Videos shared across social media show how Thursday night’s protest of the Na Pua Makani wind farm escalated between demonstrators and police, as equipment was being moved. 26 people were arrested overnight.
Honolulu Police Department Assistant Chief, John McCarthy said the police did their best to hold back the crowds of demonstrators so that the equipment could get through.
“If the crowd pushes, we have to maintain that line, just for that safety reason,” said McCarthy. “They were asked repeatedly to move back, asking over and over again to move back. In the video you can see, the crowd pushed forward. At that point several people made contact with officers.”
State Senator Kurt Favella, who opposes the wind farm project, was there when it happened, and said he believes the situation was not handled by police correctly.
“You can hear in the video a lot of people yelling and crying out for help… that they was getting smashed,” said Favella. “They said they [were] holding the line. They [were] holding no line. It was pushing. Behind of us, there was a hill. There was no place for us to go.”
Protesters said many of them got hurt by the bikes police were on. Police said their officers also sustained injuries.
“Last night we had rocks thrown at solo bike officers. One was punched in side of the head we don’t know who did it,” said McCarthy.
So far, the wind farm project continues to on, with one turbine already built and a second one in the building process. However, protesters said they won’t give up their fight.
“I sit at my house every day. I work from home, and I look out my window and the first turbine is right there outside my window. “So, it’s really hard. It’s tough. I’m tired. I cry every night. I’m not even going to lie, this is my my life on the line. My kids lives on the line,” said Kahuku resident Neva Fotu.
Raya Salter, an energy justice lawyer working with the protesters said litigation is coming.
“What people would like to say is that the community has not been heard, and that we need to have a conversation so that the community… can have a say on how they will be impacted by [the wind turbines], and have their questions answered,” said Salter.
Protesters say they will continue to protest when the equipment is being moved Sunday through Thursday in Kapu Aloha, the way they always have.
In the meantime, police want witnesses to what happened to come forward. HPD said witnesses who saw police misconduct can file a report with the police commission so the allegations can be investigated.