SF learns from the French torch relay

April 9, 2008 11:46:52 AM PDT
San Francisco officials are expected to meet into the evening, fine-tuning their plans for tomorrows torch relay.

They're hoping to learn some lessons from what happened in London and Paris, where torch bearers had to fend off protestors trying to snuff out the Olympic flame.

"When you hurt someone else, you lose your moral authority," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

Mayor Gavin Newsom is asking for peaceful protests on Wednesday after the chaos this week in London and Paris.

In the French city of lights the flame was snuffed out several times by authorities after the protests grew too rowdy.

But the French ambassador, visiting San Francisco, says he doesn't think the situation there got out of hand.

"No, I would not say. It would be out of hand if you would have casualties and something like that. But the police did its work and managed to keep security in the proper way," said the French ambassador to the U.S. Pierre Vimont.

He says he has no advice for San Francisco, but met with the mayor today; the same day the Olympic flame arrived at SFO from Paris.

The mayor says he's not naive about the challenges based on what happened in Europe.

"That begs the question. Do I tomorrow night answer your question. Well sir, you knew what happened in London and you knew what happened in Paris you acknowledge that, yet look what happened in San Francisco. Do you feel you had the appropriate amount of security. I want to avoid that question," said Newsom.

The torch relay will bypass Chinatown, but Olympic flags are flying in the neighborhood. The games are a sense of pride to many here.

On Tuesday, members of the economically powerful and politically influential group, The Chinese Six Companies said they are among the silent majority dismayed over all the demonstrations.

"It's so sad to see the minority is going to rob the majority of the spirit to support the Olympics," said Albert Chin fro Chinese Six Companies.

The mayor said the city expects tens of thousands of people tomorrow -- fans and protestors.

Members of the Chinese Six Companies say they alone have handed out more than 10,000 flags to torch supporters who will be on hand.

FULL COVERAGE: SF Olympic Torch Run

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View video taken by Students for a Free Tibet of the Golden Gate Bridge protest here.

For Olympic Torch schedule and information, including street closures and the six-mile route through San Francisco, click here.

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