Wednesday, April 09, 2008

Olympic Torch Bait-and-Switch

I was part of the crowd at the Ferry Building at 2:00pm, hoping to get a glimpse of the Olympic torch. It was a big turn-out. Clearly thousands of people lined the closed-off Embarcadero. There were plenty of the expected protesters as well. At one point I was between 2 different groups of banner-waving protesters marching down the route. A rumor went through the crowd that the police had put the torch on a boat in McCovey Cove & were taking it to the Ferry Building over the water. I confirmed this with someone back at my office who was on the Web. But this was probably a decoy.

I went through Justin Herman Plaza on my way back to the office. It was filled with media people, lion dancers & a noisy rock sound track. The video screen set up there suddenly started broadcasting an aerial view of the torch relay, which was apparently going north up Van Ness. At this point it was obvious that the relay had been completely re-routed, though it wasn't clear how it could have made it to Van Ness from the ball park. I was side-swiped by a group of students with flags running at full speed towards Market Street.

Back at my desk, I followed the confusing turn of events through Team Tibet's twitter feed. The torch ended up in the Marina, & closing ceremonies at Justin Herman Plaza were canceled. The most dramatic event was the report of a torch bearer who pulled out a Tibetan flag & then was ejected from the relay. Gavin Newsom will no doubt claim that this was all done for the sake of safety & order, but he duped not only the protesters but thousands of legitimate spectators.

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