We walked over to Union Square yesterday not to participate in the Human Rights Torch protest, but to check out the size of the crowd.  Surprisingly, there were only a couple of hundred people there.  There were a bunch of cameras and news crews, so the event was well publicized.  But the attendance was expected to be a couple of thousand.  The guy on the microphone was not very charismatic and couldn’t seem to get the whole crowd excited about the cause.  It seems to me that  the whole protest was a big bust.

Today, the Chronicle ran a story saying that most Asians in San Francisco are fretting at the disrespect being shown to the Olympic Torch by these protests.  Many believe that the Olympic Torch relay should be a celebration of the strong cultural, historic and economic ties between San Francisco and shouldn’t be disrupted by political demonstrations.  Maybe this explains the low turnout yesterday in Union Square which is only a few blocks from Chinatown.

Asians in the city are also not at all pleased about a resolution passed by the Board of Supervisors that called for Gavin Newsom to receive the Olympic Torch with "alarm and protest."  A local attorney and community leader said the following:

"We understand your rights of free speech, by all means, but be a gracious host, be sensitive to the fact that in San Francisco one-third of your inhabitants are Asians…Many of us, Chinese Americans, in the city, we may not be supporting the Chinese government, but to politicize this game and to use this torch relay as a platform to bash China to me is unacceptable."

Since the Olympic Torch is only visiting San Francisco in North America, if public demonstrations or public officials do something to insult the Olympics it will only further sully the image of San Francisco in the eyes of the rest of the country, and the image of America in the eyes of the rest of the world.

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