Police in Hawaii reportedly have started arresting protesters Wednesday who have been attempting to halt the construction of a mountaintop telescope on The Big Island.
The arrests, which so far have been made without incident, according to Hawaii Public Radio, come on the third day of demonstrations in which crowds have blocked an access road to the construction site of the $1.4 billion 'Thirty Meter Telescope' (TMT) on Mauna Kea.
Police, the Hawaiian National Guard and self-described native "protectors" have been engaged in a tense standoff there since Monday's scheduled start of construction. Some native Hawaiians consider Mauna Kea a sacred place.
"We are not against the science. We are not against the telescope. We are against the desecration of our mauna," Kaho'okahi Kanuha, one of the demonstrators, said Tuesday in a press conference.
The telescope, when completed, will have a 30-meter prime mirror diameter that is "three times as wide, with nine times more area, than the largest currently existing visible-light telescope in the world," its website says. The TMT International Observatory LLC, which describes itself as a "non-profit international partnership" between educational and scientific institutions around the world, is the designer of the project.
Mauna Kea, the highest peak in Hawaii at nearly 14,000 feet, was chosen as the site for the telescope in 2009 because of its elevation and lack of light pollution. The TMT's size will allow it to see into deep space and produce images 12 times sharper than the Hubbell Space Telescope, its website adds.
The ongoing protests began Monday and have been marked with some demonstrators chaining themselves to a cattle guard in the middle of the road, KHON2 reported. Communication between the crowds that have gathered and the police have kept the demonstrations peaceful, but protesters say they are dug in on their stance against the TMT.
“I do know that every single one of these individuals are prepared to be arrested," Kaho'okahi Kanuha told KHON2.
Some Hawaiians though are in favor of the telescope.
"I believe science is an option our kupuna would have embraced," Jacqui Hoover, the president of the Hawaii Leeward Planning Conference -- a local organization that works with the government on planning decisions -- told KHON2, while using the Hawaiian word for elder.
"I'm very concerned that we're losing opportunities to help our children transition into the world we live in today," she added. "We need jobs, we need education, we need our community to have options other than those that we currently have.
TMT officials say the project will create 300 jobs, according to KHON2.
Fox News' Tyler Olson contributed to this report.