I wanted to give an update on the day that I just experienced being present in San Francisco for the official torch relay. It started with a ride on the public transportation system down to the water front. I hung out all morning talking to people that were showing up for the event, but mostly the Sudanese that were arriving from all over the nation. The streets were more full than I have seen with people from every race and religion, and it really brought the feeling of culture, and humanity into perspective. There was something so powerful about the day from the start of the morning. I pulled out my camera just in time to watch a Darfuri child Eric 9 years old, who now lives in Seattle shake hands with a boy from San Francisco. I sat and listened to them tell each other about how much they like sports, to ride bikes, and described to each other the differences between Darfur and Seattle. Our children are the future of this world, and watching two boys unite so naturally was more powerful than I can explain in words. The whole afternoon was full of unity after that.
We were going to have an opening ceremony for Darfur but as time creeped closer and the crowds set in the speeches we scheduled were canceled. Around 1,000 locals, and Darfuri supporters walked behind 30 Sudanese that were carrying a banner readying “Sudanese Standing Together.”
The thing I struggled with the whole time while planning for this event was that Free Tibet invited us to come out and team up with them. They wanted Darfur to be at the pre rally on last Saturday, we were invited to the candle light vigil last night, and to team up for the relay but always turned it down. There was a drive and motivation to try and out do them, to compete for press and in the end I think that it hindered just how much we could have achieved. For without unity we can not achieve a common goal. Deaths in Tibet are as tragic as deaths in Darfur, and neither group deserve to live in fear.
I never saw the torch. In fact not many people that were on the water front saw the torch. They canceled the opening, and closing ceremonies, and never allowed the runners to make it down the major part of the route. The press is now referring to this relay as a hide and go seek game, and certainly not common as the games near! By mid afternoon we had twice the number of people wearing green and chanting down the streets with us. When we found out that the officials were not going to bring the torch in, the plaza lifted in uproar. I was approached one by one from the Tibet groups to meet on the park where they had mic’s set up to celebrate. Thousands gathered together from Burma, Tibet and Darfur in pride. There was speech after speech given about how we are working together to achieve peace through unity throughout the world. Mohamed and a Tibet man shared the Mic and together we all rose and chanted “Free Tibet, Save Darfur.” The park was alive. The Sudanese wanted a chance to speak out and they did so with the people of Tibet beside them!! We were living the Olympic Motto “One world, One Dream.” The night ended with everyone in town at a private dinner where we all had the chance to get to know each other, talk about the days events, and what the next step of action should be. This week the Olympic committee meets to discuss the continuation of the torches travel in general since so far it surely has not been a success…
I didn’t see one arrest. All in all people were more respectful then I would have ever guessed and the experience was one in a lifetime! There is such a huge sense of hope coming from here in San Francisco and I hope that we all go home and carry that with us!