Wednesday, April 09, 2008
The San Francisco Olympic Torch Fiasco
While riding a 47 bus South of Market Wednesday morning, we were at a stoplight by another Muni bus that was filled with uniformed police, and our driver yelled out at his colleague, "You better stop speeding! Otherwise, they're going to give you a ticket!" And then he cackled.
At about 1:30 PM, I walked towards the Giants baseball stadium to get a burrito at Victor's and ran into a mob scene waiting for the beginning of the Olympic torch relay to make its way from McCovey Cove to the Embarcadero.
Though it was claustrophobic the crowd was mellow and filled with amused expectation for some kind of public spectacle.
Meanwhile, San Francisco has a police department that can't even solve a murder when cadaver dogs point them to a body in a vehicle in front of the victim's house with the murder suspects standing and smiling at them. However, when it comes to overtime gravy trains for "special events," they are an overwhelming force to be contended with.
The torch went from the podium at McCovey Cove, into a warehouse, where a sleight of hand occurred, and the torch was driven across town to Van Ness and Pine Street, where the runners went through the Marina up to Doyle Drive. All the people who had come to be part of a public event along the Embarcadero were thereby completely shafted. While the symbolic torch was put back onto a bus to the airport, nobody official made an announcement to the thousands hanging out at Justin Herman Plaza, and the police just wandered away in a perfect "fuck you" gesture.
This was particularly insulting to the many thousands of local Chinese-Americans who were having a blast waving their bright red Chinese flags throughout the streets of San Francisco, something I've never seen before. Still, it wasn't all that surprising. Newsom and his Police Department's approach to the Halloween festivities in the Castro last year were similar. Let's just put up a police state and maybe nobody will notice that the public right to assemble has just been taken away, quite forcefully. It's creepy and essentially stupid.