My Kind of Town

Don Chapman

Monks and motorcades

>> East-West Center

Plans for the motorcade changed after the FBI busted a Communist sympathizer, a student from Iowa, as he sighted a rocket-propelled grenade launcher out of a top-floor window of Manoa Hall at the Jefferson Hall plaza, where the second Lama Jey Tsong Khapa would soon arrive.

HPD made a show of officers at traffic lights all along Kalakaua, Kapiolani, University and Dole, ready to halt traffic as the lama's limo passed. Unfortunately for those who waited along the advertised route to wave at the holy man, it was a feint.

Instead, lights flashing, sirens burping, Officer Quinn Ah Sun led a solo bike escort of six -- one at each wheel, one on the tail, Quinn up front -- as other solo bikes leap-frogged ahead to block cross traffic on Kalakaua, up Kapahulu, to Waialae, up St. Louis, to Dole, and then right on East-West Road. A seven-minute trip, by Quinn's watch. Not bad. And no incidents.

The road was lined with people, and as they passed the East-West Center's Burns Hall Quinn sensed that this gathering was different from the one at the dedication of a shrine at Lama Jey's parents' home, where he realized his Buddhahood. This crowd was less celebratory, more raucous. Who were they expecting, Elvis?

"I love you, Lama Jey!" a young woman in a halter top and short skirt called as they passed.

"I want to have your baby!" shouted her friend attired in even less.

Man, you guys don't have a clue, Quinn thought.

Passing Manoa Hall, he glanced up at the top floor, wondered what would have happened if a concerned call hadn't been made to the FBI about suspicious activity, and if the G-guys hadn't responded so quickly. His wife Lily would have been sleeping alone tonight, that's what. And the world would be without one of its greatest young men, one whom Quinn was sworn to protect so he could share his message.

As they neared Jefferson Hall the crowd grew, spreading across to Kennedy Theater and beyond. The crowd grew, and so too did the sound of their cheers and shouts.

This time, Quinn noted, even the 200 or so monks in orange mendicant robes were kept behind police barriers. Good. Yesterday's attack had come from an imposter among the monks, a Chinese national.

The small parking area in front of Jefferson Hall was barely big enough for the limo. Quinn swung off his big BMW as an official with the East-West Center and man in a black shirt and white collar opened the door.

"Let's save the niceties for inside," Quinn said and with the other officers formed a phalanx that led the lama and his retinue the dangerously exposed 60 feet across the plaza and through the towering koa doors, where Hawaii's religious leaders awaited a message none would ever forget.

See the Columnists section for some past articles.

Don Chapman is editor of MidWeek. His serialized novel runs daily in the Star-Bulletin. He can be e-mailed at


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