In spite of large crowds, the Olympic torch relay in San Francisco completes without incident. The SF PD should be commended for using restraint and good judgment. Gavin Newsom coordinated with relay officials to manage the route on the fly.
The route started at AT&T Park, Giants baseball stadium, and proceeded down The Embarcadero to the Ferry Building. It moved onto a truck and was transported to Van Ness Avenue, Main Street of San Francisco, past City Hall, CA State building, and Opera, Ballet, and Symphony halls. It then proceeded on Marina Boulevard and up Doyle Drive, east bound access to the Golden Gate. The relay finished just before 19th Avenue and headed on transport to the San Francisco International Airport. It never made it to the Golden Gate Bridge.
Mayor Newsom changed the route several times leading up to the relay, and changed it at least once while in route. The torch was suppose to return to Justin Herman Plaza for a closing ceremony, but Chinese and city officials decided against it, because the crowds around the Plaza were larger than expected.
At least five protestors from both sides were arrested when passions caught fire and police needed to contain it. Several protestors climbed street lamps along the way, but an officer who coaxed them down hugged and posed for pictures with them. They were not taken into custody. Most encounters were non-violent, cheering and jeering matches.
It was a beautiful day, 55, sunny, windy, and mostly clear, a great day for the Olympic torch relay. The Embarcadero, the initial route of the torch is about 3 miles away from my apartment. Transit and traffic will be snarled; so I hop on my bike and after a few climbs, I am at the Ferry Building. Pockets of the crowd start at Fisherman’s Wharf, grow denser towards Giant’s stadium Although the route has been changing all week, the police presence at the Ferry building imply that the Torch will at least make it this far.
In general, Chinese supporters on the east side of the street, and Tibetan Supporters on the west, the F-Line, street car tracks separates the two, but both groups send splinters to march into the ranks of the other side. The Tibetan chants are louder, exuberant, and the Chinese are singular and as enthusiastic. Numerous scuffles occur as the two mingle; young Chinese or young Tibetan supporters let their passion run away and get into shoving matches. None are serious, and the SFPD only interferes if absolutely necessary. The SFPD should be commended for restraint. I wonder how Chinese policeman would have reacted?
I wander on both sides, smiling and shooting pictures. Most everyone is extremely patient and friendly. I wait at what I predict will be the relay terminus on the Embarcadero, 4 to 5 people deep from the route. I feel the crowd grow tense, and see an officer take out riot gear and put on his helmet. News and surveillance helicopters approach overhead, and as the bearer approaches, the crowd surges forward engulfing a phalanx of policemen, and the torch. Multiple camera flashes, I hold mine at arms length and although it is barely 1 foot away, no one lunges, engages, or attacks the police, the bearer, or the torch. Wow, I think that is the way it is suppose to happen in a free, tolerant society.
Free Tibet. I stand with the Tibetan people, I believe in the Dali Lama and the Chinese people. He practices non-violence, and I predict the Chinese people just want to live their lives and find happiness. I am as suspicious about the Chinese government as I am about my own. History has shown that tyranny, and oppression are not sustainable; just ask Emperor Henry P’u Yi or Chairman Mao. If China had a free press we would know the truth about Tibet; we would know if the Chinese government had anything to hide. We must all be vigilant to hold our government to the highest standard; open rule of law and justice applies to all the people, of the people, by the people.
Yeah, I love this city.