When the bloated lighter known as the Olympic Torch was in London and Paris, both cities were also host to the Official Thug Squad for the 2008 Summer Olympics: China's secret police. This morning in San Francisco, the front page of the major paper's web site showed the Blood Olympics Torch sandwiched between a Chinese offcial and one of the "men in blue" -- putting the symbol of the Olympics between China's senior officials and the secret police who enforce their dictatorship. Why does SF -- and America -- need the monsters who enforce China's gruesome organ trade on its streets, mixing it up for tomorrow's protests?
Within hours of the Sunday fiasco that was the London Olympic Torch relay, the BBC's "World Today" host grilled the UK's Olympics Minister about why UK citizens had been assaulted on the streets of London by goons in blue jumpsuits traveling with China's Olympic Circus. He wasn't alone -- by Monday the UK Independent reported:
Shortly after Konnie Huq finished her brief leg of London's farcical Olympic torch relay on Sunday, she called a friend on her mobile phone. "Did you see those blokes in the blue tracksuits?" the former Blue Peter presenter whispered down the line. "They were bloody aggressive, weren't they?"
Huq had just been involved in a tussle with a protester, so it was surprising that what appeared to concern her most was the praetorian guard of Chinese officials who formed a wall around her during the short dash, rather than the demonstrator intent on wrestling the Olympic torch from her grasp.
But for any of the athletes, protesters, journalists and even police who found themselves guided, barged or fighting with this particularly committed group of Chinese minders, the identity and function of the "boys in blue tracksuits" was of paramount importance.
Little is known about the mysterious guards accompanying the flame on its "harmonious journey", apart from the fact that they are well-trained security officers under the remit of the Beijing Games co-ordinators, who have sweeping political powers in China.
OK. Now we know how the "boys in blue tracksuits" got onto London's streets. What did they do when they were there? Well, they did what the uniformed servants of every proud imperialist nation does -- they started knocking about the locals, who hadn't even bothered to learn the occupier's language.
And who said our disaster in Iraq isn't a shining example to the world?
With the exquisite sensitivity customary to imperial powers, the boys in blue tracksuits even managed to assault the Chairman of the 2012 Olympic Games -- which just happen to be in London. And they got him not once, but three times! That'll show those pesky vassals:
[E]ven Lord Coe, chairman of the London Organising Committee for the 2012 games, had been manhandled by the ring of Chinese "bodyguards" protecting the torch on its journey through London. "They tried to push me out of the way three times," Lord Coe had said, according to Channel 4 News. "They are horrible. They did not speak English . . . I think they were thugs."
And that's from the London Times. Yep, owned by the same Murdoch who eagerly courted the kleptocratic tyrants who rule China by scrubbing his satellite feeds of content that could pierce the Great Wall of Secrecy the PRC erected between the 1.3 billion Chinese they exploit and the outside world.
The Financial Times had more:
In London, it emerged that Lord Coe, chairman of the city's Olympic committee, was inadvertently recorded by Channel 4 News accusing some of the Chinese officials providing security for the torch of being "thugs".
In comments to a colleague, he said if the organisers of the French part of the torch route do "one thing in Paris, it is to get rid of those guys. They tried to push me out of the way three times ... they were thugs".
As the whole watching world knows by now, the liberty-loving citizens of Paris arose en masse to prevent their proud city from becoming the set for the PRC's attempt to "Torchwash" their hideous human-rights record by using the Olympics as a global PR campaign. By the time three brave activists for Free Tibet unfurled their banner from the Golden Gate Bridge on a glorious spring morning in San Francisco, the PRC's global torchwash had quenched even the IOC's tolerance for the Butchers of Beijing.
"Using the torch this way is almost a crime. This is the property of the IOC, it is not a Chinese torch."
Only China's modern-day emperors could make even the IOC -- who followed one of Franco's senior fascists as their own leader for twenty years -- worry about their public image.
By the time the Great Olympic Torch March Forward staggered to an end in Paris, the torch had been extinguished several times, and much of the "relay" was run on buses evading citizens defying their national government's willing complicity with Beijing's dictators. The next stop was San Francisco -- prompting the UK Independent to observe:
The tracksuited guards made their presence felt across the capital. Their behaviour has prompted many to ask whether Scotland Yard deliberately turned a blind eye to their tactics.
"Britain seems to have caved in to demands from Beijing that Chinese security agents police the streets of London," said Matt Whitticase, of Free Tibet UK. "It certainly fits in with the supine approach Britain has taken towards China over the years, compared with other nations."
