Teens from the Hiroshima and Nuuanu YMCAs participated yesterday in the Hiroshima Commemoration and Peace Service at the Izumo Taishakyo Mission. Colin Iwanaga, of the Nuuanu YMCA, rang the Peace Bell after the service.

Peace ceremony
recalls bombing
of Hiroshima

A group from Japan joins isle
youngsters in a cultural exchange

Arrests stun protesters

Eight-year-old Takashi Tanemori returned to look for his family only to find "the earth had been raped" in a devastated Hiroshima.

"I couldn't return to my house, and I went to the river to cry. I felt so alone," he said yesterday at a downtown ceremony marking the 58th anniversary of the dropping of the atomic bomb on Hiroshima. "Then I saw a single blade of grass on the bank of the river. I sat on my knees and scooped it out and talked to the grass. I didn't feel alone anymore."

Tanemori, whose family members were among the 140,000 killed in the blast, choked back tears yesterday during his speech and clutched a glass with a few pale green blades of grass, which he said gave him life and inspiration.

He said, "I'm here to promote peace through forgiveness."

Yesterday, 10 young people from Hiroshima sat next to their new friends -- 120 elementary school children from the Nuuanu YMCA -- commemorating the atomic bombing of Hiroshima on Aug. 6, 1945, and of Nagasaki three days later.

Mourners floated paper lanterns yesterday on the Motoyasu River in Hiroshima, western Japan, in remembrance of atomic bomb victims. Japan marked the 58th anniversary of the U.S. bombing of the western Japanese city during the closing days of World War II.

The bell-ringing ceremony at the Izumo Taishakyo Mission near Chinatown included a traditional Shinto offering of fruits, vegetables, sake and rice for purification and blessing.

Twenty-year-old Yoko Fukuoka and nine other teens from the Hiroshima YMCA are visiting their sister city of Honolulu for two weeks to foster friendships and encourage peace, said Don Anderson, president of the Honolulu YMCA.

"It's important to build friendships," he said. "In the long run, you don't go and kill your friends or go to war with your friends."

Fukuoka is familiar with war's destruction: She often listens to her grandmother's stories about surviving the atomic bomb that decimated the city and led to the end of World War II.

Recently, Fukuoka said, she watched the war in Iraq on television. "It was very bad -- big bombs," she said.

It turned her thoughts to peace, she said, and she decided to come to Honolulu for the ceremony.

The Rev. Daiya Amano waved tree branches with white streamers attached over the Hiroshima Peace Bell, which was given to the people of Honolulu by the prefecture of Hiroshima in 1985.

About 200 people gathered around the bell to pray for peace and to remember those who died in the atomic bombings.

Before the ceremony ended with the ringing of the Peace Bell, two elementary school students draped 1,000 folded paper cranes on the bell as symbols of peace and hope. Then they stepped back into line and joined the other students to sing "Let There Be Peace on Earth."

A sudden breeze carried their voices across the street to the men playing chess in a Chinatown park who paused to listen. "Let there be peace on earth, and let it begin with me," they sang.


Arrests stun protesters
drawing in chalk on
downtown sidewalks

The American Civil Liberties Union is calling the arrest yesterday of two protesters who wrote in chalk on a downtown sidewalk during a peaceful demonstration a violation of free-speech rights.

A 27-year-old man and a 17-year-old girl were arrested for criminal property damage about 4:30 p.m. after they drew body outlines and wrote slogans on Fort Street Mall and Bishop Street sidewalks to commemorate the dropping of an atomic bomb on Hiroshima 58 years ago and to protest weapons of mass destruction.

"You can't arrest people for exercising their constitutional rights," said Earle Partington, a private attorney who works with the ACLU. He called the action a false arrest since all they did was put chalk on the sidewalk.

"If you have an 8-year-old girl making a hopscotch thing, she should be arrested," he said.

Brent White, ACLU legal director, said: "What the police did is inappropriate. There should be a lawsuit over this." He will bring the matter before the ACLU litigation committee to discuss filing suit.

Police officials did not return phone calls requesting comment.

The two arrested were among about nine protesting with the group Not in Our Name, which held the demonstration in downtown Honolulu.

Sebastian Blanco, a University of Hawaii graduate student in Japanese studies, said he had written two words on the sidewalk in chalk, "Remember Nagasaki," before being arrested for fourth-degree criminal property damage.

"It's freedom of speech," he said. "Millions of people have the same idea, and we should be able to express it."

Police cuffed Blanco a half-hour later at King and Bishop streets, he said.

He was taken to the main police station on South Beretania Street, where he was booked for criminal property damage and held in a cell, he said. He was not given the opportunity to make a phone call, but attorney Eric Seitz came to assist the two.

The two were held for about two hours before being released.

Blanco said he must appear in court on Monday and said it was the first time he was arrested and was treated rudely.

"It was never my goal to get arrested," Blanco said; he just wanted to express his views.

Blanco is opposed to weapons of mass destruction. If the Bush administration is "going to come out against weapons of mass destruction, then they should dismantle their own," he said.

Witnesses said that the teenage girl had left the area and was arrested when she returned. They said she is a straight-A student who is headed for a mainland college and did not want to get arrested.

Another protester, Liz Rees, said police claimed the two were arrested because they were the only ones police had seen use chalk and not clean it up.

When police asked who would clean up the chalk, "I said Mother Nature will take care of it," Rees said.

Carolyn Hadfield, a member of NION, said never in her 30 years or so of protesting has she ever seen an arrest for using sidewalk chalk.

She said police did not arrest protesters writing on the sidewalk in chalk earlier this year against an anti-gay, anti-abortionist religious leader who came to town.


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