I thought I had it tough squeezing through crowds at Union Square to get a good shot of the spectacle created by protesters supporting the Free Tibet movement. Jon Ray, a reporter for ITN in the UK, had it much worse.
Ray and a cameraman were reporting on a protest near the Olympic games in the Chinese Ethnic Culture Park when police shut him down. See the video of the protesters and Ray’s arrest here.
ITN’s reaction: “We intend to protest in the strongest possible terms to the Chinese authorities and seek assurances that the treatment meted out to Mr Ray will not be repeated.”
Meanwhile, the IOC continuing to say they support open access to journalists. Does this sound like an active reaction? It’s best summed up by Steve Gosset:
So much for free media access during the games. ITN and the International Olympic Committee registered their concerns. Hopefully, the Chinese will do more than just yawn.
protester at a Union Square rally the night before the Olympics opened
On August 7, the eve of the beginning of the 2008 Olympic Games in Beijing, hundreds of supporters of the movement to liberate Tibet from China’s authority gathered in Union Square to protest the games. A screen positioned above a group of monks, sitting in blood-red robes on the shallow steps of the park, displayed videos of beatings, fires and protest demonstrations in Tibet.
Over the normal din of 14th Street shoppers and the skateboarders always trying stunts in the park, a deep-throated chant from protesters would rise and fall. Passersby tried to peek over the shoulders of those standing in protest to get a glimpse of the monks, the arrangement of hundreds of votive candles and the video screen.
Monks and protesters in Union Square
Many protesters sat on the park plaza and read papers or shared food. Parents came with children. Those interested in joining for the first time were welcomed and given flags and t-shirts featuring a clutched fist and the word “RANGZEN
“, which translates to mean “independence.”
After several slow and patient chants, the crowd let out one large shout, then rolled up flags, gathered their belongings and headed for the nearest subways. They will continue to protest every night until the end of the games, according to one organizer who spoke with a reporter from WNYC Radio