Activists want SF Olympic torch route

March 26, 2008 2:25:44 PM PDT
The Olympic torch has sparked controversy from Greece to San Francisco, as the countdown is underway to the Olympic Games in Beijing, China.

The torch will pass through San Francisco in April on its only stop in the United States.

Political activists are demanding to know the route for the torch as it passes through San Francisco, because they want to stage demonstrations against china's crackdown in Tibet.

City leaders refuse to give out specific information and on Tuesday, the American Civil Liberties Union got involved.

The route starts at AT&T Park and ends here at Justin Herman Plaza in the Ferry Building. What happens between there and here is anyone's guess.

We know that the route is shorter; the mayor announced that this morning. And he said it's constantly changing because of security reasons.

The Olympic torch route, beginning at AT&T Park, will likely continue to change even as the arrival day, April 9th, approaches.

"It's roughly an eight mile route that today has been shortened and the consequence is that we don't have a fix route at this moment," said San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom.

The route was expected to be released on Tuesday. By law, the city is supposed to give out certain information which is considered public.

The American Civil Liberties Union says the city had until yesterday to comply.

"It's making it impossible for the people who want to come and make their voices heard here in San Francisco to get organized and make arrangements," said Michael Risher from the ACLU.

The city has proposed setting up "free-speech zones" along certain parts of the route.

Tsokyi Choera and others say they'll protest China's recent clashes in Tibet.

"We want to speak out. We want to let the world know what China is doing in Tibet," said Choera.

"Free-speech zones" have been used before in other political events. Mayor Gavin Newsom admits he's concerned about security.

"Yes, as we should be. Look what happened in Athens yesterday and we will continue to be concerned about disruptions as it relates to what happens to these 20 other cities that will receive the torch," said Mayor Gavin Newsom.

On Monday, the opening ceremonies were disrupted when protesters displayed a banner showing the Olympic rings replaced by interlocking handcuffs.

But the ACLU says information on other bigger events have been given out before.

"Every four years we have an inaugural parade down Pennsylvania Avenue, everybody knows where it's going to be everyone knows when it's going to be, that's the president of the United States. If we can provide security for that without this cloak of secrecy I don't see why we can't do that in San Francisco," said Risher.

Joel Kirsch is with the American Sports Institute. He's upset that China human rights issues are overshadowing the so-called Olympic truce, carried out when the games were first created.

"What the truce is about is that all causes no matter how justified are not as important as peace and coming together in the spirit of the games and participating in a peaceful ways," said Joel Kirsch.

According to that truce, for seven days before and for seven days after the Olympics, there is no fighting, no talking of politics and certainly no protests.

It seems San Francisco will not honor that truce.


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