San Francisco torch relay route shortened
No major incidents have been reported. The route was changed and shortened, and some minor skirmishes in the crowd have been reported.
The torch was lit about 25 minutes behind schedule, then the runners disappeared for more than a half-hour. Police escorted the torch about 2 miles from its original starting point, starting the run away from protesters and supporters gathered on the published route.
Crowds along the original starting point began walking away when the torch failed to appear. Some minor clashes were reported along the route as the crowds waited.
A troop of protesters wielding Tibetan flags crossed the main route and briefly confronted a group waving large Chinese flags. ``You are decades behind civil rights!'' one protester shouted at a supporter in the crowd.
The route has been changed, though no major incidents are being reported. BBC has posted these updates:
Shortly before the relay began, police announced the route would be shortened. A massive security operation is in place, with barricades on many streets.
In San Francisco, police leave has been cancelled. Officers are out in force along the planned seafront route of the torch, and the airspace above has been declared a no-fly zone.
Just before the torch was lit, police said the relay route would be cut roughly by half but have not yet confirmed the new route.
April 9, 2008, 945 PST:
The torch parade is scheduled to start in a few minutes (1000 PST), and NowPublic contributor SF Emperor is there photographing the event. He said the parade route still appears to be uncertain, as organizers make last minute adjustments in response to protesters.
More as it develops.
SAN FRANCISCO, April 9 (Reuters) - Hundreds of securityofficers deployed across San Francisco on Wednesday ahead ofexpected large protests against China policies as the Olympictorch makes its only relay in the United States.Chaotic protests in London and Paris over the last week --efforts that succeeded even in extinguishing the flame forbrief periods -- have put San Francisco officials on edge inthe West Coast city famous for its demonstrations.Some 700 security officers including agents from the FBIdeployed from early on Wednesday and airspace restrictions werein place overhead.Barricades were set up outside the Chinese consulate andofficials planned to halt the city's famed cable cars for muchof the day.Coast Guard boats were to patrol the waterfront route ofthe torch.Protests were expected at the staging area for the torchrelay, which was scheduled to start at 1 p.m. EDT (1700 GMT).
In San Francisco, city officials have made continuousrevisions of their planning for the torch relay.The official route takes the torch from near the city'sbaseball stadium along its scenic waterfront to the Fisherman'sWharf area favored by tourists.San Francisco Mayor Gavin Newsom said on Tuesday heexpected tens of thousands to attend and hundreds of police topatrol the route. "I'm not naive to the challenge associatedwith this event," he said on Tuesday.The mayor said the route and other details of the runningcould change to respond to events.
As runners carry the torch on its six-mile route Wednesday, they will compete not only with people protesting China's grip on Tibet and its support for the governments of Myanmar and Sudan, but also with more obscure activists. They include nudists calling for a return to the way the ancient Greek games were played.
Local officials say they support the diversity of viewpoints, but have ramped up security following chaotic protests during the torch's stops in London and Paris and a demonstration Monday in which activists hung banners from the Golden Gate bridge.