operating Officer of AES says, "The North Shore Wind Farms is important for Hawai'i's renewable energy future. When operational in 2020, our wind farm will produce enough renewable energy to power 16,000 homes throughout O'ahu – an important step toward achieving Hawaii's commitment to reach 100% renewable energy by 2045.”

Kaukaohu Waiolani says the turbines are not only too big but they are too close.

"According to the World Health Organisation, the recommended distance for wind turbines to be from living areas is 5,824 feet (1,775 metres). These are being built 1,700 feet (518 metres) from Kahuku High School and 700 feet (213 metres) from the nearest ag lot farms," the Waianae community member says. 

Image showing scale of the planned turbines.  Source / Kukia'i Kahuku Facebook page

Despite the number of total arrests sitting at 161 in 32 days, Wahilani says that this protection movement has served as a means to unite the people of Hawai'i as one. 

"The unity that is bringing all of our communities together, Waianae and Kahuku where I grew up. We are constantly fighting but now it's a new day.

"It's not about Waianae fighting Kahuku, or Farrington or Waipahu, those days are over.... We all are from Hawai'i."

Te Ao reached out to AES asking for their response regarding their co-operation with the community members of Kahuku concerning this project. 

Verla Moore, community liaison for AES Nā Pua Makani responded:

"We are deeply committed to being good neighbours to the residents of Kahuku.

"We respect people's right to voice their opinions about the project. We continue to have many conversations with community members from Kahuku and the surrounding North Shore neighbourhoods in one-on-one and small group settings to answer their questions, address their concerns and find the most meaningful way to give back to the community."

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Photos / Carlos Mozo