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Torchbearer gets kicked out of relay

April 10, 2008 12:07:17 AM PDT
There were no major problems because of the way the torch run was handled Wednesday, but for thousands of spectators, there wasn't much of a celebration either. They feel cheated, and so do protestors who also never got a glimpse of the "Houdini torch" as it was whisked around the city.

When word spread the route had been changed, protesters were forced to scramble. It didn't take long for this pro-Tibet group to catch up to the torchbearers and once they did they followed them every step of the way.

"We're kind of winging it today. How do you feel about that? Well it's kind of indicative of the secrecy of the Chinese Government also, we're playing in the hands of it today," said Nick Magel, a protester.

"Get off the sidewalk," shouted police.

Officers shouted at the crowds to keep them off the streets. And for the most part, people kept their distance, choosing instead, to vocalize their opposition.

"Shame on you, shame on you, supporting China," shouted a protester.

But not all the demonstrations were coming from the sidelines. Two torchbearers protested during their leg of the relay.

"At first I was like look, yes I'm carrying a flag, that is my right, as an American citizen," said Majora Carter.

Carter was selected as a torchbearer for her environmental work. Little did organizers know, she would use the opportunity to protest. Video from Sky 7 shows Carter pulling a small Tibetan flag from her sleeve and waving it, before a Chinese official took it away from her.

Video from SF Gate then shows a police officer shoving her toward the sidewalk.

"I'm not so worried about the fact that somebody kicked me off a route. I am concerned that more than a million people have been executed. I am concerned that we're pretending that human rights violations, environmental regulations you know are being completely dismissed because there happens to be an Olympics coming to town," said Carter.

It's that sentiment that led to heightened tension along the route, which led to several skirmishes. On Marina Boulevard, a group of protesters even tried to stop the relay, as they sat in the middle of the street. Police quickly moved in.

A fleeting moment, but one protesters say is all part of getting their message across.

"It's not nearly as hard to protest under these circumstances as it is for Tibetans to live in the circumstances that they're living in," said Magel.

Before the change in the route, authorities were anticipating mass arrests. They deployed several vans in case they needed to haul away large numbers of protesters, but police ended up making only three arrests during the course of the relay.


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