You’ve already heard about the protests planned for April 9th when the Olympic Torch Relay comes to San Francisco on its only North American stop. Many groups are drawing up plans to demonstrate against China hosting the Olympics, because of human rights abuses and the recent, bloody crackdown in Tibet. The first protest hits San Jose tomorrow.
Activists started the Human Rights Torch Relay (HRTR) last year. The premise: “The Olympic Games cannot coexist with human rights abuses.” The HRTR hits San Jose’s Center for the Performing Arts at noon Saturday.
Mayor Chuck Reed will accept the torch and issue an official proclamation welcoming the activists to San Jose. One of his senior policy advisors, Michelle McGurk, tells me, “The mayor feels it’s important. It’s a personal decision based on his life-long belief in human rights.”
The Human Rights Torch Relay comes to San Francisco the following weekend – Mayor Gavin Newsom’s response so far? Silence.
Organizers have repeatedly contacted the Mayor’s Office requesting his participation. The HRTR’s Steve Ispas tells me, “Newsom has clear ties with China. Maybe that’s part of the problem, and it’s unfortunate.” Newsom's spokesman, Nathan Ballard, told me this afternoon that the Mayor's Office never heard from the organizers, and that he checked with all the major players at City Hall. Well, the Human Rights Torch Relay organizers have just forwarded this e-mail from Matthew Goudeau at the Mayor's Office of Protocol, that was copied to several "major players" in Newsom's office, including his director of scheduling, Anne Taupier. Last week, Gavin Newsom through his staff did, in fact, decline to participate in the Human Rights Torch Relay. Didn't Ballard know or was he trying to deflect criticism by shading the truth?
--------------------- Original Message --------------------
Subject: Global Human Rights Torch Relay Events
From: "Matthew Goudeau" Matthew.Goudeau@SFGOV.ORG
Date: Wed, March 19, 2008 4:03 pm
Cc: "Kyri McClellan" Kyri.McClellan@sfgov.org
"Anne Taupier" Anne.Taupier@sfgov.org
"Mark Chandler" Mark.Chandler@SFGOV.ORG
"Martha Cohen" Martha.Cohen@SFGOV.ORG
Dear Ms. Daly:On behalf of Mayor Gavin Newsom, I would like to thank you for inviting him to attend the "Global Human Rights Torch Relay" events on March 29th in San Jose and on April 5 in San Francisco. Regretfully, due to several scheduling conflicts, Mayor Newsom will be unable to join you and the other participants.
Should you or your staff have any questions, I can be reached at 415-554-6674.
Mayor's Office of Protocol
1 Dr. Carlton B. Goodlett Place, Room 200
San Francisco, California 94102-4681
United States of America
By the way, Ballard also told us that the route for the Olympic Torch Relay in San Francisco April 9th will be made public early next week.