-- Sylvain Garel, French democracy activist
Not to short the London protests, but the French protestors paid a magnificent tribute to the spirit of the modern Olympics, which were launched near Athens.
Would that San Francisco comes close to Paris in protesting "the flame of shame," but that's unlikely. San Francisco's mayor and several on the city's board of supervisors have shown great hypocrisy on the matter of the protests.
As for the dizzy Olympics organizers and athletes who wept at the tumult in Paris -- stop sniveling and stand up for freedom. Viva la France!
Olympic Torch Relay Descends Into Chaos
By JEROME PUGMIRE and ELAINE GANLEY
PARIS (AP) — Paris' Olympic torch relay descended into chaos Monday, with protesters scaling the Eiffel Tower, grabbing for the flame and forcing security officials to repeatedly snuff out the torch and transport it by bus past demonstrators yelling "Free Tibet!"
The relentless anti-Chinese demonstrations ignited across the capital with unexpected power and ingenuity, foiling 3,000 police officers deployed on motorcycles, in jogging gear and even inline skates.
Chinese organizers finally gave up on the relay, canceling the last third of what China had hoped would be a joyous jog by torch-bearing VIPs past some of Paris' most famous landmarks.
Thousands of protesters slowed the relay to a stop-start crawl, with impassioned displays of anger over China's human rights record, its grip on Tibet and support for Sudan despite years of bloodshed in Darfur.
Five times, the Chinese officials in dark glasses and tracksuits who guard the torch extinguished it and retreated to the safety of a bus — the last time emerging only after the vehicle drove within 15 feet of the final stop, a track and field stadium. A torchbearer then ran the final steps inside.
Outside, a few French activists supporting Tibet had a fist-fight with pro-Chinese demonstrators. The French activists spat on them and shouted, "Fascists!"
Throughout the day, protesters booed trucks emblazoned with the names of Olympic corporate sponsors, chained themselves to railings and hurled water at the flame. Some unfurled banners depicting the Olympic rings as handcuffs from the Eiffel Tower and Notre Dame cathedral. Others waved signs reading "the flame of shame."
The Interior Ministry said police made 18 arrests.
Officers sprayed tear gas to break up a sit-in by about 300 pro-Tibet demonstrators who blocked the route. Police tackled protesters who ran at the torch; at least two activists got within arm's length before they were grabbed by police. Near the Louvre, police blocked a protester who approached the flame with a fire extinguisher.
One detained demonstrator, handcuffed in a police bus, wrote "liber" on her right palm and "te" on the other — spelling the French word for "freedom" — and held them up to the window.
With protesters slowing down the relay, a planned stop at Paris City Hall was canceled. Earlier, French officials hung a banner declaring support for human rights on the building's facade.
A spokesman for the French Olympic Committee, Denis Masseglia, estimated that a third of the 80 athletes and other VIPs who had been slated to carry the torch did not get to do so.
On a bus carrying French athletes, one man in a track suit shed a tear as protesters pelted the vehicle with eggs, bottles and soda cans.
The chaos started at the Eiffel Tower moments after the relay began. Green Party activist Sylvain Garel lunged for the first torchbearer, former hurdler Stephane Diagana, shouting "Freedom for the Chinese," before security officials pulled him back.
"It is inadmissible that the games are taking place in the world's biggest prison," Garel said later.
Outside parliament, as the torch passed, 35 lawmakers protested, shouting "Freedom for Tibet."
"The flame shouldn't have come to Paris," said Carmen de Santiago, who had "free" painted on one cheek and "Tibet" on the other.
Associated Press writers Nicolas Garriga, Angela Doland, John Leicester and Alfred de Montesquiou contributed to this report.