A website dedicated to the Thirty Meter Telescope (TMT) was hacked Sunday, coinciding with a meeting in which the the University of Hawaii Board of Regents listened to testimony regarding the construction of the massive telescope atop Mauna Kea Mountain.
An organization called Operation Green Rights, which has ties to Anonymous, took responsibility for the hacking, claiming it also shut down the official website for Hawaii's state government. The TMT site went down around noon and was back online a couple hours later but by then, the group had already posted screenshots of the websites, with their personal message, which included the hashtag #WeAreMaunaKea.
"Nothing will ever justify the destruction of the ecosystems; filthy money can never replace them. Stand with the Hawaiian natives against #TMT," wrote Operation Green Rights.
Although the sites are operational again, Hawaii's Security Operations Center was still dispatched by state officials to investigate the incident.
While Operation Green Rights was taking down the websites, the University of Hawaii Board of Regents was holding a special meeting in Hilo to accommodate testimonials from those who were not able to speak at a previous meeting because of time constraints. Unfortunately, not everyone had the chance to share their testimony at the second meeting, either.
According to a spokesperson from the University of Hawaii, nearly 400 people were in attendance but only 43 were able to testify over the course of four and a half hours. Over 50 percent of those who had signed up to speak didn't get the opportunity to do so, in spite of an hour-long extension, because people didn't stick to the three-minute time limit.
Of those who were able to testify, one had a neutral stance while five spoke in support of the construction on Mauna Kea. The regents themselves did not decide or vote on any matter regarding the project during the meeting.
Approved for construction in 2009, the TMT is facing a lot of opposition as it will be built on ground deemed sacred by the natives. This is, however, not the first time that a telescope was built on Mauna Kea. In fact, the Thirty Meter Telescope will be the 14th telescope on the island, as well as the largest.
#WeAreMaunaKea is a campaign that was started by Jason Momoa, a part-Native Hawaiian actor who will play Aquaman in the upcoming Justice League movie. He's calling on people near and far to be more mindful of protecting native habitats and preserving natural resources.