SAN FRANCISCO — A New York environmental activist selected to carry the Olympic torch, Majora Carter of the Bronx, signaled her solidarity with Tibetan protesters by unfurling a Tibetan flag soon after she was handed the torch here yesterday afternoon.
Ms. Carter said that after she pulled the flag from her sleeve the torch was quickly taken from her and she was pushed out of the Olympic entourage. “The Chinese security and cops were on me like white on rice, it was no joke,” she told the Associated Press. “They pulled me out of the race, and then San Francisco police officers pushed me back into the crowd on the side of the street.”
Ms. Carter foreshadowed her action when she spoke Tuesday night at a candlelight vigil staged by Tibetans and pro-Tibet activists. “I’m going to be carrying that torch because I do see it as a light for freedom and for justice,” she said at a candlelight vigil at San Francisco’s United Nations Plaza.
Some in the crowd booed as Ms. Carter was announced, but they seemed to warm to her as she spoke. “I know that I’m getting the kind of love that I’m feeling from all of you tonight, that a little bit of that love is going to transfer into that flame and it is going to go all the way to China,” she said.
Ms. Carter, 41, the founder of Sustainable South Bronx and GreenforAll.org, won a so-called genius grant from the MacArthur Foundation for her environmental efforts among the inner-city poor. She was selected as a torch bearer by one of the relay’s international sponsors, the Coca-Cola Corporation.
At Tuesday’s vigil and rally, Tibetan leaders called on Coca-Cola not to sponsor the portion of the relay where the torch is scheduled to travel through Tibet en route to the summit of Mount Everest. Tibetan activists say taking the torch through Tibet is offensive because martial law is reportedly in place in the region after recent unrest. China has put the death toll from the violence at 22, but the Tibetan government in exile in India says about 140 were killed.
A spokeswoman for Coca-Cola did not respond to e-mail and phone messages seeking comment for this article.