We don’ need no stinkin’ torch


Early last week some protestors climbed the Golden Gate Bridge to unfurl a couple banners to draw attention to Chinese action in Tibet. Talk about gutmonkey – these climbers risked life, limb and arrest to get their point across. SFGate.com got some great photos and video, letting the world know that this was a precursor of a much larger protest to be had when the Olympic Torch was to be run through San Francisco on Wednesday.

Of course, it didn’t escape our notice that the climbers were wearing T-shirts emblazoned with big block “TEAM TIBET” lettering. Right on.

This kind of free expression is at the heart of CafePress, and knowing that Wednesday was to be a day where thousands would wear, voice and show their opinions, a fearless coworker and myself decided to go into the city and talk to some protestors about their fashion statements and why they choose to express themselves via the almighty T-shirt.

We hit the Embarcadero, which was the heart of the protest scene and supposedly the site of the torch relay. You will notice that the video we took contains folks all wearing pro-Tibet T-shirts or Save Darfur shirts – also a remarkably common sight that day. This is not to say that we didn’t see any pro-China T-shirts; we did, though they were in the vast minority. However, we weren’t able to get on-camera commentary from anyone wearing a pro-China T-shirt, so if anyone reading this has thoughts on the matter we certainly welcome them via the comment field.

Anyway, here’s the video we did:

What we didn’t see: the Olympic Torch. Apparently Mayor Newsom decided to avoid the fray and they secretly ran the torch across town. Oh well. What we did see: thousands of people, news cameras, a lot of chanting and shouting and marching and singing, a band, police in riot gear, police on bicycles, police in general, and thousands of signs, flags (both Chinese and Tibetan), T-shirts, stickers and buttons speaking out for the bearers. We even saw a dog wearing a “Free Tibet” T-shirt – and, as you saw, he was kind enough to grant us an interview.

For more good pix of the protest, check out Google images.

Interesting things heard throughout the day:

“What’s Tibet?” (pronounced “Tibbet”)

a teenage girl wearing a “Save Darfur” T-shirt

“Does anyone else find it ironic that people are out here holding Chinese flags in America to support a government that doesn’t allow the Tibetan people to fly their own flag in their own country?”

random observer

“If San Francisco is about free expression, man, why is the Mayor hiding the protest from the world?”

annoyed observer once the crowd found out the torch had been secretly run in another part of the city

“This is crazier than Pride!”

passerby marching with the crowd

“I just gave my kids the day off school and they didn’t even get to see the torch.”

local teacher

Hmm. Perhaps we should make some “I took the day off work to see the Olympic Torch and all I saw was some lousy T-Shirts” T-shirts…

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  1. Pingback: Tibetan Handicrafts

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