Freedom Torch kicks off day of protests

April 8, 2008 7:30:19 PM PDT
The Tibetan Freedom Torch made its way from San Francisco's U.N. Plaza to the Chinese Consulate on Tuesday afternoon. It's been a full day of activities for demonstrators which will wrap up with a candle light vigil.

This event began at 11:00am Tuesday morning with a rally at the plaza -- a very emotional rally for some of the Tibetans participating. The Bay Area is home to one of the largest Tibetan communities in the country.

"They are killing! They are killing! They're killing!"

Urgyen Dolma, a 49-year-old Tibetan and owner of a San Francisco craft store, was beside herself over what she described as China's human rights abuses in Tibet.

Tenzing Chonden is an elected representative to the Tibetan parliament in exile. He says, "we as Tibetan and friends gathered here to urge the Chinese government and ask the international community to convince China to do the right thing release all prisoners."

Fifty white doves were released, symbolizing the 50 years that China has occupied Tibet. Then the protestors marched from the plaza to City Hall and then to the Chinese Consulate.

Jigme Norbu, a 42-year-old from Bloomington Indiana, was one of the Tibetan American torch bearers. He owns a Tibetan restaurant in Bloomington. His father is the founder of a Tibetan cultural center there.

"It's an honor and obviously I feel very proud. I would feel even prouder if our country was independent and that we were part of the Olympics, but we are protesting China's right to hols the Olympics. We are totally against it."

At the Chinese Consulate near Japan Town, protestors chanted and then sat down in the middle of Geary Street for an hour demonstrating. The only people we saw from the consulate were looking down from the rooftop.

The protest was peaceful and after an hour, the group marched back to the U.N. Plaza. The president of the Northern California Tibetan Association tells me more than 3,000 Tibetans are going to be in San Francisco Wednesday to protest against China during the Olympic torch relay.

The Tibetan Association is very unhappy about the change of plans for Wednesday's torch run because they planned to protest and are not sure where the route is going to be.

Olympic Torch Relay Route through San Francisco:

  • McCovey Cove northbound to Third Street
  • Third Street to the Embarcadero
  • The Embarcadero to Jefferson Street
  • Jefferson Street to Hyde Street
  • Hyde Street to Beach Street
  • Beach Street to Polk Street
  • Polk Street to Bay Street
  • Bay Street back to the Embarcadero
  • The Embarcadero to Justin Herman Plaza for a concluding ceremony


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