Shami Chakrabati, director of the human-rights group Liberty, added: "Everyone appreciates the difficult duty of our police to hold the line between the Olympic ceremony and critics and supporters of the Chinese regime. But who were the ominous figures running in formation in light blue uniforms? Where was their lawful authority to scuffle with policemen and protesters?"
Yesterday in Paris, the flame attendants were forced to spend most of the relay on a bus. But their dubious security techniques could well be back on display tomorrow when the torch arrives in San Francisco -- depending, of course, on how they are viewed by American law enforcement agencies.
Whether it was their deep and lethal hatred for democracy and the public assembly democracy requires, their incurable incomprehension of free peoples' values, or their usual stupid and deadly combination of the two, the PRC's leaders ensured that this morning -- the day before thousands will come to SF's streets to celebrate our freedom and demand the same for the peoples of Tibet, Darfur, Burma and China -- SF woke up to see the Olympic Torch wedged between a PRC functionary and the symbol of China's real rulers -- a secret policeman.
We here in SF know a thing or too about public protest. Actually, we know a hell of a lot. In the Bay Area, "nice" is the Official Protest Culture. Major demo organizers have learned to suspect that people who toss hard words are provocateurs, and to conclude that people who toss hard objects definitely are. In the Bay Area, the first side to get "mean" -- in words, much less in images or action -- loses the battle for public perception -- and public support. And public support, of course, is what the Torch fiasco is all about.
WTF do I know about this? Well, the picture in my avatar above was taken when pro-choice activists in SF took the street to block the march of the "coat-hanger" people: anti-choice demonstrators bussed into SF from around the state to demand and end to women's reproductive freedom. The picture (I'm the guy who looks like a slightly anorexic Michelin man under the "uterus" sign) was shot over the backs of the SFPD riot squad, who professionally and expertly kept both passionate sides from any direct confrontation: and that's after we'd blocked the march route!
Having seen huge public demos -- and cared for the injured at huge public demos -- in D.C., Seattle, NYC, Humboldt County, L.A., and SF, I can respectfully say that on the whole the SFPD Riot Squad are damned good at doing what their jobs. Not perfect, but pretty damned good. SF's leaders also think so -- they've allocated over a million bucks in overtime for Wednesday. As if that weren't enough, they'll have the State and the Feds:
Officers from the California Highway Patrol, the San Francisco Sheriff's Department, the U.S. State Department and other agencies also will guard the flame.
So. Through the miracle of "arbitrage", the upper 0.1% of Americans have grown immensely wealthy trading American manufacturing jobs away to China for cheap imports, toxic food, and the all-important flow of capital our wealthy poobahs require to loot our Treasury by endlessly cutting their own taxes. Through the miracle of privatization, the same upper 0.1% work to pour the last jobs in America to carry decent benefits -- public-sector jobs defended by strong public-sector unions -- into the greedy hands of Correctional Corporation of America, Blackwater, Halliburton, and the like. And -- as we saw in Katrina, and see in Iraq, as well as in our loathsome privately owned immigration gulags -- the privateers set about doing what pirates do best: terrorizing, killing, and looting.
And when even the PRC's leaders finally introduced real legislation to protect some rights for China's workers, who asked them to toss it in the gulag? You guessed it -- the same 0.1% who depend on shafting China's workers to keep raking in the billions from stiffing workers here at home and around the globe: the Lords of Globalization.
Now will we off-shore public safety -- and our Constitution -- to China's secret police?
I've only been in SF five years. The SFPD has decades of experience keeping the peace at demos and marches, keeping opposing partisans apart, and preventing violence between opposing camps.
The PRC has decades of experience jailing union leaders, democracy activists, and environmental activists -- as well as shooting monks, selecting prisoners to have their organs ripped out on spec, and putting on the Tiananmen Square Massacre.
So -- with SF already budgeting for over a million bucks of SFPD overtime for April 9, what does SF, our besieged Constitution or the US need with China's secret police? Don't they have enough to do at home helping senior Army and Party officials seize peasants' lands for private factories, shooting into crowds of monks, and forcing "re-education" meetings on Tibet?
WTF are they doing here in the U.S.? What will they "help" us with next -- busting unions?
Oh yeah, I forgot: Thanks to the Lords of Globalization, they've already done that.
Who says we never export anything to China?