Sidewalk scrawling
charges to be tossed

The city prosecutor's office will dismiss criminal property damage charges today against a 27-year-old protester who wrote in chalk on a downtown Honolulu sidewalk last week, said spokesman Jim Fulton yesterday afternoon.

The decision came after a prosecutor had asked the court to set a trial date for Sebastian Blanco at his arraignment in Honolulu District Court yesterday morning.

"The problem was, the police report did not specify what the medium was, if it was nonerasable," Fulton said late yesterday. "We didn't know at the time (that it was chalk). We've subsequently checked. ... If it was paint, it could have been a chargeable offense."

Blanco and a 17-year-old girl were arrested Wednesday afternoon while demonstrating against weapons of mass destruction with the anti-war group Not in Our Name-Hawaii. The group also remembered the victims of the bombings of Hiroshima and Nagasaki by drawing body outlines and writing slogans in chalk.

Blanco, a University of Hawaii graduate student, said he was arrested for having written "Remember Nagasaki" near the corner of Hotel Street and Fort Street Mall.

Shortly after the arrests, police officials said the two were arrested because they refused to erase the chalk drawings and messages.

Eric Seitz, attorney for Blanco, said he had not been informed of the dismissal late yesterday, but said it was appropriate.

Not in Our Name-Hawaii and others will proceed with plans to write chalk messages in front of Honolulu Hale at 5 p.m. today to protest the arrests, said Carolyn Hadfield, a member of the group.

Hadfield said others were taking up the cause after hearing of the arrests, which they believe are a violation of free-speech rights.

Police officials refused comment yesterday.

Seitz said he will sue the Honolulu Police Department and individual police officers on behalf of Blanco and the teen, who has not been charged.

"They apparently were very physical with the 17-year-old," Seitz said. "She had bruises on her."

"I'm pretty sure the officers at the scene knew these folks are never going to jail," Seitz said. "They felt they should inflict the punishment. The whole thing amounts to harassment.

"From start to finish, it was bad judgment and abuse of authority and an embarrassment."


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